Brett Busacker | Endurance Racer
The Everyday Adventurer Series goes in-depth with real-life adventurers on the quest for life balance and the great outdoors. These exclusive interviews tell their honest stories of juggling family, jobs and budgets while staying on top of their game. Are you an Everyday Adventurer?
Brett Busacker knows how to test his limits. Just ask him how he felt after his last 100k mountain race where he found himself immobile for three hours due to altitude sickness. Or the way he calls ski hill repeats a way to “maximize your potential.” (If you’re wondering what those are, imagine a ski hill. Now imagine sprinting up that ski hill. Now imagine yourself doing it over and over again until you feel like throwing up. Fun, right?)
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As a college linebacker, Brett’s athleticism served him well, however after a series of nagging injuries he found himself sidelined with 220 lbs on a 6’ frame. He knew something had to change. He soon took up long distance running and worked his way down 70 lbs, hit multiple PRs and gained a new appreciation for outdoor adventure. “I was immediately hooked to the training discipline, competitive drive, and feeling that a long distance journey has to offer. So began my endurance adventure.”
Fast forward 10 years. Brett is now a husband, father and homeowner with a full-time career. “Friends often chuckle when I fit 20 hours of training into a week along with 50 hours of work, a toddler daughter, and a lot of other things.” It’s definitely not magic that makes it all happen. Read on to find out how Brett balances his rigorous training routine with the realities of daily life.
BPF: How long have you been passionate about outdoor adventure?
Brett: My passion for self-propelled adventures was established when my dad took me backpacking in Colorado at age 12. Ever since then I’ve been passionate about all things outdoors.
BPF: What are your favorite outdoor activities?
Brett: Tough to prioritize all of them, but trail running, mountain biking, rock climbing, fly fishing, mountaineering, and snow shoeing to name a few.
BPF: What first made you go into trail running?
Brett: I ran road events for many years and was starting to get bored and injured too often. Really, it came back to that first time backpacking out west. I loved the idea of long distance travel in a faster format than hiking to explore wild places. Thus, I started trail running while living in Jackson, Wyoming for a bit and later got into ultra-running.
BPF: That’s awesome. What is one of your most memorable races/trips?
Brett: Really hard to nail down one … so maybe two:
- Trail running the Teton Crest Trail in Jackson, Wyoming. I slipped this 35-mile navigation in during a work trip that my wife’s company took. It was about 6 hours and 11,000 feet of the most spectacular scenery in the west. My wife simply dropped me off at the trailhead before sunrise with a small backpack and phone. Then, it was just me, the mountains, and a few moose encounters. I had backpacked it years ago and it’s still by far my favorite trail for views of the Teton range.
- Racing the Bridger Ridge Run – it’s roughly 20 miles on a knife like ridge across the Bridger Mountain Range. At some points, trail run is a large understatement. It starts with a straight 2500ft climb to the summit and then a ton of scree scrambling. It was a real eye-opener as far as how technical trail “running” can get. Of the top 20 racers, we all were in the medical tent afterwards. To add to that soreness, the next day my brother and I started a backpacking trip. After nine miles of hiking, we discovered a really dangerous grizzly bear in the area that was within 5 ft of clean campsites. We made the choice to hike out immediately and got back to the car at 11pm so thrashed that we didn’t even set up a tent or eat. Needless to say, we fly fished the rest of the trip.
BPF: Wow, that’s crazy! So, how do you plan for the unexpected both on the trail and at home?
Brett: It’s a mindset thing. I have learned to not get hung up on the moment, but focus on the big picture. Really, ultra-running has sucker punched me with some nasty scenarios, but it’s only a moment of time. Much can be said about the same scenarios in work, parenting, relationships, etc.
BPF: What does a typical day look like for you?
Brett: There isn’t a “typical,” but something close to awake at 4:30-5am, quick breakfast and caffeine source. Then it’s out the door for 45 – 90 minutes on the bike. If I’m lucky a little time with my wife and daughter prior to work. Work 7-9 hours in the office. Usually a bike commute or workout on the way home of equal length. Dinner and nightly activities with the family and our dog. Madly multi-task when the house is quiet and then in bed by no later than 10pm to repeat.
BPF: You just bought a new house and are expecting your second child in November, how do you stick to a workout routine when things get chaotic?
Brett: Flexibility is key. I used to get so stuck on workouts and routines prior to getting married and kids. Having kids is such a blessing and quickly re-centers what really matters in life. I’ve become a master of maximizing the “dead space” for workouts. That’s space that could be spent sleeping later, watching tv, or relaxing. To me, I’d rather pursue other goals with that time instead of just waste it. Key has been working out at times that don’t detract from family experiences.
BPF: What is one piece of advice you’d give new dads out there?
Brett: Intentionally slow down to absorb every moment you have with your children. So much of life is multi-tasking and efficiency. Nothing can replace undistracted quality time. Also – get your whole family involved in hobbies. Share the activities you love with them. It will make it all that more satisfying.
BPF: How does your wife support your adventure hobbies? How do you manage the budget?
Brett: We are both very different and quite independent. We openly talk about plans and involve each other early on. I’m blessed to have a very supportive and understanding wife when it comes to that. Not everyone is the same.
Budget wise, we have always prioritized our goals and investments ahead of fun. We do spend a larger than normal sum on fun, but it’s because we are confident in our savings and investments prior to making that decision.
BPF: What have you learned about time management?
Brett: It all comes down to self-motivation and maximizing every moment of the day. I’ve become a master at eliminating dead space and combining activities more efficiently. For example, during the week, I get in shape for bike racing by commuting to and from work. The difference to my family is maybe 20 minutes in a day between that or sitting in traffic. When it’s the weekend, I get up earlier to get things done before dedicating the rest of the day to family, friends and household projects.
BPF: Any last words of wisdom or advice you’d give readers either interested in endurance racing and/or managing their hobbies with a young family?
Brett: Maintain a flexible schedule when it comes to endurance pursuits or adventures. Knowing when to train or when to fold goes a long way when it comes to relationships and competing time constraints. In the end, it’s just a passion, not a job.
BPF: Awesome advice, Brett! Thanks so much for spending some time with us.
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