Adam Valastro wants to break a record for the fastest hike of all 46 Adirondack High Peaks. But breaking the record pales in comparison to the issue that has driven him to try it.
Valastro, 34, hopes to topple the speed mark to raise awareness to Lyme Disease, in honor of his wife, Brianna Valastro, as she battles an advanced case of the illness.
The Queensbury resident has begun laying the groundwork for a "supported" hike — where he gets transportation to and from trailheads and help with supply drops — he plans to tackle in August. His goal is to break the record set in 2008 by Jan Tellford, who summitted all 46 in 3 days, 17 hours and 14 minutes.
It's a major undertaking, with not a minute to spare as Valastro hopes to tackle the 4,000-foot peaks as quickly as possible. Water, food and transportation have to be lined up right for a seamless transition from peak to peak and range to range.
Valastro has been in touch with Tellford about his quest, and has gotten some tips from him.
"He has helped me get a route planned," Valastro said Tuesday.
A computer systems administrator and avid outdoorsman, Valastro has been training regularly since he made the decision last month to try to break the mark. Late Monday, despite the cold and impending snowstorm, he banged out a two-mile run just before midnight.
"Was in bed last night about to go to sleep at 11:00PM and figured now would be the perfect time to go for a short late night run. I was tired, it was cold, but I felt too comfortable, like I could be doing more. So that’s what I did," he posted on Facebook with a map of his run route.
"I'm pouring everything I can into it," he said Tuesday.
Meanwhile, his young wife continues to battle the debilitating bacterial disease, which stems from a bite from an infected tick. Doctors don't know how long she has had it, but initial antibiotics treatments have not addressed her symptoms, which have included serious heart and central nervous system problems.
And with health insurance not covering advanced treatments that cost $5,000 to $10,000 a month, the avid outdoorsman Valastro has had to sell a lot of his hunting and fishing equipment, as friends set up an online fundraiser for the family on GoFundMe.
Valastro said his goal with the speed hike is to direct people to information about the epidemic of Lyme Disease, so they can protect themselves and hopefully increase funding for research to combat it.
"Lyme Disease doesn't discriminate," he said. "You can do everything right and still get Lyme Disease."
He has set up an informational page on Facebook dubbed "Quest 46" to inform people about both his hike as well as Lyme Disease.
— Don Lehman