When asked about how he approaches life, longtime Elite Endurance racer Brian Gatens takes a long pause, appears to look right through his interviewer and says ever so clearly, “In big bites.” With a racing resume closing in on twenty years, Gatens has used his EE inspired fitness to race mountain bikes, road bikes, running races from 5K’s to Ultra-marathons, and completing Ironman Lake Placid four times within a 9-year span, and a Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim Double Crossing of the Grand Canyon, and adventure races from single day to 24-hour to multi-day expedition races in both America and Europe.
Alongside formal racing, Gatens has also completed a 9-day, 600-mile bikepacking trip across Newfoundland on abandoned railroad beds, a 3-day, 72-mile packrafting/hiking first trip in the Adirondacks, a winter ascent of the 14,009’ Mount of the Holy Cross in Vail, Colorado, and helped to develop the route for the upcoming 4-day 225-mile Catskill Bikepacking Route. This past September he completed Project19X – a 37-hour, 291 mile bikepacking route with 19 5K races in between that helped to raise over $10,000 for a charity supporting victims of domestic violence.
He likes to work with EE to keep himself ‘Adventure Ready’ at all times, and with a few hours notice, he can assemble the gear necessary for any adventure. Branching beyond racing, Gatens sits on the board of the New York Adventure Racing Association, and is working as assistant race director for NYARA’s upcoming ‘Trilogy’ 6 hour beginner adventure race this coming spring. He has also helped to plan and present a series of local free orienteering course for his hometown of Ridgewood, NJ.
Alongside his racing pursuits, Gatens has earned two masters – Reading Specialist and School Administration, and earned his Doctorate in Education in 2017. He is currently pursuing postdoctoral work at Columbia University earning his Professional Certificate in Conflict Resolution and Negotiation. An accomplished author, Gatens has published over 300 articles under the title, “From the Principal’s Desk” with a focus on education, teaching, and parenting. His latest publication is a collaboration with colleagues about student mental health and wellness titled “Knowing Our Children, Knowing Ourselves – A School District’s Journey into Social-Emotional Learning” available later this year.
December Weight: 193 lbs.
Race Weight: 178 lbs.
Birthdate: November 11, 1970
Childhood Heroes: King Arthur and his Noble Knights of the Round Table,
Hobbies and Interests: Reading, Writing, Anything that brings people together
Favorite Movies: Jaws, but my favorite scene in a movie is in Visionquest when high school wrestler Loudon Swaine goes to see Elmo the short order cook the night of his match with Schute. When Loudon dismisses the importance of the moment, Elmo lectures him about how he once saw Pele bring an entire stadium to its feet. Fighting back tears, Elmo says the following:
“That’s right, I start crying. Because another human being, a species that I happen to belong to, could kick a ball, and lift himself, and the rest of us sad-assed human beings, up to a better place to be, if only for a minute… let me tell ya, kid – it was pretty goddamned glorious. It ain’t the six minutes… it’s what happens in that six minutes.”
Musical Tastes: Basic middle age suburban dad rock – U2, Bruce, 80’s, etc. but with an unexpected taste of old school hip hop.
Favorite TV Shows: Survivor, The Amazing Race, and Eco-Challenge: Fiji
Favorite Meal: Mom’s Chicken Cutlet Parmesan
Favorite Breakfast Cereal: Cheerios with Almond Milk
Favorite Pre-Race Meal: Coffee, Cereal, Banana
Favorite Ice Cream Flavor: Oreos Cookie and Cream
Childhood Dream: To have the time to read more and more
First Car: 1982 Oldsmobile Delta 88 – A tank on wheels.
First Job: 7th Grade – Page: Blauvelt Public Library
Favorite Vacation Spot: Woodloch Pines, Hawley PA
Pre-Race Feeling: Best feeling in the world. Time moves both fast and slow as the clock ticks down.
Early Racing Memory: Getting shelled again and again, but loving the hell out of it.
Funny Racing Memory: Got doored by a porta-potty at Rockleigh. All survived.
Greatest Racing Moment: That’s like asking me to pick my favorite child, but I’ll offer winning a Thursday night Rockleigh. Got in a 3-man break with the other two riders having enough teammates to control the field. I hung in there as we dropped one guy and I won the final sprint by a bike length. I have the $25 framed in my office.
Most Painful Moment In Life: I’m close to 50. Take your pick, been knocked down a fair bit, but so far I’m undefeated. .
Worst Injury from Racing: Taken down in a final sprint in CPK in 2008. Guy hits the deck and I hit him. Broken collarbone in 4 places, 4 ribs. Surgery, etc. Still have the plate. All good.
Closest Racing Friends: Jim Mernin, friend for close to 30 years, adventure race partner, and all around great guy.
Funniest Racer: Mitch Hecht
Favorite Race: What race would I want to repeat? Untamed New England – 5-day expedition
Embarrassing Racing Memory: Racing with Kingpin Racing in the Harlem Crit, we were roaring at the front and for the last lap I took off to lead my teammate to the win. It was the 2nd to last lap. Oh well. Hypoxia makes one bad at math.
Toughest Competitors: Canadians. The entire country. They just race so hard.
Favorite Athletes to Watch: Olympians. Don’t care what sport. You wear your country’s flag, I’ll watch you.
Qualities You Most Admire in People: Steadiness of character and tough-as-nails racing, and a good sense of humor when things go sideways.
What You Love Most About Riding Your Bicycle: Everything about it. Closest I’ll ever get to flying.
I have no memory of where I’ve finished in races. I race as hard as I can and sometimes I’m closer to the front than the back. It’s not the finishing number. It’s the effort.