(photos courtesy of Sunny Stroeer)
“When your Monday morning looked like this you know it’s going to be a good week,” Suzanne “Sunny” Stroeer (MBA 2011) wrote on Instagram recently. Her view: Sunrise from the snowy summit of Torreys Peak in Colorado, more than 14,000 feet above sea level. As a sponsored adventure athlete—she currently works with Adidas Terrex and PowerBar—Stroeer’s office is the outdoors, and her assignments, all documented on social media, take her from Aspen, where she ran a mountainous backcountry marathon, to Nepal, where she attempted to summit Kusum Kanguru.
When Stroeer left her job as a consultant in 2015 and converted a van to live out of as she ran, climbed, and hiked through the backcountry, she didn’t plan on turning her lifestyle into a one-woman business. But, she says, “I realized very quickly that what I’m doing seemed to resonate with a broader audience that was very much of interest to a lot of outdoor and sports companies.”
On her first ultramarathon, in Madagascar: “I didn’t have proper running shoes, I had no equipment, and I definitely wasn’t trained. So the race was an adventure. It was an exercise in stubbornness. And that kind of got me hooked.”
What keeps her going: “I just don’t think about giving up. That’s a big thing particularly in running 100-mile races, which tend to take anywhere between 24 and 40 hours.”
But sometimes you should give up: “Why would you risk your life? That’s not the point.”
Leaving her office job: “It was a really good learning experience, but consulting never felt like my calling.”
On her business card now: “Climber, ultrarunner, adventurer, photographer.”
Home is…: “An apartment in Boulder that now serves as base camp.” By next spring she plans to be on the road full-time again.
About that van: It’s a 2002 Chevy Astro named Eddie, kitted out with storage, sleeping, and work spaces.
Her happy place: The deserts of the American Southwest.
A family thing: “My mom climbed Kilimanjaro with me last fall. It was her first big mountain. She’s 65. That’s such an accomplishment.”
The life of a sponsored athlete: “I spend as much time outdoors as I can, but I always try to squeeze in a little bit of what I consider ‘work.’ Social media tends to start out my day, then email correspondence with sponsors and expedition planning.”
Where she thought she’d be at this point: “I envisioned that I would be working my way up in finance or private industry, and then I’d move into nonprofit work on women’s education in the developing world.”
How she’s fulfilling that goal instead: Leading all-women expeditions and speaking out about life as a female adventure athlete. “I’m trying to get more women into the outdoors, because I believe that adventure experiences are hugely empowering and can help women bring confidence back into the work environment.”
The record she broke: In January, Stroeer hiked from base camp to the summit of Aconcagua in Argentina, 22,838 feet above sea level, in just 8 hours and 47 minutes—29 minutes faster than any woman before her.
The record she hasn’t broken—yet: The original objective was to break the speed record from the park entrance to the Aconcagua summit as part of an all-woman team. “I’m going to return to Aconcagua with my partners and give our best to finish up the project that we started.”
Class of MBA 2011, Section E