The man who some consider the founding father of freeskiing is 76 year old champion ultramarathon racer who lives in an old school bus in a secret location in the forests of British Columbia. He lives life on his own terms and just entered my top 10 badasses on earth. The Atlantic calls him “The ‘Most Elusive’ Man in North America”, I call him a legend. This is his story:
Somewhere in the mountains of Vernon, British Columbia lives a 76-year-old man by the name of Dag Aabye. He has no cell phone or email address. Revered by locals for having escaped from the shackles of modern society, he is the champion of the 80-mile ultramarathon aptly named the “death race.” Aabye is the oldest person to have ever finished the race.
Determined to locate and interview Aabye, filmmakers Adam Maruniak and Justin Pelletier spent weeks canvassing the nearby town, leaving postcards with their contact information. They visited the bar that the reclusive septuagenarian is said to frequent and even summited a mountain in search of him—to no avail. Then, the day before the co-directors had planned to scrap what they thought was a futile project, Dag called them from a payphone. Their resulting documentary, Never Die Easy, is named after Aabye’s motto.
“Never die easy,” Aabye says in the film. “To me, there is no age. Age is something other people put on you. You put a person in an old folk’s home, and this person’s gonna die pretty quick because you tell them, ‘You’re old now—you’re ready to go.’”
True to local lore, the filmmakers were taken by Aabye’s ardent self-reliance and motivation. “In our final moments with Dag,” Maruniak said, “he embraced us both and told us, ‘Treat yourself like someone you are responsible for helping, and always have a mountain in life to climb.’ Those words will resonate with us forever.”
p.s. Dag’s favorite bar Rooster’s has a free wing per year of age birthday policy. If you’re ever in Vernon you should check it out