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Soul searching in Speed Climb
By Guy Clifton
Great Outdoor Games staff

RENO, Nev. — Guy German has never won a medal in Speed Climbing at the ESPN Great Outdoor Games, but a lot of medalists have had to get past the 49-year-old Nebraskan to earn their medals over the past four years.

"I always seem to get seeded last at these things, which means I'm facing one of the top seeds in the first round," German said. "I think I've lost by about a total three-tenths of a second the past three years — one year it was 3/100ths of a second."

German gave 2000 gold medalist and defending silver medalist Wade Stewart a scare on Saturday at Rancho San Rafael Park in Reno. The two hit the top of the 65-foot climb at the same time. Only Stewart's faster descent put him through to the quarterfinals. Stewart had a time of 14.27 to German's 14.86.

German hinted this might be his final Great Outdoor Games appearance.

"I have to go home and do some soul searching," said German, a contractor in Columbus, Neb., who was cheered on by his five daughters in their matching tank tops that said "Go Dad" on the front and "German Girls" on the back.

"I need to decide if I want to do everything it takes to get myself prepared for another year of this."

German, who started competing in 1984 spends five months getting in shape for the competitive season.

"It usually begins in late January when I start hitting the weights real hard," he said. "Then I'll also go and climb."

As his training progresses, he backs off the weights and concentrates more on climbing." German also competes in Tree Topping.

German had retired from the sport in 1990 before launching a comeback in 1997. He was considering retiring again before the Great Outdoor Games came along and he decided to continue with the competition.

"This is one of the greatest joys of my life to be able to condition myself to do this," he said. "I've been really fortunate and I love it."

He also loves giving competitors half his age all they can handle.

"Most of these top guys were just little kids when I started competing," he said. "They're a great bunch of guys to be able to compete against."