The Active Times 50: Meet Our Panelists

Learn about the people who nominated the best athletes in the world
Staff Writer

Photo courtesy of Ryan Waters

Eric Larsen, one of the best athletes in the world

Meet Our Panelists:

Eric J. Hörst: An accomplished climber of more than 35 years, Hörst is recognized internationally as a leading authority on climbing performance. A student and teacher of climbing performance, Eric has personally helped train hundreds of climbers, and his training books and concepts have spread around the world to climbers in more than 50 countries. His most recent book, Maximum Climbing, is “a climber’s guide to the software of the brain—one that will prove invaluable whether your preference is bouldering, sport climbing, traditional climbing, or mountaineering.”

Arno Ilgner: Ilgner distinguished himself as a pioneering rock climber in the 1970s and 80s. In 1995, after searching the literature and practice of mental training, Ilgner formalized his methods, created The Warrior’s Way, and began teaching full time. Ilgner has taught clinics across the U.S.A. and abroad. He holds a B.A. in Geology, operated a geological consulting firm, acted as CFO for a company, and attended the Army Ranger School. He lives and climbs in Tennessee.

Gale Bernhardt: Bernhardt was the USA Triathlon men's and women's team coach at the 2003 Pan American Games and 2004 Athens Olympics. She has worked as one of the few World Cup coaches for both USA Triathlon and the International Triathlon Union. She has delivered coach education training for organizations such as USA Cycling, USA Triathlon, the International Triathlon Union's Sport Development Program and the National Strength and Conditioning Association, to name a few. In addition to the world class triathletes, she coaches a wide variety of endurance athletes including Ironman and Olympic distance triathletes looking to improve performance, Olympic road racers, World Cup mountain bikers, Leadville 100 racers and cross country mountain bike racers. She races the Leadville 100 and is the 12th woman in the history of the race to earn the coveted 1,000-mile belt buckle.

Tina Muir: An elite, Saucony-sponsored runner, Muir is an 11-time Division II All-America athlete for Ferris State University, Tina capped off her collegiate career by finishing 3rd in the 10k at the 2012 Great Britain Olympic Trials. Tina spent two years working as an Assistant Coach for La Salle University, a Division I University in Philadelphia, while completing her MBA. Tina juggled a full workload with her post-collegiate training, improving her personal bests to a 16:08 5k, 32:24 10k, and 1:14 half marathon. She is also the Community Manager for RunnersConnect and has a popular training and fueling blog, Fuel Your Future with Tina Muir, which attracts readers from all over the world as a source for recipes on how to fuel correctly to maximize performance, as well as training advice and inside information on what life is like as an elite athlete.

Nancy Hobbs: Hobbs is the founder and executive director of the American Trail Running Association, co-author of The Ultimate Guide to Trail Runningand chairperson for the Mountain Ultra Trail Council. An avid trail runner since the late 80s, Hobbs has long served as one of the sport’s leading pioneers.  

Maria Coffey: A world explorer, paddling guide, climber, journalist and an internationally published author, Coffey has spent her life at the forefront of adventure travel. Navigating the globe by sea kayak and scaling some of the world’s most intimidating mountains, she chronicled her extreme journeys in top-tier publications and authored several books on the subject of mountaineering. In 2009, she was awarded the American Alpine Club Literary Prize for her writings on the subject. Following the death of her partner Joe Tasker on Everest, Maria wrote her first book Fragile Edge (1989), which won two prizes in Italy. Coffey’s most recent book, Explorers of the Infinite, was published in 2008 and in 2000 she founded a boutique adventure travel company with her husband, called Hidden Places.

Christopher Sunnen: Sunnen, who is better known as “The Last Adventurer,” has spent the last 25 years pursuing high altitude adventure in mountain ranges around the world. He is the former co-host of “In Ice Axe We Trust” and is a freelance writer and photographer whose work has been featured in numerous publications. He is also the driving force behind the Last Adventurer, a website devoted to mountaineering, backpacking, climbing, and hiking. His current mountaineering project is mapping the Shorty’s Well Traverse in Death Valley, which is considered the “impossible” hike of North America.

Chris Warner: At just 17, Warner started leading wilderness trips. Now, more than 30 years later, he’s still doing what he loves. Along the way, Warner summited five of the world’s tallest peaks (Everest, K2, Lhotse, Cho Oyu and Shisha Pangma) and has led treks on mountains around the world. Today, he’s the Founder and CEO of Earth Treks, a company that teaches indoor, rock and ice climbing.

See the List of the 50 Best Athletes in the World

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