Scott Jurek Chases Appalachian Trail Speed Record

first_imgScott Jurek has been eyeing the Appalachian Trail for years. On Wednesday May, 27 at 5:56 a.m., he began his pursuit of the the trail’s speed record.Jurek has won nearly all of ultrarunning’s elite events, including the historic 153-mile Spartathlon, the Hardrock 100, the Badwater 135-mile Ultramarathon, the Miwok 100K, and—his signature race—the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run, which he won a record seven straight times. In 2010, he set a new US all-surface record in the 24-Hour Run with 165.7 miles—6.5 marathons in one day.Jurek was a central character in Christopher McDougall’s bestselling book Born to Run. Jurek ran alongside the Tarahumara runners in the Copper Canyon Ultra and later won the event.Now 41 years old, Jurek has set his sights on the ultimate ultra prize: the Appalachian Trail speed title. Asheville’s Jennifer Pharr Davis holds the current A.T. speed record of 46 days, 11 hours, 20 minutes, which she set in 2011. Davis averaged 47 miles per day and was supported by her husband, Brew Davis, as well as legendary trail runner David Horton and sixteen-time A.T. thru-hiker Warren Doyle.Jurek is trekking northbound on the A.T. and will be passing through Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Virginia in the next three weeks. He hopes to arrive atop Katahdin by early July.Blue Ridge Outdoors editor in chief Will Harlan will be joining Scott Jurek for part of his Appalachian Trail trek. Look for his reports from the trail at read more

A White Runner at Atlanta’s Kennesaw Mountain is an Unexpected Minority

first_imgI’m half way up Kennesaw Mountain, one of the last bumps in the Appalachian chain, just north of Atlanta, when it hits me: I’m the only white person in the forest. It’s a strange, but awesome realization, particularly given my location.I’m running the main trail that switchbacks up the north face of the 1,808-foot hill, climbing 700 vertical feet in under a mile. It’s a hump of a run, and judging by the crowd, it’s also one of the most popular trails in the state. Families are hiking together, groups of runners are chatting, kids are struggling to hold onto dogs, while clusters of women power walk with their hands on their hips. And it plays out like a scene from the United Nations—Hispanics, African Americans, Asians, and Middle Easterners. I hear at least three different languages as I climb slowly up the hill.I grew up at the base of this mountain, spending countless weekends hiking the trails and playing in the fields. Picture kids climbing on cannons and teenagers throwing Frisbees in the grass. This was the ‘80s in the South, so picture lots of jean shorts and mullets on those kids. And I’m talking about “white” kids here. When I was young, Kennesaw was a predominantly rural town—a few new neighborhoods scattered between farms. We had one park, one elementary school, one restaurant (a Dairy Queen), and one black family. Mine was a childhood full of sandlot baseball, forts in the woods, and Sunday dinners with the priest. And a hell of a lot of racial tension, most of which seemed to be held over from the Civil War.When you grow up on the edge of Atlanta, it’s hard to avoid the Civil War. The ghosts were lurking around ever corner. Kennesaw Mountain was one of the pivotal battles in the war. My brothers and I would find 150-year-old bullets in our backyard. One of my mother’s favorite places to walk was the Confederate Cemetery, where thousands of nameless white headstones rose from the rolling grass, like rows of teeth. In elementary school, we took the same field trip every year, walking from our school to the Southern Museum of Civil War History in downtown Kennesaw.You could say the Civil War never actually ended in Kennesaw, Georgia. It was just on pause. Older folks referred to the conflict as “The War of Northern Aggression.” The town’s annual summer festival centered around a massive battle re-enactment. For decades, the most looming figure in Kennesaw was a guy named “Wild Man.” He owned a Civil War relic shop downtown, dressed every day as a Confederate soldier, and wore two guns strapped to his hips. Imagine seeing that guy in line at the Dairy Queen. Meanwhile, the KKK still handed out flyers at the stoplight when I was a kid. At this point in history, they weren’t allowed to wear their white masks anymore, but they could still disseminate hate speak.The predominantly white town and its surrounding county fought hard over the years to keep Atlanta’s public rail system from reaching its borders. Here’s how that particular train of thought has played out in the past: Poor people ride public transportation, and by poor people I mean minorities, and by minorities I obviously mean criminals…It’s as if Donald Trump was advising our city council. But wait, it gets better: Kennesaw made national news when the city council passed a law requiring every homeowner to own a gun in 1982. (Good law-abiding citizens that we were, my father bought a 22-caliber rifle, which he immediately disassembled.) Some people still call Kennesaw, “Gun Town, USA.” Awesome.So yeah, given the town’s history, I’m surprised to be the only white person on Kennesaw Mountain as I run the rocky doubletrack through Civil War earthworks and past historical placards. I spend a lot of time on trails all over the country, and the fact is, most people I see look just like me. They’re generally in better shape and have less gray in their beard, but we’re the same shade of pale. A 2013 participation report by the nonprofit Outdoor Foundation shows 70% of outdoor recreation participants are white. The national park service reports only one in five visitors as being “nonwhite.”I don’t doubt the validity of these statistics one bit, but if you did a participation study of Kennesaw Mountain on the days that I’ve run there over the last few years, you’d probably find inverse numbers. Maybe each day that I’ve run on that mountain is an anomaly, but I’d say one in five visitors are white. Maybe. Probably more like one in 10, which is incredible for a couple of reasons.First, as the demographics of the U.S. evolve, the outdoor industry, National Park Service, and various recreational groups are scrambling to find ways to encourage minorities to take up backpacking, visit parks and buy mountain bikes. They develop outreach programs and advertising campaigns dedicated to certain racial groups. Because, you know, when the U.S. is made up of mostly “nonwhites,” who will buy all of the performance layers with thumbholes?The Outdoor Industry could learn something from the diversity at Kennesaw Mountain. Mainly, participation in outdoor recreation has more to do with access than “cultural identification.” This particular trail system sits 20 miles from downtown Atlanta, on the edge of the South’s most populated and diverse city. It’s easy to get to. It’s free. The hiking is awesome. So people will show up, regardless of race or religion. You want to increase minority participation in outdoor sports? Figure out a way to include outdoor recreation in neighborhoods with robust minority populations. Greenways, clean rivers, trails that climbs hills…Kennesaw Mountain’s diversity proves that if people have access to trails, they’ll flock to those trails. And I love the simplicity of that equation.But mostly I’m psyched to be the only white person on Kennesaw Mountain because of the irony at play here. This is a trail system within a Civil War battlefield, on the edge of a town with a history of backwards ass racial maneuvers, and it’s now a beacon of diversity. This mountain and battlefield has stood for a lot of things since the Civil War, some good, some bad. Now it seems to be taking on another beautiful chapter, a sort of de-facto Central Park for the diverse families that now call Atlanta and its suburbs home.[divider]related articles[/divider]last_img read more

The Cheesiest Race Ever

first_imgEvery spring, hundreds partake in the cheese rolling race at Cooper’s Hill in Brockworth, Gloucestershire, England, as they have for decades.Competitors chase a large wheel of cheese down an incredibly steep hill. The winner wins the roll of cheese and bragging rights. Due to the steep incline, injuries are quite common. But not to worry: the local rugby team stands guard at the foot of the hill to ensure people do run into the fence at the bottom.People from around the world have come to chase the massive roll of cheese down the hill, including an American veteran who ended up winning in 2013. Each year, the event grows in popularity both in spectators and competitors. Last year there were an estimated 4,000 people on the hill. This year’s cheese rolling will take place on May 29.Could Appalachia import this funky competition? Our hills seem ideal for some cheese chasing.View last year’s cheese rolling race here.last_img read more

Outdoor News: Fossil Fuels renamed ‘Molecules of Freedom’

first_imgThe US Energy Department renames fossil fuels ‘molecules of freedom’ Dangerous levels of antibiotics found in rivers around the world In a press release issued earlier this month the US Department of Energy referring to natural gas as “freedom gas” and “molecules of freedom.” The terms were used in a press release announcing the authorization of increased exports of natural gas from a coastal Texas natural gas terminal. The patriotic terms drew some exasperated comments from people like Washington governor and presidential candidate Jay Inslee who tweeted “This has to be a joke. (Remember freedom fries?)” But the term has actually been used before. In early May, Secretary of Energy Rick Perry referred to liquefied natural gas exported to Europe as “the United States… delivering a form of freedom to the European continent.” center_img The largest study on antibiotics in waterways has found that dangerous levels of antibiotics exist in two out of three test sites around the world. Researchers tested 711 sites in 72 countries and found antibiotics in 65 percent of the rivers. In 111 of the sites the levels of antibiotics present exceeded safe levels. Poorer countries generally had higher levels of contamination. In Africa, 35 percent of rivers exceeded safe limits for concentrations of antibiotics and in Asia over 20 percent of rivers exceeded limits. In Bangladesh, a drug used to treat vaginal infections was found to be 300 times over the safe limit. High levels are blamed on inappropriate disposal of garbage and sewage dumped right into rivers and a lack of technology in some countries to remove the drugs.last_img read more

Missing Va kayaker rescued after disappearing in Florida Everglades

first_imgAccording to a post made on Collier County’s Sherriff’s Office Facebook page, one of Miele’s bags washed up on the bank of Lopez River on Sunday, February 2nd, four days past his due backdate. The Park rangers who found the bag founded Miele’s wallet and phone inside and asked the CCSO to help with the search. On January 22 a 67-year-old Virginia man, Mark Miele, set out for a solo kayaking trip through the Florida Everglades. He was due back on January 29 but failed to make it back. People began to search. “Mark is recovering and is stable. We thank the Collier County Sheriff’s Office, the National Park Service and all of the search rangers, and the Fish and Wildlife Commission. We couldn’t have worked with a more wonderful, caring, kind, and straightforward group of people. It’s a miracle he’s alive and in the condition he is in. We would also like to thank the professionals at Physicians Regional Hospital (Collier Boulevard) for their competency and caring ways.” In the video, you see Mark Miele floating in the open water hardly able to move until rescuers pull him into their boat. Deputies use Miele’s phone to find his most recent coordinates logged on Jan. 31. Their Aviation Unit then began a targeted search of the area. The CCSO posted an update from Miele’s family who asked the media to refrain from contacting them directly. last_img read more

Haiti, Drugs Top North American Talks

first_imgBy Dialogo December 15, 2010 The top US, Canadian and Mexican diplomats met here on 13 December to help Central American nations fight drug cartels and ensure contested Haitian election results are properly reviewed, US officials said. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Foreign Ministers Lawrence Cannon of Canada and Patricia Espinosa of Mexico also met in the rural Quebec community of Wakefield to discuss border security and regional trade, US officials said. Arturo Valenzuela, the assistant secretary of state for western hemisphere affairs, told reporters before leaving Washington that the three top diplomats will map out the agenda for a summit of their three leaders early in 2011. A portion of the meeting will be on “broad foreign policy discussions,” he said. “The biggest emphasis will be with regard to Central America and also Haiti. I’m sure Haiti will be a very important part of the discussion,” Valenzuela said. Senior US officials said North American governments feared the drug cartels could relocate to Central American nations as they faced government crackdowns in Mexico and Colombia. There is a “tremendous need to address the problem of security in Central America,” the official added. “Central American leaders welcome Canadian and Mexican assistance and coordination on their borders,” another official said, adding the North American states can help strengthen the police and courts in Central America. Cannon has said meanwhile that Canada is offering to take part in an international-led recount of ballots in Haiti’s disputed presidential election, which has led to deadly rioting. The Canadian foreign minister suggested on 12 December that Ottawa could be part of “a mixed international committee” to supervise a fresh tally of ballots, after charges of irregularities marred the November 28 vote. The Haitian election saw President Rene Preval’s handpicked protege Jude Celestin make it through to a second round run-off, edging out popular opposition candidate Michel Martelly by less than 7,000 votes. In a bid to counter widespread allegations of fraud and to stave off protests, Haiti’s Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) has announced plans to add up all the tally sheets in the presence of the three main candidates. US officials also sought to help the election review process. “We’ve been following it very closely and are engaged to try to assure that the review is a proper review, that the legitimacy of the election can be enhanced through this review,” a senior US official said on condition of anonymity. “I suspect that given the controversies surrounding the election that the discussion of Haiti may be more important than we might have envisioned it when we were first putting this meeting together,” he said. US officials said the three diplomas will also discuss developing common standards in renewable energy and sell the energy across all three markets. They said Mexico’s strengths in developing solar and wind power.last_img read more

Anti-Drug Fight in Mexico Leads Cartels to Operate in Other Countries

first_imgBy Dialogo April 08, 2011 The intensification of operations against drug trafficking in Mexico is motivating the cartels to transfer their activities to other regions, especially in Central America but also in Africa, experts said at the International Drug Enforcement Conference. “The most affected region is Central America, particularly the Northern Triangle, made up of Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. Its governability has been affected by violence derived from drug trafficking,” Mexican Security Secretary Genaro García Luna said. However, the cartels are also finding a new niche in the countries of the west coast of Africa in which to consolidate their routes to Europe, which is playing an increasing strong role as a consumer, according to a UN International Narcotics Control Board document cited at the meeting. “Europe is the world’s second largest market for cocaine, with significant concentrations in the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, Germany, and France,” the document indicates. García Luna indicated that “besides the enormous attraction exercised by the world’s largest market, the United States, the growth of the European market has led to diversification in the routes of that drug (cocaine), principally by way of the Caribbean and West Africa.” The subject of the cartels’ expansion dominated part of the debates on the second day of the Twenty-Eighth International Drug Enforcement Conference, which is being held amid heavy security in the Mexican beach resort of Cancún. Gen. Oscar Naranjo, commander of the Colombian police, agreed in indicating that trafficking by way of Africa is increasingly important. “A good portion of the large-scale drug traffickers are trying to convert West Africa into an entry point for drugs; no cartel has given up this possibility,” Naranjo indicated. “The most worrisome emerging drug-trafficking route is the route from West Africa to Europe. Drug traffickers don’t want to run risks by confronting the pressure and conflict in Mexico” and are looking for new markets, he added. The Colombian general gave Sierra Leone as an example, where cartel liaisons have been discovered in the capital, Freetown, he said. “In Sierra Leone, we’ve arrested Mexicans and Colombians who were receiving drugs in Africa, the new emerging market; the aim is to convert that city into a warehouse,” he indicated. On 5 April, during the inaugural session of the event, in which delegates from more than a hundred countries are participating, the director of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), Michele Leonhart, warned about an expansion of operations to new fronts. Leonhart also mentioned the case of Liberia, an African country where “seven leaders of Colombian cartels were arrested last summer.” She indicated that this group “was trying to establish a new transit route for cocaine shipments from Venezuela to Europe, via Liberia.” The DEA director also expressed her concern about the way that Mexican cartels are moving into Central America and mentioned the specific case of Los Zetas. This group, created by military deserters recruited by the Gulf cartel, began to operate independently two years ago and maintains a fierce struggle with its former bosses for control of the routes along Mexico’s east coast. The Zetas draw support from local gangs, such as the Salvadoran and Honduran ‘maras,’ which they convert into subordinates. In this regard, García Luna issued a reminder that the cartels are becoming increasingly dependent on these gangs. “A phenomenon that has been increasing is the use of common criminals and youth gangs by organized crime for territorial disputes over drug distribution,” he indicated.last_img read more

Interview with Air Force Gen. José Bonilla, Head of the Uruguayan Defense General Staff

first_img Diálogo: What is the benefit of regional cooperation, not only with the United States, but with other countries in the region in order to wage the fight against common threats to security? That experience was followed by the battalion deployed in the Sinai, where it’s the longest-serving battalion in the area. There’s no other battalion in the Sinai that has served longer in carrying out that mandate in the complex situation of the Middle East, no other battalion that’s served as long as the Uruguayan one. Subsequently, Uruguay deployed blue helmets to Cambodia, Mozambique, the Congo, Haiti; finally, there’s a very rich experience, which not only helps the Ministry of Foreign Relations, but also increases the preparation of our troops. The particular character and the way of being of the Uruguayan people also set an example, one that’s acknowledged by the countries where they’ve deployed. Our soldier, who is the most important resource the Armed Forces have, always goes beyond the training he formally receives; he also has the particular character that the Uruguayan carries with him, his way of acting, his relationship with the citizens. We have very direct attitudes that we achieve through that rapprochement: delivering medicine, providing services and aid to the population, organizing sports events; a very profound rapprochement that helps and facilitates our mission abroad. Nevertheless, diminished investment in the Armed Forces results in decreased operability. In Uruguay, there was a major public debate about the role that the Armed Forces should play, and Law 18650, passed by the previous administration, defined what our national defense is. This concept includes the budget, sovereignty, independence, guardianship of strategic resources, and acting for the benefit of society, so that it can develop and live freely within a sovereign state. Since this law, the concept of national defense is better understood by the public. By Dialogo May 12, 2011 Gen. José Bonilla: We’re in the middle of studying that. Right now, we’re analyzing all the work that is involved in order to advise the National Defense Council. Once we have a defense policy, and on the basis of the threats defined in this new vision of the Armed Forces, [we’ll have better determined our direction] … keep in mind that this isn’t only the case in Uruguay. [It’s a change that] the whole world is making; it’s the same situation in Brazil, Chile, Japan, China, Germany … it’s the same thing. The Armed Forces are moving toward that new path. Gen. José Bonilla: Peace missions are a very significant point, because they’ve historically been a component of foreign policy and of preserving peace throughout the world. In Uruguay they began in 1935, when the country found that it needed to deploy observers in different areas in the Americas. Air Force Gen. José Bonilla was named the first Chief of the Uruguayan Joint Staff in October 2010, coinciding with the creation of the country’s Joint Staff as an institution. As his chief responsibility in his new post, General Bonilla must submit a report on the modernization and restructuring of the Uruguayan Armed Forces. Diálogo: Where do you see the Uruguayan Armed Forces in five years? Gen. José Bonilla: As part of this law, a new body called the Joint Staff was born within the Defense Ministry. This is a body that provides advice and planning in relation to the military policy set by the defense minister, which after approval, gives the order to carry it out to the three branches of the Armed Forces. Diálogo: Uruguay has supported UN peace-keeping operations for more than fifty years. What are the peace-keeping experiences that Uruguay can share with other nations? Diálogo: What are your priorities, and what are the chief areas on which you would like to focus with respect to the development of the Armed Forces? Diálogo: In October 2010, you were named to the position of head of the Joint General Staff, after serving as commanding-general of the Air Force. What is the significance of the creation of this position, and what objectives have you set out for your new post? Recently, General Bonilla spoke with Diálogo about subjects including the importance of the new Joint Staff, the threats currently affecting Uruguay, and the country’s longstanding participation in peace-keeping operations around the world. Gen. José Bonilla: Internationally, we don’t see any short-range or mid-range possibility of foreign forces wanting to enter our country. Internally, working hand-in-hand with the different actors who form a society, our great threats are drug trafficking, all kinds of smuggling, trafficking of organs, drugs, which are the big ones that today are plagues affecting humanity. Diálogo: What are the chief threats to Uruguayan security, and what measures are the Armed Forces taking to combat those threats? General Bonilla: The armies of the world, the armed forces of the world in general, and the governments more than anyone have seen that the role for which the Armed Forces were born has been gradually changing. Just as the different threats have changed, so also the role in which [these forces] are used is changing. Given that the countries of the Americas no longer fear the occurrence of clashes between countries, many people question why the Armed Forces exist, if no one is going to attack them. Why continue spending on the Armed Forces in a world where education and social spending are ever more sensitive issues, if every investment along those lines is seen more favorably by society? Gen. José Bonilla: Governments today are seeking bilateral or regional accords. It’s the first time (in March 2011) that there’s talk of a strategic accord with the United States. Normally, there are exchanges of skills development, training, finally everything that has to do with the tactical, operational part of a force. Today, benefits that go a little further are now visible. We have a great deal to gain from U.S. experience, just as Uruguay also has experience to share with the United States, in peace missions, among other things, as Deputy Secretary [Frank] Mora (U.S. deputy assistant secretary of defense for western hemisphere affairs) said when he was visiting here. But also with Brazil, insofar as Brazil is going to have much more peace of mind if it knows that Uruguay has control over its borders, whether sea, air, or land. Of course it’s going to have much more peace of mind, because its security also depends on Uruguayan security. Likewise, we also have to have peace of mind that it’s more difficult for something to come in by way of Brazil or Argentina. last_img read more

Brazil Opens With Rout In Women’s Football

first_img Anyone who follows the Brazilian womens professionals soccer has heard of Cilene Katia da Silva, 34. She played in four FIFA World Cups and two Olympic Games. A sailor since 2009, on Saturday, July 16th, she introduced herself as an athlete in military style. Brazil beat France by 4-1at the San Gennaro stadium in Rio de Janeiro in the women’s soccer tournament of the 5th Military World Games, Katia scoring two goals. The first came just four minutes into the game, with another one coming at the 33rd minute before the break. Michele Reis and Melissa Sodré, chipped in the other two. The French goal came at 40 minutes of the second half from Cynthia Guéhi. “Katia is a player who is physically and technically good and is unmistakable. It seems that time stands still for her, “said the Brazilian coach, Lt. Daniel Gonçalves. Their challenge will be against Canada. “The game was very centralized with me and Maycon. We know that we will have a harder time in the game against Canada and collectively we have to play better, but the players believe in our potential,” said the striker. Rear Admiral Marine Fernando Motta is thrilled with the results of the Brazilian women. He recalls that this was the second Brazilian victory in the 5th World Games. On Friday Brazil defeated Algeria by 1-0 in men’s soccer. “We started on the right foot. Yesterday (Friday), the men did their job against Algeria and the women did their part today beating France,” he said. With Saturday’s victory, Brazil leads group A women’s with three points, followed by France and Canada. In group B, Netherlands defeated Germany 3-2. By Dialogo July 17, 2011last_img read more

Almost 1,000 Weapons Seized from Criminals Are Destroyed in Guatemala

first_imgBy Dialogo June 15, 2012 The weapons were destroyed at the workshops that the Supreme Court has in a sector of the capital. According to Aldana, this is the fifth time that weapons seized in different operations have been destroyed, for a total of around 10,000 weapons. Guatemalan authorities estimate that more than 3 million weapons circulate illegally in Guatemala, contributing to an increase in violence that is leaving around 16 dead a day, one of the highest rates in Latin America. On June 13, the Guatemalan Army destroyed 983 weapons of various calibers that had been seized from criminals over the last two years, in compliance with an order from the Supreme Court, the court’s presiding justice, Telma Aldana, announced. last_img read more