In 2013, NZ researchers looking at conserving evidence from the Shackleton Expedition (1914-17) found 22 unprocessed negatives stored in a box at a hut where a group of stranded explorers had sheltered. "Though slightly damaged, the incredible images give us a rare glimpse of adventurers from the past."
Prior to their southward migration, the godwits eat up large, until up to 55 per cent of their body weight is fat. They then reduce the size of their gut, kidney and liver by up to 25 per cent to compensate for the added weight. Godwits are amazing migratory shorebirds who travel many thousands of miles at a go. Here's a brief documentary of people studying them (12 minutes on youtube + ad, shows invasive surgery). Here's some science on their flights (creative commons). [more inside]
Becoming the All-Terrain Human: [New York Times]
"Kilian Jornet Burgada is the most dominating endurance athlete of his generation. In just eight years, Jornet has won more than 80 races, claimed some 16 titles and set at least a dozen speed records, many of them in distances that would require the rest of us to purchase an airplane ticket. He has run across entire landmasses (Corsica) and mountain ranges (the Pyrenees), nearly without pause. He regularly runs all day eating only wild berries and drinking only from streams."
"Entering into one of the fiercest competitions in existence, I found art."Sixteen mushers. 120 dogs. An adventure across one of the longest mushing trails in the world: the Beringia, a dog sled race stretching 683 miles across eastern Russia. Twilight on the Tundra [more inside]
Hey! Do you like auto racing? Perhaps you’ve wished to see a race featuring a Ford 150 pickup body mounted backwards on a Crown Vic chassis. Or maybe a two-stroke/three-cylinder powerhouse 1967 Saab, complete with Antarctic emergency airdrop sled mounted to the roof. Or even a totally ludicrous self-powered pop-out camper. [more inside]
61-year-old Diana Nyad is back in the water. Again. (previously) American endurance swimmer Diana Nyad is making her third attempt (and second in as many months) to swim from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage, a distance of 103 miles. Her previous attempt failed after a crippling asthma attack. At the time, she swore she wouldn't try again, but a week later she was already having second thoughts. You can track her progress here.
Illusion or blockhead act? You be the judge. Caution: this performance is not for the squeamish. Tony Star presents iSight. (SLYT)
"Shackleton": The story Ernest Shackleton's Endurance voyage, told as a Twitter novel. Says author Peggy Nelson, "The fearless leader of the greatest anticlimax known to narrative, polar explorer Ernest Shackleton (1874-1922) is today’s go-to superhero." You can follow the narrative on Twitter here. [more inside]
The runners’ bibs say something different each year: SUFFERING WITHOUT A POINT; NOT ALL PAIN IS GAIN
The Immortal Horizon: Thirty-Five Runners Face Hollers and Hells, a Flooded Prison, Rats the Size of Possums, and Flesh-Flaying Briars to Test the Limits of Self-Sufficiency in a race only eight men have ever finished.
Jonah Keri looks at the unconventional methods being used by the Texas Rangers to improve the durability and effectiveness of their pitching staff.
“A member of the armed forced wrote our bib numbers on our foreheads and arms in permanent marker, presumably to facilitate the identification of our dead bodies.” What happens when a gay man in his 40s and his boyfriend decide to run the nearly insane Tough Mudder obstacle course amid a sea of generally shirtless “non-homosexuals.” Tasks include manhandling lubed-up monkey bars, fording ice-cold lakes, and conquering steep mud hills. (It almost – but doesn’t quite – include falling into a burning ring of fire.) [more inside]
In 2006, Joss Naylor ran 50 miles up and down seventy Lake District fells, ascending more than 25,000 feet in 21 hours. Not his best performance, but to be fair, he was 70 at the time. Cumbrian shepherd Joss Naylor (warning: Youtube link; Cumbrian accent, impossibly adorable sheepdog) is one of the greatest British athletes most people have never heard of, and perhaps the greatest competitor ever in a sport most people have never heard of either: fell-running. [more inside]
Commonwealth, schmommonwealth. The Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games are on. Horse lovers the world over are enthralled by the high drama and hijinks in Lexington, Kentucky this week. Already there's been a controversial withdrawal following a travel-related mishap (on the very same flight hilariously previewed here.) In all the excitement, Eitan Beth-Halachmy, a "cowboy dressage" rider in the opening ceremony, seems to have burst a spleen. As expected, the Dutch took the gold medal in Dressage despite one of their team being disqualified with a horse bleeding from the mouth. Some point to training methods like rollkur, or hyperflexion, saying they are cruel and abusive. The FEI has banned rollkur; former advocates say that what they do is not rollkur, but "LDR" (long, deep and round.) Look at the lawsuits fly! In happier news, the gloriously named Nobby took the gold medal in the Endurance event. "He could go another 100 miles today if you wanted him to," rider Maria Mercedes Alvarez Ponton said of the 15-year-old bay Arab gelding. Still to come, the equestrian triathlon: Eventing! [more inside]
Jure Robič raced on bicycles in his hometown in Slovenia, skilled enough to race with small Slovene teams but nothing professionally, supporting himself with a sales job for a bike-parts dealer. It was with the death of his mother in 1997 and his subsequent depression that Robič discovered his calling: ultra-endurance cycle races, in which he competes with a methodical madness. (1 page print version, via). [more inside]
Death Race (NYT) - for the third year, Pittsfield Vermont has hosted a 10 mile endurance run. [more inside]
On Oct. 27th, 1915. Sir Ernest Shackleton gave the order to abandon ship, moving the crew and supplies off of the ice bound Endurance. The Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition would never achieve it's goal of crossing the continent, instead Shackleton would become famous for somethings far greater: his masterful and amazing ability at leadership and survival for himself and his crew of 27 men under the harshest conditions imaginable. [more inside]
The Western States Trail Ride, more commonly known as the Tevis Cup, is an equestrian competition held annually in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California. It begins near Squaw Valley, and ends in Auburn - a distance of 100 miles, to be covered in under 24 hours. [more inside]
Death Race: "I confirm that if I should die on the Tough Guy route 2007, that it is my own bloody fault for coming. No claim can be made by me or my estate for loss or injury suffered by my failure."
Endurance - "During the performance of Endurance, 26 participants took a one our turn standing motionless on the same square foot of sidewalk. Challenging Seattles' vagrancy laws, which prohibit loitering, each participant dedicated their stand to the memory of a friend whose death resulted from a life lived on the streets." (flash)
The World Triathlon Corporation ("WTC") runs the Hawaii Ironman Triathlon. Most people have heard of the 2.4 mile swimming, 112 mile biking and 26.2 mile running race in Kona, Hawaii. It's the best-known and most prestigious race in the sport of the triathlon (although no longer the most lucrative). Legend has it that the event was born in 1978 when some buddies in Hawaii, led by former Navy captain John Collins, were debating which was the toughest sporting event in Hawaii: the 2.4-mile Waikiki Rough Water Swim, the 112-mile bike race around Oahu, or the 26.2-mile Honolulu Marathon. After more than a few beers, the legend goes, the small group decided to attempt all three distances in one day, and the Ironman was born. Today, the Ironman ("IM") is a trademarked event replicated annually almost 20 times all over the world by the WTC. These (and a few 1/2 IM races) function as qualifying races for Hawaii, which now serves as the World Championship. Basically, each of these events is allotted a number of qualifying slots per age group and you have to win a spot for Kona. The non-pros that they show on TV are generally the result of 200 lottery slots or special invitation (celebrity, good tv story, etc). Athletes are lining up to get into IM races in the US. Currently, there are 4 IM trademarked races in the US: Ironman USA in Lake Placid, Ironman Wisconsin in Madison, Ironman Coeur d'Alene in Idaho and Ironman Florida in Panama City. What you may not know is that to participate in one of these you routinely have to register and pay the $400+ fee almost one year in advance. Registration for the 2003 races closed within a week or two of the completion of the 2002 races. Just recently, registration for the 2004 Ironman USA -- 2003 was held last weekend -- closed in two days, so you're already too late for next year. And who are these entrants? According to USAT demographics, over 41% of triathletes (USAT members) earn more than $80,000 per year, 40% have college degrees and 48% have graduate/post-graduate degrees. Perhaps reflective of the demographics, CEO's (of corporations with a minimum $1 Million in annual gross revenue) now have their own racing category. The WTC may own the name "Ironman" but I have my eye on a non-WTC, "iron distance" event this year: Duke. You can still register for this one. Here is a 13-week Ironman training schedule for a 12-14 hour finishing time.