Category Archives: family

Goals

One of the season’s first forays onto dry trails at Cady Hill, Stowe, Vermont


With the transition from the spring to summer semesters here at Sterling College, the trails have dried out, the sun rises earlier, and it’s been easier to find a few more hours in the week to focus on training. The Sterling running team has started 5:00 am summer practices three times each week, which has helped add more miles and more hill workouts into my weekly regimen.

Some students are starting out and running trails for the first time, some training for the upcoming Mount Washington Road Race, and some have longer term goals. Each person’s goals are unique, of course — from running a mile to completing a race to running across a small (or medium-sized!) country — the actual goal doesn’t matter.

What matters more is that we find meaning and intention in the goals we do build, and keep close those whose strength can help support us. A good friend recently asked me how I could find such focus on resilience and hope. So much so that my vehicle for doing so — running — has become a central part of my life — and the processes of training, planning, organizing, mentoring, and sharing stories of both adventure and climate.

When I leave for Norway in mid-July, I know that I’ll have the support of family, friends — so many new friends who have helped to support this work. I’m looking forward to meeting with new friends along the Arctic Trail and during stops in Svalbard, Tromsø, Bodø, Kautokeino, and elsewhere.

My goal, huge as it may seem, is at its heart really simple: I am just trying to figure out the best way that I can contribute to building meaningful communities and having thoughtful conversations.

And running has become a way for me to do just that.

From a recent training run on Mount Elmore, Vermont

3,000 hours

There are just under 3,000 hours left before I set out on my 500-mile run on the Arctic Trail in northern Scandinavia in August. I like thinking about the time in hours: I can visualize and wrap my mind around an hour pretty easily, whereas 4 months can seem a lifetime away.

If I think about the hours I spend training each week and the hours it takes to plan out this event, then thinking in hours gives me perspective, gives me pause, and also motivates and inspires me to make the most of each and every one of those hours.

But, I won’t spend all of them training (or racing 😉 ).

will work hard to balance an increasingly intense training schedule with spending time with my wife and son, teaching, coaching, playing with our dogs, and taking care of myself.

I am an athlete, ultrarunner, and advocate for climate resilience, but I am also human, and sometimes that’s what is most important to remember.


Today, for example, Orion (my 12-year old son) and I teamed up with one of his friends to take 7th place in the 6th annual Mud ‘n Ice Quadrathlon (a local affair consisting of a 9k nordic ski, 4.5-mile run, 3-mile paddle, and 11-milebike). My week’s mileage may have taken a dip, but I wouldn’t have traded the day for anything else.

Dispatches for Iceland #6: Wesfjords Reflections & Recovery

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At long last–the finish at Laugarbakki with my brother Michal and brother-in-law Brion.

It has been one week since I completed my run across Iceland to bring attention to climate resilience, and I’ve spent much of that time recovering, replenishing calories with seafood, lamb, and skyr, and taking some tentative and recuperative steps on the trails, snowfields, and beaches around Isafjordur and Flateyri here in the Westfjords.

 

The Climate Run was easily the greatest endurance challenge that I’ve ever faced. I covered 240 km (about 150 miles) in just under 45 hours of running (and a few hours of sleep), climbed and descended a total of 6,000 meters (20,000 feet), ran solo stretches of up to 35 miles, and consumed a steady diet of Pocket Fuel and Nuun, both of which turned out to be essential pieces of the endurance nutrition puzzle for me — particularly on the long stretch of tundra north of the Icelandic highlands.

The project–from planning to preparation to completion–would not have been possible were it not for a dedicated support team here in Iceland: family and friends who provided logistical and emotional support, foot massages and wraps, delicious sandwiches and soup, and and-of-stage pacing without which I may well have curled up by the side of the trail many miles before the finish.

I am forever grateful and humbled by all the help I got both on the ground in Iceland and from the project’s many sponsors and supporters over the past year.

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Looking back towards Eiriksjökull across Arnavatnsheði

As I mentioned in an earlier post, the Climate Run route changed from my original plan to run the Kjölur Route to a route a little farther west across the Kaldidalur pass. This route took me from the start on a beach of black volcanic sand near Thorlakshöfn, over the crater of the Hengill volcano, through the national park at Thingvellir, across the Kaldidalur pass, and over the Arnavatnsheði tundra and to Laugerbakki and Miðfjöður on the north coast.

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Cooling my heels in the cold water of the north

I am more than happy with the outcome. Although the route was a few miles shorter than originally planned, the terrain was more challenging and included more trail (and even off-trail) miles.

As I write this post in the café at Borea Adventures in Isafjorður, I finally have some time to start to put together some thoughts about what I learned about resilience, running, climate, family, and community–all of which I believe are essential pieces of the broader ecological system of which we are always a part.

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rainbow from the top of Kaldidalur

I have already presented on Climate Run twice–once here at the University Centre of the Westfjords in Isafjorður, and once at the Arctic Encounters conference in Roskilde Denmark–and I hope this run and the stories, pictures and video (thanks largely to the tireless work of Jill Fineis Photography) that come from it are just the very start of an ongoing and powerful story of climate resilience and of our relationship to place and to one another.

Dispatches from Iceland #2: Range finding

IMG_5322We spent much of this week searching out trailheads and routes along the Climate Run route through Þhingvellir National Park and farther south to the Atlantic coast.

Over the past few weeks, it has become increasingly clear that the Kjölur Road across which I had originally planned to run remains too snowy for a successful trans-Iceland run. With the help of some contacts here in Iceland as well as a fair bit of patient trail-finding with Orion, I’ve mapped a revised route.

IMG_5297The start and end points and distance are all more or less the same. The major difference is that I will be arcing to the west of the Langjökull icecap rather than to its east. This decreases a little elevation gain in the highlands and minimizes encounters with too much snow.

It has been terrific to have the time to ground truth at least the first parts of the run, and to have such a great helper alongside me 🙂 IMG_5335

why run?

I am not a pro runner.

I’ve never made my living as an athlete.

I’ve never entered a race as an elite runner.

I have been running for many years and racing for at least the last twenty. Apart from that, my wife and long-time adventure-life-partner, Jen, and I have climbed, skied, biked, and hiked all over the U.S. and beyond; I’ve been teaching rock and ice climbing for most of that time; I started a college athletic program, coached trail runners; and I share all my adventures with my son as much as I can.

Half a lifetime living an intentionally adventurous life.

Since I began working on the Kjölur Run project, I’ve been asked lots of questions:

 “Why running?”

“What does running have to do with the climate?”

“Why are you doing this?”

I’ve become pretty adept at answering these questions:

“Running is a way to engage with the environment in an intentional way.”

“Making myself vulnerable to the world is one of the best ways to build a relationship with the world around us.”

“I want to try to inspire others to make meaningful choices and make meaningful change.”

“Running can build resilience, community, and hope.”

But, on our way to school last week, my son Orion (who, at age 10, will come with me to Iceland to be part my support team) said, “I’m excited to go with you…but why do you have to run across Iceland, Daddy?”

Silence.

I stumbled a little, then started again. “Well, for lots of reasons, but partly, I’m doing it for you.”

“Why for me?”

“Well…I want you to be as proud of me as I am of you.”

“Oh don’t worry about that. I’m always proud of you, Daddy!”

Could anything really matter more than that?

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