Tag Archives: run

Road to Leadville: Dispatch #4

 

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Looking north from Hope Pass

On Wednesday, Jen and I hiked up the Sheep Gulch Trail from near Winfield to Hope Pass, which at 12,600 ft, is the highest point on the Leadville 100 course. Runners cross the pass at mile 44.5 and again at mile 55.5 as they return from the turn-around point at Winfield.

The climb and pass were as spectacular as I’d imagined. We were entirely alone on the mountain, and as the wind picked up on the final switchbacks, the world opened up and invited us in.

 

This was that Earth of which we have heard . . . . Here was no man’s garden, but the unhandselled globe.

The very crest was marked with a tangle of wind whipped prayer flags, sun-bleached and twisting in the spitting rain.

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The mountains are indeed the world’s sacred places, and I am humbled to be among them.

 

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North from Hope Pass toward Twin Lakes and beyond — the last 45 miles of the race laid out before me. 

 

 

If you’re interested in the race course, check out the full-size map linked to the one below:

2014-Leadville-Trail-100-Run-Course-Map

 

Resonance

Over the past couple of months, I have been giving Climate Run: Iceland presentations around Vermont and the eastern U.S — from talks at Burlington, Vermont’s The Outdoor Gear Exchange, Mount Mansfield Nordic Ski Club, to a standing-room-only audience at The Catamount Trail Association, and to a packed auditorium at the Hathaway Brown School in Cleveland, Ohio.

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descending from Hengill midway through day one

It’s always exciting to share my story of running across Iceland (which for me feels both recent and so very long ago), but I find even more rewarding the conversations that follow–about a range of topics grounded in concepts such as climate change, resilience, vulnerability, and endurance.

I’ve been asked, “what should we do” in the face of climate change? What roles should we as athletes play? How do you define resilience?

I have facilitated a conversation about the role of faith in climate conversations.

I have asked groups about how privilege can guide our thinking about vulnerability.

I have talked with students and faculty about how art, action, and science can help develop a resilient ecological and social relationship.

I have found that my story resonates with a range of different audiences — from skiers to conservationists to high school students — all of whom have different expectations and different relationships with and perspectives on the natural world.

John Meyer has recently written about the resonance dilemma, which points to the disconnect between systems as large and complex as the global climate with individual people’s actions. Meyer invites us to “imagine an agenda for environmental sustainability that emerges from everyday concerns and is … deeply resonant with the lives of” ordinary people.

I completely agree. In fact, Climate Run often resonates most strongly when I talk about the personal experience of being in the midst of wildness–and of realizing that as individuals we are inextricably part of a global ecology.

Nature can no longer be that place ‘out there.’ For the issues of a broader world to resonate with us, we need to recognize–and act as though–we are part of it all.

Of course, this is not at all a new concept, but it may be among the most difficult to act upon.

celebrating at the finish in Laugarbakki

celebrating at the finish in Laugarbakki after 150 miles

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 #4: Planning and mapping

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With only a week before the run, I spent much of this cold and rainy morning in a café across the square from the glass portal into the 871 Settlement Museum’s subterranean exhibit. Over a coffee and croissant, I counted miles, identified road crossings, and talked with family members and friends due to arrive in Iceland later this week.

The new route measures about 164 miles on the map, although I sense that some of the trail miles in the mountainous terrain around  the 803 meter high volcano, Hengill, will be a bit longer than the map lets on.

Most of our route-finding forays have been in the first 35 mile stretch; 130 miles will likely remain unknown to me until I get there next week. That said, the first sections are the most complicated with regard to route finding–mixing beach, gravel road, horse path, hiking trail, and pavement. I have set up 3 aid stations in that section where roads intersect with the route of the run.

Beyond the third stop at Þingvellir, the route follows Kaldidalur north to Surtshellir, Iceland’s largest cave, and then across a seldom-traveled stretch to the south end of Arnarvatnsvegur, which will take me toward the north coast, where I will wend my way to Þingeyrar and the north coast.

I’m anticipating 6 or so additional stops along that long section north of Þingvellir, with a couple giving me a chance to rest for an hour or two. So far, the weather outlook is typical of this spring’s chilly temperatures, but nothing too unusual for Iceland!

More updates soon…

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the trail north from Þingvellir

 

still winter in the mountains

A few miles on the slopes of Mount Mansfield yesterday evening…

an early winter run

Fantastic training run across some of the Franconia Ridge in New Hampshire’s White Mountains today!

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