On January 22, the increasingly popular relay running series, Ragnar, announced that it is partnering with Salomon to launch the world’s first overnight trail running series. "For years we have dreamed of taking Ragnar to the trails and now it’s a reality," says Tanner Bell, who founded Ragnar Events a decade ago with a 200-mile team road race in Utah. Since then, the series has grown to 15 events in the U.S. and Canada, with nearly 100,000 racers competing last year.
The new two-day trail series will feature 120-mile courses and teams of four to eight runners. Unlike the road series, in which teammates who aren’t running drive by van to meet up with their runners at pre-determined transition points, Ragnar’s trail relays will consist of three loops run out of a central base camp à la traditional 24-hour mountain bike races. Not only does this alleviate the discomfort of cramping muscles during long car rides, but it also caters to parent runners who want to bring their kids to check out the action. Simply pitch a tent, set up a few chairs, and voila—front row seats to the race. (Kids must be at least 12 to enter.)
Once a year, from 1975 to 1978, skateboarders in pursuit of speed and recognition gathered in Signal Hill, California, to race down a roughly 30-degree slope. Actually, after the first couple of years, contestants in the annual Signal Hill Speed Run weren't so much skateboarders as speed junkies in small-wheeled crafts of variable designs bombing down a road surrounded by thousands of spectators. The event began after a producer for The Guinness Book of World Records television show called the head of the U.S. Skateboard Association and asked for a competition fit for television. As one can imagine, a large number of unqualified contestants pushing the boundaries of design and speed in proximity to a large crowd led to plenty of record runs, a wild party, and a whole lot of accidents.
Though I told myself I wouldn't do it, I watched the Lance Armstrong interview last night. It was like a bad pile-up on the highway or billows of black smoke from a distant fire—you know you shouldn't look, but it's tough not to get sucked in. I had a two-hour workout to do, and I figured the footage of the final unraveling of one of the greatest American sports heroes couldn't be any worse than my normal shoot-em-up trainer fare. I was wrong.
Volkswagen's Ulrich Hackenberg presents the Cross Blue Concept car at NAIAS. Photo: NAIAS
The latest update of the National Climate Assessment, a federally-mandated report written by a panel of 240 scientists, was released January 11 and is meant to erase any doubts as to whether climate change is having a real, palpable impact on our daily lives.
"Climate change affects everything that you do," co-author Susan Cutter, director of the Hazards and Vulnerability Research Institute at the University of South Carolina, told the AP's Seth Borenstein. "It affects where you live, where you work and where you play and the infrastructure that you need to do all these things. It's more than just the polar bears."
Aside from making everyone rather depressed by the changing climate and the resources that are at stake, the report is meant to push regulators into action. That process is maddeningly slow—arguably slower than the pace at which the climate is changing. When Cutter talks about our climate impacting the places we play and the infrastructure we use, that includes the cars we drive to access the places we love. The Obama administration has made some bold moves in fuel efficiency standards, mandating an average of 54.5 miles per gallon for cars and light trucks. By 2025. That's impressive, but loses some of its shine given our imperative to significantly reduce carbon emissions starting now (or decades ago).
Still, carmakers are reacting to fuel standards that are coming into play now—a 35.5mpg average by 2016. Because it's an average, and because efficiency is easier to obtain in smaller vehicles, the most efficient vehicles have traditionally not been the same cars and trucks people use to play in the mountains. That is starting, ever so slowly, to change.
Christian Vande Velde atop the USAPC podium. Photo: Team Garmin-Sharp-Barracuda
In a recent press conference at Aspen's Little Nell Hotel, organizers of the USA Pro Challenge announced the host cities and overall race course for the 2013 edition of the tour of Colorado. And though routing specifics are still forthcoming, with a few notable exceptions the third edition of the race looks like a step or two backward from this year's parcours.