The Outside Blog

Adventure : Fitness

Karl Meltzer Delivers Record Pony Express Run

Human express
Photo courtesy of Red Bull.

Ultra-marathoner Karl Meltzer can outrun a horse. To prove it, Meltzer recently completed the first-ever run of the full 2,064-mile Pony Express route in 40 days, finishing on October 25. The run commemorated the 150th anniversary of the old delivery route. Horses employed on the historical Pony Express ran no more than ten to 15 miles before a fresh horse took over duties, meaning riders used scores of them for a single delivery. Meltzer, at the pace of roughly two marathons per day—with a 100-miler to wrap it up—tested the limits of human endurance, dubbing his Red Bull-sponsored run from Sacramento, California to St. Joseph, Missouri the "Human Express." I caught up with Meltzer (by phone, not on foot) to get his take on the record-establishing feat.
--Nick Davidson

Why the Pony Express?
It was Red Bull's idea. I had mentioned running the Appalachian Trail again, but they weren't really for it. Then they said, "Hey, what about the Pony Express trail? Why don't you see if you can run it?" I had to think about that for a little bit. I'm a mountain runner, really. I like trails. But this being mostly dirt roads and flatter terrain, it was a different type of challenge for me. So I said, "Let's go for it."

Did you encounter logistical difficulties finding and mapping the route?
Absolutely. I took two different trips to scout the whole route. But the thing is, even with a four-wheel drive vehicle, you can't go everywhere cross country. And there's a lot of private land. So we scouted the most efficient route the old guys took. It's not a marked trail. The AT has white blazes every 50 yards. The Pony Express doesn't have anything.  A lot of it was so wide open that there would be four different double tracks, and three of them wouldn't be on the map.

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Stuff You Should Click On: Week of November 5

With Halloween and elections this week, you might have taken your eye off what else happening in the world outside.  We've got you covered.  Here's the stuff you should click on.


Worth Watching This Weekend:
Chilean (Miner) Edison Pena in NY for Marathon (ESPN)


Worth Watching Now:
Journey on the Wild Coast preview


Low Hanging Fruit:
Cutest Book Ever: ZooBorns Internet Craze Moves to Print (Wired)


Better Late than Never:
I'm in No Rush: Man Hikes Appalachian Trail Over 40 Years (


Age is Just a Number:
Advice for 50-Something Shredders (SkiNet)


Monochrome National Parks:
National Parks Reach Out to Blacks Who Aren't Visiting (The New York TImes)


The Health Beat:
Frequency of Colds Dramatically Cut with Regular Exercise (Medical News Today)

Study Reveals The Mental Health Benefits of Regular Physical Activity (Medical News Today)


The Fine Print:
Exercise Unlikely to Lift Depression Long-Term (Reuters)


You Should've Seen The Other Guy:
Runner Hit by Deer (


We'll Miss You, Andy

--Michael Webster

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Is it Safe to Down an Energy Drink While Exercising?

Redbull Energy drinks like Rockstar and Red Bull are dominating the US drink market. And just like the people they energize, they're not slowing down; sales of the super-caffeinated pick-me-ups are supposed to exceed nine billion dollars in 2011.

Studies have shown that energy drinks--in particular the caffeine found in them--aids athletic performance. But is it really a good idea to down an energy drink while exercising?

"One can of an energy beverage during one session of exercise is safe for most healthy individuals," said Dr. John Higgins, lead author of a study performed at The University of Texas Medical School in Houston. However, he told Medical News Today, "excess consumption and consumption with other caffeine-containing beverages or alcohol may lead to adverse effects and possibly death."

The Mayo Clinic says for an average person, ingesting 200-300 milligrams of caffeine per day won't cause any harm. While an average cup of drip coffee in the US has about 115 milligrams of caffeine per five-ounce serving, energy drinks can contain anywhere from 80 to 500 milligrams of caffeine in cans ranging between 8 and 32 ounces.  Pay attention to how big your energy drink is; while a serving is usually nothing to worry about, there may be several servings in a can.

Find out the caffeine content of what you're drinking.

--Erin Beresini
Photo courtesy of on Flickr

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How To: Turn Leftover Halloween Candy into Workout Fuel

Photo courtesy of Juushika Redgrave on Flickr.

Didn't give away all of your Halloween candy to the neighborhood kids last night? Never fear. Snacking on sweets doesn't have to be a waste of calories--if you time it right.'s Danielle LaFata explains:

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Christopher McDougall's Top 4 Running Tips

Mcdougall bft finish line Born to Run author Christopher McDougall will co-host Reinventing Running: The Cabaret with the actor and avid trail-runner Peter Sarsgaard on Friday, November 5 at the New York Society for Ethical Culture. Harvard professor Daniel Lieberman, coach Eric Orton, Born to Run star Barefoot Ted McDonald, and proponent of paleo-athleticism/nutrition John Durant will all speak at the event. Consider it a prelude to the NYC Marathon Sunday, November 7. You can get tickets at:

Whether or not you’re a believer in barefoot running, McDougall’s got some pointers for you. Here are his top four running tips.

--Aileen Torres

4. Get Naked: The more studies that come about cushioned running shoes, the more overwhelming the evidence that they're a hindrance at best. Even Alberto Salazar, the great marathoner and Nike-sponsored coach, believes that a barefoot-style foot strike is the key to swift, efficient running. The best way to learn proper running form is to strip down to first principals: shuck your shoes and re-acquaint your feet with planet Earth. Once you've mastered barefoot-style form, you're free to wear any footwear you like. Patrick Sweeney wins marathons in Barefoot Ted's huaraches, while Emil Zatopek trained big miles in combat boots and did just dandy.

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