The Outside Blog

Dispatches : Mar 2011

A Record Not to Mess With

From the beginning sounds of pot-influenced laughter, foreign languages in the background, and a prolonged shot of scaffolding, it's unclear what's about to happen in this YouTube video. What emerges is Darren Taylor, aka Professor Splash, jumping from a 36-foot platform into a kiddie pool with only 12 inches of water. To boot, the water is near freezing. Somehow after jumping, he remains unhurt.

"The bottom of the paddling pool is not inflated, because that would be against Guinness rules,' he told the Daily Mail. "However, there are a couple of foam mats underneath the pool. Believe me, jumping and landing as flat as possible in 12 inches of water is tough enough as it is."

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Ali Pleads for Release of American Hikers Held in Iran

Ali and Frazier Former heavyweight boxing champ Muhammad Ali has sent a letter to the supreme leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khomeini, asking for the release of two American men being detained on charges of spying, according to The Independent. Ali sent his letter to the Ayatollah in February and made it public to the Associated Press yesterday.

Iranian officials arrested the two American hikers, Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer, in 2009 in the Zagros Mountains near the country's northern Iraqi border. Last September, Iran released Sara Shourd, who was arrested with Fattal and Bauer.

Ali's letter pleads the Ayatollah to show mercy and compassion for the American detainees. Ali founded the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville, Kentucky, in 2003 to "promote respect, hope, and understanding" in the spirit of Ali, according to the organization's Web site.

In May 2010, Outside sent Joshua Hammer to have a look at the situation and the detainees.

--Will Grant

Photo: Ali with Joe Frazier in Philadelphia, 2003. Courtesy of Flickr

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The Gear Junkie Scoop: Adidas Outdoors

By Stephen Regenold

With its distinctive "three-stripes" logo, an internationally-known name brand, and connections to top athletes in almost every sport played on the planet -- not to mention a global workforce of nearly 40,000 people and billions of dollars in annual revenue! -- adidas AG is one big fish. This year, as was announced in January, the new pond for the Herzogenaurach, Germany, company is the USA and specifically the outdoors industry, a seemingly small watershed for the global giant. But adidas (small "a" is intentional) has long had its toe dipped in the outdoors world, including development as far back as the 1970s with Reinhold Messner and footwear that went to Mount Everest. Today, after a launch in Europe in 2008, the adidas Outdoor brand is coming to American soil with a line of footwear, jackets, optics, and apparel. Gear Junkie sat down with Greg Thomsen, managing director of adidas Outdoor U.S., for a Q&A on the brand and its big plans for the domestic outdoors market. 

Gear Junkie: When will we see adidas Outdoor products on shelves at REI and other stores like this in the U.S.? 

Greg Thomsen: You will see adidas Outdoor products at REI and other specialty outdoor retailers starting this coming July.

What U.S. markets do you hope to enter first, geographically or otherwise? 

Our approach is to focus on the top 500 specialty outdoor stores in the U.S. These stores have a pretty good geographic distribution in all 50 states. 

Adidas logo small 

How will you show U.S. consumers that you're a brand serious and knowledgeable about the outdoors?

We are taking a long-term approach. Word travels faster these days when the product surpasses expectations. We understand that we need to earn our reputation in the outdoor market through being authentic and consistent. Our distribution is tightly focused on specialty outdoor stores where our unique features and design benefits can be explained and demonstrated by knowledgeable salespeople. Fortunately, the product truly speaks for itself. 

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Professional Cycling Council Recommends Tougher Bans

Flickr Photo courtesy of Flickr

The Professional Cycling Council announced Thursday that it will recommend to the UCI, cycling's governing body, that penalties for first-time doping offenses should be double what they are now, according to VeloNews. The Council is promoting four-year bans from racing for first-time offences "involving a serious substance" in place of the current two-year bans .

The definition of a serious substance remains unclear. The increased admonition of dope and riders who use dope, however, is clear. The Council also recommended penalties for teams that recruit racers found guilty of using prohibited substances.

Outside frequently checks out the doping scene, and past coverage includes the USDA investigation of Lance Armstrong and the stripping of Alberto Contador's 2010 Tour de France title.

--Will Grant

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One in Three Marathon Runners May Suffer Post-Race Allergies

A new study found that one in three runners that enter the London Marathon may suffer from allergies after the race, according to Science Daily. Dr. Paula Robson-Ansley and a team at Northumbria University gathered 150 runners to take a blood test, complete a questionnaire, and report symptoms after the London Marathon. More than 60% of the runners reported symptoms, and roughly 35% of runners had an antibody show up in their blood tests that suggested an allergic reaction.

"These post-event sniffles might seem minor, but there are clear risks that people could go on to develop exercise-induced asthma and airway inflammation," said Dr. Robson-Ansley. "Our survey also revealed that only 8% were taking anti-allergy medication so there is a clear gap between the number of people who could benefit from treatment and the number actually doing so."

While 14% of the runners tested positive for a reaction to tree pollen, 29% tested positive for a reaction to grass pollen.

How should you treat such allergies during race season. Here are some nuggets of advice from Dr. Robson-Ansley:

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