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Dispatches : Celebrities

Atacama Extreme: Running Solo

Untitled from Outside Magazine on Vimeo.

Ray and I received some very disheartening news the day before leaving for Chile. Kevin Vallely, Ray’s expedition brother—from the expedition to the South Pole in 2009 and the journey across Lake Baikal in 2010—informed us he wouldn’t be able to make the trip due to recent developments with his father’s health.  Ray and I, along with the entire i2P community, want Kevin and his family to know that he is in our thoughts and we are all hopeful that things will turn for the better over the next few days and weeks.

Upon receiving the news Ray and I were forced to analyze the situation in front of us. We were one day away from a 600-700 mile running expedition across the driest desert on the planet and our options were few. Ray's water bottles..                                                     Ray's Water Bottles

One option, maybe our only option, is that Ray is going to have to do it solo. My role shifts a bit from logistics, school communications, and desert traveler (via truck!) to logistics, school communications, and part-time runner to keep him company every once in a while.  I will not be carrying all of my supplies—sleeping bag, stove, tent, food, sat phone, etc..—as Ray is doing. I will be carrying exactly enough Gatorade hydration and nutrition to get me through the day.

The start!                                                     The start!
After all the training, logistics meetings with our Chilean team members, coordinating scouting missions so we don’t get hopelessly lost in the desert, scouring topography maps and Google earth, working with our corporate expedition partners like Gatorade, Canada Goose, Stratos Global and a host of others, packing and re-packing gear, weighing bags, communicating with i2P team members and education coordinators, and all the while working on the upcoming spring 2011 i2P Youth Ambassador Expedition to Jordan the time has arrived. Ray is set to begin Saturday morning.  He is looking forward to sharing the experience and contrasting story of biodiversity in the driest desert on the planet with all of the students that followed along throughout the Youth Ambassador Amazon expedition.  Students will see a much different setting from the landscape seen just a few months ago.

Photos and more blogs to follow!

--Bob Cox and Ray Zahab will be sending daily updates as Ray runs roughly 40 miles a day for 16 days across one of the driest places on earth, the Atacama Desert. For more on their journey, check out


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Walking the Amazon on the Discovery Channel

In August, Ed Stafford finished his epic walk down the Amazon from source to sea, the first human (or probably any beast, for that matter) to do so. Journeying through thick jungle and constantly soggy, he encountered all manner of challenges—Amerindians threatening to kill him, a close call at arrow-point with Ashaninka Indians, eating spider monkeys, enduring thousands of black flies. 

I spoke with Ed in September to hear his stories and get his take on jungle life. Now, in a two-part special, "Walking the Amazon," airing February 2nd and 9th on the Discovery Channel, you can see him face the jungle for yourself.

"It's all in your head, clearly," Ed told me. "If you can conquer staying upbeat and positive, then you've cracked it."

Watch the trailer above and tune in the first two Wednesdays of February to see how Ed manages to crack it.

--Nick Davidson

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Armstrong Welcomes USADA Investigation

Photo courtesy of Flickr.

With his classic bring-it-on attitude, Lance says he's not afraid of an investigation into new blood doping claims against him, according to

Sports Illustrated recently reported new evidence against Armstrong (read our blog post about it), adding one more episode to the ongoing saga of doping allegations and investigations thrown at him.

Armstrong, who is competing now at the Tour Down Under in Australia, found some time to Tweet his feelings on the matter on Friday: "Great to hear that USADA is investigating some of SI's claims. I look forward to being vindicated."

USADA hasn't yet confirmed an investigation into the SI report. In the meantime, read our October 2010 profile of U.S. Food and Drug Administration agent Jeff Novitzky, and his quest to harpoon Lance.

--Nick Davidson

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Surfing a 30-Foot Wave, At Night

Mark Visser Night Surfing

Last night, big-wave surfer Mark Visser gathered up a helicopter, a jet ski, a buoyancy vest tricked out with LED lights, and a surfboard  laced with submarine lighting built for NASA, and took off for Jaws. At 2:00 am local time, he caught a 30-footer off Maui for a one of a kind ride.

"Riding in complete darkness meant I had to go off feeling," says Visser. "I had to zone out from how you normally ride and just be a part of the wave. I am so pumped to achieve something that no one thought possible and that I was told couldn't be done."

Watch a video of his ride below.

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Kelly Clark Foundation Awards Scholarships

Kelly Clark Airing over Friends Courtesy of Flickr

The Kelly Clark Foundation announced today that it has distributed its first round of scholarships, according to TransWorld Snowboarding. The foundation, established by Olympic gold-medalist Kelly Clark, awarded $11,500 to seven students to attend five schools across the country.

Clark, a Vermont native and scholarship recipient herself, established the nonprofit organization in early 2010 to financially support young snowboarders wanting to attend mountain colleges. This year's recipients will attend Carrabasset Valley Academy (Maine), Mount Snow Academy (Vermont), Okemo Mountain School (Vermont), Steamboat Ski and Snowboard School (Steamboat Springs, Colorado), and Stratton Mountain School (Vermont) for the 2010-2011 academic year.

This weekend, Clark will be riding Killington, Vermont, as she competes in the Dew Tour.

-- Will Grant

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