October 31, 2014

Brändle is the first Austrian to break the hour record.     Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Matthias Brandle Sets New Hour Record

Beats mark set by Voigt last month

Austrian cyclist Matthias Brändle set a new world hour record Thursday, riding 32.2 miles at the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) 200-meter track in Aigle, Switzerland. He broke the record of 31.8 miles set by Jens Voigt on September 18.

According to VeloNews, Brändle has minimal track experience, but he’d been training in wind tunnels since September and managed to average more than 32 mph over 50 minutes.

“Now I feel really great, but during the race it was so hard,” the 24-year-old told VeloNews. “I knew after 30 minutes that I was going to succeed. The first minutes were easy, and then I wanted to go a lot faster. Halfway through, things became more complicated and I started to feel pain.”

Brändle fought through the final 10 minutes as his pace weakened. He eclipsed Voigt’s distance with 42 seconds left to go in the hour.

“It sounds easy enough, riding for one hour as hard as possible around a track, but once you get beyond 30 or 35 minutes, you’re riding through a sea of lactic acid,” UCI president Brian Cookson told VeloNews. “[Today’s ride] is another notch a bit further, but it’s not out of reach. We’ve seen a really worthy record tonight, a world-class performance.”

Many contenders are bound to take a swing at the hour record since the UCI changed its rules for the event in June, and Voigt isn’t too broken up about his record being broken so quickly. “I know what it’s like to be out there for one hour, and it’s an achievement in itself! Bravo!” he told VeloNews. “You need to go through a wall of pain, and he did great … I was hoping to keep my record until Christmas maybe, but this is fine. I’m happy for him!”

Time will tell how long Brändle’s record stands. Word has it that Fabian Cancellara and Bradley Wiggins are both planning on having a go at it next year.


Jeptoo holds the women's record for the Boston Marathon.     Photo: BU Interactive News/Flickr

Runner Rita Jeptoo Tests Positive for Banned Substance

World Marathon Majors postpones award ceremonies

Rita Jeptoo, the Kenyan long-distance runner who holds the current women’s record for the Boston Marathon, tested positive in September for a banned substance, the World Marathon Majors organization announced Friday. The result was for her A sample; Jeptoo’s B sample will now be tested.

“WMM has always held a stern line on drugs cheats and has been proactively supporting the sports governing bodies to ensure the integrity of the athletes competing in their races,” WMM general counsel Nick Bitel said in a statement. “Cheats need to understand that they are not welcome in our sport and that they will be caught.”

Established in 2006, the WMM has awarded a World Marathon Majors Series title, with a $500,000 purse, to the world’s top male and female marathoners every two years. Although no sanctions have been announced against Jeptoo, who clinched the series title regardless of the outcome of Sunday’s New York City Marathon, the awards ceremony, due to take place that day, has been postponed. (The WMM has a firm policy of prohibiting athletes from winning a series title if they have been in breach of IAAF anti-doping rules.)

Over the past 10 years, Jeptoo has emerged as one of the most gifted runners in marathon history. She took first place in the women’s competition at marathons in Stockholm and Milan in 2004, placed seventh in the marathon world championships in 2005, and won both the Boston and Chicago marathons in 2013 and 2014. This past April, Jeptoo set a new course record in Boston with a time of 2:18:57.


Gray wolves have not been seen in the Grand Canyon area since the 1940s.     Photo: Holly Kuchera/iStock

Gray Wolf Spotted at Grand Canyon

First sighting since the 1940s

A park visitor snapped pictures of what appears to be a gray wolf on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, in what is potentially the first sighting of a wolf in the area since the 1940s, according to a report from Reuters.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with the National Park Service to confirm the sighting. Federal biologists are presuming it’s an authentic sighting unless proven otherwise.

The Grand Canyon is inside the gray wolf’s historical range—their habitat once stretched across the entire country—but the only extant gray wolf populations are in the northern Great Lakes and northern Rockies.

It’s suspected that this wolf migrated from the northern Rockies. It’s also possible that the wolf is a Mexican gray wolf—there are wild populations of that subspecies in southeastern Arizona and western New Mexico—but the wolf pictured appears to be larger than a Mexican wolf.

This sighting comes as the Obama administration considers removing Endangered Species Act protection for gray wolves across the country. Noah Greenwald, an executive at the Center for Biological Diversity, said the sighting underscored the continued need to protect wolves. The sighting “really highlights the fact that wolves are still recovering and occupy just a fraction of their historic range,” he told Reuters.


SpaceShipTwo was an experimental aircraft from Richard Branson.     Photo: Wikimedia Commons

SpaceShipTwo Crashes in Mojave Desert

Possible casulaties; more information to come

Outside has confirmed with sources on the ground that Richard Branson’s experimental SpaceShipTwo has crashed during a test flight over California’s Mojave Desert. The fate of the two test pilots onboard is still unconfirmed, though initial reports have claimed that one pilot is dead and the other is seriously injured. According to witness reports and photos now trickling out from the site, the craft broke in the air shortly after igniting its rocket engine. Virgin Galactic reported an "in-flight anomaly" and has yet to release any detailed information about the event. A press release is scheduled for 2 P.M. Pacific Time. 

The craft underwent its first powered test flight on April 29, 2013, and Virgin Galactic has been booking $200,000 sub-orbital flights since the successful launch of the company's SpaceShipOne in 2004. The crash will be a significant setback to the private space travel industry that the ship was supposed to spawn. We'll bring you more on this breaking story as we report it.