September 2, 2014

The winner's three postrace wishes? A shower, a nap, and a night out dancing.     Photo: The North Face/Facebook

American Wins UTMB 100, Again

Rory Bosio's repeat win and Francois D'Haene's new course record mark 2014 race

Two thousand runners entered the North Face Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc race through the Alps this year, but only one man and one woman stood atop the podium on Sunday. American Rory Bosio claimed the women's victory at the 104-mile race for the second consecutive year. Men's first-place finisher, Frenchman Francois D'Haene, also claimed a repeat win and a set a new course record.

Bosio crossed the finish line in Chamonix, France, with a time of 23 hours 23 minutes, while D'Haene set a new course record at 20 hours 11 minutes. Both runners finished 50-plus minutes before second-place finishers on a brutal course that was marked this year by wet and sloppy conditions. "It was pretty hard for me this year because it was so muddy," said Bosio, according to a report by Competitor.com. "I can already tell my legs are way more sore than they were last year. I always feel so tense when I am running in mud like that. Some of the downhills were super, super muddy and that just made it slower for me."

The UTMB is the showcase race among five that the North Face hosts in and around Chamonix over Labor Day weekend. Others include the 186-mile Petite Trotte à Leon, the 62-mile Courmayeur-Champex-Chamonix, the 75.8-mile Traces des Ducs de Savoie, and the 33-mile Orsieres-Champex-Chamonix. 

The UTMB is notorious among runners for its difficult terrain, high-altitude passes, and brutal weather. "It is one of the most difficult courses in the world," said Outside associate editor Meaghen Brown, who competed in the 2013 UTMB.  "Even though you are out there with thousands of other runners, you aren't racing them as much as you are just racing the course."

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Looking down on the atrium of the Mandarin Oriental Tokyo, one of the country's five-star (and most expensive) hotels.     Photo: Norio NAKAYAMA/Flickr

Tokyo Hotels Rated Cleanest in the World

Japanese capital tops survery list, with Rio de Janeiro at bottom

International hotel booking portal Hotel.info has released results of a survey of 6 million customers rating the cleanliness of hotels in select international cities. Tokyo scored the highest rating with 8.93 on a scale of one to 10, followed by Warsaw at 8.76 and Seoul at 8.73.

The lowest-rated city on the list was Rio de Janeiro, which scored 7.29. This result might shock travelers to that city who have been paying exorbitant prices for hotel rooms and restaurant meals—the result of Brazil's runaway inflation.

Other poorly rated cities included London (7.52), Oslo (7.53), Amsterdam (7.58), and Paris (7.63).

The rankings have little correlation with the destination preferences of American travelers. Japan, Poland, and Korea were the 13th, 28th, and 15th most visited countries by Americans in 2013, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce (PDF here). The UK was the third most visited country, attracting more travelers than Japan, Poland, and South Korea combined.

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SkyRise Miami will cost $340 million to build and will feature a nightclub, movie theater, and "BASE jumping" thrill ride.     Photo: SkyRise Miami

Jumping Off This Building Is Encouraged

Miami tower will include curious offerings for thrill seekers

Florida is not known for high-rises, but the city of Miami wants to break that pattern in a big way by constructing the state's tallest building—and letting visitors jump off it. The bobby-pin-shaped SkyRise Miami will rise 1,000 feet above downtown and feature experiences inspired by BASE jumping and skydiving.

Miami voters came out in favor of the tower last Tuesday, approving construction of a building that will rise over the state's current tallest structure by more than 200 feet. SkyRise will feature a nightclub, a ballroom, a movie theater that has a "motion-based simulator" so guests can enjoy "the thrill of flight," and SkyPlunge, an amusement-park-style ride that mimics a bungee jump.

But the building's most curious feature is SkyRise Drop, which will allow visitors to free-fall from the building. The SkyRise website describes the experience as "just like parachuting out of an airplane … the thrill of a free-fall followed by the jolt of extremely rapid deceleration."

SkyRise skeptics note that the tower will be built on public land and that a casino could be added in the future. Architect Charles Corda wrote in the Biscayne Times that SkyRise's developer, Jeff Berkowitz, needs to be more transparent about the amount of money the project could generate. Corda points out that Berkowitz's estimate of 3.2 million visitors a year seems ambitious; for comparison, the Statue of Liberty sees only 4.2 million a year.

Berkowitz is investing $30 million of his own funds into the estimated $430 million project. "Miami is a world-class city. And I think an iconic structure downtown will firmly cement Miami on the global stage," Berkowitz told USA Today. "It's going to be Miami's Eiffel Tower."

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