Chicago Marathon Eliminates Pace-Setters

"The race, not the time, is what counts."     Photo: Benjamin Lipsman / Wikipedia

Chicago Marathon Eliminates Pace-Setters

Will focus on competition instead of time

The Chicago Marathon announced that it will no longer use pace-setters, beginning at the 2015 race on October 11, the Chicago Tribune reported Wednesday. This marks the first time the race has not used these designated athletes since race director Carey Pinkowski assumed leadership in 1990.

“We relied too much on the pace up front,” Pinkowski told Outside on Wednesday. “We got away from the chemistry of the competition.” 

Pace-setters, or “rabbits,” are runners used in distance races—on both the track and roads—to help athletes through the early stages of a race at an ideal pace. At the Berlin Marathon in 2014, in which Dennis Kimetto of Kenya broke the world record, rabbits were used through at least 18.6 miles, according to the International Association of Athletics Federations. Some feel that by using them, you create a less interesting race by taking away some of the responsibility of decision making early in the race, according to Deadspin

The Chicago Marathon has hosted both the men and women’s world records in the event, in addition to American records for both genders and national records for numerous countries. 

The race will also eliminate its sub-elite pace-setters, including those arranged for the purpose of U.S. Olympic team trials qualification. The race will continue to offer its bonus prize of $2,500 for athletes who qualify for the trials. 

Pinkowski remains optimistic that the absence of pace-setters may not prevent the Chicago Marathon from creating future world and national records.

“Great competition creates great performances,” he said. “If the chemistry of competition is in the forefront, not just going fast, I think you might be surprised.”


Kevin Jorgeson

Kevin Jorgeson's first-person account of the historic Dawn Wall free climb.     Photo: Peter Stevens/Flickr

Kevin Jorgeson Recounts Dawn Wall Free Climb

In first-person account in 'American Alpine Journal'

In January, Kevin Jorgeson and Tommy Caldwell became the first people to free climb the Dawn Wall on the east side of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park. This month, the annually published American Alpine Journal (AAJ) released Jorgeson’s first-hand account of the monumental achievement

The Dawn Wall is widely considered the most difficult route up El Capitan, and one of the most dangerous climbs in the world. Prior to Jorgeson's and Caldwell's free climb, the Dawn Wall had only been climbed in its entirety using aid climbing techniques (using ropes and gear to assist in the assent, rather than just protection against a fall).

In his essay for the AAJ, Jorgeson recounts how Caldwell’s segment in the 2009 climbing film Progression served as an “invitation” to him to move into big-wall climbing. At the time, Jorgeson had been focusing on bouldering. He emailed Caldwell to ask the elite climber if he needed a partner for the upcomming season. A few months later, the two met in the El Capitan Meadow to begin working on what would become a six-year project, culminating in the 18-day free ascent that was completed on January 14 of this year. 

On the climb, the 15th pitch, a 5.14d traverse, stalled Joregeson for several days. Jorgeson felt he hadn’t spent enough time practicing this particular pitch during his earlier preparation with Caldwell. He realized that if he couldn’t complete the pitch quickly, he would have to call off his ascent to assist Caldwell to the top. He writes:

The last ten times I’ve been at this spot the result has been the same. Something has to change. I’ve decided to revert to a foot sequence from earlier in the season. The difference is subtle, but while holding the crux iron cross, from fingertip to fingertip, I feel the difference I’ve been seeking. My right foot is secure. Anxiety is replaced by confidence. Trembling is replaced by control. I’m through the crux, with one more bolt of insecure climbing to negotiate. As I grab one of the final crimps, I see the tape on my index finger saturated with blood. Doubt lasts only an instant. Moments later, everything is silent except the strong wind in my ears.

For a few moments there’s no celebration, just breathing. Did that just happen? I do a last few moves and clip the anchors at the no-hands stance. My scream reverberates down to the meadow, and cheers echo back up to the wall. Yes, that just happened.

Read Jorgeson’s entire account of free climbing the Dawn Wall online in the American Alpine Journal. 


Navajo Nation Opts to Keep San Juan Closed

Many farmers in the Navajo Nation, who use the river for livestock and irrigation, remain concerned about the water quality in the river.     Photo: Sue Nichols / Flickr

Navajo Nation Opts to Keep San Juan Closed

Due to contamination concerns following Gold King mine spill

Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye will uphold restrictions on using water from New Mexico's San Juan River for farming purposes for at least one year, according to a Monday news release. The Environmental Protection Agency declared that pollutant levels in the river had returned to normal on August 15, ten days after 3 million gallons of hazardous waste leaked from the Gold King mine near Silverton, Colorado, into the Animas and San Juan rivers. But many farmers in the Navajo Nation, who use the river for livestock and irrigation, remain concerned about the water quality in the San Juan River.

“Please understand this is very stressful for them, and this is their livelihood,” Megan Cox, a spokesperson from the Navajo Nation president’s office, told the Guardian. “They are growing organic crops and do not want to harm the land, their crops or any individuals by exposure to these chemicals.”

At a meeting on Saturday, Begaye discussed reopening canals accessed by the farmers in Shiprock, New Mexico. The farmers voted 104-0, with nine abstaining, in favor of maintaining existing closures for another year.

“No testing has been done on the Navajo reservation,” Joe Ben Jr., Shiprock’s farm board representative, told the Guardian. “And the tests were not disclosed; which metals were present? If we knew, we could make a decision.”

 Navajo Nation farmers intend to gather water from water hauling companies contracted by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.


Rattlesnake Bites Man Taking Selfie

According to California Poison Control, rattlesnakes account for more than 800 bites each year, with one or two resulting in death.     Photo: Audrey Snider-Bell / Shutterstock

Rattlesnake Bites Man Taking Selfie

Second such incident this summer

A man from Lake Elsinore, California, was bitten by a rattlesnake Monday while trying to take a selfie with it, according to KCBS-TV. Alex Gomez found the four-foot-long snake in a field by his family’s ranch. It bit his hand after he put it around his neck for the photo. He was transported to a local hospital and treated with anti-venom. Gomez's mother, Deborah Gomez, said the skin near the wound was rotting and that he may lose his hand.

Gomez isn’t the first to be bitten by a rattlesnake in California while trying to take a selfie. A San Diego man was nearly killed in July under similar circumstances, according to KGTV. Todd Fassler was charged more than $150,000 after doctors depleted the anti-venom stores at two different hospitals to treat his bite.

According to California Poison Control, rattlesnakes account for more than 800 bites each year, with one or two resulting in death. The peak season for rattlesnake bites is between April and October.