Monday, December 31, 2012

Meet Mark Hines

When you become a serious runner, one thing becomes quickly clear: no matter how fast you are, no matter how far you run, no matter what challenges you endure, there is always someone who runs faster, runs farther and accomplishes more amazing feats than you. If you are Usain Bolt, the world’s fastest human (and I don’t suspect he reads my blog), you must realize that somewhere in the world there is a child who someday will leave you in his (or perhaps her!) dust.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Running the Numbers

Running is an activity defined by numbers. Numbers measure distance, such as 26.2 miles in a marathon, and speed: a 4-minute mile. There are also numbers for BQ (a qualifying time for the Boston Marathon), PR (personal record), elevation gain or loss, heart rate, age group and finishing position. Sometimes, when I’m out on the trail, I’m fixated on the number two, as in “Where’s the nearest porta-potty?”

As I prepare to take part in the marathon component of the Yukon Arctic Ultra next February, two numbers, in particular, have absorbed my attention. They were conveyed to me by Robert Pollhammer, the well-mannered, young German who serves as race director. I wrote Robert seeking advice about gear. “Things are fairly easy,” Robert replied, if weather conditions are favorable. The number he pegged to “favorable” was – 20° C (– 4° F). If we are “unlucky,” he added, “things are different.” “Unlucky” in Robert’s book is – 40° C (– 40° F). Yes, you read those numbers correctly.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

My Yukon Adventure

This week, I bought a plane ticket to Whitehouse, the remote capital of Canada’s Yukon Territory. Next February 3rd, I plan to run a marathon that begins in Whitehorse and continues on the frozen Yukon River through the austerely beautiful, pine forested, and yes frightfully chilly, sub-Arctic environment.

If this sounds like a Herculean feat, let me point out that I will be candy ass in this race. The sissy. The short hitter. The 99-pound weakling. The pantywaist. Along with the marathon, the Yukon Artic Ultra also offers distances of 100 miles, 300 miles and a boggling 430 miles. Far crustier souls than me will test their metal in those portions of what is billed as “the world's coldest and toughest ultra.”