The Homestretch: Observations from the Final 20 Miles of Karl Meltzer’s Record-Setting Run

Tag: 上海夜网WN

first_imgPulling up the final climb on US 19 and over Findley Ridge into Dahlonega, a beautiful burnt-orange harvest moon appeared in the northeast sky, just above the horizon. Passing the Shell service station on the ridge, with the moon as a backdrop, a line of several cars had backed up, each waiting to fill up with the only remaining fuel for miles around. Gasoline had suddenly become a scarce commodity as supplies in Georgia, and all over the South, dried up due to a leak in a major pipeline in Alabama. I took my place in line, worried I might not have enough to make it to the mountains and back that night. The pump moved slowly as I squeezed the last few drops from the tank and the station attendant ran outside and yelled “No more gas!” An auspicious start to what would be a very memorable night.My girlfriend Psyche Wimberly and I had hopped in the car earlier that Saturday in Duluth (Atlanta suburb) on a quest to drive to the mountains, find Karl Meltzer at one of the Appalachian Trail crossings, and offer him and his crew support and encouragement. Karl was attempting to break his friend Scott Jurek’s record setting run on the AT last year when he finished in a time of 46 days, 8 hours, and 7 minutes, breaking the previous record for the 2,189 mile trail held by Jenn Pharr Davis.imag0029Psyche and I are both avid trail/ultrarunners, with a keen interest in this AT speed record attempt and I had eagerly followed the postings on Facebook and a Red Bull website (Red Bull sponsored the entire venture). We’ve both done multi-days and crewed variously for each other on different journey runs so are well aware what it takes to not only do such a run but handle all the logistics as well, although this was on a much grander scale.A stop at a liquor store in Dawsonville for beer (Dankasaurus IPA) followed by Pizza Hut and gas, and we headed up GA-60 to Woody Gap. It was difficult to discern where Karl might be by looking at some outdated Facebook posts but I happened to see one by David Horton that indicated Karl was within 50 miles of Springer. Thus my plan was to hit Woody Gap first and swing around to Neels Gap if necessary.As we reached the crowded parking area we spotted the crew van and a few people milling about. We walked over and introduced ourselves – waiting for Karl were Eric Belz (crew chief), Cheryl (Karl’s wife), and Jake (Red Bull representative coordinating the project). They were extremely welcoming and gladly accepted our offerings of beer and pizza. A huge red foldout chair was setup by the van, evidently as a joke. They indicated Scott was pacing Karl (and had been for most of the day) and they expected them to come down the trail shortly. Eric was busy cooking up a huge helping of link sausages and pierogies, while Cheryl readied other supplies in anticipation of their arrival and Jake made sure a replacement SPOT Tracker was available if needed. The crew carried several SPOT Trackers throughout the journey and switched them out with Karl to ensure he always had a “fresh” one.imag0030Soon thereafter we saw 2 headlamps emerging from the woods as Karl and Scott moved to the south side of the Gap and the impromptu aid station. I have to admit I was a little star-struck when they trotted up. They were both in good spirits but Karl was all business – you could see the fire in his eyes….he was focused and driven, not only to finish strongly and beat Scott’s record, but to lay down a time under 46 hours. Unbelievable determination and drive. In the dim light of headlamps around the van you could literally see that drive in Karl’s eyes and rolled up in the taut sinew of his legs and arms. The trail had taken its toll but had clearly not broken him. Both runners quickly checked headlamps, loaded some food, and slipped back into the darkness. Woody Gap is exactly 20.1 miles from Springer and the next access point was Cooper Gap, another 8.3 miles downtrail. The crew graciously offered to let us tag along.We joined the tail end of a small caravan headed toward Cooper Gap in a blur of winding paved roads that ended in a long/steep climb on a dirt section of Gaddistown Road. The Gap is a confluence of 5 roads and while the AT crosses there the path isn’t obvious – while Eric and I easily found the incoming trail on the Northbound side it took almost 15 minutes to find its counterpart on the Southbound side. We also spent several minutes trying to determine the correct road out of the Gap toward Springer – and settled on the one that “seemed” right according to the maps on our phones. Shortly after that another car pulled up with Karl’s sister Kris and her daughter Shannon. The runner’s ETA to Cooper was 12:45 am and just after midnight another car rolled up and out jumped David Horton, excited to join the guys for the final 11.8 mile stretch. At 12:18 they arrived, almost 30 minutes ahead of schedule. At this point Karl looked even more determined and quickly went about his business to steel himself for the final push. Less than 5 minutes later all 3 runners disappeared once again in the darkness.imag0058Our 4 car caravan had now grown to 6 as we hurtled up and down and around miles of Forest Service roads through the dark, kicking up so much dust and dirt it was difficult to see. After an eternity we arrived at the parking area below Springer, greeted by the bright glow of spotlights and cameras – the Red Bull crew was there, prepped and ready to go and began filming and interviewing Karl’s family and crew. Karl’s dad, Karl Sr., was there and told me how proud he was of Karl and what an honor to have been able to help crew for him. Now it was just a waiting game and slowly but surely the Red Bull team slipped up to the top of the mountain to take their place. Karl Sr., Kris, and Shannon followed a short time later. Psyche had by now fallen fast asleep in the back of my car so I decided to trek up to the top by myself. The time was now 2:00 am, with the runners expected to finish between 3:00 and 3:30 am.The scene at the top was surreal, with perhaps 8 members of the Red Bull team positioned around the summit rocks, spotlights casting a bright glow through a thin blanket of fog blowing across the peak. I have visited Springer often in the past on trail runs, but exclusively from the Approach Trail out of Amicalola, and never at night. It was a slightly cool night but not uncomfortably so. I took a seat next to Karl’s family as we chatted a little and waited, while the Red Bull team ran through the motions of a practice run for the arrival of the runners. I understood that Eric and Cheryl were planning to accompany Karl on the final 1 mile climb to the top. There was some level of nervous excitement but it was dampened somewhat by the late hour.At 3:38 am Karl strode confidently up the last few feet of trail, trailed closely by his wife and companions, threw his hands in the air, and exuberantly reached out to touch the Southern Terminus sign with both hands. He was done – on this 3rd attempt Karl had not only broken Scott’s previous FKT but had body-slammed it, finishing in a mind-boggling 45 days, 22 hours, and 38 minutes! Soaking in the accomplishment he extended hugs for his amazing pacers, wife, crew, and other family members and at Horton’s suggestion signed the trail register. The atmosphere was celebratory but under control as the Red Bull crew recorded the end of this amazing journey. Although he was visibly fatigued he was patient enough to answer several questions, re: How many pairs of shoes did you go through? Shirts? Animal encounters? How tired are you? What are you going to do next?imag0056As they continued celebrating and getting pictures I quietly slipped down the mountain and back to my car, feeling fortunate and thankful that I was able to be there and experience this incredible feat – and in a very small way contribute something to it. The drive back to Duluth with Psyche was uneventful, save for a wrong turn I made in that maze of Forest Service roads.The license plate on my car reads “FARTHER” and I can’t think of a more appropriate metaphor for life – Karl’s determination to do the near impossible and follow his dream is the true embodiment of that spirit and is an example of what anyone can ultimately accomplish if they try.Many thanks to Karl’s family, crew, and the Red Bull team for allowing me to be a part of this.last_img read more


Tag: 上海夜网WN

first_imgThe Wellington Habitat for Humanity is now accepting applications for a Habitat For Humanity established home.  If you know of anyone or if you are an interested applicant, you may pick up applications at the following locations.  They will be available July 1 thru August 3 at these locations:City of WellingtonPublic LibraryChamber of CommerceMethodist Church. Close Forgot password? Please put in your email: Send me my password! Close message Login This blog post All blog posts Subscribe to this blog post’s comments through… RSS Feed Subscribe via email Subscribe Subscribe to this blog’s comments through… RSS Feed Subscribe via email Subscribe Follow the discussion Comments Logging you in… Close Login to IntenseDebate Or create an account Username or Email: Password: Forgot login? Cancel Login Close WordPress.com Username or Email: Password: Lost your password? Cancel Login Dashboard | Edit profile | Logout Logged in as Admin Options Disable comments for this page Save Settings You are about to flag this comment as being inappropriate. Please explain why you are flagging this comment in the text box below and submit your report. The blog admin will be notified. Thank you for your input. There are no comments posted yet. Be the first one! Post a new comment Enter text right here! Comment as a Guest, or login: Login to IntenseDebate Login to WordPress.com Login to Twitter Go back Tweet this comment Connected as (Logout) Email (optional) Not displayed publicly. Name Email Website (optional) Displayed next to your comments. Not displayed publicly. If you have a website, link to it here. Posting anonymously. Tweet this comment Submit Comment Subscribe to None Replies All new comments Comments by IntenseDebate Enter text right here! Reply as a Guest, or login: Login to IntenseDebate Login to WordPress.com Login to Twitter Go back Tweet this comment Connected as (Logout) Email (optional) Not displayed publicly. Name Email Website (optional) Displayed next to your comments. Not displayed publicly. If you have a website, link to it here. Posting anonymously. Tweet this comment Cancel Submit Comment Subscribe to None Replies All new commentslast_img read more


Tag: 上海夜网WN

first_imgGroups of environmentalists, agronomists and university students met on Monday morning outside the Agriculture and Livestock Ministry (MAG), west of San José, to protest against a request to plant genetically modified corn in Costa Rica.On Sunday, a protest march arrived in the capital after participants walked more than 250 km from the northwestern province of Guanacaste.MAG’s National Biosafety Commission on Monday began debating approval of the use of the first varieties of corn seed that Monsanto – the world’s largest producer of GM seeds – hope will enter Costa Rica. These corn varieties are known as MON-88017, MON-603, MON-89034 and MON-00863-5.The commission, composed of environmentalists, government officials and university representatives, will approve or reject the request to test GM crops here.Besides opposition from environmental groups, a letter against GMOs was sent by the Faculty of Agricultural Sciences and the Faculty of Biology at the University of Costa Rica, and the Costa Rican Agronomy Engineers’ Association.Luis Felipe Arauz, dean of the UCR’s Agricultural Sciences Faculty, also stated his position during the committee meeting. “I spoke of the risks involved in GM contamination of native corn and presented them projections based on mathematical models that take into account aspects such as wind, pollen production, and others,” he said.The request to authorize Monsanto to plant GM corn seeds was filed in Costa Rica by local company Delta & Pine, located in Cañas, Guanacaste. No related posts. GMO’s in Costa Rica Should Costa Rica allow GM corn to be grown here?  Yes. There is nothing wrong with GMO crops.  No. It’s a dangerous step and could threaten Costa Rican farmers.  No Response.center_img Facebook Comments Alberto Font contributed to this story.last_img read more


Tag: 上海夜网WN

first_img Alberto Font No related posts. Fabián Echeverría, genetic improvement program coordinator for the Costa Rican Coffee Institute’s Coffee Research Center, CICAFE, shows off one of the varieties under development at the center’s experimental farm in San Pedro de Barva, Heredia.  SAN PEDRO DE BARVA, Heredia – Wandering among neat rows of bushy green coffee shrubs, Fabián Echeverría surveys the plots through his tinted glasses. As genetic improvement coordinator for the Costa Rican Coffee Institute, ICAFE, Echeverría is studying the health of the coffee on the experimental farm CICAFE in San Pedro de Barva in Heredia.Coffee plants in one plot stand at attention, demonstrating a uniformity of height and size seldom seen outside a Radio City Rockettes Christmas Spectacular. These are well-established varieties of Arabica coffee, the heart of Costa Rica’s high quality coffee production for decades. Despite their pedigree, though, these plants might not have what it takes to flourish in the future as climate change mounts an attack on growing regions.By 2050, Costa Rica, El Salvador and Nicaragua all could lose more than 40 percent of their land suitable for planting Arabica, considered a superior bean to the hardier but less refined Robusta species, according to a policy memo from the International Center for Tropical Agriculture, CIAT by its Spanish acronym.CIAT noted that a one-two punch of decreased precipitation and hotter climates could reduce Nicaragua’s potential Arabica-growing land by 85 percent, leading to an expected income loss of more than $74 million in 2050 alone.As the threat of a changing climate looms on the horizon, Central America has a dearth of researchers working on the development of new, hardier coffee varieties. Today, there is only one fulltime researcher in the region dedicated to developing new plants that can thrive in this changing environment: Echeverría.His work has taken on a sense of urgency in recent years as climate change and other factors combined to unleash a devastating outbreak of fungus hemileia vastatrix also known as leaf rust, or “roya” in Spanish, across the isthmus.Roya has decimated harvests across Central America, dropping production in many plantations to its lowest point in 30 years. Leaf rust has damaged more than 60 percent of Costa Rica’s coffee crops. ICAFE Executive Director Ronald Peters last month estimated an 18 percent decrease in production for the 2013-2014 harvest season.The geneticist attributed Costa Rica’s success fending off pests and disease to good management by farmers, but changing conditions are taking their toll.  “Things that have served us well for 40 years are losing their potency,” Echeverría told The Tico Times. One of the lesser-publicized aspects of the roya outbreak is how the lack of genetic diversity in much of the coffee planted in Central America contributed to the fungus’ rapid spread. In Costa Rica, for example, two varieties, Caturra and Catuaí, make up 90 percent of the country’s prized coffee production.New types of plants referred to as hybrids could help Costa Rica overcome looming challenges for the coming decades.Using coffee plants from Costa Rica and around the world stored at the Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center, in Cartago, Echeverría assess the challenges to Costa Rica’s coffee crop and looks for traits in other Arabica varieties that might offer a solution.The term “hybrid” might spark concerns about genetically modified java, but Echeverría said that CICAFE uses selective breeding, the “natural” way to steer the plant’s development. The team uses cross pollination and grafts, among other techniques, to develop hybrids from two separate varieties of Arabica.Resistance to drought, heat and leaf rust are among his top priorities.Echeverría offered one variety, Catimor, as a successes story and cautionary tale. Created by joining Caturra, a variety widely planted in Costa Rica, with another variety grown on the Pacific island of Timor, this hybrid showed impressive resistance to leaf rust, and farmers planted it with zeal.Catimor successfully fended off roya but farmers at higher altitudes reported seeing more cases of another fungus, mycena citricolor, known as “ojo de gallo” in Spanish, rooster’s eye. “It’s difficult to come up with one solution for the entire country, so we need to come up with alternatives that work for different regions,” said Echeverría.“We’re running the risk that we don’t know how [the plants] will react in the field and we won’t know if by making them resistant to one disease, we’re making them more vulnerable to another,” he added.Identifying a successful trait, like roya resistance, is the first step. But the creation of a stable variety like Catimor, well, that’s another story.This is where the patience comes in. There’s no way to gauge the hybrid’s success until the plant has come to full maturity, roughly five years. And that’s if they get it right at all. Echeverría said it’s not uncommon to put years into a project and just walk away from it.Long term projects like genetic research, however, run up against short budgets, especially when exports are down.“Unfortunately, because of a lack of funding, many investigators have had to leave. This weakens the research and, as a result, slows our progress,” Echeverría said.ICAFE’s funding depends on a 1.5 percent tax on Costa Rica’s coffee exports. This means when the harvests are good, there’s more money for ICAFE and ostensibly for research. But there’s another edge to that sword: When exports are down, research budgets get a close shave.  Costa Rica has so far managed to dedicate resources to genetic diversity research, but Echeverría was concerned about the lack of coinciding research in the isthmus, adding that a lack of research and maintenance in other Central American countries could create conditions or nourish diseases that could jump the borders and threaten Tico coffee.“If we don’t do research, if we don’t realize that things can be better, we stall, we don’t grow,” he said.  Back in the fields of CICAFE’s experimental farm, Echeverría stops to chat with some of the coffee pickers combing the branches of mismatched plants for the plump red fruits.Compared to the uniform shrubs in the first plot, this one seems more like a ragtag group of underdogs: short chubby plants sit low to the ground, their branches bow under the weight of bright red coffee cherries, while others tower high above, some with full green waxy leaves, and others with brittle, dry fruit.Echeverría said that this was an example of what happens when they plant the seeds from one of their hybrids. Like apples and other fruits, the seeds of a coffee plant do not necessarily recreate the parent plant.Despite their looks, the next big thing in coffee could be coming out of these misfits.Postscript Thursday, Dec. 12, 2013:After the publication of this article, Fabián Echeverría wanted to stress that his work on coffee plant genetics is one part of a larger effort both here in Costa Rica with ICAFE and at a regional level within the PROMECAFE group of countries. While Echeverría is the only person dedicated fulltime to genetic research on coffee in Central America, other countries in the region do conduct research and work to improve their coffee industry through the development of new hybrids and better farming practices. Facebook Commentslast_img read more