Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Endurance Challenge on the Ice Age Trail

The North Face Endurance Challenge at Kettle Moraine State Forest in Wisconsin was, indeed, a challenge for all… starting at approximately 4:00am on Saturday morning, a lively public address system and a steady diet of pump-up music stoked over 2,000 race competitors, onlookers, and anyone else who happened to be staying at the Ottawa Lake campground. The first pod of runners consisting of the hardy 50 milers was sent off in the darkness to run the maze of forest trails at 5:00am in a cold, relentless downpour.

The weather improved somewhat as the morning progressed, and but for a few showers and an episode of pellet-sized hail, it was a great day for trail running on the Ice Age Trail. Group after group of determined runners, including 50K, marathoners, marathon relay, and a massive 10K, gamely took their turn at the starting line to the stimulating exhortations of support crews, friends, and family. A brief sermon on trail-running ethics and an earnest appeal to the runners to “Leave No Trace” preceded each race. Then, with a few encouraging words from "ultramarathonman" Dean Karnazes serving as the final benediction, the racers set forth from their starting-line congregation to run the muddy but durable trail, each seeking the pace and personal motivation that would sustain them through the course. 

In fact, Leave No Trace partner The North Face (TNF) places sustainability and conservation at the core of their commitment to advance the well-being of the planet. For example, as part of the ongoing effort to reduce the carbon footprint of the Endurance Challenge Series, The North Face has eliminated single serve plastic bottles of water and is limiting the distribution of disposable cups in 2010. As a consequence, at the Madison Endurance Challenge we discovered that our friends from Gore-Tex were providing participants with a durable, reusable, stainless steel water bottle. What difference does it make? Well, according to TNF:
  • 1.5 million tons of waste per year is attributed to bottled water

  • Bottled water production requires 47 million gallons of oil per year

  • 80% of plastic bottles are simply thrown away

  • That which does not go to landfills can end up in the ocean and other bodies of water, which in turn negatively affect delicate ecosystems and the marine life and birds that inhabit them
Reflective thinking, simple choices, personal convictions, accepting responsibility, deliberate actions… it’s easy to begin making a difference for the better, whether an individual or a corporation. After all, whatever our pace and personal motivations, we are all irrevocably entered in this planetary endurance challenge. It’s up to us to decide how we choose to run the course…

From TNF Endurance Challenge
Hats off to The North Face for hosting the Endurance Challenge series and for the timely promotion of fundamental Leave No Trace ethics.

Hoping we run together down the Leave No Trace trail,

Peggy and Barrett
e-Tour 2010

e-Word: “endurance”

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