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April 24, 2018

Blood, sweat and tears yield ultramarathon joy

By Mark Lamport-Stokes

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Running 135 miles through the searing summer heat of Death Valley in California before ending the route with a cumulative gain of 17,000 feet to reach the slopes of Mount Whitney?

Slogging across four desert courses, each 150 miles long, in Chile, China, Egypt and Antarctica in what is known as the Four Deserts Grand Slam?

Racing against the clock through 75 control points in the footsteps of ancient Athenian messenger Pheidippidis, with a cut-off of 36 hours to complete the 153-mile Spartathlon?

Risking dehydration, exhaustion, broken ankles, kidney failure or the need to throw in the towel and give up — all possible reasons for an athlete to abort the gruelling challenge of an ultramarathon?

For the uninitiated, all of the above scenarios suggest a twinning of sadism with sheer lunacy. For the ultramarathoner, however, it is all about running for joy, setting personal goals and trying to overcome every obstacle faced.

“People are intrigued by the thought of someone wanting to run 100 miles, or more,” experienced ultramarathoner Shannon Farar-Griefer, who has five times raced the gruelling Badwater 135 across Death Valley, told Reuters.

“They might say, ‘What’s wrong with you that you want to run 100 miles? Were you abused or were you a drug addict?’ We just love to run. It’s all about passion in this sport.

“You know you’re going to hurt, you know you’re going to have a long day. That’s why people think that we are a little different from the rest because we keep pushing our bodies. Ultras are all about learning how to be able to accept pain.”

An ultramarathon involves a combination of running and walking further than the traditional marathon of 26.2 miles (42.2 kilometres). Though most ultras cover distances of either 50 or 100 miles, many are much longer.

For Connecticut-based running coach Tom Holland, an exercise physiologist and certified sports nutritionist who has competed in over 60 marathons and 21 ironman triathlons, ultras are all about achieving objectives.

“It’s the innate human desire to push our limits,” Holland told Reuters. “I believe many people find incredible personal satisfaction in achieving these challenging goals.

“They run a marathon or three and then have a need to push their bodies even further, both physically as well as mentally. Pushing through periods of incredible discomfort and coming out on the other side is extremely empowering.”

A METAPHOR FOR LIFE

Holland is a veteran of several ultras, including the Run to the Sun, a 36-mile journey to the 10,023-foot summit of Haleakala on the island of Maui, and he regards the ultra challenge as a metaphor for life.

“You realize that no matter how bad you think things are at the time, you are strong enough to push through them and things will always get better,” he said.

Australian Samantha Gash, the first woman to complete the Four Deserts Grand Slam in a calendar year, believes that ultramarathoners share a burning desire to be the best they can be while often competing well outside their comfort zones.

“The people who finish are not the most physically fit but the ones that are mentally strong, those who don’t entertain the possibility of not finishing,” she said.

Gash, who is featured in the 2013 documentary “Desert Runners” which chronicles the Four Deserts Grand Slam, gained a massive jolt of self-belief after her pioneering accomplishments in Chile, China, Egypt and Antarctica.

“Being (previously) a nobody in the world of ultra running, if I could do something of this size and scale, it makes you feel that anything’s possible,” she said of her success in the Four Deserts Grand Slam.

“There were moments when I wondered what I was doing, when I was so dehydrated it hurt. I felt new depths of pain.

“But I really never let myself contemplate giving up,” said Gash, who had to contend with heat, cold, dehydration and extreme fatigue in some of the world’s most hostile environments while running with supplies strapped to her back.

Farar-Griefer, a 53-year-old mother of three who lives in Hidden Hills, California and took up long-distance running at the age of 39, has no doubt about her most brutal ultra experience.

“The 292-mile Death Valley Badwater double, by far,” she said, referring to her feat in becoming the first female to complete the ‘double’ by finishing the 135 ultra, then summiting Mount Whitney before returning to the race’s original start.

“All the other runners finished at the portals of Mount Whitney but I continued on and I summited Mount Whitney and then I ran back. It was 130 degrees on the way back.

“At mile 270, I got an edema really bad. I was swollen, I couldn’t pee. It was scary because you could go into total renal failure at that point. Thank God I had a very experienced crew.

“It’s a sport where you have to be able to endure pain and you have to be comfortable stepping out of your comfort zone. It’s a constant mind battle. I love it.”

(Editing by Frank Pingue)

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Blood, sweat and tears yield ultramarathon joy

Athletics-Blood, sweat and tears yield ultramarathon joy

By Mark Lamport-Stokes

LOS ANGELES, Nov 25 (Reuters) – Running 135 miles through the searing summer heat of Death Valley in California before ending the route with a cumulative gain of 17,000 feet to reach the slopes of Mount Whitney?

Slogging across four desert courses, each 150 miles long, in Chile, China, Egypt and Antarctica in what is known as the Four Deserts Grand Slam?

Racing against the clock through 75 control points in the footsteps of ancient Athenian messenger Pheidippidis, with a cut-off of 36 hours to complete the 153-mile Spartathlon?

Risking dehydration, exhaustion, broken ankles, kidney failure or the need to throw in the towel and give up — all possible reasons for an athlete to abort the gruelling challenge of an ultramarathon?

For the uninitiated, all of the above scenarios suggest a twinning of sadism with sheer lunacy. For the ultramarathoner, however, it is all about running for joy, setting personal goals and trying to overcome every obstacle faced.

“People are intrigued by the thought of someone wanting to run 100 miles, or more,” experienced ultramarathoner Shannon Farar-Griefer, who has five times raced the gruelling Badwater 135 across Death Valley, told Reuters.

“They might say, ‘What’s wrong with you that you want to run 100 miles? Were you abused or were you a drug addict?’ We just love to run. It’s all about passion in this sport.

“You know you’re going to hurt, you know you’re going to have a long day. That’s why people think that we are a little different from the rest because we keep pushing our bodies. Ultras are all about learning how to be able to accept pain.”

An ultramarathon involves a combination of running and walking further than the traditional marathon of 26.2 miles (42.2 kilometres). Though most ultras cover distances of either 50 or 100 miles, many are much longer.

For Connecticut-based running coach Tom Holland, an exercise physiologist and certified sports nutritionist who has competed in over 60 marathons and 21 ironman triathlons, ultras are all about achieving objectives.

“It’s the innate human desire to push our limits,” Holland told Reuters. “I believe many people find incredible personal satisfaction in achieving these challenging goals.

“They run a marathon or three and then have a need to push their bodies even further, both physically as well as mentally. Pushing through periods of incredible discomfort and coming out on the other side is extremely empowering.”

A METAPHOR FOR LIFE

Holland is a veteran of several ultras, including the Run to the Sun, a 36-mile journey to the 10,023-foot summit of Haleakala on the island of Maui, and he regards the ultra challenge as a metaphor for life.

“You realize that no matter how bad you think things are at the time, you are strong enough to push through them and things will always get better,” he said.

Australian Samantha Gash, the first woman to complete the Four Deserts Grand Slam in a calendar year, believes that ultramarathoners share a burning desire to be the best they can be while often competing well outside their comfort zones.

“The people who finish are not the most physically fit but the ones that are mentally strong, those who don’t entertain the possibility of not finishing,” she said.

Gash, who is featured in the 2013 documentary “Desert Runners” which chronicles the Four Deserts Grand Slam, gained a massive jolt of self-belief after her pioneering accomplishments in Chile, China, Egypt and Antarctica.

“Being (previously) a nobody in the world of ultra running, if I could do something of this size and scale, it makes you feel that anything’s possible,” she said of her success in the Four Deserts Grand Slam.

“There were moments when I wondered what I was doing, when I was so dehydrated it hurt. I felt new depths of pain.

“But I really never let myself contemplate giving up,” said Gash, who had to contend with heat, cold, dehydration and extreme fatigue in some of the world’s most hostile environments while running with supplies strapped to her back.

Farar-Griefer, a 53-year-old mother of three who lives in Hidden Hills, California and took up long-distance running at the age of 39, has no doubt about her most brutal ultra experience.

“The 292-mile Death Valley Badwater double, by far,” she said, referring to her feat in becoming the first female to complete the ‘double’ by finishing the 135 ultra, then summiting Mount Whitney before returning to the race’s original start.

“All the other runners finished at the portals of Mount Whitney but I continued on and I summited Mount Whitney and then I ran back. It was 130 degrees on the way back.

“At mile 270, I got an edema really bad. I was swollen, I couldn’t pee. It was scary because you could go into total renal failure at that point. Thank God I had a very experienced crew.

“It’s a sport where you have to be able to endure pain and you have to be comfortable stepping out of your comfort zone. It’s a constant mind battle. I love it.” (Editing by Frank Pingue)

Link – 

Athletics-Blood, sweat and tears yield ultramarathon joy

Top Asian News at 12:30 p.m. GMT

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — A big victory by German stallion Protectionist in the Melbourne Cup on Tuesday was overshadowed by the deaths of two horses after Australia’s richest horse race, including the favorite Admire Rakti. Red Cadeaux strode to the lead in the last straight of the 2-mile (3,200-meter) classic but was overhauled on the inside by five-year-old Protectionist, which went on to win by four lengths in only its 10th race.

HONG KONG (AP) — Both victims in a double murder case that has shocked Hong Kong were Indonesian women, and one of the victims was frequenting a red light district on a lapsed domestic worker visa, an Indonesian consulate official said Tuesday. Consulate spokesman Sam Aryadi confirmed one of the women found dead in an upscale apartment over the weekend was 29-year-old Seneng Mujiasih, who had come as a domestic worker from the city of Muna on Sulawesi island.

BANGKOK (AP) — One of the founders of popular file-sharing website The Pirate Bay has been arrested under an Interpol warrant as he was crossing into Thailand from Laos, police said Tuesday. Hans Fredrik Lennart Neij, who uses the alias TiAMO, was detained Monday by Thai immigration police at a checkpoint in Thailand’s Nong Khai province, about 500 kilometers (310 miles) northeast of Bangkok.

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — New Zealand last month was one of five nations to win elections for coveted seats on the U.N. Security Council. It will serve a two-year term as a non-veto-wielding member beginning in January. Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully says it’s an opportunity to boost the South Pacific island nation’s profile and contribute to solving international problems such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and long-divided Cyprus. The Associated Press recently interviewed McCully about what the win means. The interview has been edited for clarity and length. ___

NEW DELHI (AP) — India on Tuesday ordered that Delhi’s legislative assembly be dissolved for a new election after the three main political parties failed to form a government this year for a city of nearly 25 million people. Delhi has been run by the federal government since the city’s top elected official resigned in February.

BANGKOK (AP) — Revelers in northern Thailand have been asked not to launch lanterns into the sky near airports to avoid airborne accidents during a popular festival this week, airport officials said Tuesday. The air traffic control center in Chiang Mai province has declared a 5-kilometer (3-mile) zone around the airport where people are advised not to launch lanterns from Wednesday to Friday, when Loy Krathong festival celebrations will take place, said Kiattisak Rienvatana, the center’s director.

BANGKOK (AP) — A Thai court sentenced a university student to 2 1/2 years in prison on Tuesday for posting a message on Facebook that the court said insulted the country’s king. A Criminal Court judge found 24-year-old Akkaradet Eiamsuwan guilty of violating Thailand’s lese majeste law, which punishes people who defame, insult or threaten the monarchy.

In this photo taken on a smartphone camera by Leesa Willmott, a fallstreak hole forms in the sky over Wonthaggi, Australia. The bizarre sight seen Monday in the town near Melbourne looked like a hole in the sky, or perhaps an alien spacecraft. Bureau of Meteorology forecaster Adam Conroy said fallstreak holes are circular gaps that appear in high clouds when a section of the cloud freezes. The ice crystals are heavy, so they fall out of the cloud, leaving a hole. It is a relatively rare phenomenon.

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — A day after saying a billboard advertisement highlighting climate change was too political for world leaders gathering in the Australian city of Brisbane for a major economic summit, local airport authorities said Tuesday that they had also rejected an ad highlighting corruption problems. Brisbane Airport Corp. confirmed Monday that a World Wildlife Fund ad asking leaders of wealthy and developing countries to put climate change on the agenda of their G20 summit next week had been banned because it had “political intent.”

WASHINGTON (AP) — A cyberattack similar to previous hacker intrusions from China penetrated computer networks for months at USIS, the government’s leading security clearance contractor, before the company noticed, officials and others familiar with an FBI investigation and related official inquiries told The Associated Press. The breach, first revealed by the company and government agencies in August, compromised the private records of at least 25,000 employees at the Homeland Security Department and cost the company hundreds of millions of dollars in lost government contracts.

BEIJING (AP) — Chinese engineers have successfully tested a laser weapon that can shoot down low-flying, slow-moving drones, state media reported Tuesday. The Low Altitude Sentinel system can detect a small aircraft within a 2-kilometer (1.2-mile) radius and shoot it down within five seconds, the English-language newspaper China Daily said, citing a statement from the China Academy of Engineering Physics.

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — The shooting of a Shiite religious leader outside a Sydney prayer hall appeared to have been influenced by the Islamic State movement, Australia’s prime minister said Tuesday. Rasoul Al Mousawi, 47, was blasted with a shotgun in the face and shoulder in a drive-by shooting outside the Husainiyah Nabi Akram Center in suburban Greenacre early Monday.

WAGAH, Pakistan (AP) — Pakistanis mourned on Monday for the victims of a massive suicide bombing near the border with India as the death toll from the explosion the previous day rose to 60, police said. The attack, for which a Taliban splinter faction claimed responsibility, was the deadliest to hit the country in over a year. In September 2013, a suicide bombing killed at least 85 people in a church in Peshawar province.

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (AP) — Attacks across Afghanistan, including the fatal shooting of a provincial deputy governor, killed five people as the country marked a major Shiite holiday, authorities said Monday. In southern Kandahar province, a gunman attacked Deputy Gov. Abdul Qadeem Patyall, shooting at him Sunday through the window of a classroom at Kandahar University, said Samim Khpolwak, a spokesman for the provincial governor. Patyall, who was studying to become a teacher, was seriously wounded and later died, Khpolwak said.

MILAN (AP) — The body of an Indian waiter who was the last missing victim of the shipwrecked Costa Concordia cruise liner has been found by crews dismantling the vessel, authorities said Monday. The body was discovered by workers clearing debris from the ship in a passenger’s cabin on the eighth deck, said Carabinieri commander Capt. Massimo Pittaluga. He said the victim was wearing a shirt that contained an identification card for missing crew member Russel Rebello.

See original: 

Top Asian News at 12:30 p.m. GMT

Rossi aims to cement second MotoGP spot in Sepang

Kuala Lumpur (AFP) – Yamaha rider Valentino Rossi is looking to take a major step towards securing second place in the world championship over teammate Jorge Lorenzo at the Malaysian MotoGP this weekend.

The Italian great is eight points clear of the Spaniard going into Sunday’s penultimate race in Sepang following his win at Phillip Island, Australia, just a few days ago.

With Spanish sensation Marc Marquez crowned the championship winner earlier this month, second place is the best Rossi, 35, and Lorenzo, 27, could hope for but are determined to secure it.

Rossi has won seven premier class titles in Malaysia but will be aware that the last of those was in 2010. The Italian was only able to finish fourth last year, one place behind Lorenzo.

He will also be conscious of the 5.5 kilometre (3.4 mile) track’s unique challenges, particularly the often difficult weather conditions with high temperatures and heavy tropical rain.

“Apart from the temperature being a bit too high for MotoGP racing, I really like the Malaysian track,” Rossi told MotoGP.com.

“I will do my best to win again. I got my second win of the season and now I want to fight for second place in the championship.”

Honda’s Spanish star Dani Pedrosa won last time round pipping teammate Marquez into second, with Lorenzo finishing third. Pedrosa also triumphed in 2012.

“I look forward to racing at Sepang, it’s a nice track,” said Lorenzo on MotoGP.com.

“I would like to be competitive again, especially because I want to fight for second place in the championship.”

For Marquez this year’s race is a chance to atone for that loss, free of pressure with the world championship title already in the bag.

The 21-year-old has added motivation and won’t be taking his foot off the pedal as he bids to equal Australian Mick Doohan’s record of 12 wins in a single season.

Marquez, who last year became MotoGP’s youngest world champion is also looking to bounce back after crashing out at Phillip Island on Sunday.

“The race in Australia didn’t end as how I would’ve liked and to crash 10 laps from the end is infuriating,” he said.

“I will be going for the win in Malaysia and give it everything I’ve got in one of my favourite circuits,” Marquez added on his Repsol Honda blog.

The Spaniard secured the championship in Japan this month but organisers insist that hasn’t dampened ticket sales, with 65,000 tickets already sold.

The spotlight will also be on driver safety, three years after Sepang witnessed one of its darkest moments when Italian rider Marco Simoncelli died after coming off his bike.

“We will ensure the safety of riders,” the circuit’s chief executive officer Razlan Razali said.

The last MotoGP race of the season will be in Valencia, Spain, next month.

Source – 

Rossi aims to cement second MotoGP spot in Sepang

Marquez takes MotoGP pole in Australia

PHILLIP ISLAND, Australia (AP) — World champion Marc Marquez of Spain took pole position and Cal Crutchlow and Jorge Lorenzo also secured front-row starts in the MotoGP race at Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix.

Marquez, who clinched the 2014 season title last week with a second-place finish behind Lorenzo in Japan, took pole Saturday with a 1 minute, 28.408 second lap on his Honda, outpacing his nearest rival by 0.234 seconds on the 4.5-kilometer (2.7-mile) Phillip Island circuit.

Crutchlow, of Britain, was riding a Ducati Team entry, and Spain’s Lorenzo was on a Yamaha, ensuring three manufacturers will be represented on the front row in Sunday’s 27-lap race.

A first-place finish for Marquez on Sunday would equal Australian Mick Doohan’s record of 12 wins during a single MotoGP season. The Spaniard said to achieve the feat at Doohan’s home track would be fitting and humbling.

“It’s Australia, his country, it would be nice to do,” Marquez said. “I will try to take the risk to win the race. The records are always important, especially when people compare you with legends.”

It was Marquez’s 12th pole of the season, equaling a record for most MotoGP pole positions in a year.

In the three-way battle among Lorenzo, Dani Pedrosa and Valentino Rossi to finish second in the championship, Pedrosa overcame the most adversity.

After finishing 11th in practice and forced into an extra qualifying session for slower riders, he emerged to sit on top of the time sheets at one stage. He will start fifth in Sunday’s race, while Rossi will begin from seventh.

Lorenzo said he was pleased with the front-row start as he looks to repeat his 2013 Australian GP triumph and make it three wins in a row this season.

“My target was to push the limit to make the best lap I could. Third place is good for tomorrow,” he said.

Tito Rabat of Spain, who could clinch the Moto2 title this weekend, won his ninth pole of the season Saturday.

Rabat arrived in Australia 38 points ahead of his teammate Mika Kallio. A victory for the Spaniard on Sunday, combined with a fourth place finish or worse for the Finn, would secure the title for Rabat.

Kallio qualified in third place on Saturday.

Moto3 championship leader Alex Marquez, Marc’s younger brother, also took pole for Sunday’s race. He looked a likely pole-sitter throughout qualifying, setting the pace with an early lap record of 1:36.387 before improving to 1:36.050.

“Today we had a really good rhythm, we made really good laps…we need to try to win this race,” Alex Marquez said.

KTM rider Niklas Ajo had a high-speed crash off Doohan corner, requiring a trip to the medical center and major repairs for his bike. Brazilian Eric Granado, who broke a finger earlier in practice, needed a stretcher to leave the track after a crash, but wasn’t seriously injured.

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Marquez takes MotoGP pole in Australia