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    Czech Yourself, Don’t Wreck Yourself - The secrets of one man’s running endurance

    Maybe we're all getting old, or maybe just obsessed with trying not to, but Kelly Cordes' ongoing series about Fighting Forty makes today's post - from runner and guest-contributor, Liz Mosco - particularly appropriate. As a friend of patagonia, Liz has come to know some of the folks around here. She's a fan of those who keep a low profile, which helps explain how she became interested in this particular patagonia employee, a gentleman whose ultra-running career didn't even get started until he was close to 40. Liz will tell you the rest.  - Ed

    Milan v
    On my morning runs, I occasionally see an older gentleman also out for his morning jaunt. He must be in his 70s and although he is clearly running, his style resembles more of a bouncy shuffle. When we passed one summer morning, he did not give me the standard runner’s tight smile or nod. Instead, he gave me a huge “hello!” and a vigorous double-armed wave. This man looks, and appears to feel, great.

    I often think about my running future and how I still want to be lacing up in my 70s, spreading my joy to passersby. I love running. I am impressed by all kinds of runners, but I have a special awe and respect for older runners whose endurance has truly passed the test of time. One day I plan to stop this man and tell him that he is an inspiration- much like another inspirational runner I recently met who brought a new spring to my step.

    As a friend and fan of Patagonia, I often hear about the incredible athletic feats accomplished by many of the company’s employees. So I was not surprised to hear that one such employee is an endurance runner; that is, until I learned that this particular athlete is 65 years old and that he has run over 40 ultra marathons in the past 20 years, including 7 Western States Endurance Runs. This man took my vision of being an older runner, leisurely meandering around the neighborhood, and blew it away. Not only is this man running, but he is running really frickin’ long trail races at 65. This smiling and humble gentleman, Milan Varga, graciously agreed to talk with me about running one afternoon.

    [Milan crosses the line at the end of one run on his long list of successful finishes. Photo courtesy Ultra]

    Continue reading "Czech Yourself, Don’t Wreck Yourself - The secrets of one man’s running endurance" »

    Fighting Forty (pt. 4) - Stumbling on Balance

    Part 4 in Kelly Cordes' series about perils and pleasures of aging gracefully while slaying stereotypes (the first three installments are here:1, 2, and 3). After a series of significant injuries - the most recent a severely torn shoulder - Kelly was forced to bow out of an upcoming trip to Patagonia with fellow climbing ambassador Tommy Caldwell. In this segment, he takes stock of training strategies past and future. -Ed

    Kc - gimpy hang 2061(lr) On my daily walk I got to thinking.

    Wait, stop. What? Daily walk?!

    Yes, I also get a chuckle imagining the look of abject disgust my 25 year-old self would give me now. Run, bike, climb, push, sure. GoGoGo. Walking is what old people do to get their mail. But injuries and rehab force me to reflect, and as I strapped on my protective arm sling – it officially came off Tuesday, but I’m being careful – I smiled and recalled a tale. It has to do with pace, I suppose, as there’s this old bull and a young bull standing atop a hillside, looking down upon a herd of pretty cows, and the young bull goes, "Hey, Dad!"  . . . er, sorry. This isn't the place for it.

    I also recalled a time many years ago, when I went for a simple walk at Lumpy Ridge. No climbing shoes and chalk bag, just a walk. On my way out I passed two friends on their way back from climbing, and they didn’t say much, just stared at me with these puzzled looks. I thought nothing of it, said “hi” and kept walking. Later at the bar, one of them asked, incredulously, what I was doing. “Just going for a walk, that’s all. It’s nice.”

    “But dude,” he said. “You don’t have a girlfriend.”

    [Kelly working on his “Hangboard for Ants” last winter, after severely fracturing his lower leg. Photo: Cordes collection]

    Continue reading "Fighting Forty (pt. 4) - Stumbling on Balance" »

    2000 Kilometers by Skateboard in Morocco with Long Treks on Skate Decks


    [Straight road through farmville. Pushing towards Marrakesh, Morocco. All photos courtesy of Paul Kent, Adam Colton and Aaron Enevoldsen.]

    Billy Smith, Patagonia wetsuit developer & co-inventor of the Sporting-Sail, introduced us to some of his good friends at Long Treks on Skate Decks who skateboard across countries. After looking at their photographs, videos (warning: expletives) and product reviews, it was clear to us that these guys are not only hardcore users of Patagonia products they are doing things that don’t even have a name yet. Their unconventional approach to a sport they are pioneering is inspiring and real. Today's post by Aaron Enevoldsen, about their 40-day push through Morocco, proves that human-powered transportation can come in more ways than you might have previously thought.

    If your next journey had to be without a motor, what would you choose? A longboard probably didn’t come to mind.

    Traversing the High Atlas Mountains in early 2010, you would have found three very dirty individuals, pushing incredibly high-tech skateboards. Those three guys would have been Paul Kent, Adam Colton, and this guy, Aaron Enevoldsen. Under the name Long Treks on Skate Decks, we’ve pioneered long-distance skateboarding combined with documentary filmmaking (warning: expletives).

    Continue reading "2000 Kilometers by Skateboard in Morocco with Long Treks on Skate Decks" »

    Arne Backstrom Revelstoke Tribute

    [Arne Backstrom Revelstoke Tribute. Video: Subaru Freeskiing World Tour.]

    The Subaru World Freeskiing Tour put together a nice tribute video for our late friend and ambassador Arne Backstrom. The video was released in conjunction with this week's Revelstoke leg of the World Freeskiing Tour which Arne won last year. Head over to the official website to catch up on the standings and watch the live stream from Canada.

    Fight Harder - Remembering anti-mountain top removal activist Judy Bonds

    Judy Bonds We at Patagonia mourn the passing of our friend and colleague, Julia “Judy” Bonds, the Goldman Prize winner and Executive Director of Coal River Mountain Watch. Bonds, 58, had battled advanced stage cancer over the past several months and passed away last Monday.

    We got to know Judy, back in the early 2000s, first by our support of Coal River through our environmental grants program and then in 2005, when we invited Judy and Janice Nease (co-director of Coal River Mountain Watch) to lead a workshop at our biennial Tools for Grassroots Activist Conference. Naturally it was called “Building Momentum in Your Community.” It was a smashing success and she inspired everyone at the conference not only to work to end mountain top removal, but to go back and fight for justice in their own communities.

    In a time when environmental activism is too often thought of as a luxury and peripheral issue, it is good to remember the activists, like Judy, who wage daily battles against overwhelming odds right at home. Judy Bonds was a hero to us all. There are many moving remembrances online with interviews of Judy and for those who haven't been exposed to Judy's wisdom, humor, and insight, here's a wonderful one - author Jeff Biggers has pulled together some of her quotes, articles, and videos in a tribute here.

    [Julia 'Judy' Bonds. (Painting by Robert Shetterly from his Americans Who Tell the Truth series) courtesy Common Dreams website.]

    AAC's Young Gun Awards

    Cordes - P1010054 Last week we posted about some major grant deadlines and mentioned that, contrary to popular notion, most of the grants go to trips other than cutting-edge adventures. In fact, the AAC just announced the latest recipients of their biannual “gateway grant” – the Mountain Fellowship Grant, which awards young climbers (age 25 and under) tackling ambitious projects in remote areas. The award is 100% endowment-funded, and I love how it helps aspiring dirtbags undertake adventures they couldn’t otherwise afford.

    Many of the recipients over the years have evolved into America’s top climbers, and, as such, I suppose it’s contributed to the decline of many a potentially respectable lifestyle. Good stuff (I know, call me a bad ‘Merican – my advice to the kids: Go on adventures! Don’t work too much, and don’t buy into it all! Live cheaply, stay out of debt and go explore!).

    Where were we?

    Oh yeah, it’s my favorite of all the grants – I didn’t even start climbing until I was 25, and so I’m especially amazed by some of the adventures these “kids” do (I’m dating myself, I know, but indeed I’ve been writing about the perils of getting old, so…).

    Congrats to the young guns getting after it everywhere, including those who recently got some help from the Mountain Fellowship Grant:

    • Scott Bennett (25)—$600 from the Rick Mosher Fund for a possible first ascent of Cerro Pollone’s East Peak, Argentina.

    • Tyler Botzon (21)—$400 for to attempt on Ama Dablam, Nepal.

    • Christopher Carter (21)—$400 for ski mountaineering in Altai Mountains, Mongolia.

    • Sean Dormer (22)—$1,000 from the REI Challenge Fund for possible first ascents in Arrigetch Mountains, Alaska.

    • Hayden Kennedy (20)—$400 for a possible first ascent of the North Face of Chamlang, China.

    • Jewell Lund (24)—$400 for climbs in Kara Su Valley, Kyrgyzstan.

    • Jacon Mayer (23) and Max Talsky (23)—$600 each from the Boyd Everett Fund for the Cassin Ridge on Denali, Alaska.

    [Four years ago to the day, Colin Haley, 22 at the time and on his Mountain Fellowship Grant-awarded trip to Patagonia, gets psyched to lead the crux pitch of a new link-up on Cerro Torre. We did our route from Jan 5-7, 2007 - the grant for that route/trip was just for Colin – I was 38 at the time! Photo: Kelly Cordes]

    Patagonia Footwear Partners Team Up to Inspect Factories

    L1020481 Patagonia has been working with Wolverine World Wide (WWW) for four years to build a successful line of hiking boots, lifestyle and multi-sport shoes, sandals and more. We rely heavily on WWW’s experience making footwear – an extremely complicated process – but stay involved in every step of the process.

    That’s why members of Patagonia’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) team recently traveled to China to check out our shoe factories. Social and Environmental Responsibility Director Cara Chacon and Social and Environmental Responsibility Analyst Julie Netzky toured all five of our footwear factories to get to know WWW’s CSR team and learn about their program.

    “The week-long factory visits were really important for both brands to benchmark our CSR programs, share best practices and knowledge and move the factories forward on compliance,” said Cara, who has spent 11 years auditing over 1,000 factories and helping brands improve their CSR programs.

    They toured the factories and onsite dormitories, with WWW’s Corporate Responsibility Director Jim Musial and Human Rights Manager Allen Chen, to review remediation efforts from recent audits and observe labor, environmental health and safety conditions as part of their routine factory visits.

    [Auditors inspect one of Wolverine World Wide's factories to ensure proper storage of chemicals with secondary containment. Photo: Cara Chacon]

    Continue reading "Patagonia Footwear Partners Team Up to Inspect Factories" »

    Dirtbag Diaries: What We Had

    Flyfisher Happy New Year. We're starting 2011 off right with the first-ever fly fishing story to be shared on the Dirtbag Diaries. Host Fitz Cahall introduces today's podcast:

    Mark Rutherford and John Merritt grew up sharing the same sand box. As they grew up, they each followed separate paths. John had a successful career in the Chicago financial world. Mark moved to Alaska and raised a family in tiny cabin he built with his own hands. Twenty years ago, Mark began a successful adventure fly fishing guide service in the Bristol Bay region. An avid fisherman, John got in touch with Mark and scheduled a trip. On that first trip, John revealed that he had been diagnosed with M.S. Ten years prior, doctors told him he had seven years to live. That first trip marked the beginning of decade of trips, each more adventurous than the last. Today, we are headed up stream to the confluence of several lives. Friendships are a bit like rivers -- when they converge, they swell into something greater.

    Audio_graphic_20pxListen to "What We Had"
    (mp3 - right-click to download)

    There's more to this touching story than what you just heard. Hit the jump for some background on the folks who were featured in today's podcast and a link to some photos from the trip they described.

    Continue reading "Dirtbag Diaries: What We Had" »

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