Thursday, December 20, 2018

A Man is Running on a Treadmill in a Texas Garage Walk-in Freezer

A few days ago, a Texas man was featured in Runner's World online. The man states that on November 16, 2019, he will attempt to become the "first person in history" to run the northernmost 300 miles of the Dalton Highway in Alaska. As seen on the History Channel show "Ice Road Truckers," the Dalton Highway is the longest stretch of unserviced road on the North American continent. It's mostly made up of gravel and dirt and stretches across desolate Alaska wilderness. There are a couple of things that caught my attention about the planned run by this Texan.

He is training on a treadmill located in a walk-in freezer that he has placed in his Texas garage. He says that the freezer not only helps him acclimate to freezing temperatures, but also allows him to test equipment he will need on the highway. He calls the freezer "BOCS" (Big Ol’ Climate Simulator). He wants to complete the 300-mile Alaska run in 9 days (which would be a 33-mile-per-day average) and he will have a support crew accompanying him -- including medics. The attempt is being described as "the most taxing and dangerous run" that he's ever attempted. So, his adventure will take place November 16-25, 2019. Having grown up in Alaska, I can tell you that the Dalton Highway -- which is north of Fairbanks --  was once called the North Slope Haul Road and was built as a supply road to support the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System in 1974. The road carries a couple hundred trucks daily and over 100 miles of it is paved. Also, the average November high temperature for the Dalton Highway Recreation Management Area, according to Weather.com, is 5 degrees with the average low temperature being minus 16 degrees. Having run regularly in both Alaska and Montana at such temperatures, I can tell you that running in temperatures hovering 10 degrees or so on either side of zero is not as 'life threatening' as the Texan describes. With respect to possible wildlife that he may encounter on the Dalton Highway, he'll have a support crew with him for protection and any bears that are not already heading into hibernation will likely not give him a second glance.

What is most important to note is the fact that the Texan featured by Runner's World magazine will not become the first person to cover the Dalton Highway on foot. In fact, it has been done several times -- even by a guy on crutches walking all alone in winter! Also, every year there are bicyclists who traverse the Dalton Highway... in the summer when the grizzlies are not hibernating!

The photo accompanying this blog post is Daniel Johnson-Utsogn of Norway, pushing a children's bike trailer full of his belongings along the Dalton Highway in the final days of a four-year-long walk from New York City to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska. The photo was a part of an NBC News story. The 23-year-old adventurer said he walked more than 25,000 miles through 49 states. During his adventure he didn't update a blog, own a smartphone, nor does he intend to write a book. Daniel is a 20-something adventurer/photographer who describes his walking lifestyle in this manner at his photography website:
"Hi, I’m Daniel. Chronic dirtbag traveller and modern day vagabond. My love affair for the open road began when I was only 19 years old. Born and raised in Norway, I graduated high school in 2013 and quit my job to start a walk across America. The walk lasted four years and took me through some of the most beautiful and wild places in North America and has greatly influenced who I am today. My nomadic lifestyle has mostly moved along at 4 mph., and I've found it immensely addictive. Like the moth to the flame, I can't seem to help myself. The mountains have become my mouthwash and the valleys my methadone. A conquistador of the useless, I keep pushing my limits, always searching for meaningful moments through a meaningless process. I wore out 17 pairs of shoes during those four years, walked 25,000 miles and never once allowed myself any means of transportation to further advance my walk. It all ended in Alaska’s Arctic on September 13th, 2017. My wanderlust and affection for the open road and the American West naturally bled into landscape photography. It is through my lens I wish to inspire others to get out and explore and appreciate the natural world around them."
There have been other adventurers who have also traversed the Dalton Highway on foot (for instance, do a Google search of Cargo Harrison's 14,000-mile journey), and most did not have a support crew as the Texan intends on having next year -- and several who have already accomplished the feat have averaged more miles than the Texan intends on doing. Sometimes, I shake my head over planned undertakings that Runner's World magazine chooses to promote. The Texan is running on a treadmill in a walk-in garage freezer talking about a 300-mile run he wants to do one year from now -- one that he says nobody has ever done. Runner's World magazine actually committed ink to that. I've been reading Runners' World magazine since 1978 -- yep, that's 40 years. It is with four decades of reading that I finally say -- come on Runner's World! Do your research and you'll find that this Texan's Dalton Highway goal has already been done -- solo -- and the people who have actually accomplished such things are definitely worth some ink!

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso