Couple Cuts A.T. Hike Short to Cook for Fire Victims

After Ontaria Kirby and her husband lost their Baltimore home in a fire, the couple decided to hike the Appalachian Trail to escape their troubles. But during their journey on the trail late last year the pair—both professional chefs—heard about the fires burning the Smoky Mountains and decided they wanted to help those being affected. The couple hitched a ride in a truck to Gatlinburg, where they spent a few weeks cooking at a donation center. “We both said, let’s go help out with this fire,” Kirby told news station WATE. “I mean we are both chefs; everybody has to eat.”

Santa Run Record Set in Virginia Beach

At the Surf-N-Santa 5 Miler in Virginia Beach, runners broke the Guinness World Record for the Largest Santa Claus Run, besting a mark set by 4,961 costumed Santas at a race in Ireland in 2013. According to a piece on Runner’s World’s website, the runners were required to wear five pieces of Santa attire—white beard, red pants, red jacket, hat, and black belt—in order to count towards the record. Not everyone on the course met the requirements, as the race had a total field of 5,700 participants.

77-Year-Old Tennessee Man Wins Ultra By Running 149 Miles

77-year-old Doyle Carpenter of Treadway, Tenn., won the Endless Mile, a 48-hour run that takes place near Birmingham, Alabama. The race has runners complete as many one-mile laps as possible on a smooth path. By running 149 miles Carpenter bested the next closest competitor by 12 miles and beat multiple runners more than 40 years younger than him. Carpenter has been running since he was a teenager, a necessity when his legs were his only mode of transportation to get to his job as a golf caddy. Carpenter has run 130 ultramarathons, and in 1988, he set a record by running 221 miles during another 48-hour race.

Record Number of Visitors at Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Great Smoky Mountains National Park had more traffic than ever in 2016. Over 11.3 million people visited the park last year. The 5.6-percent attendance increase, up from 10.7 people coming to the park in 2015, comes despite the fall wildfires that spread through much of the Smokies and ultimately caused the park to close for nearly two weeks. 

Never Too Cold to Pedal

Next time you try to back out of a bike ride by making an excuse about the weather, take a lesson from a group of 500 cycling advocates in Russia, who back in January held a five-mile group ride along the Moscow River in temperatures that hovered around -17 degrees Fahrenheit. For the second straight year the brave Muscovite bikers bundled up and pedaled from a residential neighborhood to the Kremlin to demonstrate that cycling can be a valid form of alternative transportation in a city plagued by chronic traffic congestion—even in sub-zero temps.

New Hampshire Woman Sets Hiking Record

At the end of December, Sue Johnston of Littleton, N.H., set a huge hiking record, becoming the first person to hike all 48 of the Granite State’s 4,000-foot mountains in every month in a single year. The rugged challenge of conquering the 48 White Mountain peaks in all 12 months, known as “The Grid,” usually takes hikers many years, and only 70 people have done it. But Johnston, 51, hit the trails hard last year, and with support from her husband, bagged all four-dozen 4,000-footers in every month of 2016. The Whites have notoriously volatile weather. In July she topped all 48 in just 10 days, while it took 21 in December. She hiked a total of 3,181 miles and climbed a total of 1 million vertical feet.