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Dirty Air in National Parks

The skies in many parks are more polluted than those in cities, according to a study by the National Parks and Conservation Association. Air quality in 36 of 48 national parks have more unhealthy levels of ozone pollution than major cities. Regionally, Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky and Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina and Tennessee were named among the top 12 parks most harmed by air pollution. The greatest causes of pollution in parks are emissions from vehicle traffic and antiquated coal-fired power plants avoiding Clean Air Act restrictions through loopholes. According to the NPCA, without intervention, “in 50 years just 10 percent of national parks required to have clean air will actually have it.”

Bear Attack in Virginia

A woman received 28 stitches after being attacked by a bear in Virginia’s Douthat State Park in August. Richmond’s Laurie Cooksey was hiking with three of her children when the incident occurred. As the group descended on a trail from the Tuscarora Overlook, Cooksey noticed a bear behind a tree from 10 yards away. Before she could react, the bear charged, clawed Cookey’s back, and bit her leg. Since the attack occurred on an incline, Cooksey was able to kick the bear and get to her family members, who all fled in different directions. The group was then able to scare off the bear by making loud noises and attempting to appear as big as possible. After hiking four miles to the trailhead, Cooksey was rushed to LewisGale Hospital Allegheny. State officials ended up killing the wrong bear after the attack; DNA from Cooksey’s clothes and wounds did not match the euthanized bear’s DNA.

Monumental Momentum

Nearly 200 West Virginia businesses have endorsed the proposal for Birthplace of Rivers National Monument. Not surprisingly, they include companies that cater to outdoor enthusiasts. They also include companies that see the opportunity to highlight the best of West Virginia: the pristine headwaters that would be protected through the designation. Now the effort also has generated nationwide enthusiasm as part of the Live Monumental Tour, a cross-country traveling show to promote five national monument proposals. Birthplace of Rivers is the only one in the Appalachians. Learn more at

70-Year-Old Badwater Badass

In July, 70-year-old Bob Becker was the oldest finisher at the grueling Badwater Ultramarathon, a 135-mile slog starting at 282 feet below sea level in California’s Death Valley and running up to 8,360 feet at Whitney Portal. Impressive, sure, but for Becker that wasn’t enough. He then went on to to become the oldest person ever to finish what’s known as a Badwater Double, which involves climbing an additional 11 miles to Mount Whitney’s 14,505-foot summit before turning around and running 146 miles back to Death Valley. The feat took Becker seven days, eight hours, and 48 minutes, which included rest time after completing the main 135-mile race in 41 hours, 30 minutes, and 21 seconds. Becker, who resides in Florida, told Runner’s World the toughest part was the Whitney summit: “When you go from sea level, where I live and train, to 14,505 feet, that altitude knocks you out.”

Eminem Beat Addiction with Running

Platinum-selling rapper Eminem recently chatted with Men’s Journal about his fitness regimen and revealed that after his 2007 pain killer overdose, running became a way to keep his mind off a post-rehab relapse. Eminem said at one point he was running 17 miles a day, all on a treadmill. He would run 8.5 miles in the morning before heading to a recording studio and then another 8.5 miles after work. “I got an addict’s brain, and when it came to running, I think I got a little carried away,” he said. The treadmill pounding eventually started to damage his hip flexors, so he started mixing up his routine with workouts like Insanity and P90X.

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