Quick Hits: December’s News from the Blue Ridge and Beyond

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Kentucky: Bode Trading Skis for Hooves

We’ll soon be seeing Bode Miller at the Derby instead of the Winter Olympics. During a recent interview on In Depth with Graham Bensinger, Miller revealed that he’s planning to become a horse trainer when his skiing career is over. The move was sparked by Miller’s friendship with well-known trainer Bob Baffert, who’s led multiple horses to Kentucky Derby wins. Baffert and Miller already own horses together, and Miller said he’s in the process of buying a training facility in Kentucky to begin his equestrian pursuits in earnest.

Hike the A.T., Paddle the Mississippi

Jared McCallum is having quite an adventure. The 28-year-old former Marine has been trying to figure out what to do with his life after an honorable discharge in 2009. Earlier this year, he decided to take a break from his work as a civilian security contractor in Afghanistan to hike the entire Appalachian Trail. After spending five months completing the famous 2,185-mile footpath, he decided he wasn’t quite ready to head home to Florida. Instead he’s working his way south slowly, paddling the entire Mississippi River—2,340 miles from Minnesota to Louisiana—in a canoe. Sporting a Forrest Gump-style beard with his dog Scout by his side, McCallum recently told Illinois’ Quad-City Times that he anticipates finishing around Christmas, and along the way he’s enjoyed some river magic, due to the kindness of others. “Someone let me camp in their front yard,” he told the paper. “You can’t do this kind of thing without the good people of America like that.”

Dulles, Virginia: That Kid Is Fast

Earlier this fall, 9-year-old Caleb Hymans of Annandale, Va., ran quite a race at the Dulles Day on the Runway, finishing the 5K in 18:47. His time posted at the D.C.-area airport was certified by the Association of Road Race Statisticians as a world record for his age. “It was really cool,” Caleb told The Washington Post, “with all the airplanes flying overhead.”

Berlin, Pennsylvania: Bug Spray Repels Robber

Don’t mess with Annabelle Miller. The store clerk at Berlin’s CSI Coalfield Mini market recently proved she has uses for bug spray beyond keeping skeeters away. Miller grabbed a can when a masked would-be robber entered her store and demanded money. A surveillance video shows Miller instead giving the female crook a big dose of insecticide, which led to her retreat from the store. Miller later told a local news station, “I just got mad. I’ve got better things to do with my night than that.”

Beyond the Blue Ridge

Grand Prairie, Texas: Indoor Skiing in Texas

The Texas heat usually doesn’t bring skiing to mind, but in mid-October, city officials in Grand Prairie announced plans to build a 350,000-square-foot indoor skiing facility. CBS had the skinny on the $215 million joint project being called The Grand Alps Resort, which will be home to the longest indoor ski run in the world at 1,220 feet in length and 300 feet tall. The resort, attached to a 300-room luxury hotel, will also feature an Olympic half pipe, an ice climbing wall, and a luge track. The indoor ski resort has a tentative opening date of early 2018.

Colorado Springs, Colorado: Changing Gears in Bike Racing

In October, USA Cycling revealed the 2015 national championship calendar and it featured some noticeable changes. First up is the addition of the inaugural Fat Bike National Championship, which will take big wheelers through a snowy course in Ogden, Utah, on Valentine’s Day. A big southern race—the USA Cycling Professional Criterium and Team Time Trial National Championships—will return to Greenville, S.C., with the time trial component as a new addition, as well as a new spring date (April 18-19). Soon after, young racers in the USA Cycling Collegiate Road National Championships will ride through the streets of Asheville, N.C., from May 8-10. Back in South Carolina, Rock Hill will host two events this year: the USA Cycling BMX National Championships on March 21 and the USA Cycling Masters Track National Championships from July 21-26. Not on the docket this year: a 24-hour mountain biking national championship, due to declining participation in the discipline.

Peoria, Illinois: Cemetery 5K

Owners of the Springdale Cemetery in Central Illinois are getting creative with their marketing initiatives. In an effort to encourage people to buy burial lots, the cemetery recently began hosting a series of 5K races to showcase the property’s scenery. “We know if we get people back into the cemetery, they’re going to be amazed at its beauty,” Bob Manning, chairman of the cemetery management authority, said in a story by the Associated Press. “Then, hopefully, they’ll think of us when time comes.”

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