Quick Hits: News from the October Issue of Blue Ridge Outdoors

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Georgia Runner Sets 24-Hour Barefoot Record
Savannah, Ga.
In August, Savannah-based runner Andrew Snope traveled to Anchorage, Alaska, where he set the world record for running 24 hours straight with no shoes. Competing in the Six Days in the Dome indoor track race, Snope covered 136.98 miles with a full day of strides inside Anchorage’s Alaska Dome. The effort bested a previous record of 131.43 miles posted last year by New Zealand’s Peter Wayne Botha.
Remarkably, Snope started running less than three years ago, inspired after reading Christopher McDougall’s best-selling book Born to Run. He’s never owned a pair of running shoes and only runs barefoot or in minimalist sandals.

A.T. Orientation
Richmond, Va.
Adapting to life on campus can be tough. To help some incoming freshmen at the University of Richmond get acclimated to college life, some school officials took 18 incoming students on a 40-mile hike on the Appalachian Trail. The hike, led for the second year in a row by Patrick Benner, associate dean for residence life, has become part of the school’s pre-orientation program for new students. “It’s about being able to talk on the trail,” Benner said in a release. “We start off talking about who has the best delivery pizza and move on to talk about what they want to achieve on campus, their concerns, and their worries.”

New A.T. Board Game
Marshall, N.C.
A hiking enthusiast has created a new Appalachian Trail-themed board game, an effort that was funded through Kickstarter donations. Created by Mark Hanf of Marshall, N.C., “Thru Hike: The Appalachian Trail Game” takes players through a map-style board course of the venerable trail, moving forward as they answer trivia questions or identify plants and animals. Hanf got the idea for the game after he cleaned an A.T. shelter that had been left in rough shape by previous visitors. He decided to make a game that would teach people about the trail, including best practices during hiking and backpacking trips. The nonprofit Appalachian Trail Conservancy gave him a
small grant for a prototype of the game. Then the Kickstarter campaign for greater production launched in July, reaching its initial funding goal within 48 hours.

The Man Who Cried Mountain Lion
Aiken, S.C.
Bill Lunsford certainly had the town of Aiken on edge. According to a report by the Associated Press, the 55-year-old man told police officers burglars broke into a pet store and set a mountain lion free. The local police force sent 12 officers on an 18-hour search for the domesticated animal that was said to have been three feet tall, weighing approximately 100 pounds. But police later learned the whole thing was a hoax, which resulted in Lunsford’s arrest for filing a false police report.

Beyond the Blue Ridge

Runner Loses Medal (For Taking off His Shirt)
Zurich, Switzerland
It appeared French runner Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad took gold in the European track and field championship’s 3000-meter steeplechase. But soon after the race, he was disqualified for taking off his shirt before he crossed the finish line. At first, Mekhissi-Benabbad was just given a yellow card warning for the infraction, which he claimed was supposed to be a celebration similarly done by soccer players after scoring a goal. But after an appeal from track officials in Spain, the runner was disqualified for violating uniform standards.
Mekhissi-Benabbad has been embattled with officials for bad behavior in the past, including pushing a mascot at steeplechase championships in both 2010 and 2012.

Giraffe Kicks Fence Hopper
Madison, Wis.
It turns out those fences they erect at zoos are there for a reason. A woman learned this lesson the hard way when she climbed the fence at Madison’s Henry Vila’s Zoo, entering the boundary of a giraffe exhibit. When Amanda Hall, 24, tried to make an escape over a second fence a 12-foot-tall giraffe named Wally kicked her in the face. Fortunately her injuries were not life-threatening, but according to a news story, Hall was fined $686 after being ticketed for harassment of zoo animals.

Wander Through Al Roker’s Face
Atkins, Iowa
Any big Al Roker fans out there? Get to Atkins before the end of the month. The owners of Bloomsbury Farm decided to celebrate the “Today” show weatherman’s 60th birthday by carving his face into a 10-acre maze in a cornfield. The maze, which took six hours to cut, has two miles of open paths for the public to explore through Halloween. The farm owners Dave and Karen Petersen pick a new theme for their maze every year, and this year they told the AP they chose Roker because “he seems like a great guy.”

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