Virginia Runner Sets Marathon Record

Michael Wardian, the Arlington, Va.,-based ultrarunner known for setting odd speed records like the world’s fastest 50Ks on a treadmill and indoor 200-meter track, made headlines back in November with another record after his finish at the New York City Marathon. According to Runner’s World, Wardian’s time of 2:33:18 was quick enough to make him the fastest man to complete the six World Marathon Majors—Tokyo, Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago, and New York City—in a single year. Wardian averaged a time of 2:31:09 during the six races. “I thought it was a pretty epic challenge as far as physically being able to do it, and then also the chance to see so many different cultures and the way that people race,” he said.

After New York he wasn’t done racing for the year. The next weekend he hopped on a plane and set a world record for the fastest marathon time dressed as Elvis Presley at the Las Vegas Rock ’n’ Roll Marathon

Inspiring Thru-Hikers Finish the A.T.

In the fall you can always count on hearing about inspiring thru-hikers finishing the six-month-plus, 2,189-mile journey on the Appalachian Trail. A couple of accomplishments worth relaying include the diligent boot work of father and son duo Dr. John Eliades, 69, and Dr. Steven J. Eliades, 39, who last summer pieced together a complete thru-hike gradually with a steadfast 21-year effort that started right after Steven graduated from high school.

Also, retired Marine Steven Lesage of Mooresville, N.C., completed the trek from Springer to Katahdin last year to raise funds for fellow veterans. Lesage, known by the trail name “Rambo,” started hiking in March and finished in September, along the way receiving $6,300 in donations for Active Heroes, a nonprofit working to prevent veteran suicide. A story in the Statesville Record & Landmark said Lesage’s employer, JRi Shocks, not only gave him time off for the hike, but also donated to his cause.

White House Gives Big Grant for Kentucky Wildlife Center

The effort to build a new wildlife center on a former strip mine in Bell County, Ky., received a $1.8-million boost in the form of a federal grant back in the fall. The Appalachian Wildlife Foundation is developing a namesake center that, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader, will hold the largest elk restoration effort in the country. The grant, given through the Obama administration’s Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization initiative, will be used to build waterlines at the center. The foundation hopes the center will become a tourist attraction that will fuel economic recovery in an area formerly dominated by coal mining. Appalachian Wildlife purchased 500 acres in southeast Kentucky and leased another surrounding 12,000 for the conservation center, projected to open in 2019. The land is inhabited by black bear and 240 species of birds, and it will feature hiking trails, a research center, and an artisan market.

Ultrarunner Sets Grand Canyon Record

Back in the fall, ultrarunner Jim Walmsley set a new speed record for the Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim, the running challenge of traversing the Grand Canyon from the South Rim to the North Rim and back. Walmsley completed the rugged 42-mile slog, which features grueling climbs and steep descents that total 24,000 feet of elevation change, in the impressive time of 5:50:20, besting ultra ace Rob Krar’s previous record of 6:21:47. The record was a redemptive accomplishment for Walmsley, 26, who last summer was on pace to break the course record after 90 miles at the renowned Western States 100 in California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains before getting lost and ultimately finishing 20th.

Taxpayers Foot the Bill for Bigfoot Hunt

Dr. Christopher Dyer, CEO of the University of New Mexico’s Gallup campus, organized a conference called “Bigfoot in New Mexico: Evidence, Ecology, and Behavior” at his place of employment. The event, which Dyer called the “largest and most well-attended event in the history” of the school’s campus, featured two days of guest speakers and presentations and was followed by an organized Bigfoot expedition in the Sandia Mountains.

Controversy followed the event this past fall, though, when KRQE News 13 released a report revealing that the event cost taxpayers a total of $7,458, including $1,500 in speaker fees and over $1,200 for lodging. Dyer defended his event by saying, “I use discretionary funds for things that I think are of merit.”

Dave Thomas, an instructor at New Mexico Tech, criticized the use of funds: “When you’re expending the resources of taxpaying citizens on what is completely pseudo-science, that’s a betrayal of the public trust.”