Chimney Rock Expands

Chimney Rock State Park, N.C.

Thanks to recent land transfers by the Nature Conservancy, North Carolina’s Chimney Rock State Park has expanded by 536 acres. New parcel additions now bring the park total to 6,200 acres and help connect the iconic namesake rock outcropping with the nearby Bat Cave Preserve and the southern rim of the Hickory Nut Gorge.

  Since it was established in 2007, after being a private park, Chimney Rock has spurred an increasing amount of new recreation opportunities in areas around Lake Lure, a seasonal vacation town that revolves around its namesake lake, about 30 miles southeast of Asheville. New singletrack was recently built at Lake Lure’s Buffalo Creek Park and the town also hosts a two-day road ride, Cycle NC Mountain Ride, in the summer. Regional climbers flock to Chimney Rock in the off-season to hit the popular crag Rumbling Bald. In a story about the park expansion, Brian Payst, president of the Carolina Climbers Coalition, told the Asheville Citizen-Times, “Nobody goes to Lake Lure and Chimney Rock in the winter, except climbers.”

Church Group Buys Gauley Waterfront Property

Nicholas County, W.Va.

A non-denominational Christian organization recently bought a prime piece of land right on the Gauley River in West Virginia. Young Life, a 75-year-old ministry group for students between middle school and college, purchased an 1,100-acre tract of land along the Gauley that will be used to open one of the organization’s adventure camps. Young Life operates 29 camps around the U.S. that include activities like climbing, rappelling, horseback riding, and parasailing, according to the group’s website. The organization’s new piece of land is located near the Carnifex Ferry Battlefield State Park and borders 665 acres owned by the West Virginia Land Trust that will eventually be transferred to the Gauley River National Recreation Area. Construction work on the land will reportedly begin in the spring.

“Young Life’s land includes more than one mile of Gauley River shoreline, then comes up to the top of the cliffs and onto a good chunk of relatively flat land on top, where the main camp will be set back from the rim and be out of the viewshed,” said Ed Maguire of the Highlands Group when explaining the acquisition to the Charleston Gazette-Mail.

Former Olympian Runs Sub-5-Minute Mile for 40th Straight Year

Shippensburg, Pa.

At 53, Steve Spence is still cruising. The former Olympic marathoner, who placed 12th at the games in 1992, ran a mile in less than five minutes for the 40th straight year back in December. Even though his pro running career ended in 1997, Spence, a cross-country coach at Shippensburg University, unintentionally kept the streak going when running 5Ks for fun. In 2008 he decided to make a point to keep what’s now thought to be an unchallenged record intact, but he told Runner’s World it’s not as easy as it used to be: “This has been my toughest year.”

A.T. Hikers Remove 1,000 Pounds of Trash

Appalachian Trail

As the 2016 class of A.T. thru hikers prepares to get moving, hopefully they’ll take some inspiration from 2015 hikers Seth Orme, Joe Dehnert, and Paul Twedt. Last year when the three friends hiked from Springer to Katahdin, they also completed what they called the Packing It Out Initiative, removing trash from the Appalachian Trail. According to a report from Gearjunkie.com, the trio impressively removed a whopping 1,000 pounds of litter from the A.T., enlisting volunteers to help get the trash to and from trailhead garbage cans. At one point the guys hauled a dirty mattress out of the woods for two miles. The group is planning another long-distance thru-hike/trail cleanup this year on the Pacific Crest Trail.

Lance Wins a Trail Race, People Get Pissed

Woodside, California

Lance Armstrong, the adventure world’s celebrity trainwreck that so many of us can’t help but care about (just look at his nearly 4 million Twitter followers), was on a race course at the end of last year and, of course, it caused a stir. In mid-December, Lance joined 50 runners at the Woodside Ramble 35K in California. He won the race with a time of 3:00:36. Race participation by the former pro cyclist, stripped of his seven Tour de France titles for doping and associated misconduct, became fodder for an internet debate.

One of the race organizers, Tanya Stahler, posted on Facebook: “To us, Mr. Armstrong was just another paying registrant. We did not publicize his presence or treat him any differently than other runners.”

But some runners weren’t comfortable with his presence in their sport. Ultrarunner Ethan Veneklasen told Trail Runner, “Racers running for the best place possible were robbed by the most notorious doper in history.” Nine-time U.S. Mountain Running national champion Joe Gray posted: “I hear people talk about second chances for a ‘particular’ athlete (who is making their way into trail racing). What of the second chances for the athletes who lost their careers due to being cheated by this athlete?”

Armstrong’s racing ban by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency doesn’t include most trail running events, and he seems intent on participating: “I’m not running for money or trophies,” he told TrailRunner. “I run for my own personal reasons and that’s to stay fit and to remain sane.”

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