Quick Hits: April 2019 Outdoor News

Virginia Runner Sets Record with 10 Marathons in 10 Days

Michael Wardian is at it again. The 44-year-old, Arlington-based ultrarunner, well known in the running world for setting a range of long-distance records that are both amazing and a little strange, won the World Marathon Challenge for the second time in February. Runners in the World Marathon Challenge complete seven full marathons on seven continents in seven days. The multi-race event starts in Antarctica and finishes in Miami. Wardian averaged a time of 2:58:30 on the seven marathon courses.

When Wardian returned home, he ran three more marathons on consecutive days on a USATF-certified course, and in doing so, set a pending record for the fastest completion of 10 marathons in 10 straight days with a cumulative time of 29 hours, 12 minutes, and 46 seconds. Surprisingly, Wardian posted his fastest time in the tenth marathon, completing the run in 2:44:33. 

In addition to winning national races like the U.S. 50K and 50-mile Championships, some of the records Wardian has set in the past include the world’s fastest 50K on a treadmill, fastest marathon while pushing a stroller, and fastest marathon dressed as Elvis Presley.

Big Win for Public Lands

In late February, the House of Representatives passed the Natural Resources Management Act, which protects more than three million acres of land, creates at least five national park units, bars mining on lands near two national parks, and classifies hundreds of miles of U.S. rivers as wild and scenic. The bill previously passed the Senate and now awaits the President’s signature as of press date. Some highlights of the bill include:

1. Permanently reauthorizing the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which uses fees from offshore drilling to pay for conservation programs in all 50 states;

2. Extending the popular “Every Kid Outdoors” program for another seven years, which grants the nation’s fourth graders and their families a free national parks pass;

3. Preserving over 700,000 acres of land in southern Utah, an area that environmentalists have been trying to protect for decades;

4. Establishing a new national monument in Mississippi to honor civil rights leader Medgar Evers, who worked to end segregation and championed voting rights;

5. Creating an ecological buffer around Yellowstone National Park, preventing areas adjacent to the park from being mined. 

The bill designates 1.3 million acres as wilderness and funds protection for some 380 bird species under the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act.

North Carolina Artist Offers Creative Hiking Incentive

Courtney Pernell decided to put her own creative twist on trail magic. The artist, based in Raleigh, N.C., placed 100 ceramic stars along the 62-mile Falls Lake section of the Mountains to Sea Trail as a pottery treasure hunt for hikers. With help and promotion from the nonprofit Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail, she also put three crafted hearts on the trail, which could be redeemed for prizes from the organization. 


Number of bikes gifted by Wheels to Africa since the nonprofit formed 14 years ago. The Virginia-based organization collects unwanted bikes around metro Washington, D.C., and ships them to countries around the world in an effort to assist those with transportation needs. The organization was started by Winston Duncan (with help from his mother) when he was only 10 years old, back in 2005. Although most of the bikes have gone to residents in different African countries, this year Duncan and his mom, Dixie, took 400 bikes to Puerto Rico and gave them to residents still recovering from the devastating effects of Hurricane Maria. 

Must-See: Deep Water Solo Comp at Tuck Fest

The world’s largest permanent free-soloing wall is at the U.S. National Whitewater Center in Charlotte, and on April 26-27, top climbers—and a few wild cards— will compete for a $15,000 cash purse at the Tuck Fest Deep Water Solo comp. Seeding rounds will take place on Friday followed by finals on Saturday. The top 16 male and female climbers will move on to the finals, where climbers will compete head-to-head in a single elimination, tournament-style bracket. The fastest climber to the top of the wall will advance until a champion is crowned. Emily Harrington, Carlo Traversi, Paige Claasen, and Emma Hunt are among the climbers competing at Tuck Fest this year.

Floyd Landis to Open Bike Shop and Hemp-Focused Café in Pennsylvania

Former pro cyclist Floyd Landis was stripped of his 2006 Tour de France title after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs. This spring, Landis will open a joint bike shop and café that focuses on CBD-based products in Lancaster, Pa. Floyd’s of Lancaster Café will feature products from Landis’s Colorado-based company Floyd’s of Leadville, which sells a range of supplements containing CBD—the non-psychoactive compound in cannabis that is becoming a popular option to aid in recovery and pain relief among endurance athletes. In announcing the new business, Landis, who’s originally from Farmersville, Pa., stated that he plans to make “significant purchases” from hemp farmers in Pennsylvania, attempting to boost and promote agribusiness in his old home state.

Climbers flex economic muscle in New River Gorge

Photo by: Daniel Gajda

A new study has found that rock climbers are a major economic force for the New River Gorge, a renowned rock climbing destination in West Virginia. The study found that climbers contributed $12.1 million in tourism dollars annually across a three-county region in West Virginia. Climber spending also directly supports 168 jobs in the region and contributes $6.3 million in wages.

$887 billion 

Amount spent on outdoor recreation in 2017 in the United States—more than coal, oil, and gas combined. The outdoor economy is also growing by 3.8 percent, faster than the overall economy.

In the Dark about Spaceport Risks

Conservation groups and concerned residents have filed suit over a proposed spaceport in south Georgia, charging that the county government is unlawfully withholding documents concerning public safety and environmental impacts. 

 Southern Environmental Law Center filed suit after Camden County refused to release several public health and safety documents related to the proposed spaceport, including debris field maps and an analysis estimating the number of human deaths that could occur if a rocket explodes on the launch pad or in the air. The proposed spaceport would launch rockets directly over neighborhoods and hikers and campers on Cumberland Island National Seashore.

“While we have long been concerned that this project poses serious threats to public health and the local economy of Camden County, the lack of transparency about the real risks of Spaceport Camden only deepens those concerns,” said Megan Desrosiers, Executive Director of the nonprofit One Hundred Miles. “The notion that coastal communities can and should accept that rockets will be launched over one of the most economically and ecologically important areas for the state of Georgia without knowing exactly what those risks look like is absurd.”

Walls are meant for climbing

The North Face is building a public climbing wall in Atlanta. Through a partnership with the Trust for Public Land, The North Face is establishing public climbing boulders across the country. Atlanta’s public climbing wall will resemble the local rock in Horse Pens, a legendary climbing area in Alabama, and will also display the initials of the kid designers. The new climbing area, part of Rodney Cook Sr. Park, aspires to attract a diverse population of climbers, both experienced and beginners. Martin Luther King Jr.’s adult home is one block from the park. 

Share this post:

Discover more in the Blue Ridge: