The Accidental Extremist is now online at www.theaccidentalextremist.com


Chariot of Fire [Burning Sensations]

 

Running is a great way to feel healthy and alive.

Running is a great way to feel healthy and alive.

            I, a fat man, had been circling Portland, Maine’s Back Cove like a dog prepping its bed for most of the summer of 2007. Now intimately acquainted with every pothole, washout and linden tree on the route, I finally turned 7 miles at 9:20 per, and added longer runs of 10 and 12 miles. I was feeling reasonably prepared for my first-ever long running event until just before the race, when a telephone call informed me that I was to be without my race partner,
who I lovingly refer to as Chubby. Her plantar faciitis had put her on the back foot (pun intended) since the beginning of the summer. She simply didn’t feel ready to tackle the full 13.1 miles of running in Hanover.

“I’ve tried to run a half-marathon before I was ready, once,” she said. “I’m not going to do it again. But you can still come and stay with us, and I’ll pass you gu during the race.” Now alone in my quest, I commenced a final week of training: a solid 9.5-mile jog, a 3-mile Monday, a 5-mile Wednesday and a 7-mile Thursday. It was a beautiful week, with clear skies and temperatures in the mid-70s. My times were on target. I was feeling so good about my preparation that I left work early on Friday and promptly wrecked my motorcyle… Continue reading

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13 Epics of Woe [Hall of Infamy]

A friend from Outside Magazine, Senior Editor Jeremy Spencer, reminded us of this excellent collection of misadventures he edited four years ago. Featuring the likes of Jane Smiley and Jon Lee Anderson, it’s a ghoulish gallery of murderous hitchhikers, lightning strikes, and worse. A little something to inspire your own submissions here. The article was paired with a classic travel disaster reading list, and a rundown of the 10 worst adventure disasters of the last 200 years. Enjoy—CDB



Row Or Die [Water, Water, Everywhere]

 

Ah, the lapping waters, so tranquil!

Ah, the lapping waters, so tranquil!

What It Feels Like To Row The Atlantic Alone. By Olly Hicks, 24, laborer. 

[Ed.’s note: In September 2006, Hicks became the youngest person to row the Atlantic Ocean solo. He also has the distinction of making the slowest trip, covering the 4,040 miles in 124 days in his boat, Miss Olive.]

Before leaving New York for England, I had the worst butterflies ever–to the point of vomiting. Wondered if I had packed everything. Shoving off was a relief. Took about two days till I was out of sight of land. Then the sea turned into a feisty bitch… Continue reading



Because It Might Be There [Off the Map]
I'm pretty sure it's down there.

Yep, I'm pretty sure it's right down there.

     We don’t usually repost from other blogs, but this interview with New Yorker writer David Grann on his new book, The Lost City of Z,  for The Daily Beast is simply too entertaining to pass up. Hats off to Grann, who fell way off the map searching for clues to the disappearance of Percy Fawcett, the celebrated, ill-fated, Victorian Explorer. We’ll be leafing through the book on the way to getting lost soon. – CDB



Dumbo Strikes Back [Call of the Wild]

 

They say an elephant never forgets your face.

They say an elephant never forgets your face.

Gabon, New Year’s Eve, 2002:

She was about seven feet at the shoulder, with sixteen-inch tusks, and weighed two tons. I used to have zero fear. Zero. I could walk up to any elephant I saw. So when she charges, I bluff back, but it doesn’t stop her. I run to get between her and the group I’m with, including my girlfriend. The elephant’s got her head down, ears tucked, doing this kind of shuffle. I’m thinking, I’ve got about a second to stop this thing. She’s thinking, I’m going to kill you. Do I straight-arm her, or do I run? But when she gets within three feet, I take three steps to run and — boom — I trip and hit the ground.

I immediately turn… Continue reading



High On Nature [Close Calls]

 

Hiking is so invigorating.

Hiking is so invigorating.

A riveting tidbit from Philip James, founder of the social networking+wine site, Snooth.com. — CDB

            I don’t talk about this too much, but in 2003 I climbed Mount Everest. My friend and climbing partner broke his leg at 28,000 feet. As a result no one in our expedition reached the summit, but we did get him down safely in what became the worlds highest altitude rescue.

 

            I’d set out to become the youngest Briton to climb the North Face of Everest and had joined a small independent expedition with just 5 other climbers. After 60 days on the mountain we ended up with a 120 hour rescue that ended with a broken leg, broken ribs, dysentery, frostbite leading to several digits being amputated as well as several fatalities and multiple medals of valor.

If you want to learn more about the expedition itself, here are some news articles about the event:

BBC News article – Everest on his knees 

Manchester Evening News – Amazing Escape of Everest Survivor

Everest News – Everest North Side Expedition ‘03

Click here to download the slide show (45mb). Finally, if you want to see it in the “Tilt Viewer” format – click here.



Twin Beds and Thin Walls [Love on the Road, Love on the Rocks]

After the wedding, all we want to do is relax by the beach.

After the wedding, all we want to do is relax by the beach.

Here, excerpts from an entertaining piece by writer Rob Story which recounts his action-packed honeymoon throughout Asia—and some of its more memorable catastrophes. —CDB

              We’re a funny couple to watch. She, all of five feet and 99 pounds, blithely swings her skis down steep mogul runs with apparent amnesty from the laws of gravity. Trying gamely to knit near misses and miraculous recoveries into a line that at least looks intentional, my 200-pound carcass hurtles down slopes with the subtlety and grace of the Hindenburg. She never, ever biffs on a mountain bike. Me, I’m attempting to become the first human to be constituted completely of scar tissue.

             I guess the sea kayaking session in Thailand presented the most interesting realationship dynamics. When M’Lissa emerged wearing an XL life jacket on her petite frame, I said something along the lines of: “Whoa, looks like Tattoo got in Mr. Roarke’s closet again.” (It was quite a clever remark, as we were in a gorgeous marine national park dotted with all manner of Fantasy Islands, but she didn’t care for it. Apparently, California kids like M’Lissa frequently grow up in an environment polluted with sports and activity, suffering from dangerously low levels of TV exposure.)

            Things only got worse on the water, because our vessels were tandem sea kayaks…. Continue reading