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Dancing in circles

Tent-based physiotherapy: working on my SI joint problems... Thanks, Handicap International!

On 16 May, I was awakened at 4 am by loud gunfire. I had expected it, of course – it was SPLA day after all, South Sudan’s day for celebrating the army – but it didn’t make it any less stressful. Whether you call it celebratory gunfire or ‘happy gunfire’, as we used to say in Afghanistan, the sound of a gunshot […]

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Are you running free?

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“Are you running free?” In any other situation, it might have seemed like an odd question. But having spent a couple of months in South Sudan already, I knew instantly what he was getting at. I stopped to take out my headphones and wiped the dripping sweat from my forehead. “Yes, I’m running free.”  He looked at me with a puzzled expression, conveying […]

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Beneath the Death Zone: A Climber’s Personal Account of the Everest Avalanche

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Climbing Everest is a dangerous activity – no question about it. Climbers face the risk of hypothermia, cardiac arrest, cerebral swelling, pulmonary edema, getting crushed by rockfalls, trapped by avalanches, or getting caught at high altitude for many hours in raging storms. As one article simply put it, “to set foot on Mount Everest is to risk death.” But despite […]

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An Ultra Race Against Hunger and Violence: Q&A with Ultrarunner Stephanie Case

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An Ultra Race Against Hunger and Violence: Q&A with Ultrarunner Stephanie Case **Originally posted on The Runner’s Trip** By Sarah Lavender Smith Normally, I turn away from reports about Africa’s famine and atrocities that too frequently make headlines and overshadow the continent’s bright spots. The news always seems too terrible, far away, incomprehensible and intractable to try to follow and care—until […]

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Running in Mingkamman

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Kawadja! Kawadja! Fine dust sprays up around my feet as I run down the dirt path through the ‘camp’, weaving my way around collections of mosquito nets strung from trees and sheets of plastic stretched around bamboo sticks. It isn’t light enough yet for me to make out details other than shapes around me, but the young kids are still […]

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Arriving in South Sudan

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I arrived in South Sudan only a few days ago, eager to get my first few glimpses of Africa’s – and the world’s – newest country. I remember well the day that South Sudan gained its independence. I was in New York at the time, working for a diplomatic advisory group that had been advising the South Sudanese leadership through […]

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The ICE Ultra: Race Report

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I felt like I was running through Christmas. The pine trees lining the forest trail curved over me in a protective arch, weighed down by mounds of snow perching on their branches. I tried to pay attention where I was going, but I kept getting distracted by falling snowflakes glittering under the light of my headtorch. If you stared at […]

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Braving the Cold: Heading to the ICE Ultra

“What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.”  ― John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley: In Search of America I’m writing from yet another airport, staring at my bags of gear strewn around me and listening to the chatter of travellers sipping their overpriced Starbucks coffee and complaining of travel delays. If I closed my eyes for long enough, I might forget which airport it is that I’m sitting in. Hong Kong? Brisbane? New York? Vancouver? This will be my fourth continent in two weeks and my body is absolutely exhausted (with a fifth likely to come at the end of the month – more on that later). In between travelling (and running), I’ve been going through more rounds of job interviews at weird hours, sitting job-related written tests, and trying to get out an academic article on the side. I barely know what day it is, let alone time zone, and my head is in a billion different places. But it is time to get focused.  I’m currently en route to the ICE Ultra in Swedish Lapland (with any luck). Storms throughout the northeastern US have sent my flights into chaos, but with any luck I will still make it there.  I have made it to Frankfurt and should land in Lulea, Sweden sometime this afternoon and then transfer to base camp in Kvikjokk! The race is 230km over just four stages, which is considerably shorter […]

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