Archive for April, 2009

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Some unusual and fairly extreme races to watch out for in England in 2009

April 30, 2009

There was never a truer statement than ‘Mad Dog an Englishman… out in the midday sun”…

I’m afraid the wife-carrying race has already happened and would have been an event worth watching I feel sure! It happens near Dorking’s Box Hill in Surrey England and is run over a distance of  about 200m as shown here by chrisoco2307 .

Although it doesn’t look much (and I think was rather poorly subscribed) they, plus others, went on to run a half-marathon.

Then there’s the Rat Race which runs from May to September. You get to tear around the urban terrain of Brighton, Edinburgh and London, cycling down steps, abseiling off buildings and kayaking down canals. This is a great introductory video from RatRaceAdventure . It sounds like a really fun event.

25th May brings us the Cheese Rolling race which involves chasing Double Gloucesters down the extremely steep Cooper’s Hill in Gloucestershire.

What some people will do for fun! Obviously an event eagerly participated in by contestants and spectators alike – thanks to SoGlos for the video, tho’ I can’t see any Double Gloucesters…

Slightly more grown-up one now, the London to Paris Cycle Tour. This is a professionally staged, three day, 373 mile (520km) race to Paris for amateur competitors, starting on the 25th June.

The event attracts riders from all over the world and is known for its friendly, sociable atmosphere, hard riding and great spirit.

The Daily Telegraph recently listed the event as one of 25 International events to enter alongside others such as the New York and London Marathons.

Like a pro event it has full support, rolling road closures and covers 520 km in three days followed by a rest day in Paris.

And the last race I’m going to tell you about today is the World Bog-Snorkling Championships which is an unusual, but well established event on the British calendar as shown here by itnsource: a 60-yard swim in a Welsh drainage ditch. This race takes place on 31st August.

These events are open to everyone, so off you go – have fun!!!

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April 29th, 2001 – streetsailing across America

April 29, 2009

8 years ago today, Bob Torline decided to take the extreme sport of streetsailing one step further – to go from one side of America to the other in just 49 days – weather permitting. Watch the video (streetsailor ) and marvel at what some people get up to…

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Which Kite Board to buy?

April 29, 2009

When we walked outside first thing this morning there was not a breath of wind – huh – no good for kite surfing we mused and wandered back inside to have our first cup of tea. But it got us thinking – kite surfing – its getting to that time of year – when isn’t it? – when you will see more and more people out on the sea riding their kite boards. Yes – but which kite board?

For those of you who may be new to the sport the videos below are a must see. And for those seasoned pros the depth of knowledge that KHK Kiteboarding goes into in discussing the make up of the board, the components used, the accessories required and what this will mean to the performance of a board makes the second video a must see.

So the first video is all about choosing which board or boards to buy. Body weight to board height and width ratios are discussed – will it be a 158 x 40 board for a 200lbs bloke. What are the advantages of the bigger board over the smaller board – more volume, less kite power, lighter winds, floatability. Or should you go for a smaller board of say 127 cms allowing you to take to the water with more wind, a board that will give you more ‘popping’ power and the ability to do more tricks.

Of course it rather depends on your prowess and the style of kite surfer you are – are you an agressive rider wanting to fly through the sky doing tricks all the time or are you more of a cruiser? Whatever your situation you will not be surprised that KHK Kiteboarding are telling us that you will need to buy at least two boards……..and they are probably right.

The only thing we would add is that you must try before you commit!

The second part of the blog on which kite board to choose goes into rather more detail on the construction of the board – the various components used, the flexibilty of the board, what makes it flexible, the shape, the accessories – foot pads, foot straps, centre handle, fins – and what helps to give you the control of the board. All in all good instuctional stuff on what kind of board(s) to go for – lets not forget this is not an insignificant purchase in terms of $s.

So there you have it and after two cups of tea and some toast guess what – the wind has started to blow and there is not a cloud in the sky…….mmmmmmmmm very tempting, lets hope our cable trade works out and we can take some time out!

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Mistakes to avoid when abseiling

April 27, 2009

Several months ago I did a couple of articles on abseiling, and imparted the little known fact (to me at the time) that most climbing accidents occur when abseiling.

Don't rap off the end of your ropes!

Having shinned up a few faces myself, it’s the abseiling bit that I’ve always loved and probably treated rather cavalierly as a result. Fortunately for me, I have always climbed with people who know what they’re doing, and it’s probably entirely due to them that I am still here happily tapping keys, and not crumbled up in a heap at the bottom of some face!

I love that feeling of almost floating down the face, bouncing off the wall with your feet and descending in whoops and swings. Actually, I can’t sufficiently describe it – better get back out there for another go and come back and describe it accurately! I can imagine that lovely sensation – but can’t put it in words…

There, you see, I take abseiling too lightly. Having begun this Blog, and learnt so many things I didn’t know before, I thought it would be an idea to highlight some of the mistakes you can avoid when abseiling.

A certain amount of abseil paranoia is healthy as it leads to a methodical and thorough checking process, which leaves nothing to chance. This is what keeps you alive in dangerous situations.

  • And the obvious one is to make sure your rope is long enough! Sounds utterly stupid that doesn’t it, but it is such an elementary error that has been known to happen again and again and again…
  • Avoid distractions when you are setting up the abseil. Check, check and check again: anchor, rope through anchor, knot, rope in device, device attached to harness, krab screwgate done up, harness done up…
  • Rapping off the end of your rope. Tie stopper knots in each end. Check they make the ground or next anchors if possible. This avoidable mistake still manages to take the lives of even experienced climbers.
  • Rapping off a single piece, only to have it pull. Never, never rap off a single piece, unless it’s a huge tree or bollard, and even then think carefully. Don’t be cheap with bail gear.
  • Taking a ground fall because the rope you abseiled off was not fixed directly to the anchors, but had slack caught around a hidden feature, which subsequently released when the line was weighted. Don’t rush! Make sure there is no slack between you and the anchors.
  • Getting hair or loose clothing caught in your abseil device. Tie hair back and tuck clothing in.
  • With in-situ abseils, check the anchors (look, feel, push-pull, twist etc). Check all parts of the system that link the anchors.
  • Don’t assume that just because everyone else uses the in-situ abseil or someone used it recently that it’s still OK. Make your own judgement on the reliability of the set-up each and every time you use it.
  • Back-up the anchors you’re going to abseil from by placing a separate bomber piece that’s linked to the abseil rope. This back-up should not be taking any of the load, when your weight comes on the ab rope, so you can check the in situ anchor is reliable. If you’re not returning to the same spot the last person down can remove the back-up if all looks good with the original anchors.

Don’t cut corners and don’t rush your decision-making.

And this is worth watching to clarify a few grey areas, with thanks to mikebarter387 for the video:

Please bear in mind that this is by no means a definitive list. Know what you’re doing before you do it and climb with others who know more than you. You can never be too careful. Remember, this is an extreme sport and has the inherent dangers that go with it.

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Short of ideas on what to do this weekend?

April 25, 2009

This video, courtesy of   mouthpiecesports1 is full of extreme things to give you some ideas. Mind you, some of them are bound to be unpopular or forbidden in your neighbourhood, and with some of the exploits, quite rightly so!

Anyway, enjoy…

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Banging on about High Diving and extreme sports rules and regulations

April 24, 2009

This is becoming an exhaustive subject! Sorry. But apologies again for some more mis-information…

We recently reported on Dana Kunze’ 172 ft dive as being the highest dive in the world. We thought that was pretty extreme.

We were then corrected and told that it was actually Oliver Favre who held the title with a 177 ft dive. Also extreme.

And then Dana Kunze himself has set the record straight for us….

Yes, it is perfectly correct that Oliver Farve completed a dive of 177 ft. However, he sustained injuries – in fact he broke his back – and the rule of the game is that you are disqualified if you are injured in this sport.

Therefore… it is Dana Kunze who holds the title and achievement of being the World’s Highest Diver.

If you are an avid reader of our Blog (which we sincerely hope you are) you might remember  similar rules in another extreme sport we follow with interest – freediving.

Although Sara Campbell completed an incredible 100m constant weight depth dive – the first woman to have attained this remarkable depth, she briefly blacked out as she broke the surface and was therefore disqualified. She completed the competition with a successful 96m dive – still a world record breaker.  littlefreediver

There are rules that are put in place to try and protect competitors from doing themselves a damage.

There have been many debates  over regulating thrill-seeking ”extreme sports’ – Freediving and High diving, to name but two, have imposed their own strict rules.

Lawmakers in Switzerland have been  pushing for laws regulating fate-tempting sports, which often involve inexperienced participants, but passing such laws, whether involving caving, canyoning, paragliding, ice climbing or bungee jumping, has proved difficult in Switzerland, even in the face of several disasters in recent years.

The problem is  people do extreme sports because it gives them a feeling of freedom – an escape from the nanny state we all live in. If everything became too regimented one risks pushing these people toward activities that are even less controlled.

You might have heard of the BASEjumping accident at Table Mountain, Cape Town on Friday? It seems that South Africa has a remarkably sympathetic and sensible attitude to extreme sports enthusiasts and this accident has drawn it into focus. Would the rest of the world could listen and learn…

Base jumper Karl Hayden sustained minor injuries after his canopy malfunctioned as he leapt off Table Mountain on Friday. Rescue workers spent several hours combing the mountainside before airlifting Hayden to safety, the Cape Times reported. Hayden was lucky; despite multiple fractures — wrist, rib, femur and pelvis — the Capetonian managed to avoid a spinal injury, the daily reported.

That was the situation.

And the shout that goes out worldwide saying “aren’t people like Karl Hayden wasting rescue services time and money by doing a sport that is inherently dangerous? Why should rescue survices then put themselves in danger by trying to rescue these foolhardy idiots?”

Well, the response in South Africa was calm, measured and sensible. Wayne Smith, deputy director of Metro Medical Services, South Africa, agrees that although there are risks involved, extreme sports will continue despite any attempt at regulating the activity.

“Extreme sports are always going to be around. Extreme sports are risky but society needs to give people who enjoy those types of activities the necessary space to do so,” said Smith.

Mountain rescue worker, Roy White, says he has no problem in helping those who put themselves in harm’s way.

“It’s part of my job. Most of us are quite happy to help them. Where do you draw the line from an accident to an attempted suicide? Everyone who uses the mountain faces a certain amount of risk.”

If regulations were brought in, the feeling is that very quickly most extreme sports enthusiasts would find a way to circumnavigate them. Banning a sport in a certain area would only make things worse because they would go ahead and do it anyway and that would make things even more difficult for rescue services.

It seems rescue workers and extreme sports enthusiasts reach a stalemate when it comes to regulating the sport. But perhaps the last word belongs to basic common sense.

“We can’t regulate the sport but we could advise them to leave contact details with someone. It all comes down to educating people about good mountain use,” said White. And that sort of prosaicness is comforting and oh-so sensible.

Anyway, what has happened to freedom of choice? I am not advocating that you go out there and so something so ludicrously stupid that the result is death. But, if you do an extreme sport, you are obviously aware of the risks, are you not? And having evaluated that and decided to continue, then that, surely, is your choice, is it not? and having taken that decision, you are not likely to be the type of person to squeal if something goes wrong… are you?

If you are aware of the dangers before you begin, you can’t then cry “but nobody told me…”

The problem is that we are being so conditioned by over zealous governments as to ‘what to, how to, when to… do anything’, that if anything goes wrong one instantly hears  “it’s not my fault., it must be yours'”. I think for this very reason a chunk of society, in a last ditch attempt of having some control and decision over their own lives, take to an extreme sport where they decide on a sport, learn the art and then make their own decisions and no-one can tell them what to do…

What do you think?

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What is it with Red Bull?

April 23, 2009

As you know we are all about extreme sports and in our endeavours to bring you interesting news and stories we do a lot of research into all kinds of whacky things that people get up to both in their spare time and professionally. One name that keeps popping up all the time is Red Bull. Beyond the high energy drink what is it with Red Bull?

Red Bull was founded by Dietrich Mateschitz, an Austrian businessman and billionaire, whose parents were Croatian and who currently owns a 49 per cent share in the energy drinks giant, Red Bull GmbH. He was born on May 20 1944 in St. Marein im Murztal in the region of Styria.

Dietrich Mateschitz

Life was fairly ordinary for Mateschitz as he grew up in Austria. He attended the Vienna University of Economics and Business Administration and graduated with a marketing degree after ten years.

After finishing his degree, Mateschitz went on to work for Proctor & Gamble, where he was employed within their marketing department. He progressed up the career ladder to eventually become the marketing director for Blendax tooth paste. It was during one particular business trip that the initial idea for a stimulant beverage began to take shape.

Dietrich Mateschitz

Dietrich Mateschitz

 

In 1982, when sitting in a hotel in Hong Kong and suffering from jetlag, Mateschitz was musing into the popularity of ‘tonic drinks’ that were big sellers in the Far East when the idea of selling similar beverages in the West came to him. He then went on to form a partnership with a couple of local businessmen who were already producing a drink called ‘Krating Daeng’ (Thai water buffalo) and it was from this that Red Bull was born.

He founded Red Bull GmbH with his Thai partners Chaleo & Chalerm Yoovidhya. It was agreed that Mateschitz would run the company and after much research, testing and set backs, the caffeinated energy drink was finally launched in Austria in 1987.

Red Bull was an instant hit in it’s native country and as sales continued to grow, it was launched in other European countries. Not everything went so swimmingly though. Sales in Germany suffered as supply couldn’t meet the demand of 1 million cans per day and the product had to be re-launched six months later. France and Denmark banned the sale of the drink due to health concerns over the high caffeine level and the use of the chemical taurine.

But health issues aside, over the years Red Bull has managed to take a strong foothold in the competitive drinks market in Europe and America. In most countries, it lines up third behind the likes of Coca-Cola and Pepsi in the total number of cans consumed. By 2008 sales of Red Bull had increased by 17% on the previous year to 3bn Euros ($4.4bn; £2.3bm) having shifted 3.5bn cans in 143 different countries. These impressive statistics are mainly due to clever marketing which has increased the profile of the drink through non-traditional advertising streams.

From the outset the Red Bull brand has been associated with a variety of glamorous and exciting sporting events such as mountain-biking, snowboarding and paragliding. With Mateschitz being the marketing strategist that he is, he saw the potential on offer by tapping into large audiences and giving the Red Bull brand a “cool” image by being linked with sports and athletes. The profile of the brand seemingly increasing as a result of the many extreme sporting events the company sponsored.

So what are the extreme sports that the company sponsors. What follows is a compendium of just some of those extreme sports.

  • Rugby Union
  • Downhill Mountain Bike Racing
  • BMX
  • Snowboarding
  • Freestyle Soccer
  • Aerobatic Flying
  • Kite Surfing
  • Skate Boarding
  • BASE Jumping
  • Soccer
  • Athletics
  • Cricket
  • Wake Boarding
  • High Diving
  • FMX
  • Free Skiing
  • Formula 1
  • Cliff Diving
  • Air Racing
  • NASCAR
  • Surfing
  • Rallying
  • Crashed Ice
  • Break Dance
  • Para Gliding
  • MX Racing
  • MX Freestyle
  • Daytona
  • Art
  • Music
  • Dance

Well that won’t be all – we are bound to have missed a few out – other than the energy drink then this is what Red Bull is about – marketing. It sponsors events and individuals in these high profile sporting events – what brilliant marketing – something Mr Mateschitz obviously learnt very well during his ten years at university.

To add to the fun we thought you would appreciate a couple of videos of extreme sports that Red Bull is supporting. The first, not surprisingly from redbull is of some truly awesome action from Red Bull Rampage – mountain biking in Utah.

The second is again from redbull of the Snowscrapers event held in New York in February which was won by Shayne Pospisil.

This one from redbullusa demonstrates the humourous side of Red Bull – some crashes from soapbox racing at an event they sponsored held in Seattle.

No doubt about it – a great combination of fun, sport and adrenaline – keep up the good work Red Bull.