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Month: July 2013

Unicycle Across Alabama

Unicycle Across Alabama

Lauren Schifano is embarking on a unicycle trek across Alabama and it’s just 1 week away. Want to know more? Read her blog post on her exciting adventure!


As of right now, I am exactly one week away from embarking on a unicycle trip across the state of Alabama to raise awareness for childhood obesity. It still does not seem real. Only four months ago the flicker of a dream ignited into this beautiful reality. I cannot attempt to separate my preparations for this trek from the amazing support I have received both near and far, from individuals and groups. Planning this has taught me so much about how truly wonderful people are.

Why?: Raise Awareness for Childhood Obesity, Raise Money for Louie’s Kids (Check them out at, Raise Awareness for Sharing the Road with Bikes (and UNICYCLES ^^)

Formative Stage: The first month of preparations (after I convinced everyone that I was indeed serious and of a sound mind) involved reaching out for sponsorship and the beginning stages of a training regimen. Headsweats, Clif Bar & Co., Borden Dental, and Osa’s Garden (the wonderful health food store that I work in) were enthusiastic to get on board. Without you and the fantastic individuals who have donated their time, talents, money, and energy this would not be possible.

All of you gave me hope and the drive to keep pushing on.

Training: Considering that I started my training regimen only riding 5-8 miles per day… I can say that it has truly come a long way! Since these first weeks, training has involved back to back long rides of not less than 18 miles. I also included running and walking a few times per week to help with cardio conditioning. My goal on the trip is to ride approximately 40 miles per day, allowing me to reach my destination within 12 days after the start date, August 4.

The Trek and the TEAM: Thanks to the efforts of Dane Trelles, Unicycle Across Alabama has a set route that will take us from Florence, AL to Gulf Shores, AL (roughly 400 miles). Stops will be made in various cities to spread awareness for childhood obesity and the message of healthy and active living. We will be overnighting in Huntsville, Arab, Birmingham, Clanton, Montgomery, Greenville, Brewton, Bay Minette, and Gulf Shores. We will mostly be camping along the way, but a few wonderful people have already opened their homes to us. But who is this we?! I will have three drivers over the course of the trip to assist in hauling camping equipment in the sag wagon. The first leg of the journey is crewed by none other than my wonderful mother, Debbie Schifano, who will take me as far as Birmingham. The second leg will be crewed by my very close friend and ultra-marathoner, Steven Davis. My uncle, Tony Schifano, will be meeting us up in Montgomery to finish off the trip. Another very important member of the team is Wieland Claes. Wieland will arrive tomorrow from Belgium to ride a bicycle alongside me for the extent of the journey.

It is our unified goal to raise awareness to the issue of childhood obesity and how it can be mitigated. We hope to teach individuals the connection between body and mind, the importance of activity and nutrition, and the special balance that one needs in unicycling and in life. 🙂 We are very proud to be giving all proceeds from this trip to Louie’s Kids, who create individual programs for children and adolescents battling childhood obesity. Louie’s Kids, located in Charleston, South Carolina, serves the nation with great passion without expecting anything in return. I am very excited to have the opportunity to raise funds for this noble nonprofit.

Iceland Ultra Marathon

Iceland Ultra Marathon

by Penny Comins

Start the first five kilometres how you want to finish the last five. This was the advice that was ringing through my ears as my Garmin 910XT vibrated for the 50th interval. Time to hit it hard and bring this ultra home.

Luckily the first five kilometres were almost entirely up hill, climbing from Landmannalaugar to Hrafntinnusker so the last five down hill would be easier. Throw in to that the last feed station at bronga complete with coke, snickers and bounty bars and a hip deep river crossing to ice the legs it looked to be in the bag.

My legs had other ideas and were ever so slightly protesting at having to run past the obligatory 42.2 kilometres and a shuffle to the beer tent. As I crossed the river the time old call was given by a cheer squad who had hiked in from the finish, ‘it’s flat to the finish’. Having done many events before I knew that this was sure to be a porky.

The last five vibrates from the Garmin were excruciating both in leg movement and time passing as the course came in to tree cover over soggy dirt mounds that felt like mountains. The finish line was audible before in sight. Amazing what a crowd can do as my tired legs melted away and I powered though the finish gantry, arms high, proud to be finished.

Wrapped in a warm blanket I reminisced about the preceding seven hours. 272 athletes started in three waves, five minutes apart from Landmannalaugar hut. Taking the route that hikers travel all over the world to complete in four days to Dorsmork, we hurtled towards the first hut, target time – one hour 18 minutes. This brutal up hill section climbs for over 500 meters and this years race day meant in to the snow covered hills, sleet clouds and two degrees temperature.

Making forward progression was all I wanted. To get through the big mountain stage was all I could think of. Get over and down into warmer temperatures, as snow formed on my eyelashes. The lunar landscape wasn’t lost on my desperation for warmth though. Stunning volcanic mountains rolled out punctured with snow drifts and steaming gas. The white plumes showed all the runners the volatility of the land we were running on.

Hitting the fist check point at Hrafntinnusker on time was a moral booster and then making it through the four hour cut off at Alftavatn with an hour to spare made me feel on track. I tacked on to a runner from Liverpool, David. As we chatted the kilometres vibrated off in my Garmin. We were out of the mountains and started the river crossings.

Glacial in origin, the rivers got deeper and left your feet cold beyond feeling. The last major crossing at Blafjallakvisl was swift. A rope over the crossing helped athletes across while men in deep sea diving suits stood in the water to assist too.

This marked the distance half way point and a bag drop zone. Fresh socks, shoes, running gaiters and food was the magic that I needed to get my head out of a low I was experiencing from the constant cold, wind and exposure. I lost David as he didn’t stop, but my Snickers was good company.

The next section, although relatively flat only loosing 50m in elevation, was all ash covered making it feel like you were a horse in the work out pen. Leg draining I started to long for the hills again. I was clearly loosing it.

A big descent came upon me, including a roped section to get down to a bridge over a gorge. Again others were passing me as I eased my way down the descents. Not to self – practice running downhill and technical running. The final cut off was six hours at Emstrurskali, I was off my target time by 20 minutes now but still well under the cut off. Nicole Paine, running behind me later retold the story that she had to run to five minute kilometres to make the cut off with only a few minutes to spare.

Loaded bottles, coke, snickers, bounty bars and hugs from the check point volunteers it was time to push past the ‘wall’ and then the finish of a marathon and in to the unknown. The terrain changed again as the rivers widened and fauna started to grow with the loss in altitude. I crumbled and put in my iPod, suddenly I was dancing my way to the finish line. Fatboy Slim’s Right Here, Right Now took me to the line and got me one point for the UTMB.

Now what race to get some more points? Sleep first!

306 entrants
272 finishers
77 female finishers

First three male finishers:

1. Örvar Steingrímsson 4:48:08
2. Guðni Páll Pálsson 4:52:25
3. Ryan Paavola, USA, 5:14:24

First three female finishers:

1. Gina Lucrezi, USA, 5:28:05
2. Elísabet Margeirsdóttir, ISL, 5:47:33
3. Hafdís Guðrún Hilmarsdóttir, ISL, 6:16:26