Skydivers compete in artistic freeflying in Eloy, AZ; (photo/Chad Ross for USPA)
Skydivers compete in artistic freeflying in Eloy, AZ; (photo/Chad Ross for USPA)

Skydiving at 300 MPH, the Most Masochistic Ultra, and More Stories to Start Your Week

From the inspiring to the tragic, ‘Adventure News of the Week’ presents a wrap-up of top news in the world of exploration and adventure. Here’s what you missed this weekend, and a few things to look forward to.

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s…the world’s fastest nonmotorized human beings? That’s right. The U.S. Parachute Association National Championships blasted off from the Skydive Arizona dropzone this weekend. The event, which runs through Oct. 31, is expected to bring 400 skydiving competitors to the American Southwest.

The 2-week-long affair will feature seven disciplines: canopy formation, canopy piloting, formation skydiving, freefall style, accuracy landing, artistic events, and wingsuit flying.

Of special notoriety are a pair of speed skydivers, Kyle Lobpries and Maxine Tate, who aim to achieve the highest vertical speeds on record this week, and break their own personal records in the process. Previously, Lobpries and Tate have hit nonmotorized speeds of 316 mph and 275 mph, respectively. Follow along with @skydiveuspa on Instagram and learn more at uspa.org.

 

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Big’s Backyard Ultra World Championship, ultrarunning’s least traditional race of attrition, is a go. The ultramarathon where “there is no end” kicked off Saturday morning and requires runners to alternate between two 4.2-mile loops or “yards.” Competitors must complete each yard in under one hour before lining up for the next.

Can’t duke it out in one hour? You’re out. The last runner standing wins. And with former Big’s champs like UTMB record-holder Courtney Dauwalter and Maggie Guterl in the lineup, this year’s race could last through much of the week. Just this summer, John Stocker ran for a solid 81 hours and 337 miles, setting the current course record.

For live coverage, check out Big’s Backyard Ultra on My.RaceResult. (As of Oct. 18, 12 p.m. ET, seven runners remained, having run 217 miles each since Oct. 16.)

News broke this week that Evan Gill, a Black veteran from Colorado, had summitted all 58 of the state’s 14,000-foot peaks. Gill, (@black_sherpa) is only the fourth African-American and second African-American vet to do so. The journey began in June 2020 as a way for him to manage his PTSD, anxiety, and depression amid the din of social injustices, COVID-19, and a shocking job loss. He finished his tick list on Sept. 25, 2021, atop the treacherous Capitol Peak (14,130 feet).

What’s next for the 28-year-old father of two? In addition to climbing the rest of America’s 14ers (43 remain), Gill is working with Denver-based Vibe Tribe Adventures to bring a free nature camp to his hometown of Baltimore.

“Since I started this journey, my depression and anxiety have been stable,” Gill said. “My goal is to inspire people of color to get up, get out and explore … I want to show them to not be afraid to do it.”

Surfing icon and father of the boogie board, Tom Morey, passed away late last week. He was 86 years old. The former aircraft engineer-turned-surfboard architect is credited as one of modern surf culture’s creators (and foremost critics) — he even organized the sport’s very first pro surf competition back in 1965, the Tom Morey Noseriding Contest.

Surfline contributor Sam George wrote, “Tom Morey, surfer, engineer, designer, innovator, free-thinker and jazz drummer, saw it all so clearly throughout his long, imaginative run: life really is a wave, regardless how you chose to ride it. Just make it a good one.”

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Last week, elite runner Jordan Tropf ran three marathons in three days: the Baltimore Marathon on Oct. 9, Chicago on Oct. 10, and Boston on Oct. 11. The 29-year-old Navy surgeon’s unique accomplishment puts him in the running for a Guinness World Record.

“All told, he ran 78.6 miles, averaged 2:30:30 per race, and navigated some 1,700 logistical miles that pushed the limits of performance, recovery,” said Tropf’s sponsor, Under Armour, in a press release.

And finally, California’s Kings Canyon National Park and select areas in Sequoia National Park will reopen to the public on Monday. The announcement comes as a sign of marginal relief after months of harrowing and monumentally destructive fires ravaged California’s forests and forced closures of the state’s national parks.

Jilli Cluff
By

Jilli grew up in the rural southern Colorado mountains, later moving to Texas for college. After seven years in corporate consulting, she was introduced to sport climbing. In 2020, Jilli left her corporate position to pursue an outdoor-oriented life. She now works as a contributor, gear tester, and editor for GearJunkie and other outlets within the AllGear network. She is based out of Austin, Texas, where she takes up residence with her climbing gear and one-eared blue heeler, George Michael.