Winner! ‘Most Durable Person’ Contest

A month-long contest, the CORDURA brand “Search for the Most Durable Person,” has come to an end, and with it we must crown a winner, a “person most durable” culled from the 100+ videos, stories, photos and strange rants submitted over the past 31 days. So, without further pause, we would like to crown. . . WILLIAM BROWN, age 39, of Knoxville, Tenn., as our official “Most Durable Person” and the grand-prize winner of the contest!


Winner! William Brown of Knoxville, Tenn., in various states of “durability”

Congrats to William, who submitted an entry on May 24 detailing an utterly durable project he began in March: To sell his vehicle and run/bike to his job, on errands, and mostly everywhere for six months of this year. “I wanted to see what it is like to live without a car,” he said. “I have imposed a limit on the distance that I will travel without a car to a 25-mile radius, which means I could potentially have a 50-mile roundtrip journey.”

Beyond the workaday stuff, William is also a burgeoning ultra-runner and he has plans to run to the starting line at events in his area. William got hooked on ultra-running just last year, completing a marathon and then three ultras up to 50 miles long in 2010. For this spring, this “durable person” has competed in an event that entailed 45 miles of trail running in 10 hours. Later this month, he will compete in a three-day stage race near Chattanooga.

So far on his quest — documented on http://todayirun.com — William estimates he has biked and run about 1,100 miles in the past three months. He runs 50+ miles a week. “These are many of the miles I would have regularly driven,” he said.


Brown’s self-imposed 25-mile run/bike-only radius

We crown William as “Most Durable Person” not only because he is physically tough — many of the entrants were undoubtedly strong, see here! — but because his project is a mixture of several motivating elements, from a clear message about alternatives to driving, to an altruistic, charitable cause (his project supports Soles4Souls, a Nashville-based charity that collects shoes for people in need), to the theme of a life changed by time spent active and in the outdoors. Congrats William! We’ll see you in Utah for an all-expenses-paid adventure trip this August!

But hold on. . . we have two more “durable people” we’d like to highlight. As noted, there were a multitude of submissions to our contest last month. Beyond William Brown, two other entrants really stood out. Andy Thieman wrote about his battle this year with stage-two testicular cancer. He fought the pain and mental crush of chemotherapy by riding his bike and setting up a blog, “Blood+Sweat+Chemo.” He gets a mention, no doubt (as well as a swag bag of prize products made with CORDURA fabric shipping out this month!).


Survivor: Andy Thieman on his cycle trainer

Finally, JD Eskelson, who submitted on the final day of the contest, caught our attention. JD started his submission saying “I believe I’m a rather durable, daring and dynamic dude!” Confident for sure! But Eskelson went on to talk about an array of crazy incidents — ski racing with a broken foot; an emergency appendix removal surgery; a fractured left clavicle while mountain biking; a solo climb to the summit of Denali; infantry combat on a tour to Iraq — that proved his claims to be true.

Eskelson now donates money to the Wounded Warriors Fund. And as an aside he noted that he “just finished a four-day, non-stop adventure race in the Swiss Alps with almost 55,000 feet of vertical climbing and mountain biking despite having a fractured little left toe. . .”. So, yeah, JD is a tough dude. He gets our nod, and he’ll get a bucket of prizes, too.


JD Eskelson, second from right, at the Alpine Expedition Switzerland race

Thanks to all who entered. Picking the winners was tough. We had a top-15 list, and all of them were solid and good. Stay tuned for future contests on GearJunkie. We hope the CORDURA brand “Search for the Most Durable Person” has provided some entertainment and motivation as you head outdoors this summer and into the wild!

—Watch for coverage of the “Most Durable Person” adventure trip to Utah with the CORDURA brand and the GearJunkie crew this August.

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Stephen Regenold is Founder and Editor-In-Chief of GearJunkie, which he launched as a nationally-syndicated newspaper column in 2002. As a journalist and writer, Regenold has covered the outdoors industry for nearly two decades, including as a correspondent for the New York Times. A father of four small kids, Regenold and his wife live in Minneapolis.

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