Sunday, May 26, 2013
A while back I became an ambassador for the Patagonia International Marathon which will take place in Chile in September. The goal of the event is not just to bring people together from all over the world for a race (or in this case multiple races as there is a 63K, marathon, 21K & 10K) but also to raise awareness for the conservation of that beautiful land. My ambassador page can be seen here, and through that webpage you can learn about the race and the conservation efforts to plant native trees in Patagonia. http://www.patagonianinternationalmarathon.com/john-focke/ I am extremely honored to be an ambassador of this event and now thanks to some very generous folks (and some part-time work) it looks like I am going to be able to take part in this event too. My plans (while still in flux at the moment) are to run the 63K race (roughly 40miles) the first time they have offered such a distance. Not only will I head to the bottom of the world to run, but also to experience the land and to write about the importance of the ongoing conservation efforts in the region. Wild spaces and running are two things that I am very passionate about and to be able to combine them, along with the conservation efforts, in such a rugged beautiful place is like a dream come true. I'll write more about this incredible adventure as I get the plans finalized, if you would like to contribute to and become a part of this journey just let me know-
Saturday, May 18, 2013
After wrapping up the Lake Minnetonka Half-Marathon with a time of 1:39:09 it was time for some relaxation. To some that would mean laying on a beach, listening to the waves while the sun warmed your body and waiters brought you drinks. For me it mean a trip up the Gunflint Trail to Hungry Jack lake and ten days traipsing through the woods without access to cellphone or internet (and thanks to the ice no running water). It was a beautiful drive north, sunny skies, warm temps were melting the snow and turning normally small roadside creeks into raging rivers which emptied furiously into Lake Superior. Upon arriving at Hungry Jack there was still at least a foot and a half of ice on the lake and I had to wade through shin deep snow to get from the road to the cabin...the snow would melt fast, the ice not so much. Six days alone at the lake, waking up to make breakfast and coffee, after reading for a bit I threw on my shoes and ran anywhere from six to thirteen miles, arriving back at the cabin in time for a quick lunch, then more reading on the dock in front of a frozen lake. After a quick nap in the hammock (or chair depending on the temps) I would load up my backpack and explore a different trail every afternoon, sometimes going with old familiar standby's that thanks to the addition of a frozen lake took on a totally different quality. The lack of leaves on the trees offered glimpses of lakes hidden deep in the woods that I had never seen when the trees were in full bloom. Back home for dinner and relaxing on the dock to close out each day. (One night while relaxing on the dock, there was a sound like breaking glass, I jumped out of my chair and looked around, it wasn't glass it was a beaver breaking through the first layer of ice about two feet from the dock. He popped his head out, looked around confused for a moment then plunged back into the icy water and on with his evening) Sunsets over a frozen/melting lake went from beautiful to indescribable as the colors of the sky reflected off the pools of melting water and ice. One day the temps were around 50 or so and an afternoon rain began to fall, the lake started to steam giving it a ghostly feel, the fog just hanging over the lake and moving slowly through the trees. By Saturday the temps plunged and it began to snow during my afternoon hike, I cut it short and headed back to watch the flakes not only land but also stick to the ground between the cabins, trees bending into the wind. After six days alone, Alex arrived and fell right into the routine, we explored new areas of the trail, named a few unnamed lakes and our conversation, normally basketball-based, flowed to many different areas from funny to philosophical. We spotted moose and fox along the trail, watched the eagles soar above Hungry Jack, battled an intense wind high above the border lakes, smashed ice with rocks and sticks on many a lake, and saw more Moose scat than I thought was possible... Finally it was time to head back to reality, in ten days I had watched as the lake went from frozen solid, to huge ice floes, to open water thanks to a day of strong wind and warm temps, did everything we wanted to except for swimming and now it was time to dip our toes back into society, but before we do that I need to jump headfirst into a shower!