Outside Podcast on Smash Notes

Outside Podcast podcast.

December 28, 2019

Outside's longstanding literary storytelling tradition comes to life in audio with features that will entertain, inspire, and inform listeners. We launched in March 2016 with our first series, Science of Survival, which was developed in partnership with PRX, distributors of the idolized This American Life and The Moth Radio Hour, among others. We have since added three additional series, The Outside Interview, which has editor Christopher Keyes interrogating the biggest figures in sports, adventure, and politics, Dispatches, a diverse range of stories on newsworthy topics, and Sweat Science, which explores the outer limits of athletic performance.



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For a good number of travelers, the ultimate bucket-list experience is swimming with whales. There’s something about the idea of being in the water with these enormous creatures that calls to people. And if you talk to people who have swum with whales, chances are they’ll tell you it changed their lives. This is true even for veteran adventurers who’ve seen it all—people like Outside contributing editor Rowan Jacobsen, whose past assignments include a journey to the Amazon to seek out the source of the world’s greatest chocolate. Last fall, Jacobsen joined a small crew in the Caribbean that was filming and studying sperm whales by getting in the water with them. Though he had no delusions that swimming with whales would heal him or transform him, he was certain that he would learn a thing or two from being very, very close to these legendary giants of the sea. And he did.

This episode of the Outside Podcast is brought to you by Avocado Green Mattress, makers of 100 percent organic-certified mattresses—and more products, like their new meditation pillow. Visit avocadogreenmattress.com to learn more. And to save $175 dollars on any mattress, use the code OUTSIDE175 at checkout.


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Nouria Newman is one of the best whitewater kayakers in the world. She’s won numerous prestigious competitions and has completed historic first descents of some of the planet’s most dangerous rapids. But it wasn’t until she nearly drowned on a solo expedition in the Himalayas that she was able to truly reckon with the deadly toll of her sport—and discover what matters most.

This episode of the Outside Podcast is brought to you by Visit Florida, one of the country’s great adventure destinations. Have you met a manatee? Airboated in the Everglades? Snorkeled the coral reef? Plan your next Florida adventure at visitflorida.com/outside


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There’s been a running boom in the age of coronavirus, with veteran runners and newbies alike lacing up their shoes to get outside. But the experience has not been the same for everyone. Coffey, a well-known figure in New York City’s vibrant running scene as well as a multitalented creative artist, has continued to get his miles in during the pandemic. And like other runners whose skin is black or brown, he has faced the same risks of harassment and violence that were present before the virus arrived—along with new dangers. Coffey also has a deeply considered response to the murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd: last week, he released the short film About the People, which examines social injustice and racial inequality in America through a powerful conversation between men who are pillars in the black community. In this episode, Coffey shares his story of falling in love with running in NYC, his perspective on the pain and upheaval of recent weeks, and his bold idea for harnessing the positive energy of runners to make a difference.


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It’s an established fact that outdoorsy people have the best stories about dating. Getting to know a potential partner while climbing, paddling, or otherwise exploring an unpredictable environment just offers more opportunities for memorable surprises. Usually, these experiences are shared with friends over beers. Sometimes they make their way into wedding toasts. And then there are the incidents that make headlines. So it was with Kayleigh Davis and Kyler Bourgeous’s encounters with some ornery bison on an island in Utah’s Great Salt Lake. This episode comes from the award-wining team at This is Love, a show that investigates life’s most persistent mystery.

This episode of the Outside Podcast is brought to you by Visit Florida, one of the country’s great adventure destinations. Have you met a manatee? Airboated in the Everglades? Snorkeled the coral reef? Plan your next Florida adventure at visitflorida.com/outside


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When Olympic marathoner Kara Goucher went public in 2015 with her accusation that her former coach, the legendary Alberto Salazar, had skirted antidoping rules with the elite runners of the Nike Oregon Project, she suffered an onslaught of criticism and harassment. The blowback set her back financially and competitively—and made her wonder if she had made a terrible mistake. Then last spring, Goucher spoke up again, joining former Nike teammates in a New York Times op-ed about the company’s practice of suspending female athletes’ pay during pregnancy. Nike soon pledged changes, and in the fall the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency banned Salazar from coaching for four years. In the middle of this storm, Goucher converted to trail running at age 40, finishing in fifth place among women in her first off-road event, the infamous Leadville marathon. In this episode, reporter Stephanie May Joyce, who profiled Goucher for a recent issue of Outside, asks the runner how calling out the athletic footwear and apparel juggernaut shaped her career, and where she goes from here.

This episode of the Outside Podcast is brought to you by Tracksmith, an independent running brand with a deep love for the sport. Tracksmith is offering Outside Podcast listeners $15 off your first equipment purchase of $75 or more. Go to Trackmsith.com/outside and enter the code OutsidePod at checkout.


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The first question most people have when they hear about Lance, the new documentary series about the world’s most infamous cyclist, is: Why now? Back in 2013, we watched Armstrong give his first doping confessions to Oprah. That same year, Oscar-winning director Alex Gigney released The Armstrong Lie, a documentary that had the cyclist offering lengthy admissions of guilt and claims of sincere remorse. Since then, there’s been a number of tell-all books by seemingly anyone who had the slightest connection to the story. Armstrong himself has launched multiple apology tours. So what’s the point of reexamining the saga yet again? According to Lance director Marina Zenovich, the answer is that Armstrong—and the rest of us—are still wrestling with the same big questions about cheating, forgiveness, and recovery. And the answers keep changing. Zenovich, a veteran filmmaker who’s crafted portraits of Roman Polanski and Robin Williams, manages to get Armstrong to open up in a way we’ve never seen before. In this episode, Outside editor Christopher Keyes asks her how she pulled it off and why she was so drawn to the project.


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Last summer, 34-year-old Andrew Bernstein, known to his friends as Bernie, was riding his bike alone on a road outside Boulder, Colorado, when he was struck by a vehicle. The driver fled the scene and left him laying in a ditch, where he would have soon died if a passerby hadn’t noticed him and called 911. Bernie was a passionate amateur cyclist who competed regularly in elite track races, but in an instant his body was shattered and his life was forever changed. Unfortunately, his experience is all too common: 857 cyclists were killed by drivers on American roads in 2018, making it the deadliest year in almost three decades. In this episode, we detail what happened to Bernie, how he’s fared since, and where he goes from here. It’s a deeply personal account—but also a story that has the power to change all of our behavior in ways that will save lives and reduce the number of people who will go through what Bernie has endured.

This episode of the Outside Podcast is brought to you by Visit Florida, one of the country’s great adventure destinations. Have you met a manatee? Airboated in the Everglades? Snorkeled the coral reef? Plan your next Florida adventure at visitflorida.com/outside


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As every seasoned traveler knows, the most meaningful trips are the ones where everything goes wrong. Take, for example, climber and longtime Outside contributor Mark Jenkins’s recent quest to witness a total solar eclipse from the top of a 20,000-foot peak. A veteran of historic expeditions including an attempt on the North Face of Mount Everest, a first descent of the Niger River, and a bicycling odyssey across Siberia, Jenkins was in the mood for something different. So he recruited his old pal Large, and the two of them set off for a little-know summit in the Andes that was in the zone of totality. From the moment they landed in South America, their plans went comically sideways—again and again and again. Were they cursed, or was this the adventure they both really needed?


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Wouldn’t it be great if there was a technique that would allow us to vanquish fear and beat back stress? There just might be. In his latest book, The Wedge, bestselling author Scott Carney explains that when humans face challenging situations, our automatic responses tend to make us feel terrible. But the good news is that there are a number of simple methods we can learn to take control of our reactions to stimulus—whether it’s a circling shark or a scary news headline. Over the past few years, Carney traveled all over the planet, seeking out people who understand what he calls the wedge—a technique that enables us to adapt our bodies and our minds to be more resilient in the face of just about anything. In this episode, Outside editor Chrisopher Keyes asks Carney: What exactly is the wedge? And how can we learn it right now?


This episode of the Outside Podcast is brought to you by Visit Florida, one of the country’s great adventure destinations. Have you met a manatee? Airboated in the Everglades? Snorkeled the coral reef? Plan your next Florida adventure at visitflorida.com/outside


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The longer we’re stuck at home, sheltering in place, the greater our hunger for tales of far-flung journeys. For this week’s episode, we’re offering one of our favorite adventure stories from our archives, about a daring crew of twentysomethings who, back in 1970, cooked up a crazy plan to canoe remote rivers though the Amazon Basin. Their half-baked plan was to hunt, fish, and forage for food until it wasn’t fun anymore. They had no jungle experience and few supplies beyond a machete and a small rifle. Not surprisingly, they ran into all sorts of trouble—including a hungry jaguar who chased them up a tree.


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Unlike most other animals, humans have to be taught to swim, and yet many of us feel an irresistible pull to the water. There’s something about submerging ourselves that makes us feel very much alive—even as we enter an environment where the risk of death is suddenly all around us. (That’s why the lifeguard is watching.) In her new book, Why We Swim, journalist Bonnie Tsui explores how this unique sport rekindles the survival instincts we inherited from our ancestors, heals some of our deepest wounds, and connects us with a wider community even as we stroke silently alongside each other. In this episode, Tsui guides us through the remarkable tales of an Icelandic fisherman forced to swim for his life, an athlete who found new life by diving into the ocean, and a swim club that sprung up in the middle of a war zone.


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Over the past few years, the sport of running has been upended by a debate over shoe technology. It all began in early 2017, when Nike announced a prototype called the Vaporfly that was billed as improving a runner’s efficiency by 4 percent—a claim that was hard to believe until that spring, when Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge came seconds away completing a marathon in under two hours. The running community’s reaction was swift, with many claiming that the shoe wasn’t a breakthrough, it was a cheat. A lot has changed since then, with records at numerous distances being obliterated while other shoe brands look to duplicate the Vaporfly’s success, even as they call for new Nike prototypes to be banned. Today, even with the Olympics and other major athletic events postponed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, the sport of running remains upside down, with the focus still on shoes instead of on who’s wearing them.Outside editor Chris Keyes speaks with our Sweat Science columnist, Alex Hutchinson, about how we got here and what it all means for the future of the sport.


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In the isolated Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard, some 800 miles from the North Pole, the tiny town of Longyearben is the kind of place where people go to start their lives over. With brightly colored homes laid out neatly against a mountainous backdrop, it seems out of a fairytale. There’s almost no crime, so residents leave their front doors unlocked and their keys in the car. In the surrounding Arctic wilderness are abundant polar bears, arctic foxes, and reindeer. But when an eerie crime happened in the frozen winter darkness, it brought home a harsh reality: in the modern world, trouble always finds you.


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Now here’s a mind-boggling fact: there are more tigers in captivity in the United States right now than all of the wild tigers in the world combined. This is due to loopholes in the laws governing big-cat ownership in this country—and it’s a dangerous problem. Besides tigers, people keep lions, cougars, leopards, and other big cats as pets. It’s not great for the cats that are locked in cages and basements, but it’s really not great for the people nearby when, inevitably, those cats get out. Because then what do you do? Today, we have the story of what police officers were forced to do when a man named Terry Thompson let loose 18 tigers, 17 lions, 8 bears, and a handful of other animals, and then shot himself. Nine years later, not much has changed in the way of regulation. It’s the first episode of a powerful four-part series from Longreads called Cat People that is coproduced by former Outside Podcast host Peter Frick-Wright.


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When experienced wilderness guide Blair Braverman was invited to audition for the Discovery Channel reality show ‘Naked and Afraid,’ she saw it as a chance to live out a childhood fantasy. Here was an opportunity to have a totally wild—if somewhat absurd—adventure that would allow her to prove her mettle or fail trying. Having crossed the Arctic twice by dogsled, she felt she could handle all kinds of discomfort and physical challenges. Pus, it’s just a TV show, right? Then she found herself without clothes in the searing African heat, enduring one of the most intense experiences of her life.


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Recent years have seen all kinds of major progress in outdoor sports equipment, from maximalist running shoes to electric bikes to crazy-lightweight camping gear. But the most important breakthroughs of all have been in the design and manufacturing of sports bras. New research and technologies have paved the way for an advanced class of support systems that are comfortable, look good, and fit a wider variety of bodies. In this episode, we talk to Outside associate editor Ariella Gintzler about her feature report on the state of the sports bra, then take a look back at the game-changing invention that started it all.  


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After suffering a brain injury in a bicycle accident, Sarah Allely found it difficult to read, write, and watch television. She struggled with everyday tasks. Eventually, she realized that the only way for her to get better was to spend time in nature. As a journalist, her instinct was to chronicle her experience and also investigate the science behind nature’s health benefits. The result is Brain on Nature, a podcast that’s deeply personal but offers invaluable insights for anyone seeking balance in today’s hyperpaced and overconnected modern world. This week, we’re excited to share the first two episodes in this powerful audio series.


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Topher White founded the nonprofit Rainforest Connection with the intent of creating a low-cost monitor that could help remote communities in their efforts to halt illegal logging, which is an enormous threat to tropical habitats. As it turns out, the best way to track people who are cutting down trees is sound. Using old cell phones linked to an artificial-intelligence platform in the cloud, White developed a system that can detect chainsaws in real time and send automated alerts to authorities. Today, Rainforest Connection is recording audio continuously from over a 1,000-square-miles of forest across 12 countries. That scale, along with rapid improvements in machine learning, have opened up tantalizing possibilities for understanding what the sounds of nature really mean.


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Every winter, the Pacific Ocean produces massive swells that roll across the open sea and crash into the Hawaiian island of Oahu. For more than 50 years, the surf world has gathered here, on the North Shore, along a stretch of legendary beaches that are collectively known as the Seven Mile Miracle. A lot of drama is to be expected: epic rides, agonizing wipeouts, and every so often, a heroic rescue. In this episode, we share two stories from the latter category. One comes from photographer-filmmaker Jeff Johnson, who, back in the day, was a young lifeguard at Sunset Beach, determined to prove himself. The other is from big-wave rider Kohl Christensen, a North Shore local whose work to safeguard the lives of other surfers recently ended up saving his own.


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Conservationists hoping to protect a threatened wild species tend to take a standard set of actions. These can involve political campaigns, lawsuits, and media outreach. But sometimes it’s the unexpected approaches that can make the difference. Over the past several years, artist Jane Kim has been creating large-scale public murals of the monarch butterfly, an insect that’s in a state of crisis. Recent surveys indicate the that the population of the western monarch in California has plummeted to below 30,000, down from 4.5 million in the mid-1980s. Kim’s latest work is a painting in San Francisco's Tenderloin district that wraps three sides of a 13-story building and includes a 50-foot-tall monarch. It’s suddenly one of the most dramatic features in the city’s skyline. The question now is whether this extraordinary piece of public art will spur the actions really needed to save the species—or become a tribute to a once beautiful butterfly.


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In today’s fitness space, self-experimentation is the name of the game. All kinds of people are embracing new technologies and diets in the hope of finding faster strategies for getting in the best possible shape. In this crowd, few are pushing things further than Ben Greenfield. The exercise physiologist and personal trainer has made his mark by exploring the limits of what seems reasonable (Example A: injecting his penis with stem cells) and voicing controversial ideas, including skepticism about standard vaccination practices. In his new book, Boundless: Upgrade Your Brain, Optimize Your Body & Defy Aging, he covers almost anything you might want to know about being the fittest and healthiest you can be. For this episode, Outside editor Chris Keyes speaks with Greenfield about strategies for better sleep, the upsides of cold therapy, the problems with gym workouts, and more.


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At some point, almost every skier or snowboarder who has sat on a stalled chairlift has wondered, Could I just jump off here? The resounding reply from the experts is no, no, no. Don’t jump off the chairlift. Not ever. In addition to the high risk of getting injured yourself, you’re putting the people on other chairs around you in danger in ways you don’t understand. So stay put, and wait for the lift to restart. Or, in those rare instances when the chair really is broken, wait for ski patrol to get you down. But there are those truly unique cases when breaking the rules may be the only option. In this episode, we tell the story of very unlucky snowboarder who was forced to make the worst kind of choice. 


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Ask scientists about the aurora borealis and they’ll explain that the spectacular display of lights we see in the wintertime sky is caused by solar winds that send charged particles into the earth’s upper atmosphere, where they smash into gases. But witness this otherworldly show yourself, and ancient beliefs about magic often feel more true. It was the magic that mattered to Hugo Sanchez, a self-taught photographer who fled civil-war-torn El Salvador and moved to Canada. But tragedy followed him, and it was chasing the perfect shot of the northern lights that gave him a new sense of purpose.


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As host of one of the most popular interview shows in the podcast universe, Rich Roll is known for his limitless empathy. That approach grew out of his long personal journey. A talented college swimmer, he developed an alcohol problem that later destroyed his first marriage and nearly derailed his career as a lawyer. He sobered up but became a miserable workaholic, until, at age 40, he went vegan and started endurance training. Soon he was a top finisher at the Ultraman, an infamous sufferfest in Hawaii. On his weekly show, Roll interviews everyone from elite athletes to spiritual leaders to bestselling authors, all in the interest of empowering the rest of us to make better decisions. In this episode, he shares his inspiring story and the many hard lessons learned.


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It’s around this time of year that we tend to ask ourselves the big questions: Am I living the life I want to be living? Am I a good a person? And, of course, is this going to be an epic ski season, or a bust? This week, we present a story that miraculously addresses all of these questions. It comes to us from the good folks at the Dirtbag Diaries, and has outdoor industry veteran Dan Kostrzewski sharing a very personal tale about a skiing accident with his young daughter, and how it helped him gain a new perspective on the sport that has long been at the center of his personal and professional identity.


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Of the many story lines that came of the New York Marathon this November, perhaps the most inspiring was the performance of Kikkan Randall. The 35-year-old was racing in her first-ever marathon, yet she finished 51st among all women and 12th in her age group. It was impressive, even for Randall, one of the most accomplished cross-country ski racers in American history, especially when you consider that just 18 months earlier, she’d been diagnosed with Stage II breast cancer. *Outside *contributor Stephanie Joyce talks to Randall about her pattern of coming back stronger from tough times and failure, and where she goes from here.


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Search a major online music platform for “nature” and you get a lot of stuff designed to help you relax. Recordings of chirping rainforest creatures, gently tumbling waves, a pulsing didgeridoo—it’s what you expect to hear during a massage treatment. The reality, of course, is that nature is often far from tranquil. It can be barbaric, dissonant, and downright metal. In that spirit, this week’s episode presents two tales that pay homage to nature’s thrasher tendencies. The first involves a threatening predator that was fought off with Metallica. After that, we’ll hear from a professional hard rocker who attempted to be the hero of a shipwrecked crew, and shared his experience at a live storytelling event hosted by The Moth.  


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When Free Solo was released last fall, it was an instant sensation—the movie that everyone was telling their friends they had to see. The picture, which won the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature chronicled Alex Honnold’s quest to climb the 3,000-foot sheer rock face ofYosemite's El Capitan without a rope. It also captured his emotional growth as he fell in love with Sanni McCandless, a relationship that made his goal much more complicated. One giant reason Free Solo was so special was the husband and wife directing team of Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, whose unique backgrounds made them the perfect duo to tell the story. In this conversation with Outside’s Michael Roberts, recorded earlier this month at Summit LA, they open up about the life and work that they’ve created together—and where it goes from here.


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On the new History Channel show Kings of Pain, Rob “Caveman” Alleva and cohost Adam Thorn get bit and stung by the nastiest insects, reptiles, and fish on the planet—on purpose. They’re following in the footsteps of entomologist Justin O. Schmidt, whoOutside profiled back in the nineties while he was developing the first-of-its-kind pain scale for stinging insects. But for the TV show, Alleva and Thorn are pushing this brand of experimentation even further by subjecting themselves to the agony-inducing defense mechanisms of snakes, fish, and lizards, with sometimes horrifying results. Outside* *Podcast host Peter Frick-Wright wanted to know: What’s it like to be in so much pain, so often? And why were they willing to take this job?


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Author Richard Louv is best known as the author of Last Child in the Woods, his 2005 bestseller that established the phrase nature-deficit disorder and helped spark an international movement to examine the health benefits of spending time outdoors. His ideas were initially seen as radical—recall that in 2005, the iPhone didn’t exist yet—but today they’re ubiquitous. Now Louv is back with a new book, Our Wild Calling, that presents more radical ideas, this time about the need for humans to rekindle our relationships with other species. Outside editor Christopher Keyes spoke with Louv about the basis for this theories and why even the most serious scientists get that something special happens when we engage with wild creatures.


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In our last episode, Peter Frick-Wright told the story of the time he broke his leg at the bottom of a remote canyon and was saved through the efforts of multiple search and rescue teams. Now, more than two years later, Peter is still processing what happened to him. Meanwhile, the rescuers who cared for him have participated in numerous other high-stakes incidents in the wilderness. This week, Peter speaks with one of the people who hauled him out of the canyon about the coping strategies that have worked—and haven’t—in the aftermath of a life-altering trauma. This episode was produced for the podcast Rescuer MBS, a show that aims to increase the resilience of the volunteer search and rescue community.


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About two years ago, Outside Podcast host Peter Frick-Wright was canyoneering in Oregon when he jumped off a ledge and broke his leg. He was stuck at the bottom of a canyon, and it took an epic effort by search and rescue teams to get him out of there. The experience was rough on Peter and rough on the many volunteers involved with transporting him safely to a hospital. Many of them had to go right back to work the next day. This week we’re going to replay our 2017 episode about the accident to set the stage for an upcoming conversation between Peter and one of his rescuers about a part of the healing process most people don’t talk about.


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Recent years have seen a surge in adult-recess leagues across the United States. By some estimates, there are now 1.6 million grown-ups participating in these leagues across the country, and they’re only growing more popular. Today’s adults are seemingly desperate for more playtime—and so we’re eagerly bounding outside after work for all kinds of kid-style activities, from kickball and flag football to capture the flag and cornhole. But it’s not all fun and games: some of the leagues are highly competitive, with team names, uniforms, and strict scheduling. To find out what’s really going on, reporter Mimi Montgomery and producer Alex Ward visit rec fields in Washington, D.C., and Portland, Oregon, to observe grown-ups at play.


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No one has had a greater influence on modern recreational running than writer Christopher McDougall. His 2009 book Born to Run introduced the masses to barefoot running and became a revolutionary bestseller. As a result, the multibillion-dollar running-shoe industry went through a dramatic upheaval, and today runners have a broad range of shoe types to consider, from minimalist slippers to ultra-cushy maximalist fatties. Now McDougall is back with a new book that chronicles his work training a sickly donkey to be an endurance athlete (no, seriously). Titled Running with Sherman, it tells the story of an unexpected journey that was really good for the donkey—but also for McDougall. Outside editor Christopher Keyes spoke with McDougall about this surprising turn of events and whether it means the rest of us should be running with animals, too.


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At midlife, food writer Jeff Gordinier felt like he was sleepwalking. His marriage was crumbling, and he’d lost his professional purpose. Then he got a curious invitation: René Redzepi, the superstar head chef and co-owner of Noma, in Copenhagen, one of the world’s most influential restaurants, asked Gordinier to join him on a quest to Mexico to find exceptional tacos. Thus began a yearslong series of global adventures—foraging for sandpaper figs in Australia, diving for shellfish in the Arctic, seeking cochinita pibil in a remote part of the Yucatan—that reawakened Gordinier passion for both life and food. In his book Hungry, Gordinier describes how Redzepi’s raw energy and philosophy of constantly moving forward were an intoxicant as well as a kind of medication. For this episode, Outside’s Michael Roberts spoke with Gordinier about the wildest moments along his journeys with Redzepi and his new habit of saying yes to just about everything.


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The odds of getting seriously injured by a bear in North America are slim. There are just a few dozen bear attacks on the continent every year, and only a handful of them put someone in the hospital. But bear-human encounters are on the rise, in part because more people than ever before are heading out into bear country. This year in particular there have been a lot of stories of people fighting off attacks in dramatic ways, including that guy in British Columbia who ended up killing a black bear with a hatchet. But Colin Dowler has the most incredible story of them all, and his tale offers potentially lifesaving lessons for anyone venturing into the wild.


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Recent months have seen a media frenzy around the return of great white sharks to the waters surrounding Cape Cod. And with good reason: over the summer, great whites were routinely spotted off the iconic vacation destination’s most popular beaches. In 2018, a Cape boogie boarder died after being bitten by a shark—the first fatal attack in Massachusetts since 1936. But behind the headlines about freaked-out tourists and angry locals, the real story on the Cape is about how we learn to live with fear—or, just maybe, get past it. Produced in collaboration with our friends at the Outside/In podcast, this episode investigates the extreme reactions we have to living alongside one of the world’s most terrifying predators.  


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The 2018 Carr Fire was one of the worst wildfires in California history. By the time it was contained, it had burned 359 square miles, destroyed close to 2,000 buildings, and killed seven people. It also spawned a massive fire tornado—only the second ever recorded. Meteorologists examining the damage afterward estimated that the vortex had generated winds of up to 165 miles per hour. When a blaze like that is coming your way, the only sane thing to do is run for your life. But Gary and Lori Lyon did the opposite, staying to defend their home. Outside contributor Stephanie Joyce has the story on why, in an era of increasingly intense fires, someone would dare to stand and fight an inferno.


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In the world of athletics, the idea is that if you want to be the best, you have to specialize young and maintain near laserlike focus. The archetypal example is Tiger Woods, who, as the legend goes, started swinging a golf club before he could walk. More recently the focus has shifted to grit. The secret to success, we’re told, isn’t skill or raw talent but the ability to persevere. But that may not be the whole story. In his new book Range, author David Epstein challenges the arguments for specialization and grit, arguing that a more generalized approach is the surest route to excellence. Outside editor Christopher Keyes spoke with Epstein to about the advantages of doing a bit of everything.


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Doug Peacock took an unlikely path to becoming an icon of conservation. Following two tours in the Vietnam War as a Green Beret medic, he sought solace and comfort in the American Wilderness, where he began observing and then filming grizzly bears. He believed the bears saved his life, and he felt compelled to return the favor. Many people know Peacock as the inspiration for George Hayduke, the infamous character inThe Monkey Wrench Gang, the 1975 novel by Ed Abbey. Over the years, Peacock authored a number of books about his journey. At the 2019 Mountainfilm festival, in Telluride, Colorado, he sat down with veteran radio producer Scott Carrier to offer an enlightened perspective on the history of bears in this country, share some hysterical stories about his own encounters with the animals, and give his take on the big challenges that grizzlies face today.


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Water is critical to human life. Our bodies are more than 50 percent water. We can survive months barely eating, but even a few days without water and we’ll die. Water flushes toxins out of our organs and cools us down after a workout. But how much do really need? And how much is too much? Lately there’s been a lot of attention on the internet to what’s known as the Water Gallon Challenge: drinking a gallon per day for a month, with the promise of glowing skin and a lot more energy. Outside editor Aleta Burchyski took on this challenge, which for her was all the more daunting because she hates the taste of plain tap water. In this episode, we talk to her about her quest and check in with a leading hydration expert, who explains that we don’t know as much about how water effects our bodies as you might think.


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When Mirna Valerio first began running ultramarathons, she immediately got a lot of attention, but not for the reasons you might expect. Because of her body size, she didn’t fit the accepted image of a long-distance runner. Her story isn’t about an average athlete trying to get better. It’s about what happens when people assume that someone can’t possibly be an athlete because of the way she looks—and then how they how they react when she takes on enormous challenges and finds a way to keep going and going. This episode kicks off the second season of the Athletes Unfiltered podcast from Strava.


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Earlier this year, Outside contributing editor Rowan Jacobsen wrote a feature that questioned whether our efforts to avoid skin cancer have caused us to develop an unhealthy relationship with the sun and sunscreen. Looking at controversial new research that challenges established guidelines for sun exposure, Jacobsen suggested that more direct sunlight on our unprotected skin might actually be good for our health. The story struck a nerve, becoming the most popular article in the history of Outside’s website and provoking some pretty loud criticisms. Outside Podcast contributor Stephanie Joyce talks to Rowan about his reporting, his response to critics, and whether skipping the SPF 50 is really a good choice.


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A large and growing body of research has found that time outdoors makes us happier and healthier, but there’s relatively limited science explaining why. According to findings published last summer in the journal Emotion, a big part of the answer may be awe. Studies conducted by psychologists at the University of California at Berkeley showed that feeling awe during a nature experience has a singular ability to lower stress and improve our overall well-being. Even more compelling, the research suggests that we don’t need to climb a mountain or run a river to get the healing power of awe—the simplest moments outside are all it takes. For this final episode in our Nature Cure series, we talk to the scientist who led the Berkeley study, as well as a man who says awe saved his life.


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For the past few years, journalist Leah Sottile has been looking at the question of who owns public lands in the West. Her reporting began with the Bundy family, which infamously challenged the authority of the federal government on its ranch and then with an armed occupation of Oregon’s Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. That investigation resulted in the award-winning audio series Bundyville. Now, Sottile is back with a new project that begins with the case of a man named Glenn Jones, who in the summer of 2016 blew up the house of a friend and former coworker in the tiny town of Panaca, Nevada. To her surprise, she would come to learn that that bombing had roots in the very same conflict that began with the Bundys.


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In recent years, a grassroots movement of physicians have begun prescribing time outdoors as the best possible treatment for a growing list of ailments, from anxiety and obesity to attention deficit disorder and high blood pressure. Meanwhile, research institutes for nature and health are opening at major medical centers and a couple bold insurance companies are embracing the idea. For this third episode in our Nature Cure series, we sit down with science writer Aaron Reuben, who reported on this emerging trend for Outside magazine. The question now, he says, is what it will take to convince big health care that free medicine is the way of the future.


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A while back, Outside contributor Meaghen Brown noticed a strange phenomenon among the elite ultrarunners that she was training with. Runners would come on the scene, win races and smash records, and then a few years later succumb to a mysterious ailment that left them a shadow of their former selves. Top athletes were suddenly lethargic, depressed, and unable to train, and doctors couldn't tell them why. Their problem, it turned out, was overtraining syndrome, or OTS. One researcher called it "The scariest thing I've seen in my time studying athletes." And it’s not just runners that are at risk. In this episode, we look at how OTS can afflict anyone who takes a more-is-more approach to their sport.


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About six years ago, ecologist Chris Morgan was sitting in a doctor’s waiting room when he picked up a copy of Outside and read the cover story, “Take Two Hours of Pine Forest and Call Me in the Morning.” The article, written by Florence Williams, explored the scientific basis for something that Morgan had intuitively felt all his life: being in nature is inherently healing and leaves us feeling more alert, alive, and content. Ever since, he wanted to have his own guided nature experience. For this second installment of our Nature Cure series, Morgan shares a story from his new podcast The Wild, in which he goes forest bathing in the Pacific Northwest, then asks Williams, What happened to me out there?


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For the last 19 years, Tim Friede, a truck mechanic from Wisconsin, has endured more than 200 snakebites and 700 injections of lethal snake venom—all part of a masochistic quest to immunize his body and offer his blood to scientists seeking a universal antivenom. For nearly two decades, few took him seriously. Then a gifted young immunologist stumbled upon Friede on YouTube—and became convinced that he was the key to conquering snakebites forever.


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These days our smartphone addiction has gotten so intense that many of us now habitually use the devices even when we’re supposedly unplugging. We listen to podcasts on our trail runs and endlessly document our weekend adventures for Instagram. All this has author Cal Newport deeply concerned. Newport has made a name for himself as a sort of canary in the digital coal mine, writing about the perils of our screen-dependent modern lifestyles. Last winter he published Digital Minimalism, a manifesto that proposes a reimagining of our relationship with technology that begins with a 30-day digital diet. Outside editor Christopher Keyes talks with Newport about his radical—but very simple—approach to technology and how it can work for everyone. 


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When Kyle Dickman set out on a spring road trip with his wife and infant son, he was fueled by a carefree sense of adventure that had defined his life. Then he got bit by a rattlesnake in a remote part of Yosemite National Park. The harrowing event changed his entire outlook on the world. Now he’s on a quest to understand the toxins that nearly killed him—and trying to come to terms with a world where everything slithers.


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So you just found a buried treasure. Hooray! But wait, what do you do next? Are other treasure hunters going to stalk you day and night? Are you going to have to pay taxes on your new riches? How do you turn gold and jewels into usable money anyway? If these are the kinds of questions that keep you up at night, then this episode is for you. Or maybe you’ve been wondering about something more practical, like what’s the craziest thing duct tape has ever been used to repair? This week our friends at the show Every Little Thing, who are committed to answering listeners’ most interesting, least important questions, take on both topics.


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Bob Ross is one of the most beloved painters of his generation, and he focused almost exclusively on the outdoors. Depicting the “happy trees” and “friendly mountains” of Alaska and the greater western US for his TV show, The Joy of Painting, he earned a following that has only grown since his death. But surprisingly little is known about his life. Famously private, he granted only a handful of interviews and never really spoke about his deeper motivations. So how should we remember Bob Ross, and what does his art say about the natural world? Data journalist Walter Hickey took on these questions, analyzing all 381 of the paintings Ross did for his show. What he found will have you looking at Bob Ross in a whole new light.


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The ketogenic diet, a.k.a. “cutting carbs,” is all the rage in the fitness world. But is it better for you than any other kind of diet? And does it actually make athletes stronger or faster? These questions have been debated for hundreds of years, and every few decades the idea that cutting carbs can unlock your true athletic potential comes back into fashion. Canadian race walker Evan Dunfee was part of the most recent and most rigorous testing of the low-carb high-fat diet, which took him straight to the top of his sport. Just not for the reasons everyone expected.


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No one has done more to sound the alarm about climate change than writer and activist Bill McKibben. He’s been doing it since 1989, when he wrote his first big scary book on the topic, The End of Nature. Thirty years later, he’s still at it, and climate change is even scarier. The result is the book Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Out? In many ways it’s his darkest book yet, drawing on even more scientific evidence while investigating new threats, like genetic engineering and artificial intelligence. Outside editor Chris Keyes wanted to know, is there any hope at all? The answer is, Yes, there is a scenario in which our species actually makes it out of this mess. Chris caught up with McKibben at his home in Vermont to talk about it.


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In 2008, Katie Arnold was hiking a trail near her home in Santa Fe with her baby daughter strapped to her chest when a man attacked her with a rock. Two years later, Arnold’s father died shortly after being diagnosed with cancer. Overwhelmed with grief and anxiety, she tried many remedies but the only one that worked was running. Eventually she began racing ultras and became an elite competitor, winning the iconic Leadville 100. In this conversation with Sarah Bowen Shea, the host of Another Mother Runner podcast, and professional endurance athlete Yuri Hauswald, Arnold talks about her new memoir, Running Home, and the unique healing power of endurance sports.


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As the host and creator of the MeatEater podcast and Netflix series of the same name, Steven Rinella spends a lot of time talking about hunting, fishing, and cooking. He is a proud voice in what’s often called the hook-and-bullet crowd. But he’s also a staunch conservationist, a longtime contributing editor of Outside magazine, and the author of American Buffalo, a book that explores the important role of the buffalo hunt throughout North American history. This makes him uniquely qualified to bridge the divide between hunters and outdoor recreationists. In a recent column for the magazine, Rinella argued that it’s never been more important for these two groups to forge a political alliance. Outside editor Christopher Keyes chased him down to talk about the need to find common ground in order to protect our most cherished public lands.


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Recovery is the new frontier of athletic performance. The quicker you recuperate, the more you can train, and pro athletes across sports have been revitalizing their careers by taking time off. Now a wave of new recovery technologies are being pitched to a broader market: boots that improve blood flow, cryochambers, infrared pajamas. Science writer Christie Aschwanden saw all this and started looking into some of the product claims—and into classic recovery techniques like ice, massage, and ibuprofen. At a live event at Powell’s Books, in Portland, Oregon, she spoke with Outside Podcast host Peter Frick-Wright about her new book Good to Go, in which she lays out the surprising answers to the most important recovery question of all: What works and what doesn’t?


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Every day there’s more research showing the benefits of mindfulness. It reduces stress, lowers blood pressure, boosts the immune system, and may even slow the aging process. What we’re only starting to figure out, however, is how meditation might improve athletic performance. Outside Editor Christopher Keyes caught up with Pete Kirchmer, program director of mPEAK, an eight-week class developed by neuroscientists at the University of California at San Diego. Their research shows that teaching athletes mindfulness techniques not only improves performance, it can literally change the makeup of your brain.


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Since the sport’s early days in the seventies, mountain bikers have carved illicit trails on public and private land. Pioneering riders create winding singletrack in their favorite nearby hills, then carefully share the location with only a handful of friends. But in recent years, as the sport has grown bigger and bigger, government agencies and some adventurous entrepreneurs have sought to adopt pirate trails into official networks. This usually means better maintenance, maps and signage, trailhead parking—and a lot more riders. In New England, some feisty veterans are pushing back against the wave of modernization, saying it’s ruining their neck of the woods. Our friends at the Outside/In podcast report on a generational shift in the sport that’s got a lot of people fired up.


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Over the past year, professional surfing has undergone a remarkable and very unexpected evolution. Beginning in 2019, the World Surf League is offering equal prize money to men and women at all of its events, making it one of very few global sports leagues to do so. A key part of this story was the push to get women included in the big-wave contest at Mavericks, on the Northern California coast, an effort headlined by 31-year-old Bianca Valenti. In a way, her whole career had been leading up to this mission. Outside executive editor Michael Roberts reports on Valenti’s journey from a teenager frustrated by the bro culture that ruled surfing to the front lines of a movement that could have a lasting impact on all of sports.


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Former Navy SEAL David Goggins has spent the past two decades exploring the outer limits of human performance, both in the armed forces and as an endurance athlete with more than 60 ultras under his belt. But what makes Goggins truly unique is the hardship he faced long before he began his athletic career. A brutally abusive father. A learning disability. Depression. Even obesity—he once weighed nearly 300 pounds. Goggins found strength in putting himself through hell and relying on mental toughness to find his way through. Christopher Keyes spoke with him about his remarkable journey and the tough-love lessons in his new memoir, [Can’t Hurt Me](https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1544512287/ref=aslitl?ie=UTF8&tag=outsonli02-20&camp=1789&creative=9325&linkCode=as2&creativeASIN=1544512287&linkId=eb8a244e4fffe38c2c30ce40c987c1b6).


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There are a lot of really tough endurance races out there, but perhaps none are harder—both mentally and physically—than the Sri Chinmoy Self-Transcendence 3100 Mile Race in Queens, New York. The whole thing takes place on a single city block, and in order to finish before the cutoff, runners have to run the equivalent of about two marathons a day for 52 days in a row. In the race’s first 22 years, only 43 people finished. This past summer producer Stephanie Joyce headed to Queens to talk with the competitors, including Israeli ultrarunner Kobi Oren, who was determined to win the race on his first attempt.


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Almost everyone who’s used underarm crutches agrees: they are terrible. They’re hard on your wrists, they cause falls, they cause nerve damage. This is why almost every country in the world has abandoned them. Except the U.S., where if you go to the hospital with a leg injury, you’re most likely going to leave with adjustable aluminum crutches. In this third installment of our series exploring how gear gets made, we look at the fascinating history of why better designs for crutches haven’t caught on, and whether or not they ever will.


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There’s no more painful pursuit for a cyclist than the hour record.It’s just you, by yourself, on a bike, going as far and as fast as you can in 60 minutes. Eddie Merckx, considered by many to be the greatest pro racer in history, called it the longest hour of his career and only attempted it once. Others describe it as death without dying. When her father passed away, Italian cyclist Vittoria Bussi decided she wanted this record for herself. For her father’s memory. For history. When she started training, other cyclists asked her, “Are you ready to die for the hour?” Soon she would discover that in order to succeed, she would have to completely change her relationship with pain.


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For more than two decades, Ruffwear has been reinventing gear for dogs. The brand makes booties, jackets, collars, toys, and pretty much anything else you could want for your pup. But how do you design something when the end user can’t give you feedback other than incessant tail wagging? And don’t dogs get just as much enjoyment out of an old stick as the latest and greatest chew toy? In this second installment of our series exploring how gear gets made, producer Alex Ward reports on the unique process of crafting products for our best friends.


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Pararescue specialists—known as PJ’s in the military—are the most elite unit in the Air Force. But if you want to be a PJ you have to make it through Indoc, a brutal nine-week training course that’s designed to test your motivation and resolve. And there’s no easier way to make someone uncomfortable than sending them underwater for a long, long time. Staff Sergeant Travis Morgan had spent what felt like his whole life preparing for Indoc. He knew that only a small percentage of candidates made it through the program, and that most people quit during pool training. What he wasn’t expecting was to find himself facing elimination because he could hold his breath way too long.


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Wilderness therapy has been used for decades to help troubled teens and addicts, and recently all kinds of people are seeking out guided nature experiences to detox from their hyper-digital modern lives. The classic approach of such programs is to push participants to challenge their limits in order to build character. That can work great, but it’s not a smart recipe for those trying to recover from emotional trauma. Not long ago, contributing editor Florence Williams, author of the The Nature Fix, went backpacking with victims of sex trafficking, writing about it for Outside’s May 2018 issue. Now she’s adapted the story for The Three-Day Effect, a new series for Audible that explores what’s really happening in our brains when we head outdoors. This episode, an excerpt of that project, reveals the surprising ways we can find comfort in wilderness.


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John Orth is a violin maker from Colorado. Andrew Shapiro is a college kid from Virginia. They have little in common except that for the last two years they’ve been trading back and forth the world record for the most pull-ups in 24 hours. Over the summer, they both set their sights on 10,000 pull-ups. It’s a number that would have been unthinkable two years ago; a number that seemed like it would reveal the very limits of what the human body can do. Instead, they found a different limit.


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In this first episode of a new series exploring how gear gets made, we investigate the origin of arguably the most refined fork in history. When designer Owen Mesdag was a graduate student in the late-1990s, he fell in love with a particularly clever spoon. Engineered by outdoor brand MSR, it doubled as a stove repair tool. Mesdag was enamored with it and he thought, I want to make a matching fork. And how hard could that be, really? A fork is a fairly simple tool. Except Owen’s fork didn’t just have to be good, it had to be perfect. His obsessive attention to detail meant that he kept going back to do more testing, taking more trips to Asia, and redesigning the fork again and again, because it was never quite right. Producer Alex Ward has this story explaining why the business end of a fork tells us a great deal about the tireless designers who make our favorite things.


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The new movie Free Solo is arguably the greatest film about climbing that’s ever been made. In just over 90 minutes, it chronicles Alex Honnold’s astonishing no-ropes ascent of the 3,000-foot sheer face of Yosemite’s El Capitan, which he completed one morning in June, 2017. Even more impressively, it captures the unique mindset of Honnold, a perfectionist whose years-long obsessive pursuit of his dream gets complicated by an ever-present camera crew and his growing love for his new girlfriend. As you might guess, being the focus of a deeply personal Oscar-caliber documentary and then answering probing questions by a constant stream of reporters and fans has had an impact on the guy. Outside executive editor Michael Roberts chased Honnold down on his film tour to ask about the risks and rewards of telling your whole story.


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Journalist Laura Krantz doesn’t believe in Bigfoot. She’s trained to be skeptical, and all the best Sasquatch sightings and photos have been debunked. Except, then she heard about Grover Krantz, a serious academic and long lost relative who had spent his career researching the possibility that an upright, bi-pedal homonid had once roamed the forest. Some of the evidence was pretty compelling, and so Laura dove into the subject headfirst. The result is Wild Thing, a nine-part series that takes a good hard look at what exactly we know and what we don’t know about Bigfoot, and why some form of this legend persists all over the world.


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Maybe you saw the fire coming, maybe you didn’t. Maybe you were ready for it, maybe you weren’t. Maybe you did everything right. Maybe not. Maybe you just lost everything. Maybe that’s not even the worst of it. For this final episode of our  wildfire series, we asked fiction writer Joseph Jordan to imagine the experience of someone whose home has been destroyed by flames. He came up with a haunting story that captures our modern relationship with wildfire, in which a single catastrophic blaze is neither the start or end of anyone’s troubles.


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To reduce the intensity of megafires in America, we’d need to treat and burn about 50-80 million acres of forest. So, how do we do it? What would it cost? How long would it take? Is it possible? In this episode we look at whether or not there’s anything we can do about wildfires in the West and the likelihood that we’ll take action on potential solutions.


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How do you protect yourself from wildfire on a warming planet? You burn everything on purpose. No, seriously. Thanks to climate change, the whole world is a tinderbox. Fire season now starts sooner and ends later, and scientists say lightning will become more frequent, and winds more powerful. Our only defense may be intentional fires. In this episode, our friends at Outside/In take a close look at the ecology of prescription burns. Why are our forests so dependent on wildfires? And why did some plants evolve to become more flammable?


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There are between eight and ten thousand wildfires in the United States each year, but most quietly burn out, and we never hear about them. The Pagami Creek Wildfire in Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Canoe Area was supposed to be like that. It was tiny and stuck in a bog that was surrounded by lakes. It was the kind of fire you could ignore. Computer models predicted that it would just sit there. But those models didn’t account for a rare convergence of atmospheric events had prepped the forest for an unprecedented burn. And Greg and Julie Welch were camping right in its path. In the first of four episodes investigating American wildfires, we tell the Welch’s extraordinary story and look at the factors that lead to this unexpected blaze.


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Carina Hoang grew up in a wealthy family in Vietnam. She had a nanny to take care of her and a maid who cleaned up after her—she didn’t even wash her own hair. But when the Vietnam War broke out, she and two siblings fled the country on a boat, landing on Kuku beach, in Indonesia. It was supposed to be a refugee camp, but it was actually a deserted island. No food, no water, no buildings, people, or tools. Just sand and jungle. Produced in collaboration with Snap Judgment, with funding from the International Women’s Media Foundation, this is a story about Carina’s decades-long struggle to leave Kuku Island behind.


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Most of the time, when lightning makes the news, it’s because of something outlandish—like the park ranger who was struck seven times, or the survivor who also won the lottery (the chances of which are about one in 2.6 trillion), or the guy who claimed lightning strike gave him sudden musical talent. This is not one of those stories. This is about Phil Broscovak—who was struck by lightning while on a climbing trip with family in 2005—and the confounding, bizarre science that can’t fully explain what Phil and other survivors endure in the aftermath of a strike. Originally broadcast in 2016, this episode is one of our favorites.


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Everyone gets older, but not everyone bows out of competition in middle-age. Journalist Jeff Bercovici wanted to know: Why? Why do some athletes flame out in their 30s and 40s, while others are still going as senior citizens? Is it genetics? Special training? Diet? And could amateur athletes achieve similar results? Outside editor Chris Keyes talks with Jeff about his new book, Play On: The New Science of Elite Performance at Any Age, and what it takes to reverse the effects of getting older.


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Climbing was Shelma Jun’s fallback sport. A snowboarder and mountain biker, she found her way into a climbing gym after injuring her shoulder and looking for an activity where she wouldn’t risk more impact. As a friend told her, you can’t fall very far if you’re attached to a rope. In 2014, she created an Instagram account called Flash Foxy to celebrate the crew of hard-charging New York women she’d begun climbing with. After gaining thousands of followers, she co-founded the Women’s Climbing Festival, which sold out in under a minute last year. In our final installment of this series looking at inclusivity in outdoor communities, James Edward Mills spoke to Jun about the influence a rising generation of female athletes is having on a sport long dominated by men.


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Knox Robinson grew up watching his dad run and went on to race track himself at a Division I college, but he was never defined by the sport. He’s more of a renaissance man. For years, he gave up athletics, studying and living in Japan, then managing rock stars and rappers in New York City. It was only as an adult—and after having a son of his own—that he returned to running, eventually co-founding a running collective called Black Roses NYC. Grounded in New York street culture, the group seeks to build community and promote physical and mental health among black men and women. In this third installment in a four-part series looking at inclusivity in outdoor communities, Outside contributor James Edward Mills talks to Robinson about his journey, and how running through diverse urban neighborhoods can be a powerful way to project a message of vitality and togetherness.


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Ayesha McGowan came late to competitive cycling. An accomplished violinist, she didn’t enter her first organized biking event until after college. Despite riding an old steel bike with a milk crate on the back and wearing jean shorts in a peloton of spandex, she impressed the other women, who encouraged her to start competing. A year later, she took fifth place in her first race, then kept winning on the amateur circuit. Now she’s aiming to be the first African American female cyclist on the pro tour, and gets closer to that goal every day. In this second installment in a four-part series looking at inclusivity in outdoor communities, journalist James Edward Mills sits down with McGowan to talk about her fast road to success.


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When Mikhail Martin started climbing at a Brooklyn gym in 2009, he was one of very few African Americans to rope up. Today, his group, Brothers of Climbing, is working to change that. BOC is tackling diversity in rock climbing, which includes bridging the gaps in lingo, jargon, and etiquette that keep people of color out of the sport. Nobody understands these issues better than journalist James Edward Mills, author of The Adventure Gap, a book that looks at the challenges minority groups face when engaging in outdoor recreation. In this first episode in a four-part series looking at inclusivity in outdoor communities, Mills asks Martin about his personal journey and the progress he’s achieved with BOC, and where we go from here.


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In 2014 the federal government rounded up Cliven Bundy’s cattle over a matter of unpaid grazing fees. So the Bundy family gathered a posse and took them back, at gunpoint. Two years later, they took over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. The Bundys are making a habit of taking on the federal government and winning. For the last two years, reporter Leah Sottile has been following this story, trying to figure out what all this means for the future of public lands in the American west, and wondering… what happens next?


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Kellee Edwards had a dream of getting her own show on the Travel Channel. She also had a plan. As a black woman trying to break into the overwhelmingly white and male world of travel television, she figured she would have to be overqualified to get noticed. So she got certified as a scuba diver, learned to pilot her own aircraft, and traveled solo to remote corners of the planet. In just a few years, she went from working as a bank teller to hosting the Travel Channel show Mysterious Islands. Outside contributor Stephanie Joyce wanted to know: What’s that trip been like?

This episode incorrectly states that Kellee Edwards pitched her show, Mysterious Islands, to the Travel Channel. In fact, the production company Departure Films pitched the project.


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Distance runner Alexi Pappas is the rare dual-threat of Olympic athlete and movie star. In the 2016 film Tracktown, which she wrote, directed, and plays the lead character in, she set out to capture the running-obsessed culture of Eugene, Oregon—a place where recreational runners share the trails with pros, and local farms and butchers step up as beef and vegetable sponsors for hungry athletes. Outside contributor Stephanie Joyce talked to Pappas about how her life as an Olympic hopeful translated to the big screen, and why so many people connect with her as an artist and a runner.


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One day in 2005 or 2006, a young wolf in Idaho headed west. He swam across the Snake River to Oregon, which was then outside the gray wolf’s range. After he established a territory, he became the most controversial canid in the state. Dubbed OR4 by Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, he was the alpha male of the first pack to live in Oregon in more than half a century. For years, biologist Russ Morgan tracked him, collared him, counted his pups, weighed him, photographed him, and protected him. Environmentalists rejoiced. Cattle ranchers called for his death. OR4 continued making bold raids on livestock and became known for his enduring competence as a hunter, father, and survivor. But nothing lasts forever.


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Mavericks, the monster surf-break off the Northern California coast, has long been a proving ground for the world’s best big-wave surfers. But the big wave surf contest held there most years has never included any women, despite the fact that female surfers have been dropping in on giant swells for decades. In fact, the first-ever contest at Mavericks, held in 1999 and called “The Men Who Ride Mountains,” took place several weeks after Sarah Gerhardt caught her first wave there. She wasn’t a professional surfer—she was a graduate student at nearby U.C, Santa Cruz, where she had just started a PhD in chemistry. Fast forward to today, and Gerhardt, now a professor at Cabrillo College, just a bit farther down the coast, was one of six women to be invited to compete in the first all-female heat at a Mavericks event. Outside contributor Stephanie Joyce caught up with the pioneering athlete to talk about her remarkable path from being a homeless teenager to celebrated big-wave charger.


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After building Patagonia into an internationally renowned apparel brand, the company’s first CEO, Kris Tompkins, walked away from the job, following her heart to South America. She landed on a small farm in Chile, where she and her soon-to-be husband, The North Face founder Doug Tompkins, set to work conserving one of the last wild places on earth. But just as their dream of creating a network of parks stretching across Argentina and Chile was coming to fruition in 2015, she lost Doug in a kayaking accident. In response, Kris has doubled down on their vision while figuring out how to forge a new path forward, on her own.


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It was the kind of disaster that wasn’t supposed to happen anymore. On February 11, 2017, the fishing vessel Destination disappeared in the Bering Sea on its way to crab grounds. It was a boat with an experienced crew, in unremarkable weather conditions, but there was no mayday, no life raft and no survivors. For the last year, reporter Stephanie Joyce has been following the investigation into what went wrong, and how this mysterious tragedy has changed Alaskan fishing.


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Apparently nobody told Bear Grylls that reality TV stars never have long careers. A dozen years after the cheeky Briton exploded onto American television, the king of survival entertainment is charging harder than ever, guiding A-list stars into the wild for his NBC show, Running Wild with Bear Grylls, while launching innovative new series for Facebook and Netflix. He’s also building an adventure theme park in England and hosting a new survival race this spring outside Los Angeles that’s open to anyone. Outside executive editor Michael Roberts, who’s been covering Bear for over a decade, tracked the enduring icon down on location in the Sierra Nevada Mountains to ask him: What’s your secret for survival? And why are you so convinced that going through tough times is good for all of us?


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In her acclaimed 2012 memoir, Wild, Cheryl Strayed delivered a fresh take on outdoor writing—a redemption story set on the Pacific Crest Trail. The book spent seven weeks on the New York Times Best Seller List and reminded people everywhere that a grueling journey through the wilderness can help us overcome almost anything. At last year’s SXSW conference, Tim Ferriss sat down with Strayed for an episode of The Tim Ferriss Show to ask her about her creative process and philosophy. He has a way of getting remarkable people to explain their most effective habits and this conversation, on a stage in front of some 2,000 people, didn’t disappoint. We’ve been eager to share it with our audience since we heard it and this week we finally have our chance. You can also read a shortened text excerpt of the interview here


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In 2009, Canadian researcher Geoff Hill asked park managers across North America what problems did they needed solved? Every single one of them said, “Human waste.” Since then, Hill has been on a quest to figure out what to do about the fact that each year national parks in the US and Canada get hundreds of millions of visitors, and at some point most of them have to take a dump. So far, every solution has failed, and so with every trip to the outhouse we’re contaminating groundwater, spreading disease, and costing parks a fortune. Recently, however, Geoff found an elegant remedy.


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If you’ve ever beaten yourself up after eating an entire pint of ice cream, know this: it’s really not your fault. According to obesity researcher and neurobiologist Stephen Guyenet, author of The Hungry Brain and founder of the wellness and science blog Whole Health Source, millions of years of evolution have hardwired us to seek out sugary, fatty, and salty foods. All those calories kept us alive back when we were hunter gathers. Today, they just make us fat. Outside editor Chris Keyes sits down with Guyenet to discuss why we feel so powerless in the face of decadent desserts, how different systems in our brain compete for dominance, and what we can do to combat all this temptation.


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On the 833-mile border between Finland and Russia, a band of elite Finnish soldiers are preparing to defend the country if Russia decides it wants to again redraw the map of Europe. With tensions still high after the Kremlin’s invasion of Crimea and Ukraine, writer David Wolman went to Finland to find out what this tiny band of Finns can possibly do if the Russian war machine heads their way. Quite a lot, it turns out.


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To write her three bestselling books about the ocean, Susan Casey went deep with great white sharks in California, followed big-wave surfing icon Laird Hamilton in Hawaii, and chased wild dolphins around the world. Her willingness to literally immerse herself in the topic of the ocean—she’s a former competitive swimmer—has allowed her to craft captivating stories that chronicle our relationship to the sea. And yet she’s a relative newcomer to the life aquatic. In the mid-1990s, she was Outside magazine’s creative director, helping guide the publication to an unprecedented three consecutive National Magazine Awards. She was later the editor-in-chief of O, The Oprah Magazine before she began authoring books. It seems that every time she tries something new she becomes one of the best at it. Outside editor Chris Keyes sat down with her to ask: How does she do it? And why is she so concerned about the future of the sea?


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Falls are the leading cause of death in the backcountry. Nothing else comes close. And while many are freak accidents that amount to nothing more than bad luck, some are more nuanced and interesting—and personal. If you found yourself stuck at the bottom of a canyon with a broken leg, what would you do? And why? In this episode we go inside the thought process of a real-life survivor—one who happens to host a podcast about survival.


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Andy Petranek and Michael Stanwyck know fitness. Petranek was a former adventure racer and RedBull Athlete before founding one of the first CrossFit gyms. Soon after, Stanwyck walked in looking for a new type of workout and quickly became CrossFit LA’s manager. But while their classes made gym members stronger, the pair longed to have a more wholistic impact on their clients. In 2011, they created the Whole Life Challenge, a six-week program that focuses on seven lifestyle changes that optimize well-being. The Challenge, which turns healthy living into a game, now attracts more then 50,000 participants a year. Last week, Petranek and Stanwyck sat down with Outside editor Chris Keyes to discuss the problem with diets, the keys to changing habits, the power of crowds, and how small lifestyle changes add up to make a big difference.


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Bee venom is similar to a rattlesnake’s. It rapidly disperses in your tissue, and when you’re stung the pain you feel is a combination of proteins and peptides attacking your cell membranes. Each sting contains enough venom to incapacitate a small mouse, but bees won’t really hurt you unless you’re allergic. Or at least, that’s what you thought until you disturbed a hive of African bees, which have been known to chase attackers for more than ten hours.


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There are several thousand species of mushroom, but only a handful that will kill you. And the toxins found in poisonous mushrooms are some of the deadliest natural poisons on Earth. Just seven milligrams—one quarter of a grain of rice—is enough to kill an adult, compared to a full teaspoon of cyanide. When you picked some mushrooms off the forest floor, you planned to make a nice risotto. But now you’re fighting for your life.


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What if you could opt out of society and go live in a completely self-contained glass bubble in the desert? You and your team would be cut off from the rest of society. For two years, you’d have to grow every morsel of food that you wanted to eat and fix anything and everything that went wrong. That was the plan for the team of scientists that entered Biosphere 2 in the mid-1990s. You may remember that they didn’t make it, but why was it the people on the outside who broke the glass and ended the experiment? Our friends at the podcast Terrestrial, from KUOW in Seattle, tell the story of what went wrong.


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What happens to people who are swept out to sea? Some survive for months and even years, alone in life boats eating whatever they can catch and drinking rainwater. In this episode we ask you, the listener, to imagine a surfing session gone very wrong when a strong offshore wind blows you out into the ocean. You’re alone on your board at the mercy of the weather. No one knows you’re out here and you have no way of calling for help. Do you have what it takes to endure until a rescue arrives? And then we tell you the true-life story of someone who did.


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As we get ready to roll out new Science of Survival episodes beginning on November 14, we wanted to replay the one that started it all. This thrilling re-creation of the classic Outside feature by Peter Stark leads the listener through a series of plausible mishaps on a bitterly cold night: a car accident on a lonely road, a broken ski binding that foils a backcountry escape, a disorienting tumble in the snow, and a slow descent into delirious hypothermia before (spoiler alert!) a dramatic rescue. Be prepared for a vivid and fascinating exploration of the body’s physiological response to extreme cold that will forever change how you think about venturing into frozen landscapes.


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Peak performance has always been about getting as close to your genetic potential as possible. The limits of your training, nutrition, and recovery are dictated by your DNA. But what if they weren’t? What if you could change the genetic code you were born with? As sequencing DNA gets cheaper and faster, and gene-editing tools get more precise and easy to use, we’re progressing toward a world where we might all have perfect DNA for our chosen sport—and be able to change it whenever we want. But getting there will be risky. In this final installment of our four-part look at the science of performance, Outside editor Christopher Keyes looks at the efforts of Josiah Zayner, who is taking a damn-the-torpedoes approach to doing everything he can to bring gene-editing to a laboratory—or even a garage—near you.


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If you want to understand sleep deprivation, you want to talk to a Navy SEAL, who go nearly a week without rest during training. And there’s probably no better Navy SEAL to talk to than Dr. Kirk Parsley, the physician who started noticing all sorts of problems with his fellow elite soldiers. They weren’t recovering from workouts, they had trouble concentrating, and they were emotionally unstable. The culprit: they weren’t getting enough Zzz’s. After a decade studying the benefits of sleep, Parsley says getting enough rest at night is the single most effective performance-enhancing habit. Miss two hours of sleep and he can tell. Here, he goes beyond the eight-hour rule to talk specifically about how shuteye makes you faster, stronger, and smarter, and how sleep aids can actually do more harm than good.


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Several decades ago, radio producer Scott Carrier and his brother Dave tried to chase down an antelope on foot. That might sound crazy, but Dave was an evolutionary biologist and had just come up with a radical idea: that during the heat of the day humans could outrun most any creature, even one of the world’s fastest animals. His theory was that humans had evolved as endurance predators, able to hunt without weapons. So the brothers gave it a shot, and Scott produced a story about the efforts that absolutely captivated people, particularly young men. We talk to Scott about this and replay his amazing piece, which still feels fresh and relevant today.


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For most athletes, achieving peak performance means training hard, eating right, and maybe some stretching. But when you get to the elite level, where everyone’s doing that, it’s the mental game that makes winners and losers. How hard can you push your body? How much pain can you tolerate? How can you avoid getting psyched out before a big event? If you’re a top-tier professional athlete trying to train your brain, you’re likely going to turn to Dr. Michael Gervais, a renowned expert in high-performance psychology. His clients include the Seattle Seahawks, various Olympians, and Felix Baumgartner, that guy who jumped to earth from the edge of space. In this second installment of our four-part look at the science of performance, Outside editor Christopher Keyes sits down with Dr. Gervais to ask what advice he has for the rest of us.


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Kevin Fedarko is a celebrated and well-heeled journalist, accustomed to dropping in on an exotic place and extracting a story, often in less than a week. But in 2004 he left his job at Outside and went looking for something deeper and more meaningful: a story forged over months and years. He ended up at the bottom of the Grand Canyon at the helm of a boat full of poop called the Jackass.


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More than two decades after he radically transformed big-wave surfing, Laird Hamilton is still a dominant force in the sport. As detailed in the new documentary Take Every Wave, Hamilton is again pushing the edge with his new obsession, hydrofoil surfing. His wife, Gabby Reece, is a former professional volleyball player, model, author, and currently the host of the NBC reality show Strong. At their home in Malibu, Hamilton and Reece have created an elite training boot camp where they torture themselves daily, run extreme pool training classes, and constantly experiment with new approaches to exercise and nutrition. In this first installment of a four-part look at the science of performance, Outside editor Christopher Keyes pays the super couple a visit to try and understand the methods behind what sure looks like total madness.


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Killer frogs! Forest-destroying moths! Bird-eating mongooses! These may sound like biblical plagues, but they’re all the result of bad human decisions. After an invasive species shows up in an ecosystem and wreaks havoc, our response is to import another species that will eat the first one. Then, of course, the predator turns out to be even worse for the environment. Except now, maybe, we’ve figured out how to do biocontrol right. And as it turns out, some of those infamous mistakes weren’t so bad. In this story, our friends at New Hampshire Public Radio’s Outside/In reexamine the history of biocontrol to find out the truth behind the horror stories and understand why throwing hungry critters at a problem has enduring appeal.


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Jack Johnson is known as the world’s mellowest pop star. A surfer raised on the North Shore of Hawaii, his acoustic strumming has been the default soundtrack to good-times beach living for more than 15 years. But these days, something’s up with Jack Johnson. He’s decided that in the current political and social climate, quietly supporting environmental non-profits and greening the music industry isn’t enough. He’s ready to speak up, beginning with his new album, All the Light Above it Too. Executive editor Michael Roberts chased Johnson down to ask: What happened?


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Rebecca Rusch is called the “Queen of Pain” for a reason. She’s a three-time world champion in the 24-Hour Mountain Bike race, the 2011 National XC single-speed champion, and she’s won the Leadville 100 mountain bike race four times.


But a couple years ago, Rusch decided to take on an entirely new kind of pain. It would involve an epic ride along the Ho Chi Minh trail to find the crash site where her father, a U.S. Air Force pilot, was shot down when she was just three years old. Her emotional journey is the subject of a new documentary called Blood Road. Rusch met up with XX Factor host Florence Williams at the Telluride Mountainfilm festival to explain why this was the hardest ride of her life.


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In 2012, Vanessa Garrison co-founded GirlTrek, an organization with a simple goal: get women walking for 30 minutes a day. Now 100,000 walkers strong, GirlTrek is a national force. The story of GirlTrek is about health, justice, power, and survival. But mostly it’s the story of trying to change your community, and the world, through something as simple as going for a walk. To understand how GirlTrek was started, how it blew up, and where it’s going next, Outside contributing editor Florence Williams spoke with Garrison on, naturally, a rambling walk around Washington, D.C.


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The swamps of Alabama are one of the most biodiverse places on earth. They’ve been called America’s Amazon for the remarkable number of species of fish, turtles, mussels, and other aquatic creatures. Not so long ago, the Alabama sturgeon was a staple of life in these parts. The funny looking fish swam here for millennia, migrating hundreds of miles up streams to spawn. They were caught and eaten in the tens of thousands. Then, a decade ago, they vanished. To the protectors of Alabama’s swamps, this presents a terrifying question: If the rivers can no longer support sturgeon, what does that say about the water we swim in and fish in and drink?


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When it comes to important innovations in sports technology, few inventions can compete with the sports bra. In the 1970s, women’s interest in athletics was surging following the passage of Title IX. There was just one problem—actually, make that two problems: breasts. Boob bounce hurts, as women getting in on the jogging craze quickly found out. Then some friends in Vermont had an idea to stitch a couple jock straps together to build a contraption that would keep things in place. Their creation revolutionized women’s participation in sports and launched what’s become a multi-billion-dollar industry. Today, high-tech boob labs are helping designers make ever more effective—and stylish—iterations, even for athletes with DDD cups. Outside contributing editor Florence Williams, author of Breasts: A Natural and Unnatural History, looks back at the game-changing invention, takes measure of just how far we’ve come, and points towards an even brighter, bounce-free future.


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Nearly every sport can point to a classic comedy film taking aim at its flaws. Hockey has Slap Shot. Car racing got Talladega Nights. Skiing will always have Hot Dog. And dodgeball has, well, Dodgeball. Now cycling can claim its own: HBO’s Tour de Pharmacy, featuring executive producer Andy Samberg and a laundry list of A-List celebrities too long to catalog. It’s about damn time. Is any sport riper parody? Besides the rampant doping, there’s the leg shaving, the spandex, the team names, the whiteness, the stuffy British commentators, and, of course, the curiously misshapen bodies. Tour de Pharmacy sends up all that and more with a gonzo storyline that clocks in at a breezy 38 minutes and features—spoiler alert—no less than four shots of full frontal male nudity plus recurring commentary by the real Lance Armstrong. We caught up with Samberg to find out how the film came about, why he chose to pick on cycling, and his fetish for wiener gags.


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When something goes wrong in the wilderness, someone needs to evacuate and get help. When that someone is you, and every minute counts, the stress is enormous. And you just might not be fast enough. Scott Pirsig and Bob Sturtz were on a spring canoeing adventure in the Boundary Waters, a million-acre wilderness in northern Minnesota, when Bob suddenly started acting weird. He complained of a headache. Then he became disoriented, lost control of his hands, and stopped speaking. He’d suffered a stroke, which meant time was everything: the longer it took to get him to a hospital, the more brain cells he’d lose. If it took more than a few hours, he’d die. So Scott zipped his friend into his sleeping bag, begged him to stay put, and paddled off at a sprint into dense fog. What happened next forever changed both men.


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You hear sometimes about how the Arctic changes people — how It can lead them to lose their minds a little bit, or make dumb mistakes. Then there are those rare adventurers like Sarah McNair-Landry who are at their best on the ice. McNair-Landry grew up near the Arctic Circle, on Baffin Island. At 18, she joined an unsupported skiing expedition to the South Pole. A year later, she dogsledded north and became the youngest person to reach both poles. And that was just a warm up. McNair-Landry has since crossed the Greenland ice sheet five times and traversed the Gobi Desert in a kite buggy, among other journeys. At 33, she’s showing no signs of slowing down. Last year, she led a team that towed kayaks 400 miles across Greenland to complete the first descent of a river they’d seen only on Google Earth. That was the plan, anyway — but almost nothing went as expected. Outside contributing editor Florence Williams sat down with McNair-Landry at Mountainfilm, in Telluride, Colorado, to talk about the thrill of sailing in frozen landscapes, close encounters with polar bears, and where she’s going next.


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Water is life, we’re told. But what if you drink too much? As it turns out, there’s a little-discussed flipside to dehydration called hyponatremia—and it’s been on the rise, killing athletes and otherwise healthy people every year. And while you may think you know how much you need to drink, chances are you’re wrong.


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What does it take to swim from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage? According to Diana Nyad, the answer is passion bordering on obsession. Nyad first attempted the 111-mile crossing in 1978. Thirty-five years later, at the age of 64, following four failed efforts that left her devastated, she became the first person to complete the crossing, stroking for 53 hours almost nonstop. During her swims, Nyad encountered near-deadly box jellyfish stings, horrendous saltwater chafing, hallucinations, and sea sickness. Now she’s turned the experience into a one-woman play that she wants to bring to Broadway. Outside contributing editor Florence Williams drops in on the unstoppable athlete and amazing storyteller at her LA home to talk about her long journey—and where she’s headed next.


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Mona Seraji is the first snowboarder from the Middle East to compete professionally in the Freeride World Qualifier, a series of big-mountain events that attract the best riders in the world. She’s also a talented surfer, rock climber, and mountain biker. All this is more impressive when you consider the fact that in her home country of Iran, Seraji faces strict rules about how women can participate in athletics. Women aren’t allowed in sports stadiums, for example. They’re discouraged from riding bicycles in public. They can be arrested for showing too much skin or hair. In the United States, that sort of stuff is pretty much all we hear about female athletes—and women generally—in the Middle East. But it’s only part of the picture. Outside contributing editor Florence Williams talks with Seraji to get the real deal and hear how the athlete’s powerful ambition enabled her to break new ground.


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Human beings spent centuries trying to control the weather. Then, about 70 years ago, we figured out the basics of what it takes to make it rain. Now, we’re controlling more weather than you might think—and on the brink of a technology that may save us from the effects of climate change. But only if we’re ok with playing God.

Also, please let us know what you like—and don’t like—about the Outside Podcast by taking a short survey at www.surveynerds.com/outside.


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Science can’t fully explain why and how tornadoes form. But on May 31, 2013, all the factors we do understand pointed towards off-the-charts risk in central Oklahoma. Hundreds of amateur storm chasers, professional meteorologists, and thrill-seekers flocked to the area expecting an incredible storm. What actually touched down blew them all away.


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Back when men still believed the “weaker sex” were inferior climbers, Arlene Blum led an all-women’s ascent of Annapurna, the world’s tenth-highest peak. The 1978 climb put the first women—and first Americans, period—on the summit, but the death of two climbers sparked controversy. Outside contributing editor Florence Williams talks with Blum and Alpinist editor in chief Katie Ives about why the expedition continues to inspire climbers and stir controversy.


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In the 90s, Beth Rodden was a climbing prodigy, celebrated for her athletic gifts and unwavering discipline. Then, while on an expedition in Central Asia in 2000, she and her small team of friends were kidnapped. That terrifying ordeal—and their daring escape—changed her life in ways she has only recently begun to understand. In a revealing conversation with Outside contributing editor Florence Williams, Rodden opens up about the price of perfectionism, blowing up her marriage to climbing superstar Tommy Caldwell, and moving forward as an athlete and new mother.


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Once Joe Stone learned how to use his paralyzed body, he immediately set an audacious goal: he would race in an Ironman triathlon—despite the fact that no quadriplegic athlete had ever attempted the event. And after that? Well, Joe decided he could go much, much bigger.


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Joe Stone doesn’t do anything halfway. Back when he was a skater, he went big. When he partied, he went hard. When he took up skydiving and speed-flying, he flew almost every day. Then one day he crashed and became a C7 quadriplegic. What do you do when you’re addicted to adrenaline but confined to a wheelchair? A lot of stuff that no one else has ever done before.


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On the morning of May 25th, 2006, Myles Osborne was poised to become one of the last climbers of the season to summit Mount Everest. The weather was perfect, and it seemed nothing would stop his team. Then a flapping of orange fabric caught Osborne’s eye. He believed it to be a tent—until the fabric spoke: “I imagine you’re surprised to see me here.” The speaker was Lincoln Hall, who’d been reported dead the night before. He was gloveless, frostbitten, and hallucinating—but miraculously alive. Suddenly Osborne’s expedition was faced with a terrible decision: would they stay and help Hall, giving up the summit and endangering their own lives in the process? Or finish this once-in-a-lifetime journey that had been years in the making? We’ll explore the choice they made and look into the fascinating science of how we make decisions in high risk environments—and how we live with them afterward.


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What’s the cure for our modern malaise of stress, distraction, and screen-addiction? Nature, of course. But while many people advocate the benefits of getting outside, we are only just beginning to understand what really happens to us when we venture out the door. For her new book, The Nature Fix, Outside magazine contributing editor Florence Williams explains the fascinating science behind the restorative power of wild places. Editor Chris Keyes talks with Williams about the research being done around the world to investigate how spending more time in nature can make us healthier, happier, and even more creative.


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In the summer of 1970, Ed Welch and Bruce Frey put in a canoe at the headwaters of the Amazon and shoved off into the current. Their only plan was to travel downstream until it wasn’t fun anymore. They had a rifle, they had a machete, they had a vague idea of how to survive in the jungle. Then a jaguar chased both of them up a tree.


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Denmark’s rugged Faroe Islands are known for sheep, rowboats, and a brutal tradition called “The Grind” in which Faroese men butcher hundreds of pilot whales by hand, on the beach, in full view of locals and tourists. Reporter Joel Carnegie traveled to the islands last summer to try to understand the cultural forces that sustain the bloody practice. What’s the point if the whales are no longer needed for income or food (and the meat may contain toxic levels of mercury)? And what happens when an anti-whaling environmental group shows up telling them to stop—or else?


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Writer Mark Sundeen spent the last three years chronicling the lives of three couples who have dropped out of mainstream society, trading cars, technology, and electricity for freedom and hard work on the new American frontier. The result is his latest book, The Unsettlers: In Search of the Good Life in Today’s America, a fascinating, timely, and deeply personal examination of what it means to be a non-conformist in the modern age. Editor Chris Keyes talks with the frequent Outside contributor, who who one reviewer describes as “our poet laureate of alternative lifestyles.”


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Wolf howls, bird songs, , crickets, frogs—soundscapes contain clues to not only what’s going on around us but also who we are. Not just as individuals, but as human beings. Or at least, that’s what Bernie Krause says. Krause is a soundscape artist who’s spent decades collecting the sounds of the natural world and contemplating their meaning. In this piece, producer Tim Hinman from the podcast Sound Matters talks to Krause about how soundscapes work, what they can tell us about our world, and why audio ecology should be an integral part of how we think about conservation.


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“If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu,” says Sally Jewell. Hopeful, thoughtful, slightly ticked-off, and surprisingly emotional, the outgoing Secretary of the Interior talks with Outside editor Chris Keyes about the presidential election and what it means for the future of public lands. Can environmental protections be dismantled? Will they? Are we going to see an increase in Malheur WIldlife Refuge-style occupations? America’s chief steward reflects on leaving her post and what we can expect from the next administration.


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Dan and Isaac are back from searching through the wreckage of Eastern Airlines Flight 980 on a remote mountain in Bolivia, but their findings have prompted a whole new set of questions. Will anyone look at the material they brought back to the U.S.? Who hired climber Bernardo Guarachi to get to the crash site back in 1985? And why did he never speak to anyone about his ascent? Have the details of the crash remained a mystery because of international cover up or just bad weather and bad luck?


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Since colliding with a Bolivian mountain in 1985, Eastern Airlines Flight 980 has been frozen inside a glacier perched on the edge of a 3,000 foot drop. With wreckage now melting out of the ice at the base of the cliff, Dan Futrell and Isaac Stoner travel to the debris field at 16,000 feet, battling altitude sickness and a roller coaster of emotions as they search for 980’s missing flight recorder. 


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It’s one of history’s greatest aviation mysteries: on New Year’s Day in 1985, Eastern Air Lines Flight 980 was carrying 29 passengers and a hell of a lot of contraband when it crashed into the side of a 21,112-foot mountain in Bolivia. For decades conspiracy theories abounded as the wreckage remained inaccessible, the bodies unrecovered, the black box missing. Then two friends from Boston organized an expedition that would blow the whole case wide open.


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John Muir rhapsodizing about Yosemite is one thing, but Outside contributing editor Ian Frazier has had it with people calling their favorite outdoor spots “cathedrals,” “shrines,” and “sacred spaces.” When he made his case in an issue of Outside, it struck a major nerve with readers. Here, Frazier explains his argument, reacts to reader letters, and reads the story that ignited a firestorm.


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Scientists are compiling huge amounts of data on the impact of global warming, but the story of that data often gets lost. Enter Nik Sawe, a researcher at Stanford who is transforming big data into music.  Two parts science, one art, data sonification turns the numbers we tend to ignore into a very human story, and could potentially help scientists identify new trends and correlations that are easier to hear than to see.


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For two decades, Conrad Anker has been at the forefront of climbing, evolving into America’s best all-around alpinist. With skills on rock, ice, and big peaks, he’s now something of an elder statesmen and mentor to a new generation of elite athletes. Though perhaps best known for finding the body of legendary British mountaineer George Mallory on Mount Everest in 1999, he is celebrated among climbers for scaling a variety of difficult and dangerous routes on technical peaks around the world. Outside editor Chris Keyes talks to Anker about his long journey from dirt bag to rock star, the critical importance of choosing the right climbing partners, and why some consider bottled oxygen a performance enhancing drug.


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Author Mark Johnson argues that performance enhancing drugs are hardly a recent phenomenon. In his new book, “Spitting in the Soup,” he traces doping all the way back to the 1904 Olympic marathon in St. Louis and shows how doping and sport have been fundamentally intertwined for more than a century. The only thing new, says Johnson, is our increasingly moralistic view of the practice and the demonization of athletes who get caught. Chris Keyes talks to Johnson about the surprising history of doping, America’s double standards when it comes to performance enhancement, the trouble with media sensationalism, and the coming era of gene doping that will change sports forever.


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Tim Ferriss is many things. A bestselling author. A kickboxing champion. A horseback archer. The first American in history to hold a Guinness World Record in tango. He has built an enormous following by doing just about everything—and, more importantly, figuring out how to do it all better than most experts and then sharing what he’s learned with the rest of us. He calls himself a human guinea pig. Outside editor Chris Keyes talks to Ferriss about the origins and evolution of his uniquely aggressive approach to experimentation and his self-improvement.


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Jason Motlagh and his crew were the first journalists in years to successfully cross the Darién Gap, a lawless, roadless jungle on the border of Colombia and Panama. Teeming with deadly snakes, drug traffickers, and antigovernment guerrillas, it has become a pathway for migrants whose desperation to reach the U.S. sends them on a perilous journey. He talks to Chris Keyes about the risks and logistics of the assignment, his motivations as a reporter, and the emotional toll of working in conflict zones.


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Robert Young Pelton has made a career of tracking down warlords and interviewing people in the most dangerous places in the world. He’s been kidnapped in Colombia, survived an assassination attempt in Uganda, and joined the hunt for Osama Bin Laden in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Outside editor Chris Keyes wanted to know how spending that much time on the edge has affected him long term. The answer’s not what you’d think.


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Michael Proudfoot was SCUBA diving on a shipwreck in Baja, Mexico when his regulator broke. He survived by finding an air pocket in the wreck, where he spent two days eating sea urchins and drinking fresh water from a teakettle before rescuers arrived. It’s one of the most incredible undersea tales of all time—if it’s true.


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When you’re stuck underwater in a submarine, the number of of ways you can die is long and varied—crushing, burning, asphyxiation, exploding, the list goes on and on. Escaping alive requires maintaining calm and focus. Unless your name is Wilhelm Bauer, whose survival story includes the first undersea fist fight.


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In the spring 2001, a group set out from Mexico to cross the border into Arizona. The tragic result of their journey—and many others like it—helped researchers develop the Death Index, a new model for predicting dehydration fatalities.


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On a brutal route through the Sonoran Desert in southern Arizona, thousands have died from dehydration and thirst. But one man’s journey through hell led to a breakthrough for science.


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One of the most famous accidents in wingsuit history.


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Science doesn’t understand lightning very well—or how a strike affects the human body. Survivors sometimes claim to have super-senses, or special powers. Others develop talents they never knew they had. Phil Broscovak didn’t.

 

 


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In which you, the listener, face a bitterly cold night, a car accident on a lonely stretch of road, a broken ski binding that foils a backcountry escape, and a slow descent into hypothermia and delirium. Good luck.


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Welcome to the Show


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