THE MOST INTERESTING MAN/WOMAN IN THE WORLD (issue 60)
- [Happy being POSITIVE today, y'all! And please never-mind my earlier,
maybe, quick note of negativity. Sorry. That was rash, and I've been
itching ever since. :-| But let's move on. Today--and perhaps inspired by
y'all's recent thread of "Endurance Heroes"--I'd like to go back in time a
bit and make amends concerning one terrific ultrarunner who's deserved to be
honored here ever since probably before I was born. He is Bernd Heinrich,
Ph.D. Right now he's basically a retired professor at the University of
Vermont, but once he was ripping up the track, roads, and record books
concerning nearly every ultra-distance footrace he ran. And no, he doesn't
have a blog, nor does he inundate the World Wide Web with his thoughts,
philosophies, and training methods. Nah. He leaves stuff like that up to
dweebs like me. Here, however, are his records...
(you may have to click around to find them all, but do please note the
American age-group record for 50 miles that he most recently set at age
...and a video that even today illustrates one of Bernd's most fascinating
theories--originally published in his "Racing The Antelope"--that earliest
man was able to hunt by literally out-running, or at least out-lasting,
animal prey without needing any weapons (which weren't invented yet!)...
...and hence is the marvelous realization that all of us owe our sport to
our very own most ancient ancestors who were THE first ultrarunners on
Almost like "The Eggplant That Ate Chicago," he arrived a few times in the
Windy City and completely destroyed the competition, setting some of his
world and national distance records in the process.
His legend doesn't end with running records, however. He also set the land
speed record for single-handedly building from scratch his own cabin in the
woods, eclipsing that set by Henry David Thoreau over a hundred years
previous--by several weeks if not months or years.
His main occupation, not in Maine but in Vermont, is biological science
professorship. He has taught more undergraduates more about animals,
plants, minerals, track, road, off-road, tennis shoes, and *human* wildlife
than any other athlete in history.
Students have long reported that, to pass his class, you have to show up on
day one wearing shorts, a singlet, and proper running shoes. Showing up
with an ax, block plane, and bucksaw will earn you extra credit.
After a running lifetime of setting records, he returned to the sport during
his "advanced years" and set yet another new record for the 50-mile
His training methods are not only legendary, they're certifiable. To
prepare for his then-World Masters Record for the 100K distance at Chicago,
he worked all day in the woods building a cabin using ONLY hand tools; he
spent all evening doing his graduate research on honey bees, ravens, bird
droppings, bear scat, or whatever; and *then* he would run all night on the
trails at a sub-6-minute pace.
If an ultrarunning Hall of Fame didn't already exist, it would now be
necessary to invent one.
Not likely to ever become a speed-hiker--because hiking is too slow--he
could nevertheless become a speed-contractor and continue building log
cabins at a marvelously rapid and profitable pace. A hand-built tri-level
with attached jeep-and-snowmobile garage, for example, might take him as few
as three days and fetch upwards of four hundred thousand dollars. Five
hundred thousand with his autograph spray-painted on the garage.
The ageless wonder currently wonders what all the fuss is about. His
legions of fans and former students flock to him like Socrates at the
Lyceum. They even offer him hemlock, which, out of modesty of course, he
His exploits are now being published in the Sept/Oct issue of "Marathon &
He is THE MOST INTERESTING MAN IN THE WORLD.
"I don't always hunt or build shelter alone in the woods; but, when I do, I
prefer training my ravens to fly in to town for me and retrieve my e-mail.
Stay collegiate, my friends."
( 00 )
See (and hear) some originals:
[and thanks to UltraJohn Price--himself no stranger to surviving in the
woods--for supplying this instead of that former long and always-broken
("an 800-year-old former-undergraduate yet still-appreciative
lute-and-feather plucker who has yet to study a single bird, but has for
sure been hit with the blinding revelations of quite a few bird droppings")
Yankee Folly of the Day:
Was it Maine or Washington, DC, that just got hit with the earthquake?
We're guessing that both Houses of Congress will come crashing down long
before Bernd Heinrich's gutsy log cabin ever will.