Registration is open for Bridge Day 5k

There’s no other race like it. Dramatic and unusual, Bridge Day 5k begins on America’s third highest span. Want a piece of the action?

On your marks, get set, register! 
Every October, Bridge Day attracts hundreds of BASE jumpers, hundreds of rappellers, and thousands of onlookers. It’s the world’s most extreme sports event. Since 2016, Bridge Day 5k has launched the festival at sunrise.

This year’s race (and Bridge Day, of course) are on Oct. 20, 2018. It may seem far away, but Bridge Day 5k registration is officially open. Spaces go quickly, too. After all, this is the only chance you get to jog on the 876-foot-high New River Gorge Bridge!

Active Southern West Virginia, the race organizer, has just 400 slots available. Entry fees are $50 per person from now until August 31. After that, the price raises by increments, so it’s worth registering soon. What’s more, you’ll receive a commemorative shirt and participatory medal. Those perks are no longer guaranteed after Oct. 10.

The course
Now for the fun part: the New River Gorge Bridge. At 876 feet high and 3,030 feet long, it’s quite a monument. The views are stunning, too. Deep canyon ridges spread in either direction. So does the mighty New River. Brilliant autumn forests, gauzy fog, and pink early light make the event even better.

Against this backdrop, racers start from the north end of the bridge and jog towards Fayetteville. Much of the course is on open roads through the historic district. At other times, you’ll go through the town park—a picturesque setting with fields and woods. The race eventually finishes by the Fayette County Courthouse.

As if scenery and venue aren’t enough, Bridge Day 5k has some nifty benefits. For one thing, it’s a real race. Runners get official chip timing, race photos, and snacks at the finish line.

For another, Bridge Day 5k has multiple categories based on age. The top finishers from these divisions receive special medals. If you’re a competitive runner, now’s the time to start training.

Bridge Day 5k also benefits local kids’ running clubs. When you register, you’re helping the community.

See you at the finish line!

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Are you Spartan enough for these extreme races?

Tunnel through mud. Slither beneath barbed wire. Push through fatigue. Do you have what it takes for Spartan Trifecta Weekend?

A different breed of competition

A Spartan race encompasses a lot of territory. So, before delving into the nitty gritty, let’s pull back a little.

Put simply, Spartan competitions are obstacle courses held throughout America. They’re designed to wear you down but build you up. It’s like military training to a certain extent.

But as a civilian, you get to pick your punishment— and reward yourself afterwards. New to the sport? Choose the 3-5-mile Sprint. Already in prime fighting shape? Some Spartan races last 12 hours or more. Barbed wire crawls, fire jumps and submerged walls add to the experience, too. Failure to clear an obstacle results in penalty burpees.

No doubt about it, Spartan races aren’t easy. Far from it. But simply crossing the finish line— regardless of time or placement— is an accomplishment. It doesn’t matter if you’re dead last, either. Every finisher gets a medal. Even better, you’ll feel mentally tougher.

Trifecta Weekend

The next Spartan series makes its way to West Virginia! From Aug. 26-27, the Summit Bechtel Reserve in Glen Jean will host three races: Beast, Super and Sprint. Kids ages 4-14 can compete in their own divisions, too. It’s an opportunity that attracts hundreds of athletes across the country.

The Summit Bechtel Reserve was chosen as the race location for its setting. The recreation center boasts more than 10,000 acres of mountain wilderness. It’s also the National Boy Scout Jamboree headquarters. You couldn’t ask for better terrain than that!

Now for the Spartan Trifecta Weekend:

August 25
It’s easy to feel intimidated before a race. If you’re overwhelmed or mystified, attend Friday Open House at the Summit from 4-6 p.m. You’ll meet fellow racers, Spartan coaches and professional athletes.

It’s also a great way to get the lay of the land. Try some obstacles and tour parts of the course. Spartan staff can answer your questions as well. Not ready to compete? The open house is for anybody interested in Spartan “culture.” You might be inspired enough to try a future race!

This event is free. The first 200 registrants get some Spartan swag, so go ahead— register online.

There’s also the Friday Athlete Dinner. Break the ice with other racers, get a glimpse of the course and fuel up on carbs at 5 p.m. Brisket, slow-cooked chicken breast, mac n’ cheese and sweet potato casserole are just some of the buffet entrees on offer. The event will also have a beer bar.

Tickets are $40 per adult and $20 for kids 13 or younger. Space is limited, so order them while they’re available online.

August 26
Break out those energy bars; you’ll need ‘em for the Beast. It’s the weekend’s toughest race with 30-35 obstacles over 12-14 miles. Physical stamina is a must. A healthy dose of tenacity helps, too. Heavy mud, rope climbs and Tyrolean traverses can challenge the body as well as the mind.

Is your kid a Spartan, too? Some youth races will take place on the 26th, too. Bring the family and cheer from the sidelines! Saturday’s youth competitions are as follows:

  • a 2-mile race for 11-14-year-olds
  • a 1-mile race for anybody 9-13 years old
  • a half-mile race for kids 4-8 years old

Expect mud, dirt and a good time for everybody!

August 27
Sunday morning dawns with the Super. This race covers 8-10 miles and 24-29 obstacles. It’s a notch easier than the Beast, but only slightly.

The Sprint is another option. Try this one if you’re a brand-new Spartan; with 3-5 miles and 20-23 obstacles, it’s the “easiest” of the Trifecta.

Sunday also has the same kids races: the 2 miler, 1 miler and half-miler.

Spartan stash

It takes guts to show up, compete and finish a race. Personal victory aside, here’s what you’ll earn in exchange:

  • a medal
  • free finisher’s shirt
  • free snacks: bananas, protein bar and beer
  • free event photos by a professional photographer

Going for all three races? In addition to your finisher’s medal, you’ll also receive a medal for completing the Trifecta. Together, the medals create a special shape.

Kids also earn a shirt and medal.

Spectators get perks, too. Watch competitors slog through muck and battle obstacles, mere feet from the sidelines. You’ll also receive five dollars’ worth of Spartan bucks; these can go towards select merchandise. Other entertainment includes live music, vendors and raffles.

Tickets for spectators are $20 if you purchase them online before Friday, Aug. 25. Otherwise, pay $25 in cash on site. More information is available on the Spartan site.

Would you rather watch a Spartan race or compete in one? Share your opinions with us!

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Is Bridge Day on your bucket list? Make it happen.

Plan ahead for the world’s biggest BASE jumping festival!

For just 1 day, the New River Gorge Bridge closes to cars and opens up for aerial stunts, tourists and plenty of drama. If you’d like to have a stake in Bridge Day, get ready to snag the best activities before they’re gone!

BASE jumping

This year’s Bridge Day is Oct. 21, so you have months to prepare for the festival’s main event: BASE jumping!

BASE jump registration opens July 1 and closes Oct. 10. Since you’ll be leaping from the bridge to the gorge— a height of almost 900 feet— you must have years of experience. Get the proper gear, too. Among other things, you’ll need a 9-foot bridle and a pilot chute no smaller than 38 inches.

BASE jumpers from around the globe travel for this unique opportunity, so make sure you get that paperwork in order and start practicing.

Tandem BASE jump

BASE jump like a pro … with a pro

Only experienced folks can BASE jump solo at Bridge Day. But with an expert along for the ride, you can TandemBASE into the gorge, too. It’s an adrenaline rush you’ll never forget. Imagine what your pals will think!

Book your spot quickly – these spots fill up quickly!

Into the Gorge Shuttles

Some of the best Bridge Day views are actually from below the bridge. For one thing, it’s much less crowded in the New River Gorge basin. For another, you’ll get incredible photo opportunities as BASE jumpers wheel and arc in the sky.

Plus, how many times do you see folks gliding 876 feet from a ledge?

Get the best seats in the house with an Into the Gorge shuttle ride. These buses take you from the bridge to the New River, right near the landing zone. Tickets cost $25 for an all-day pass.

Ride a high line

Most folks assume that Bridge Day is for experienced rappellers and BASE jumpers only. But anyone can take a high line ride!

No skills are necessary. All you’ll need is enough chutzpah to swoop 700 feet from the bridge catwalk to Fayette Station Road, your landing zone. But be warned: this is a very popular event. Snag your spot before they’re all gone!

Solo rappel

BASE jumpers aren’t the only ones who leap from the New River Gorge bridge. If you’re a seasoned rappeler, you can play, too!

Bridge Day Rappel will provide ropes and anchors. It’s up to you to bring everything else: helmet, harness, carabiners, rack … you know the drill. Registration lasts from May to August, and you must train in the Gorge and at Whitesides prior to Bridge Day on Oct. 21. Bon voyage!

Bone up in the kitchen

Bridge Day’s Chili Cook-off is another festival highlight. Categories typically include traditional and nontraditional stew. There’s even a cornbread competition. If you’re fond of cooking or baking, start practicing! Your efforts might be worth a generous cash prize. Good luck!

What part of Bridge Day are you looking forward to?

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Take a ride with these award-winning bike shops

Marathon Bicycle Company and New River Bikes just won an official designation from the League of American Bicyclists.

The “Bicycle-Friendly Business” prize goes to shops that promote local trails and riding. Visit the New River Gorge and discover why Fayetteville’s 2 bike havens are the latest to join this national organization.

2 wheels are better than 4

Just ask the League of American Bicyclists, a society focused on making bike riding more accessible. It’s a vast organization that— among other things— hosts the National Bike Summit, “smart cycling” programs and gatherings across the country.

The League also evaluates all 50 states every year. Staff members consider criteria like “strong bike culture,” modern infrastructure (like bicycle lanes) and safe roads. Especially bike-friendly businesses and communities get awards, too.

Such is the case with Marathon Bicycle Company and New River Bikes. Both won “Bicycle-Friendly Business” designations, raising West Virginia’s total to 7. No one who’s ever visited these shops will wonder why; the owners and staff are really gung-ho about mountain riding!

The New River Gorge area is rallying for community recognition, too. Besides natural perks— like the twisty Arrowhead Trails— there’s Bike Walk SWV, a program that champions accessible routes, safe infrastructure and active lifestyles. Who knows, maybe southern West Virginia will eventually win the coveted “Bicycle-Friendly Community” award!

Until then, check out:

New River Bikes

A former feed store now houses rows of shiny bikes and colorful accessories. Its motto— “we stock what we love to ride” — encompasses multiple choices. You’re just as likely to find roadies as you are mountain bikes. New River has quality brands, too: Surly, Salsa, Cogburn, Specialized and more.

You don’t have to be in the market for a new ride, though. This shop has a wide selection of quality accessories from companies like Swift Industries, which makes hand-sewn panniers and camping equipment.

Trail rides are another specialty. With an expert guide and rider, you can go deep into the New River Gorge— a region famous for waterfalls and breathtaking canyon vistas. Everyone is welcome, too. Try a gentle, scenic tour if you’re a beginner, or tackle world-class mountain loop trails if you’re an expert! All rides come with water, helmets, rental bikes and transportation. You can also pick a full-day tour, which comes with lunch.

Prefer going solo? New River is cool with that, too. All rental bikes are new and lovingly washed and serviced after every ride. Staff will help you select the right one. Ask them about the best trails and routes while you’re at it! Bike racks and a shuttle service are also available.

Marathon Bicycle Company

Head here for the latest scoop on mountain bikes, trails and gear. The owner, Adam, knows local terrain like the rugged machines he stocks. Stop by and ask for a free map!

Marathon also has service packages and first-rate bikes. Trek, Scott, Cannondale and Santa Cruz are just some of the brands available. You can even rent one! The “demo” program is a great way to try high-tech mountain bikes without blowing cash on the wrong ride. To sweeten the deal, they can apply your rental fee towards the purchase price of the bike, too.

Where do you like to hit the trail in wild, wonderful West Virginia?

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Live Your Dream – Brandon Mikesell

Brandon Mikesell

Live Your Dream – Wingsuit Motivation

Wingsuiting done in France. Most of the footage was filmed in or around Brevent – Chamonix.

Brandon Mikesell began his journey to become a professional wingsuit flyer when he was 23 years old. He dedicates everyday to jumping off of cliffs, buildings, helicopters, and planes. Some might call him crazy, but he says he is just like any other regular guy.

Brandon has worked with companies like GoPro, Red Bull Air Force, Garmin, Bear Grylls, and many more to release his awesome adventures. He continues to search for long flying lines down different mountain terrain around the world. However, most recently he decided to take his flights into the urban environment and fly between city skyscrapers and buildings.

Brandon Mikesell

Chamonix is a commune in the Haute-Savoie département in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region in south-eastern France. It was the site of the first Winter Olympics in 1924.
Situated near the massive peaks of the Aiguilles Rouges and most notably the Aiguille du Midi, Chamonix is one of the oldest ski resorts in France and is known as the “gateway to the European Cascades.” The north side of the summit of Mont Blanc, and therefore the summit itself are part of the village of Chamonix.
To the south side, the situation is different depending on the country. Italy considers that the border passes through the top. France considers that the boundary runs along the rocky Tournette under the summit cap, placing it entirely in French territory. The south side was in France, assigned to the commune of Saint-Gervais-les-Bains sharing the summit with its neighbor Chamonix. It is this situation “for France,” which is found on the French IGN maps.
The Chamonix commune is well known and loved by skiers and mountain enthusiasts of all types, and via the cable car lift to the Aiguille du Midi it is possible to access the world-famous off-piste skirun of the Vallée Blanche. With an area of 245 km2, Chamonix is the fourth largest commune in mainland France.
Chamonix is a winter sports resort town. As the highest European mountain west of Russia, Mont Blanc attracts mountain climbers. There is a cable car up to the 3,842 m Aiguille du Midi. Constructed in 1955, it was then the highest cable car in the world and remains the highest vertical ascent cable car in the world.