Slow Travels East to Africa

So I find myself, sitting here in a tiny airport in the Adirondaks, my toes pointed somewhat toward Kilimanjaro and for some reason my thoughts keep returning to the Everest Base Camp (EBC) trek that I am co-leading in the fall with Dorjee Sherpa and S2Mountaineering. Tough life, eh?  One of the best parts of the trek will be the continuation of our porter health research study. As we head toward EBC, we will take some breaks at different elevations. This will not only help us acclimatize better than other teams; but it also provides an opportunity to survey high altitude porters about their working conditions and awareness of acute mountain sickness. These guys have one of the hardest jobs in the world, if you ever think your pack is heavy, check out my photo album of porters from treks in 2010-2011.
A porter near EBC

I owe big thanks to my friend & colleague, Dr. Janet Peterson. Her expertise in exercise  physiology, wilderness first aid, and back country has been instrumental in helping us re-develop oursurvey instrument and research protocols. I’m excited that she is going to join the trek.  There are 3 spots left (I am capping the group size at 8) and I guarantee some great trails, good company, opportunities ‘give back’  – please let me know if interested.

Janet presenting our research at American College of
Sports Medicine Annual Meeting on June 1st.
Speaking of research, I rarely write about my life in academia at the University of Washington, but  it has been a good year. Events at work brought four more years of funding from NIH on a research project  ‘Personal Patient Profile-Prostate‘ that helps reduce decisions conflict in men; collaborative work led by my friend and colleague Dr. Donna  Berry at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. I also taught my first completely online graduate course, ‘Patient Centered Technologies’ which was quite an experience with some exceptionally bright students. And I had a proposal funded by NIH  to examine cell phone medication reminders for patients with low health literacy. The last piece of good news is that I am finally getting promoted to an associate professor on the clinical track, effective July 1st. It has been a long time coming and one of the more difficult things I have persevered through – teaching me that some of the toughest trails are far from the mountains.  The position carries no real job security for me  (I’ve always been grant funded) but the flexibility that comes with the position and the collaborations that are available are pure gold.
Wrapping up some of my vicarious adventures, I’m happy to report that Georgina.Miranda made it to the top of Everest and back down safely while raising money for women in the Congo with ‘Climb Take Action‘; I met her after she had to turn back in 2011 so it was great to see her achieve one of her dreams.
Georgina Miranda on top of the world!
Photo from Climb Take Action
I was also following Chad Kellog, a local speed climber from Seattle, had to unfortunately turn back during his summit bid due to high winds. He has a great dispatch about his third speed attempt w/o oxygen attempt and clearly made a smart move not climbing up into the gulf stream.
Chad Kellog running up the Khumbu Icefall
Photo by Alejandra Melideo
And in other running news, I followed northwest phenom Ras Jason Vaughan, an ambassador for Altra  on a string of epic runs. Last year it was a first-ever double circumnavigation of Mt. Rainier. But in the last ~month he has pulled off the first sextuple crossing of the grand canyon, the Sun Mountain 50m (which wrecked me), and then a 200 mile (!) run at Pigtails Challenge. Legs of steel! He also hosts a pretty cool podcast and I like what he says on his site: ‘Moving through the natural world under my own power – Fully animal and fully human – In my natural habitat – Trail running – Ultrarunning – Backpacking – Fastpacking – Supported – Unsupported – Self-supported – All of the Above': http://ultrapedestrian.blogspot.com  and https://www.facebook.com/UltraPedestrian. He has an ambitious string of ‘Only Known Times’ that he is attempting this year. Pretty inspiring!
Photo by Takao Suzuki.
www.runnersphotos.com
And I’m following Niki Sibley of Sole Powered on Facebook as she runs~440m across the state of Washngton to raise money for Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America. She only has a few days left and has been posting some nice video dispatches. Great spirit. www.facebook.com/SolePowered

Niki Sibley Running Across Washington
Photo from Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America

The last week has been a great mixture of travel, family, friends, and telecommuting as I slowly travelled east from Seattle toward Africa. Flying into Boston gave me a birds-eye view of where I finished my long  run last year

Looking down on Castle ‘Island’ – finishing point of my run last year.

Heading north on a puddle jumper. I was able to spend some quality time with family and friends including Brett and Jennifer – two of my best friends from Saranac Lake days.

Adirondak High Peaks from Mt. Baker in Saranac Lake
Hanging with Brett and Jennifer

Postscript: I’ve had a great time for the past two days in Boston working with Donna, spending time with friends, and running on familiar trails. Tomorrow Tanzania.  Wish me luck.

-Seth

Running on the Charles again…

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