On April 7, 2007 I’m going to run the North Pole Marathon. I’ve increased my marathon in every state goal to include the Marathon Grand Slam Club which is a marathon on every continent and on the Arctic Ocean in the North Pole Marathon. I’m super excited – in my “you only get one shot at this life thing” philosophy, this is a trip.
Tom Heinrichs, the Associate Director of the GINA Program at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, is the instigator of this madness. I met Tom last year on my trip to Fairbanks to talk about venture capital and entrepreneurship. He’s been a regular reader of my blog and we’ve corresponded by email over the past year about a variety of things. A week ago Tom asked me if I was interested in having the University of Alaska Fairbanks send me to the North Pole to run this marathon as part of International Polar Year. After doing a little research, I determined that IPY is a huge deal in research for the issues surrounding the Earth’s climate and – given all the focus on global warming (scientific, political, entrepreneurial, and otherwise) – it’d be fun to dig into, learn about, and participate in the real research side of things. In addition to UAF, a number of research groups in Boulder are going to be involved in IPY, which makes it all the more exciting and relevant for me. Today, Tom sent me a note saying that UAF has approved doing this and I said I “game on.”
I get to exercise three parts of me with this experience. The physical is obvious – this is not a trivial marathon. However, I’m a good cold weather runner and I like running in / on snow. The intellectual is – in some ways – even more powerful. I’ve been looking for an intellectual connection to global climate issues – beyond the mainstream global warming rhetoric. While I’ve been impacted by a lot of what I’ve read, I’m still struggling with the lack of critical thinking in many aspects of the discussion – both regarding the problem, but more importantly – the proposed solutions. International Polar Year has an extensive reach, over several years, which gives me a lot of different ways to exercise my brain and engage in these topics in non-mainstream ways. Finally, the experiential part – especially as I sit here typing in Homer, Alaska – cannot be denied.
I’ll be talking a lot more about this over the next nine months, including what I’m learning through my involvement with International Polar Year. We’re starting to line up sponsors – while UAF is making this happen – we plan to have a variety of interesting people and companies involved. Of course, I’ll be blogging regularly about the experience (and maybe even doing a podcast or two.) If you want to be involved – in any way – drop me an email.