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Hi, I’m Brad Feld, a managing director at the Foundry Group who lives in Boulder, Colorado. I invest in software and Internet companies around the US, run marathons and read a lot.

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Closure on the North Pole Marathon

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Last August I somehow convinced myself that I was going to run the North Pole Marathon.  Fortunately around the end of the year I came to my senses and decided to give away my entry via a contest on YourRunning.com.

Bobby Bostic won the contest and ran the marathon (and the first 26.2 mile North Pole bike race.)  Yesterday I turned to Amy and said “well – the North Pole Marathon was today and our guy finished.”  She looked at me and said “even though the weather sucks here today, aren’t you glad you aren’t at the North Pole.”

Congrats Bobby. 

Bobby Bostic Wins The North Pole Marathon Entry Giveaway

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On 8/8/06, while in excellent shape (I ran the New Mexico Marathon on 9/3/06), I somehow convinced myself that it would be a fun idea to run the North Pole Marathon.  By the end of December, I realized that there was no way I’d be able to maintain the level of training necessary to do it.  I also realized that I’d taken leave of my senses in August when I signed up for this.

I’d paid for everything so I decided that – in conjunction with YourRunning.com – I would give away my entry.  Today we’ve announced that Bobby Bostic is the winner of our contest and will be running the North Pole Marathon in April.

See more videos like this at Running at YourRunning.com

There were 65 incredible entrants with awesome stories.  I’m blown away – and inspired – by the fitness level and accomplishment of these folks.  Congrats Bobby.  Time for my run. 

North Pole Marathon Entries

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When I decided to give away my entry in the North Pole Marathon (now valued at approximately $12,000 inclusive of airfare) I wasn’t sure what to expect.  In 15 days, over 30 serious athletes have entered the competition.  The entry descriptions are really cool – if you want some vicarious running, go take a look at a few of them.  There’s still time to enter – please pass this on to any of your crazy runner friends.  Thanks to my buds at PixieMate for being a sponsor – if you want to join them and get some promotion for your product on the North Pole, drop me an email.

Update on my North Pole Marathon Attempt

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Last August, I stumbled into the idea of running the North Pole Marathon.  Early in December, I realized it was a dumb ass idea – at least for me – as I’d never be ready for it given the inconsistent training I did in the fall.  So – I decided not to run it (at least not in 2007.)  As Kenny Rogers once said, sometimes you’ve got to “know when to fold ‘em, know when to walk away, know when to run.”  I’m not running this time – I’m going to fold ‘em instead. 

The original idea was that the University of Alaska at Fairbanks was going to sponsor me.  However, they ran into some budget issues and ended up not being able to do this.  In the mean time, I’d fronted the money for the entry (about $10,000.)  So – as karma would have it – I decided that I would sponsor someone to run it in conjunction with YourRunning (one of my investments via The Enthusiast Group.)

So – if you have the desire, courage, or basic insanity to take a shot at running the the North Pole Marathon, go to the YourRunning site and apply to be the guy (or gal) we sponsor.  You’ve got to fill out an application – we are only going to sponsor one person.  YourRunning is tossing in round trip airfare, which increases the approximate value of this sponsorship to $12,000. 

If this is not for you, but you know someone (other than me) that this might be for, please feel free to pass this along.  We’ll definitely be highlighting some of the “more interesting” applicants.

International Polar Year Data Challenge

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Given my attempt to run the North Pole Marathon, I’ve gotten involved in a project called International Polar Year.  While this is a major worldwide scientific research project that’s occurring over the next two years, there’s a concentration of scientists in Boulder – including several of the people at the National Snow and Ice Data Center at CU Boulder. 

Mark Parsons – one of the guys at NSIDC – is deeply involved in figuring out how to manage all the data associated with IPY.  A few weeks ago, we talked about the massive challenge associated with this project.  I asked Mark to write up an overview so that we could start to think about who in the tech business might be able to help us deal with the massive amount of data IPY is going to try to organize.  Following is his summary:

IPY is perhaps the most multidisciplinary, integrative, international science project ever conceived. The polar regions have a large and increasingly apparent influence on global systems. These influences range from global ocean circulation which does much to define current climate to local human adaptations  that help us understand human knowledge in fundamental ways. Understanding these processes and influences is a bold challenge. The fact that more than 50,000 investigators from more than 60 countries are seeking to meet that challenge shows that the scope of the inquiry is huge. Yet at a more fundamental level, it is necessary to identify, integrate, and interpret physical, life, and social science data in new ways. This is a science challenge, but it is also a challenge for data management, information science, computer science, and basic human communication.

New paradigms and practical methods are necessary to explore, discover, visualize, and synthesize data and information. This includes technical solutions that allow us to derive new knowledge from the growing mountain of data but also include social solutions abetted by new technology that allow us to better share knowledge, coordinate resources, and educate the next generation.

The challenge is all the greater because the data collected during IPY plus the ongoing data supporting IPY will be highly distributed.  There will be no one or even few central archives. Furthermore, the data will be extremely variable in nature including multi-spectral remote sensing imagery, detailed in-situ measurements of polar flora and fauna, and native-language interviews of Inuit hunters and elders. IPY is actively promoting the use of international data description and transfer standards, but there is a limit to how broadly these can apply to such diverse, distributed, and multilingual data.

In short the challenges of IPY provides a unique opportunity to test and implement new technologies and methods for interactive data access and human communication. This is essential to sustain the legacy of IPY and ensure an educated populace able to address increasingly complex world problems.

So – Mark and I are on a quest – we are looking for technology companies that are interested in engaging with IPY to try to figure out how to deal with this massive project.  Anyone out there (including folks that know how to deal with massive amounts of distributed data – hints to my friends at Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo) interested?

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