By Joe Spring
Photographer Alexis Berg discovered trail running in 2013, when he filmed his brother in the Diagonele des Fous, a 100-mile ultramarathon on Reunion Island. Almost immediately, he decided he wanted to create a photo book that his brother, Frederic Berg, could write. When he found no other coffee table book on the subject, they moved forward.
Between January and October of 2015, Berg traveled the globe to shoot 15 different ultramarathons for his book Grand Trail (VeloPress, $45). He photographed races in China, New Zealand, Spain, Morocco, Australia, Italy, Switzerland, Canada, Japan and the U.S. He was often away from home for months at a time.
Is he following the trail as it snakes toward the finish line or is it his fate line guiding him to his first victory? In 2015, the Lithuanian Gediminas Grinius comes home ahead of the field.
Ultrarunners tend to be white, educated and married men, according to Dr. Maylon Hanold, a professor of sociology at Seattle University whose work focuses on the physicality of leadership. "There is a huge range of bodies: large ones, small ones, heavier ones, stocky ones, thin ones and women of course, who finish these distances. This is because the purpose [of ultramarathons] is to finish, not to run fast and win."
Like a solitary shipwrecked sailor with waves towering all around, this man is lost in the vastness of this awesomely fascinating ocean of pure sand.
The Dolomites are the cathedrals of the Alps, a picture of sharp peaks, amazing limestone silhouettes dressed in white.
For those who have never done it, it is difficult to describe running at night in the darkness. Night running can attract you and scare you in the same breath. Night running is unavoidable, even for the fastest ultrarunners. Night becomes a full-blown character in our sport.
An almost apocalyptic image, the silhouette of the Canadian Rob Krar, stripped to the waist among the deadwood. Fires are extremely common in the region. In 2008, they caused the race to be canceled.
"I am the living example, like many other elite runners, that being vegan is perfectly compatible with competing at a very high level. You find everything in plants, including excellent protein." — Scott Jurek
Her emotion speaks volumes: the French runner Nathalie Mauclair, two-time world trail running champion, two-time winner of the Diagonale des Fous, and UTMB winner on her first attempt in 2015. She was 45 years old.
In between races, he traveled by car to different locations to shoot runners training. For example, in the U.S., after photographing the Western States Endurance Run in California, he hopped in a car and traveled to Yosemite and the Grand Canyon to shoot runners before ending up two weeks later at the Hardrock Hundred Mile Endurance Run in Colorado.
Finding some of the runners along routes that stretched for 100 miles or more proved difficult at times, to say the least. The toughest shot to capture involved finding Scott Jurek in the middle of his 2,189-mile, 46-day record run up the Appalachian Trail. Alexis flew into New York City and had a friend pick him up and drive him through the rain at night to Pennsylvania, where Jurek was running. But Berg couldn't get ahold of Jurek or his wife by phone, so he and his friend drove around searching through the night. Finally, when they decided to quit and look for a hotel to spend the night, they saw three vans parked on the side of the road. Jurek was there eating.
The photo Berg is the most proud of involved a lot of luck. He had traveled to Chamonix, France, to shoot Emelie Forsberg, but the weather was horrible. All of a sudden, the skies cleared and Berg had a window to shoot his subject. When the two decided to leave the mountain, Berg saw a ridge with fabulous light shining down on it. Forsberg ran on the ridge just as a white bird flew up in front of her, and Berg got the shot. "I immediately knew that this picture would make the cover," said Berg.
One of the biggest things Berg discovered is that trail running is not just a casual pastime. It can't be a classical sport like tennis or basketball because it involves such a serious commitment. To train for 100-mile races takes a lot of time and energy. "For most runners, trailrunning is a central thing in their lives, part of their identity," he said.
If there's one lesson Berg hopes readers of the book take away, it's that trail runners aren't mad. He says they have a freedom and sense of adventure that people who are locked into day jobs don't have. "Trail runners, especially those who run ultra distances, are often referred to as crazy," said Berg. "I think it's the opposite."
Photos by Alexis Berg. Text by Frédéric Berg. Republished with permission of Velopress from Grand Trail: a magnificent journey to the heart of ultrarunning and racing. See more here. Reposted with permission from our media associate SIERRA Magazine.
AMAZING! Stand-Up Paddler Attempts Historic Transatlantic Journey on #Solar-Powered Board https://t.co/QKmPpWN20J @chris_bertish @sierraclub— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1481384460.0
Typhoon Molave is expected to make landfall in Vietnam on Wednesday with 90 mph winds and heavy rainfall that could lead to flooding and landslides, according to the U.S. Embassy and U.S. Consulate in Ho Chi Minh City. To prepare for the powerful storm that already tore through the Philippines, Vietnam is making plans to evacuate nearly 1.3 million people along the central coast, as Reuters reported.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
How does your burrito impact the environment? If you ordered it from Chipotle, there is now a way to find out.
- Food's Environmental Impact Varies Greatly Between Producers ... ›
- Panera Bread Becomes First Chain to Use Climate-Friendly Label ... ›
Are you noticing your shirts becoming too tight fitting to wear? Have you been regularly visiting a gym, yet it seems like your effort is not enough? It's okay to get disappointed, but not to lose hope.
By Sarah Steffen
A stretch of coastline in the Philippine capital, Manila has received backlash from environmentalists. The heavily polluted Manila Bay area, which had been slated for cleanup, has become the site of a controversial 500-meter (1,600-foot) stretch of white sand beach.
Sand Makeup Crucial for Ecosystems<p>While UNEP/GRID-Geneva generally supports finding <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/not-enough-sand-for-construction-industry-despite-abundance/a-49342942" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">alternative sources of sand</a> so as not to disrupt ecosystems in rivers and oceans when extracting them, Vander Velpen stressed it was vital to use sand which closely matches the makeup of the native sand to protect beach fauna.</p><p>"If you change the core characteristics of the native sand, the original sand, you need to do an environmental impact assessment (EIA) to find out how it's going to impact the ecosystem and nearby ecosystems," he told DW.</p><p>But according to Torres, such an assessment was not done in Manila.</p>
Beautification Stunt Instead of Proper Cleanup?<p>Manila Bay's waters are heavily polluted by oil and trash from nearby residential areas and ports. A huge "No swimming" sign warns visitors to stay away from the ocean.</p><p>Philippines' <a href="https://denr.gov.ph/index.php/priority-programs/manila-bay-clean-up/25-priority-programs/1825-frequently-ask-questions-faqs-on-the-dolomite-and-the-beach-nourishment-project" target="_blank">Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)</a> has denied dolomite sand poses any risk to human health and the ecosystem.</p><p>However, scientists of the University of the Philippines have come forward disputing the DENR's claims. A <a href="https://biology.science.upd.edu.ph/index.php/ib-statement-regarding-dolomite-in-manila-bay/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">statement by the Institute of Biology</a> said that using crushed dolomite did not address any of the rehabilitation phases and instead was "even more detrimental to the existing biodiversity as well as the communities in the area," pointing to the case of water birds. "The dumping of dolomite in Manila Bay has effectively covered part of the intertidal area used by the birds thereby reducing their habitat."</p><p>At peak migration season, Manila Bay is home to 90 aquatic bird species, including species of international conservation concern that are facing a very high extinction risk in the wild. </p><p>Authorities should focus on protecting and conserving biodiversity, the Institute of Biology added. "Rehabilitating mangroves is an example of a nature-based solution that is cheaper and more cost-effective than the dolomite dumping project," the scientists said.</p><p>Moreover, <a href="http://www.msi.upd.edu.ph/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">the Marine Science Institute</a> has warned that prolonged inhalation of finer dust particles of dolomite could "cause chronic health effects," leading to discomfort in the chest, shortness of breath and coughing.</p><p>They also warned dolomite sand grains would erode during storms and be carried out to sea, essentially being washed away.</p>
Rehabilitation vs. Reclamation<p>Environmentalists say covering up the beach doesn't address the real issues of the bay. Torres and others believe the best way to clean up Manila Bay is not to add anything, but rather remove trash and pollution.</p><p>"There have been studies saying much of the waste comes from already collected waste — so these are open dump sites along the coast that get washed up because of the rain," Torres said.</p><p>She criticized the authorities for continuing to push reclamation projects she says are at odds with each other. These projects will affect large areas of mangrove forests, she said, and experts warn that this, in turn, exacerbates coastal erosion.</p><p>"If you've removed the areas that helped trap the sand, like mangrove forests, then the likelihood increases that you will have to nourish a beach. Same as building right up to the waterfront," said Vander Velpen of UNEP/GRID-Geneva.</p>
Plenty of Sand in the Sea?<p>The question of Manila's contentious white beach echoes larger questions about sand mining worldwide. <a href="https://unepgrid.ch/storage/app/media/documents/Sand_and_sustainability_UNEP_2019.pdf" target="_blank">Global sand consumption has tripled</a> over the past two decades, UNEP/GRID-Geneva has found. A huge chunk of it is now taken up by construction.</p><p>"Many operate on the assumption that natural sand is endless in its supply," said Vander Velpen.</p><p>Sand scarcity is a concern shared by Stefan Schimmels of <a href="https://www.fzk.uni-hannover.de/fzk_start.html?&L=1" target="_blank">Forschungszentrum Küste</a> who's done extensive research on shore nourishment to stop coastal erosion. And as climate change and rising sea levels are threatening coasts, demand for sand will grow even more.</p><p>A large study, the <a href="http://www.stencil-project.de/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/STENCIL_SWOT_Analyse_191026.pdf" target="_blank">Strategies and Tools for Environment-Friendly Shore Nourishments as Climate Change Impact Low-Regret Measures (STENCIL project)</a>, focused on the German island of Sylt, a popular vacation spot.</p><p>About 1 million cubic meter of sand per year is used to maintain the coastal area of Sylt, STENCIL project head Schimmels said. That's about 100 million 10-liter buckets of sand.</p><p>When sand was extracted off the coast of Sylt, underwater craters were formed. "You can still detect these craters even decades later," Schimmels told DW.</p><p>"Also when you add a couple of meters sand onto the beach — you essentially bury all things that do creep and fly," he said. "How quickly will they recover?" Schimmels said more research was needed as there was still too little known about long-term effects on the environment. </p>
Criticism Piling Up<p>As for Manila's artificial white sand, it looks like some might have already been blown away by a recent storm. DENR claims it wasn't washed away, but said that grayish sand, stones and other material had simply piled up over the dolomite sand. People in Manila have tweeted photos showing how the storm has ravaged the beach. </p>
<div id="adc0b" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="98f9390db6bb81cb421aaf0bb9d9a6fb"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1318816633280851969" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Exactly one month after giving excited netizen a glimpse of Manila Bay white sands, look what happened now after ju… https://t.co/X0Z9i0bPB0</div> — M*A*S*H (@M*A*S*H)<a href="https://twitter.com/Magtira_Matibay/statuses/1318816633280851969">1603265362.0</a></blockquote></div><p>Authorities have been called tone-deaf for spending around 389 million pesos ($8 million) on a beach nourishment project in the middle of a raging pandemic.</p><p>An image of cake iced with the words "It really hurts - that's [worth] 389 million pesos?" has since gone viral.</p>
<div class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="4387aad52ea316e4db7330052318ca2f"><div class="fb-post" data-href="https://www.facebook.com/theweekendpatisserie/posts/144564207350008"></div></div><p>"It's just a waste of precious resources," Torres said. </p><p>The environmental activist now also worries that she might be labeled a terrorist for speaking out under the <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/philippine-anti-terrorism-law-triggers-fear-of-massive-rights-abuses/a-53732140" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Philippines' controversial new anti-terrorism law</a>. She says she could be arrested for inciting fear when talking about environmental dangers.</p>
- 8 World Cities That Could Be Underwater as Oceans Rise - EcoWatch ›
- Endangered Migratory Birds on Collision Course with New Airport ... ›
- How Is Climate Change Affecting the Philippines? - EcoWatch ›
A pair of studies released Monday confirmed not only the presence of water and ice on the moon, but that it is more abundant than scientists previously thought. Those twin discoveries boost the prospect of a sustainable lunar base that could harvest the moon's resources to help sustain itself, according to the BBC.
- Scientists Find Rust on the Moon 'Puzzling' - EcoWatch ›
- Historic NASA/SpaceX Mission Could Pave the Way for Space ... ›
- NASA Study of Increasingly Dire Global Water Shortages Finds ›
- Groundbreaking NASA Announcement: Evidence of Liquid Water on ... ›