The Red Bulletin August 2020 (US)











AUG./SEPT. 2020, $5.99





As part of a January

training camp, Kate

Courtney (left) and

Chloé Dygert climb

the lower slopes of

Mount Tamalpais in

Marin County,

California. To read

their story, flip to

page 22.




In the world we inhabited four months ago, our attention

right now was supposed to be directed at the Summer

Olympics in Tokyo. But even though the Games are

delayed—till next year or beyond—life for the athletes

pursuing glory marches on. Our cover story, “American

Muscle” (page 22), digs deep into two female cyclists, Kate

Courtney and Chloé Dygert, who are fundamentally

different characters in different disciplines united in this

unprecedented moment by one goal: Being the very best.





“I always enjoy getting the chance

to portray people who haven’t

been made visible enough,

whether that has to do with their

gender, sexual orientation or skin

color,” says the Barcelona-based

illustrator, who contributed

portraits of four such individuals

in “Gamers Like Us,” which

profiles people who are making

that industry more inclusive.

Eriksson’s work often appears in

The New Yorker. Page 56

Photographer (and cycling fanatic) Joe Pugliese poses with an elite crew (left to

right): Tim Johnson, Colin Strickland, Courtney, Kristin Armstrong and Dygert.

This issue also explores other ways games are being

transformed. In “Bulletproof” (page 48) we visit with Twitch

streamer Anne Munition, who is at once entertaining fans

and fighting online bullies. And “Gamers Like Us” (page 56)

profiles four gamers who literally reflect the changing

face of that community. Together these stories show how

the nature of the long game in sport is being redefined.



The Pennsylvania-based writer

contributed two stories in this

issue, both featuring people who

are making gaming more inclusive.

“As our social lives splintered

during the pandemic, I thought a

lot about how comforting it would

be for gamers to connect in their

community,” says Fennessy, whose

work has appeared in Bicycling

and Outside. “It was nice to think

about places that COVID-19

couldn’t reach.” Pages 48 and 56



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22 American Muscle

Bike racers Chloé Dygert and Kate Courtney compete in

different disciplines, but they share one goal: to win gold.

36 Show of Force

The original gonzo reality show, Eco-Challenge, is back—and

bigger than ever. This is the story of how it all came together.

48 Bulletproof

The popular Twitch streamer Anne Munition is speaking out

against online bullies and killing them with kindness.

56 Gamers Like Us

To true fans, video games are about connecting people despite

barriers like language or distance. Here are four gamers who

are using their talents to create a more inclusive community.

66 Lava and Ice

On the glacial slopes of Iceland’s volcanoes, life doesn’t always

transpire on solid ground—but at least it’s never boring.



Pro gamer Anne

Munition takes pride

in having one of the

nicest communities

on Twitch.




World champions

Chloé Dygert (left) and

Kate Courtney are both

favored to win medals

in Tokyo.



Taking You to New Heights

9 Lacrosse legend Paul Rabil

organizes play, post-COVID

12 An NPO gives the gift of

games to children’s hospitals

14 Lucky break: Serendipitous

surfing in Tasmania

16 Skating adventures in an

abandoned aquapark

18 Musician Sandra Velasquez

fights for social justice

20 Black Pumas share the

songs that inspired them


Get it. Do it. See it.

79 Travel: Four future-looking

picks for your bucket list

84 Fitness tips from retired

pro gamer Flamesword

86 Dates for your calendar

88 The best new outdoor

gear for simple summer


96 The Red Bulletin worldwide

98 Slacklining in Estonia




Adventure writer

Mark Jenkins

headed to Iceland

looking for answers

about the island’s

active volcanoes.


On all Red Bull 8.4oz Variants







How lacrosse

legend Paul Rabil

is organizing a




The Professional

Lacrosse League,


by Paul Rabil,

will begin

quarantined play

on July 25.


When the

World Health


declared the coronavirus

outbreak a global pandemic

on March 11, professional

lacrosse player Paul Rabil had

the same bewildered “Oh,

shit” reaction as everyone

else. He’d just boarded a

plane from New York to Los

Angeles with his brother,

Mike. The two had worked

tirelessly to build a new pro

lacrosse model. Last summer,

their Premier Lacrosse

League had launched

without a hitch and topped

expectations, with thousands

of fans, team betting and a

culture of equity for players.

And now a virus threatened

to kill what they’d created, as

sports leagues like the NBA

began to announce indefinite

cancellations of play.

Instead of going to that

extreme, the Rabils put out

a press release saying they’d

monitor the situation. Then

they conceded that they’d

have to push back the start of

their season. Both were used

to envisioning worst-case

scenarios, because “as the

leader and co-founder of an

organization that a lot of

people are dependent on, you

have to create solutions based

on a potential worst-case

outcome,” says Paul. The

Rabils opened their laptops

and began assembling a

12-scenario plan.

The big question they

asked themselves was this:

“What if this shit ends up

going to a place we didn’t

expect and we have to cancel

the 2020 season—what would

our last measure be before

that?” Paul says. Before their

flight had landed, they had






“Our goal is to

showcase our

sport to as

many people

as possible,”

says Rabil.


a solution—one that may put

lacrosse in the public eye in a

way it never has been before.

It’ll begin on July 25, when

the PLL’s seven teams will

gather near Salt Lake City to

contest a fully quarantined,

fanless tournament that’ll

air on NBC in time slots

originally planned for the

Tokyo Olympics.

You could call it an

altruistic coup for Rabil, 34,

who’s been described as the

best player in lacrosse history

(for doing things like taking

a 111-mph shot) and the

“LeBron of lax” for his bigsponsor

appeal and how he

outearns most pro lacrosse

players by hundreds of

thousands of dollars. He also

should be called a visionary

for creating the PLL, which

differs from the longestablished

Major League

Lacrosse in important ways.

The MLL has teams in

different cities that meet

for head-to-head games

in stadiums of disparate

capacities and quality

throughout the season.

Meanwhile, last year, all

PLL teams traveled together

as a league during the

regular season and playoff,

allowing fans to support

different teams, “either

by their favorite player, by

the coach or by the branding

we create,” Rabil says.

While the MLL pays players

between $10,000 and

$25,000 per year (according

Lax Weekly), offers no

benefits and has little social

media presence, the PLL

offers them elevated pay,

healthcare, stock options

and, according to Rabil, far

more fan engagement on its

social media platforms.

Rabil knows from personal

experience how fans value

direct access to individual

athletes, and that by giving it

to them, the PLL “has enabled

a sport like lacrosse, which is

lesser known from a team

standpoint, to accelerate very

quickly,” he says.

PLL players agree.

“Paul has created a better

opportunity for players who

come after him, and he is

starting to change perceptions

of how this sport is viewed,”

says Kyle Harrison, a player on

Redwoods LC. “Paul was one

of the few guys who, between

partnerships, sponsors, events

and the brand he’s built, also

succeeded as a full-time

pro. Now he and Mike are

unlocking the potential of

this sport to take it to the

next level.”

Fans can watch during the

PLL Championship Series

from July 25 through August

9. With health and safety a top

concern, all 200 players (plus

another 100 team personnel,

NBC staff and other support)

will have to self-quarantine at

their respective homes across

PLL player Kyle Harrison says Rabil

is taking the sport to the next level.

the country before gathering

at the Zions Bank Stadium in

Herriman, Utah, on July 19.

They’ll all have been tested for

COVID-19 before travel and

will have to quarantine again

for 48 hours with their

respective teams upon arrival.

If they test negative, players

will transition to training

camp, where they will only

have contact with their

designated “social group”

(team, coach and athletic

trainer). Testing will continue

throughout the series.

“At that point, we’ll feel pretty

certain that no one is carrying

the virus,” says head league

physician Catherine Logan.

And then viewers will have

the chance to see the sport

played for centuries by Native

Americans unfold in the same

prime-time TV slots they

might have watched track and

field or women’s gymnastics.

Each PLL team will play four

games in randomly drawn

“group play” match-ups,

followed by an elimination

tournament. (If any player

gets sick, they and their social

group will go through another

quarantine and everyone will

get retested.)

Rabil’s greatest fear, of

course, is that everyone gets

sick and he has to cancel

the tournament. But in lieu

of that unlikely outcome,

he hopes that “due to the

challenges we’ve faced and

the bleak outlook initially,

we’ve crafted an innovative

solution. Sports are in the

business of entertainment,

and our goal is to showcase

our sport to as many people

as possible. This accelerated

viewership could help grow

our sport faster than we

anticipated.” —Tracy Ross



Gamers Outreach


Across the U.S., a nonprofit is giving video game kiosks

to children’s hospitals—and rebooting the fun.

Giving sick kids in

the hospital access

to video games

may seem like a no-brainer

strategy for introducing a

little fun into an otherwise

difficult experience. But it’s

not as simple as it sounds.

Zach Wigal, the founder

of nonprofit Gamers Outreach,

learned about those exact

challenges when he first met

with C.S. Mott Children’s

Hospital in his native

Michigan in 2009. At the

time, Wigal was a high school

student who was there to

discuss buying games for the

facility using funds that he

had raised during his second

annual Gamers for Giving

charity tournament.

They were super receptive

but concerned about things

getting lost or stolen,” he says.

“It can be difficult to manage

equipment, which struck me

as a gamer and a donor.

Because if we buy them a

bunch of Game Boys, it seems

like only a matter of time

before we’d have to replace

items that have gone missing.”

While smartphones and

mobile gaming weren’t

omnipresent back then, Wigal

also discovered that many

hospitals only had a basic

networking infrastructure;

cell service could be spotty,

and Wi-Fi in patient rooms

often didn’t exist.

He got to work designing a

gaming kiosk on wheels, which

he named GO Kart. Made with

medical-grade materials, the

GO Kart is equipped with

wired controllers and a heightadjustable

monitor and can

easily be disinfected between

patients. The first prototype

included an Xbox 360 and

several games that could be

played offline. “The staff were



Made with


materials, GO

Karts come

with 15 to 20

video games.






amazed by it,” says the 30-yearold.

They immediately asked

us for another one.”

After Wigal began working

as a consultant for video

game companies, many of his

clients started sponsoring GO

Kart donations for hospitals,

which helped spur both

funding (each kiosk costs

about $3,500 to build and

maintain) and reach. Fastforward

a decade and Wigal’s

organization has grown

from a yearly fundraiser to

a national 501(c)(3). Today,

Gamers Outreach has a

network of 800 volunteers

that has delivered more than

700 GO Karts to 200 hospitals

around the country—from

smaller medical centers to the

world-renowned Children’s

Hospital Los Angeles, which

has 40 GO Karts serving

500,000 patients annually.

Now the organization’s

partners include giants like

Xbox maker Microsoft, Asus—

which provides discounted

monitors—and esports

platforms such as ESL. Gamers

Outreach gets most of its

funding through sponsorships,

esports fundraising efforts

led by gamers and its evergrowing

Gamers for Giving

annual tournament. The

weekend-long event hosts

big-name gamers and raised

$700,000 this year, despite

canceling its LAN party

component and moving the

tournament entirely online

in response to COVID-19.

While the kids take top

priority, GO Karts can become

an important resource for

parents. “For a dad with a

child in the hospital, it doesn’t

matter if they can’t toss a

football around,” Wigal says.

They can play Ninja Turtles

together. They want that

interaction and they can get

that through these games.”

Another unexpected

benefit: freeing up staff,

something that proved more

meaningful than ever in the

age of coronavirus. When

a child with a severe arm

burn had to get through the

uncomfortable process of

bandage-changing every few

days, it initially required six

nurses. Then they wheeled

in his favorite game, Lego

Batman. One nurse held the

Zach Wigal, 30, the founder of the nonprofit Gamers Outreach, has been helping supply

video game consoles to children’s hospitals since he was a high school student.

controller for him while

the other completed the

procedure. “All of a sudden,

his anxiety is lower, he’s

having a way better

healthcare experience, and

the nurses are having a way

easier time doing their job,”

says Wigal. “So there’s an

economic argument to be

made, because now those

four other nurses can service

other patients.”

GO Karts arrive with

a console like Xbox,

PlayStation or Nintendo

Switch and 15 to 20 familyfriendly

titles that hospitals

can customize depending

on patient age and access to

high-speed internet. Online

multiplayer options can

help alleviate FOMO by

connecting kids with their

friends at home, something

that becomes even more

crucial for children

navigating long stays.

Wigal remembers one

kid who was confined to

his hospital room for an

excruciating nine months

while awaiting a heart

transplant. Though he would

have loved to be outside on

the playground with his

friends, Minecraft became the

next best thing. “His mom was

saying at least he had access

to the digital playground,

where he could play games

with his friends when they

got out of school and he could

have access to these

opportunities to socialize.”

And that’s part of the

point. Gamers Outreach

actually disproves those antisocial,


stereotypes about gamers,

which Wigal dealt with

himself as a teen passionate

about gaming. “You go into

these hospitals and

everything you think is

important becomes so trivial

and you realize how

important these basic human

connections are,” he says.

“People are playing games

because they want to

socialize. It’s just a different

way.” —Lizbeth Scordo


Shipstern Bluff,





Award-winning surf photography isn’t all about

preparation and technique—timing is key, too.

When Tasmanian-born action photographer

Stu Gibson set off for his local big-wave hot

spot with surfer friend Mikey Brennan, little

did he know a career high was looming. “We

were shooting videos with a drone that day,”

says Gibson. “It was kind of gray, and all of a

sudden the sun came out, so I quickly jumped

in the water with my stills camera. About

30 minutes later, it went really cold and ugly

again but I’d got this bomb set of Mikey!”


Gran Canaria,




The water may have long ago been

drained from this abandoned water park

in the Canary Islands, but as a persistent

skater, Tom Kleinschmidt saw there was

still fun to be had. “Two weeks earlier

Tom had asked permission to skate

here, but the guy watching the place

had said no,” explains photographer and

fellow German Erik Gross. “The man

gave the same answer this time, but as

we left he came up and told us to return

at 5 p.m. when he was alone. He said he’d

changed his mind because we’d been so

polite. Then he told us about a famous

skater who’d been a real asshole and

had insulted him. So it pays to be nice!”








Sandra Velasquez


The Pistolera frontwoman has a history of advocacy

through her music. Now she’s building on that

experience to become a social justice entrepreneur.


Sandra Velasquez has

been a New York

City–based musician

for 20 years, but her Southern

California and Mexican

American roots shape all of her

creative pursuits. She was

raised near the border with her

mother, an immigration lawyer

and activist, and her father, a

homicide detective and artist,

who both instilled a sense of

social justice in their daughter.

“Growing up, we talked

about what’s happening in the

law and the world. My mom

was on the news a lot, talking

about victims of sex trafficking,

so what I do musically is not a

big deal,” says Velasquez, now

43, downplaying her role as an

artist. But in her youth, she

says that using music for social

change felt normal. “My mom’s

whole life has influenced me,

using your experience to help

others,” she continues. “Now

I see clearly that’s what she was

doing, and that’s what I try to

do in all of my work. Leveling

the playing field is what I’m

all about.”

“To me, from high school

on, the only reason to be

famous is to use art or music

as a platform to bring attention

to certain issues,” Velasquez

adds. “Songs I wrote 15 years

ago about immigrants are still

relevant today.”

When she takes the stage

as the lead singer and guitarist

for the Latin band Pistolera,

Velasquez delivers a lively

performance with a socially

conscious message. The

group, which she formed back

in 2005, combines rock and

accordion-driven cumbia

with Spanish lyrics about

immigrants’ rights, racism

and feminism. Earlier this

year, Pistolera played Flushing

Town Hall as part of the

Carnegie Hall neighborhood

concert series, and in the past,

they’ve opened for the likes

of Los Lobos. (If you’ve

watched Breaking Bad or

Sons of Anarchy, you might

also recognize the band’s

special sound.)

But wherever Velasquez

appears, her sense of activism

comes with her. Her other

group, Moona Luna, is a

bilingual band that makes

Latin music for young people

in preschool through 4th

grade. Every Moona Luna

album has a sustainability

theme; their latest is titled

Energia. In April, as COVID-19

swept across New York,

Lincoln Center asked Moona

Luna to do some remote

online concerts. Velasquez

and her bandmates filmed

themselves playing songs at

home and synced the video

together for the center’s

online broadcast.

With her solo project, SLV,

Velasquez presents modern

music that combines elements

of pop, R&B, hip-hop and rock.

One of her songs, “Bars of

Gold,” is about owning your

self-worth. “There was part

of me that felt pigeonholed,”

Velasquez says about her other

projects. “People always

expected a certain Latin-music

thing, and bars would say,

‘Keep us dancing,’ but I wanted

to create a more musical

space for myself with other

types of tempos.”

Velasquez’s latest endeavor

doesn’t involve music, but it

uses all the management and

promotional skills she learned

as a bandleader and the

activism she picked up from

her mother: She’s become

a social justice entrepreneur,

keen to create and bolster

sustainable, Latino-owned

products and get them on

shelves next to mainstream

grocery store products. She’s

recently become a brand

consultant for health-food

grocery stores and teaches an

online class for entrepreneurs

about how to talk to chain

stores and distributors. She

earned a diploma in organic

skin-care formulation and

learned how to make artisan

soap using the Nopal cactus,

commonly known as prickly

pear, which is frequently found

in Mexico. She hopes to launch

her new company, Nopalera,

by July.

“So many people in the

grocery business are Latino, so

why aren’t the products Latino,

too?” Velasquez asks. “I want

to see as many Latino-owned

products on the shelf—not

legacy brands like Goya, but

new people with new ideas

who want to disrupt companies

like Nabisco. I realized my

activism doesn’t always have

to be music—the format can

change. Things like soap can

be just as impactful as music.”

—Gary Moskowitz





For a band nominated for

Best New Artist at the 2020

Grammys, the Austin-based

Black Pumas have some

pretty vintage inspirations.

Before forming the

Black Pumas in 2017

with singer Eric

Burton, guitarist Adrian

Quesada had been a member

of Latin funk outfit Brownout

and the Grammy-winning

Grupo Fantasma; he’d also

performed as a sideman to

artists like Prince, GZA and Los

Lobos. But he was keen to

work on a soul project, and

when a friend introduced him

to singer Eric Burton in Austin,

Texas, the two hit it off

immediately. The duo notched

their first show in February

2018, with humble goals in the

beginning. “We said, Let’s do it

until it’s not fun, and here we

are, still having fun,” Quesada

says. “We had pure intentions

to simply make songs that we

wanted to listen to.” Here are

four tunes that created a road

map for their sound.




“When I think about Al Green,

it’s like going home. He was

spiritual without being corny

or preachy, and he embraced

love. He’s a human being first,

but he found a way to merge

his worlds seamlessly. ‘Love &

Happiness’ is my favorite

song of his. It just makes you

happy,” Burton says.




“I started playing acoustic

guitar when I was 22 or 23, and

I had Neil Young in the CD player

in my car. I love ‘Old Man’ and

‘Heart of Gold’ but on ‘Southern

Man’ he’s singing to the rebel.

I love it when he says ‘Southern

man, better keep your head,

don’t forget what your good

book said!” Burton says.




“Callier was a soul singer, but

more folk leaning. Before we

met, I put out feelers for a

singer, but everyone was too

retro soul. Eric had a folk style

without trying to be super

retro. We built everything

around the way Eric sings and

plays guitar and it all came

full circle,” Quesada says.




The Temptations have hits

that span many generations,

but there was that era

when they were pretty

psychedelic, and


Norman] Whitfield was

the common element.

‘Psychedelic Shack’ is a

great one,” Quesada says.





Dygert (left) and

Courtney share

dreams of Olympic

glory. The two were

photographed near

San Rafael, California,

on January 2.




Kate Courtney and Chloé Dygert might not seem like

ideal training partners, but the two radically different

personalities, who pursue different cycling disciplines,

are united by a common goal: to win gold in Tokyo.


Photography JOE PUGLIESE

Let’s start with the similarities. Kate

Courtney and Chloé Dygert are both

professional bike racers, both world

champions in their disciplines. They’re

both Gen Z, born after Kurt Cobain died.

Their coaches worked closely with each

other for 15 years. And together, they

represent the best chance American

cycling has for gold at the Tokyo Games—

whenever they ultimately happen.

That’s where the similarities end.

In reality, they are fundamentally

different, which is what makes their time

together in January at Courtney’s “Camp

of Champs” so fascinating. An annual

post-holidays training block, the Camp of

Champs is hosted by Courtney’s parents,

Tom and Maggie, at their Mediterraneanstyle

villa in California’s leafy Marin

County. Also present are two Red Bullsponsored

cyclists—retired cyclocross

champion Tim Johnson and Dirty Kanza

200 winner Colin Strickland—to make

sure the rides are as difficult as possible.

On an unseasonably warm January

day, an entourage of coaches, managers

and stylists are shadowing Courtney and

Dygert alongside a camera crew, video

team and magazine staff. A chef prepares

meals for before and after training rides,

which will begin as soon as the shoot

ends. No one present has heard of

coronavirus—this is a simpler time.

As wardrobe is discussed, there’s a

debate about hot pink: Do they want to

look like badasses, or badass princesses?

Though hot pink is Dygert’s favorite

color, she insists she’s not girlie; one of

many angles to her worldview that might

seem hard to square until she explains it.

She’s got a cross tattoo on the back of her

neck and a pierced nose. She’s a staunch

conservative. She doesn’t drink and she

hates social media. She married—and

divorced—young. She’s grappled with

many injuries en route to 10 world

championships. She views setbacks as

fuel for the fire. She doesn’t believe in

feminism and collects Barbie dolls.

While Dygert has an unmistakable

edge, Courtney is smooth and polished.

Equal parts cerebral and gregarious,

she emits undeniable star power. She

graduated from Stanford with a degree

in human biology. She’s camera friendly

and has 400,000 Instagram followers.

She’s into yoga, meditation and the

power of mantras. She views setbacks as

learning experiences. She cites sparkles,

waffles and tacos among her favorite

Jim Miller,

who has coached

both Dygert and

Courtney, calls the

cyclists “super

fierce warriors.”


things. Her racing, like her training, is

calculated. She’s a smiling assassin.

And while they’re contemporaries,

their trajectories to the top have followed

different paths. Dygert burst onto the

scene at the 2015 World Championships

in Richmond, Virginia, where she

doubled up with wins in the junior road

race and time-trial championships. Ten

months later, she left Rio with Olympic

silver in the team pursuit on the track.

Dygert went on to collect rainbow

jerseys on the track, but injuries

curtailed her success on the road. That

ended at the time trial at the 2019 World

Championships in Yorkshire, England,

where she won by a staggering 93

seconds on a 19-mile course, averaging

nearly 27 mph. She took some heat

over her nonplussed post-race interview;

the truth is, she expected to win.

By contrast, Courtney’s rise has been

metronomic. From a young age, she was

the best in the U.S. and among the best in

the world. In 2012 she became the first

American woman to win a World Cup

event in the junior category; she ended

the year as the junior World Cup series

champ. In 2013 she enrolled at Stanford

and signed her first pro contract.

In 2017, Courtney won four U23

World Cup races and the series title, plus

her first elite national championship.

The upward arc continued in 2018,

culminating in a perfect ride at the world

championship in Switzerland. Courtney

was the first American in 17 years to

earn a rainbow jersey. And though she’d

long dreamed of winning worlds, she

certainly hadn’t expected to win—this

was the first time she’d stood on the

podium of an elite World Cup race.

She validated that surprise with

multiple wins in 2019, ultimately

clinching the elite World Cup series

title. There are three holy grails in pro

mountain biking—the world

championship, the World Cup series title

and Olympic gold. Courtney had ticked

off two of them before her 24th birthday.

Courtney and Dygert are both hot

favorites for Olympic gold. How they’ve

reached this point in their careers reveals

how different they are as athletes and


Courtney, 24,

confirmed her elite

credentials with an

unexpected win at

the 2018 UCI

Mountain Bike World





individuals. Just ask Jim Miller, head of

athletics at USA Cycling, who coached

Kristin Armstrong to gold medals at the

past three Olympic Games. He’s coached

Courtney since 2016; Armstrong has

guided Dygert for the same period of

time. Miller has also worked with Dygert

through his role at the federation.

“I’ve known Chloé since she was 16,

and worked with her a ton on the track

and on the road,” he says. “She’s a

warrior. Once she decides she’s going to

do something, it’s only an act of God that

she doesn’t. She loves to win that much.

That’s Chloé. Kate is also a super fierce

warrior. I love the warrior in an athlete.”

Then Miller explains how the athletes

are so different. “Kate had a great chance

from the get-go,” he says. “She’s well

educated, comes from a super supportive

family. Chloé is from the other side of the

tracks. She had to fight for everything

she has. She didn’t really like school,

though she was a great student athlete.

It has not been an easy road for her.”

How each responded to COVID-19

illustrates their contrasting personalities.

Courtney emailed a thoughtful, crafted

statement, while Dygert texted that she

was trying to think of something that

wouldn’t “piss anyone off.” On social

media, Courtney posted instructional

videos of herself doing strength and

balancing workouts. Dygert, an introvert

who lives alone and often trains alone,

posted that she was ahead of the curve

on social distancing because she’d been

“practicing my whole life for this.”

Eight weeks after the Camp of

Champs, Dygert will go on to win her

ninth and tenth world titles at the

track world championships in Berlin—in

the team and individual pursuit. In the IP,

Dygert will smash her own world record

twice in one day, winning in 3:16, more

than 5 seconds faster than any other

woman has ever ridden 3,000 meters.

A world championship and two world

records in one day would be enough

to satisfy most athletes. But Dygert will

tell reporters she was “a little bummed”

she hadn’t gone faster.

Dygert didn’t spend her childhood

dreaming to become a pro cyclist. She

grew up playing basketball, a religion

in the Hoosier state. Playing hoops took

its toll on her teenage body, however,

resulting in a broken nose, torn labrum,

stress fractures—and a torn ACL that

required surgery and left her sidelined

during her senior year. She took to

cycling for recovery.

In a 2015 interview, Dygert told the

Indianapolis Star, “I love the contact in

basketball. I have a very competitive,

want-to-hurt-somebody kind of

mentality.” That attitude carried over to

other sports; she was kicked off a club

soccer team for being too aggressive and

was asked to play on a boys’ team.

“I’ve had to quit every sport I’ve ever

done because of injuries,” she explains,

itemizing the carnage from her high

school track and field career. “It was just

a train wreck of injuries.”

Enter cycling, which has long been in

the Dygert family. Chloé’s father, David,

is a lifelong cyclist who built a dirt-bike

track at their home near Indianapolis.

Her older brother, Gunner, was a serious

amateur and collegiate cyclist; her

younger brother, Daniel, races cars. Her

mother, Gretchen, is Chloé’s “biggest

cheerleader”—her barbershop is decked

out in pictures of Chloé, her jerseys and

U.S. flags. Gretchen says she saved up for

years to buy a ticket to Tokyo.

Dygert didn’t start bike racing until

age 16. Her first race was in May 2013;

a few months later, at the junior national

championships in Madison, Wisconsin,

she earned medals in every discipline.

It was there that she met Logan Owen,

a cyclocross star who now races for the

EF Pro Cycling WorldTour squad, who

was racing in the same field as Gunner.

“He had no idea who I was,” Dygert

says. “I saw him that year at cyclocross

nationals. I found him on Instagram,

then searched for him on Snapchat.

I accidentally sent him a Snapchat, then

we started talking.” They got engaged

in 2015, when Dygert was 18 and Owen

was 20, and married a year later.

At the 2015 junior nationals in

Truckee, California, Dygert took gold in


At the Camp of

Champs in January,

Dygert and Courtney

invited male elites

like Colin Strickland

to help them go as

deep as possible.





the time trial and road race and silver in

the criterium. Two months later she was

a double world champion in Virginia.

She was quickly recruited by USA

Cycling to try out for the team-pursuit

squad; though she had no experience on

a fixed-gear track bike, her physiological

data dumbfounded national team

coaches. When offered the opportunity

to be an Olympian, Dygert walked away

from college after one semester.

Things moved quickly. Five months

after the 2016 track world championships,

where she helped drive the team-pursuit

squad to a gold medal, she powered a

team that finished second in Rio. Truth

be told, Dygert was unsatisfied with

silver. Following Rio she declared

intentions to compete in the next six

Olympics, gunning for gold across track,

road and time-trial events.

In the fall of 2016, Dygert started

working with Kristin Armstrong, the

2008 and 2012 time-trial gold medalist

who came out of retirement to take a

third gold in Rio. At that point, Dygert

had been working with one coach for

the road and another for the track, and

the overlapping programs weren’t

meshing well. She was no longer

enjoying riding.

“I was a bit nervous because she

was burnt out, and she was so young,”

Armstrong says. “She was getting

married that fall, and she got through

her wedding, and I said, ‘How are you

feeling? You just took a month off. Are

you ready to get back at it?’ And she was

like, ‘Not really, no.’ And I was like, ‘All

right. Let’s just take more time off.’ ”

She came back in style. In April 2017,

just two years since she’d taken up

competitive cycling, Dygert became

world champion in the IP, with a time

only a half-second off the world record.

She set a new world record a year later.

“She’s all about breaking records,”

says Armstrong. “Chloé wants to make

history, to accomplish what no other

female has accomplished. Those are the

kinds of things that drive her. As long as

she has a plan and can see next steps,

she’s fully committed. When she can’t

see the next steps, she drifts a little bit.”

Just as Dygert’s career was starting to

blossom, the 2017 and 2018 seasons

presented setbacks. A torn labrum in her

hip and a bulging disk in her back caused

her to miss the entire summer of 2017.

She had six weeks to train for the world

time-trial championship in Norway,

where she finished fourth. A crash at the

Amgen Tour of California in May 2018

left her with a concussion that derailed

her for most of the year. When she did

get back on the bike, a knee injury

hindered her progress; she’d ultimately

have a surgery in December 2018.

Then, in March 2019, Dygert’s friend

and teammate, Kelly Catlin, died by

suicide. Catlin’s father pointed to several

factors, including depression caused by

a training-crash concussion. It was a

personal loss and a wake-up call for

Dygert, who admits her personality has

changed after her own concussion. “I

really do have to work on being nice,” she

says. “I have low patience. I like to blame

my concussion. It changed my personality.

I’m different now. I feel like I come across

as rude when I don’t mean to.”

The traumatic brain injury also

caused vision problems and an inability

to focus. It became a source of anxiety

while trying to maintain position within

the cutthroat, handlebar-bumping pro

peloton. And it affected Dygert’s ability

to dig deep, both in training and racing,

which had always been her greatest gift.

“When Chloé races, she has almost

no pain filter,” Armstrong says. “She can

turn herself inside out. I can’t train her

off of her race numbers. It’s impossible. I

can’t even explain it. It’s like a pain filter

that I don’t understand as a coach.”

When Dygert got back on the bike

after her concussion, the pain filter did

not work properly. She could match her

training numbers in racing, but she

couldn’t exceed them. And she struggled

with sustained efforts; anything over

five minutes was too long to hold her

focus. “We had quite a year trying to

get through this,” Armstrong says.

It wasn’t until the Pan American

Championships, in August 2019, that

Dygert returned to top form. She left

Peru with gold medals in the time trial

Just seven years

after taking up

competitive cycling,

Dygert, 23, has 10

world titles on the

track and the road.


and team pursuit, and a few weeks later

she won all four stages at the Colorado

Classic stage race. Each time, she soloed

to victory as an entire field of riders tried

and failed to bring her back.

“I didn’t think my strength was going

to come back after the concussion and

the knee,” Dygert says. “I knew Kristin

could get me to the top level again; it just

came down to what my body would let

me do. It was a stressful year for us both.

I think Pan Am was the realization. I did

the time trial, and I remember looking

down at my power and thinking, ‘Oh,

crap. I’m going way too hard.’ But then,

halfway through the race I was at 340

watts and I’m like, ‘I’m nose-breathing.

Oops. I should’ve gone harder.’ I got

a call from Kristin after the time trial

finished, and it wasn’t ‘Oh, good job. Oh,

yay for you.’ It was ‘Chloé, you’re back!’

I will never forget that moment.”

A month later she won her first elite

world time-trial championship at age 22,

the youngest man or woman to ever take

that title. She also won by the largest

margin in the event’s history, catching

and passing seven riders who started

ahead of her. She collapsed in a heap at

the finish, yet in her post-race interview

she came across as nonchalant, perhaps

even indifferent about the triumph.

“I don’t want to downplay how special

it is to win rainbow stripes, because I

know it is a big deal,” she says. “I hate

sounding cocky, but my goal at each race

I show up to is to win—to win by a lot.”

The experience taught Dygert a lesson

about how supporters can be fickle. “I

had success at a young age, and then

I had all my injuries, and some people

thought, ‘She was good when she was

young, but she’s not going to be good

again,’ ” Dygert says. “That was the

mentality most people had. I’m not

saying I didn’t have support, but it was

frustrating. I understand, it was because

I’d been injured, I had no results, but

seeing that lack of belief was hard to deal

with. It was amazing how many new

friends I had after winning the world

championship. I’m not upset about it, but

I learned who my real supporters are—

the people who I will keep in my corner.”


While Dygert was struggling through

her season of darkness, her marriage was

falling apart. Dygert acknowledges that

she had married too young, and that,

ultimately, her career “just mattered

more.” This past January, the divorce

was finalized. By that time, Dygert had

relocated from Washington to Idaho to

be close to Armstrong.

“I don’t regret marrying Logan,”

she says. “It wasn’t the right decision.

Training with him helped form me into

the rider that I am. I appreciate Logan

and his support. I will always love him as

a friend, and he is someone I will always

stay in touch with. But I think he and

I both knew that it was for the wrong

reasons. I appreciate all that he has done

in my life. I wouldn’t take it back.”

And that’s Chloé Dygert—not wasting

time regretting mistakes or setbacks.

She’s too busy chasing the next victory.

Though she hasn’t lived with her

parents for seven years, Kate

Courtney’s childhood room remains

untouched. Ski racing medals, pictures

of horses and a Macklemore poster hang

on the walls. Scattered on the ground

are boxes of bike-racing gear. Her

mother, Maggie, refers to her daughter’s

bedroom as “shipping and receiving.”

Courtney grew up at the base of

Mount Tamalpais, the birthplace of

mountain biking. She found cycling as

a youngster, riding on tandem with her

father, a former hedge-fund analyst, to

get pancakes on Sundays. She still rides

with him often, while Maggie, a retired

employment attorney, is her agent,

helping negotiate sponsorship deals.

Courtney grew up ski racing and

running cross-country. She began bike

racing as a freshman at the Branson

School, a prep school. In 2012, at a

junior World Cup event in the Czech

Republic—her first international

competition—she finished 10th. Six

weeks later, in Windham, New York, she

became the first American junior woman

to win a World Cup event. She was 16.




The next year, racing as a junior, she

won a national title and finished sixth at

the world championship. Heading into

2014, as she moved into the under-23

category, she signed with Specialized

Racing. It made sense; she’d ridden

Specialized bikes her entire life. The

most promising American mountain

biker, adorned in stars and stripes, would

be bonded with the storied bike brand.

The only drama in Courtney’s career

thus far was her surprise split from

Specialized late in 2018. Publicly, she

was a rising influencer with an infectious

smile, posting with the upbeat hashtag

#sparklewatts. Yet privately, she had

grown unhappy with treatment by team

management, which favored established

Europeans such as 2016 world champion

Annika Langvad of Denmark.

In the week before the 2018 world

championship, Courtney and her mother


worked out a deal with Scott-SRAM,

managed by Swiss mountain-bike legend

Thomas Frischknecht and led by Swiss

world champion Nino Schurter. Days later

she shocked fans with a world title of her

own, catching and passing Langvad with

superior technical skills on the final lap.

Her new contract came together

before her world title but was not made

public until early January; the global

cycling audience couldn’t have known

the vindication Courtney felt on that

podium in Switzerland. Specialized

founder Mike Sinyard, who covets

rainbow stripes and was not involved in

the team’s management, was said to be

furious. It’s not a topic Courtney cares

to discuss; her public comments on the

matter have been gracious, thanking

Specialized for years of support. She’s

currently signed with Scott-SRAM

through 2021.

At the Camp of

Champs, Courtney

and Dygert banged

out the miles on the

legendary roads of

Marin County.

Behind Courtney’s success is a team

that includes Frischknecht, Miller, a

nutritionist, strength coach, sports

psychologist, physical therapist, mechanic

and her traveling partner, Brad Copeland.

Frischknecht offers technical and tactical

advice; Miller manages the minutia of

workout data and long-range

physiological development.

When Miller first met Courtney in

2015, he wasn’t ready to take on new

athletes heading into an Olympic season,

but they stayed in touch. In 2016 he

officially became her coach. Together

they built a four-year plan for 2020.

“From early on she intrigued me,” he

says. “I thought the results she was

getting on the training she was doing

were exceptional. She’s anaerobically

inclined; she has really good 30-second,

one-minute and five-minute power. At

that time, she hadn’t really developed

a threshold, so she was getting results

almost all anaerobically. Which, as a bike

racer, that’s a finite amount of effort you

can put in before you start to fail. So for

her to get the results she was getting

through her anaerobic energy system,

I was super impressed.”

At that meeting Miller asked Courtney

what she wanted to accomplish. Without

hesitation, she said she wanted to win

gold in 2020. “I was like, ‘OK, cool,’ ” he

says. “But this is what it takes. This is

what the best riders look like in terms

of power-to-weight, absolute power,

anaerobic power, aerobic power. This

is what it takes. And she said, ‘Well, can

I get there?’ At that point it was like, ‘If

you progress on average 3 percent yearover-year,

then yes.’ And she said, ‘OK.

That’s what I want to do.’ ”

Without question, the 2019 season

was Courtney’s best to date. At the season

opener in Germany she won both the

short-track and cross-country races. She

won again the next weekend in the Czech

Republic, and again in France in July.

She finished fifth in a hard-fought world

championship race, but her consistency

netted her the World Cup title.

She closed out the season with a trip

to Tokyo in October, where a test event

was held on the extremely technical

Olympic course. Courtney crashed in a

rock garden during course reconnaissance,

requiring stitches and forcing her out of

the race. The following day, she watched

the women’s race closely with Miller.

“It was a valuable experience for me,”

she says. “I’ve never sat out and watched

an elite mountain-bike race. I was able

to watch with Jim, so that was a huge

advantage. I know how everyone rode.

I know how fast they went in different

sections, what the key sections were—

information that if I had been having a

mediocre, end-of-the-year race, I would

not have really gathered.”

The Izu mountain-bike course is

adjacent to the Olympic velodrome,

meaning Courtney and Dygert could

earn their respective Olympic medals

within a few hundred meters of each

other. When exactly that might happen,

however, is still unconfirmed.






Back at the Camp of Champs, it’s

a cool morning in Marin, and

Courtney and Dygert are kitting up

for another round of photos. This time,

they’re wearing matching U.S. national

team jerseys and they’re sharing the lens

with a 1969 Pontiac GTO Judge. It’s a

formidable symbol of American muscle

that Courtney envisioned for the shoot.

Are they badasses, or badass princesses?

The truth is, they’re each a bit of both.

Dygert has been under the weather

but is tolerating an operation involving

photographers, videographers, a lead

car, a follow car, an entourage. Courtney

is posing for Copeland, who films a video

of her braiding her hair.

Once things get moving, the riders

get positioned behind the GTO for some

casual motor pacing. Though she’s not

feeling well, Dygert slips into warrior

mode, sitting inches off the car’s bumper;

Courtney is at least a bike wheel’s length

back—not surprising since mountain

bikers have less practice drafting at close

range. It’s yet another example of how

these unlikely training partners are

drawn together less by discipline or

personality than by shared sponsors and

nationality, age, talent and potential.

“It’s unique to be strong American

women competing in different

disciplines, so it isn’t a head-to-head

competition,” Courtney says. “I think

that’s a positive thing when it comes to

training days, where we can push each

other and be comfortable being a bit

more vulnerable. It’s not a race. It’s an

opportunity to push beyond our own

limits and then go back to our disciplines

to perform at the top of our capabilities.

There’s definitely lots of mutual respect.”

Dygert agrees, adding that what they

extract from each other is directly related

to how dissimilar they are. “I think every

top athlete needs to win all the time, but

our mentality is so different,” she says.

“Kate will go out and train 30 hours

a week; I’m not sure I’ve ever gone over

20 hours in my life. She is very detail

oriented. Kate has a lot of support and a

great team behind her, while I have just

a few people. We are so very different in

how we prepare, how we look at things,

how she feels before a race, how she feels

about the Games. Everyone at the elite

level has their own way of coping. We’re

very different, but we’re both able to

perform at the top of our discipline.”

In February in Berlin, Dygert broke her

own world record en route to a world

championship in the IP. A few days

earlier she’d led the team-pursuit squad to

victory; she and her teammates dedicated

the victory to the late Kelly Catlin.

The IP is not an Olympic event,

meaning her hopes for gold rest on the

team pursuit and individual time trial;

she’ll be starting the road race as well,

though her role there is not certain.

“Obviously, I want to win all three

events,” she says. “The time trial is going

to be the main focus, and then my fitness

from that will obviously correlate with

the team pursuit. And then, with the

road race, it’s a bonus, you know?”

Courtney is diplomatic when asked to

define Olympic success. She won’t have

three tries like Dygert; it all comes down

to one race. “Arriving to the start line

100 percent prepared to give my best

performance ever would be a success,”

she says. “Whatever happens after that

is in some ways out of my control. Of

course I hope to win a medal.”

In March, the IOC announced that

the Games would be held in 2021. With

that recalibration in mind, Courtney and

Dygert shared some additional thoughts.

The coronavirus pandemic has

created a lot of uncertainty and

mandated unprecedented decisions to

protect our global community,” Courtney

wrote in an email. “As someone who

studied global health in college and

reads the news, I recognize that the

impact of this crisis is life-threatening

for many and poses challenges far more

critical than canceled sporting events.

But as a competitor who has been

working toward this season for years,

it is also very challenging to have the

events of an Olympic year be uncertain.

That said, I am fully committed to

my training toward Tokyo and am

approaching this time at home as an

unprecedented opportunity to focus

and train with one key goal in mind.”

She was more succinct on Instagram,

writing, “Our time will come. These

dreams are not canceled, they are just on

hold for a moment. Hope and heartbreak

can live side by side.”

Dygert’s response was quintessential

Chloé—blunt and to the point. “I feel like

a broken record saying this, as it’s what

everybody says, but you have to control

your controllables. For me this has no

change on my life except that I can’t race.

Which to me, is fine. I’m not stressed,

because I know I don’t need to race to

be fit. I train alone most of the time,

I live alone, and I like to be alone, so this

really hasn’t impacted my training or

added any stress to my life. Obviously

it’s a bummer that the Games have been

postponed, but I guess it means I have

another year to get even fitter.”

After Tokyo, Dygert will probably turn

to hallowed European one-day classics

such as Strade Bianche and the Tour of

Flanders. It’s only a matter of time until

she takes on the UCI Hour Record, which

she will likely decimate. At some point

she’d also like to try to win the women’s

Giro d’Italia, though she’s hardly a

climber for the high mountains. (Why,

then? The leader’s jersey is pink. Duh.)

Courtney has said that following the

Olympics she might make a bid for the

2022 Cyclocross World Championship,

held in Fayetteville, Arkansas. “I have

no aspirations of being the greatest

cyclocross racer,” Courtney says. “But

I think there’s a lot of skills that could

help me, and long-term it’s something

I’m interested in trying now that I don’t

have school during the fall.”

But now, it’s January at the Camp of

Champs. A simpler time, with a clearer

focus. The muscle-car shoot is over, and

Chloé and Kate (with Tim, Colin and

Coach Kristin) pedal into the distance.

In the coming months, the certainty of

the Olympics will prove malleable.

Adjustments will be made and remade.

Whenever the Games wind up being

held, both women will represent the U.S.

and aim for gold. Because regardless of

the path each took to get there, winning

bike races is what they do.


Musing about

Olympic uncertainty,

Courtney wrote,

“Our time will come.

Hope and heartbreak

can live side

by side.”



After a 16-year hiatus, the original gonzo

reality show, Eco-Challenge, is back.

This is the story of the crazy adventure

behind the crazy adventure race.




Racers in the new


which debuts on

Amazon on August

14, navigate a

course that took

months to prepare.

Adventure legend

(and first-time


host) Bear Grylls

showboats the day

before competition



t was at the top of a daylong climb up a massive

waterfall in Fiji that Kevin Hodder felt the first

twinges of doubt about what they were getting

themselves into. It was March 2019 and Hodder

was already more than a month into a backcountry

scouting expedition, trying to piece together a

course for Eco-Challenge, the freshly rebooted reality

TV show built around a supersized adventure race.

That afternoon, race director Hodder, race technical

director Scott Flavelle and two others had fixed

ropes and scaled more than 650 feet up the side

of Vuwa Falls in searing tropical sunshine.

Here was precisely the kind of audacious-looking,

stupidly scenic moment that makes for obsessivecompulsive

streaming habits back home. Or at least

in theory, anyway. Somewhere near the top, they

had literally climbed inside a cloud, all mist and wind

and slashing rain. This is typical in Fiji, where warm

tropical air collides with the mountains, but in this

case the climatic whiplash set off an odd chain of

events: One team member, lead race coordinator

Ryan Vrooman, succumbed to heat exhaustion just as

Hodder, who feels the cold keenly, started shivering,

experiencing the early stages of hypothermia.

It was a dilemma. “It’s hard for me to warm up

unless I get moving,” Hodder says, “and it was

obvious that Ryan wasn’t going to be moving.” The

depleted team strung up a tarp for the night and

Hodder recovered in a sleeping bag. The group

woke the next morning, their fourth day in the bush,

to more dreary, cold rain. They pulled on clothes

still drenched from the falls and pushed forward.

For the next proposed section, Hodder and

Flavelle, who had designed many adventure races

together, had selected a 6-mile-long river canyon

that included climbs over two more falls, gaining

a combined 1,500 feet of elevation. From maps and

Google Earth, they could see that the current pooled


in places along the route like pearls on a necklace. But

the traverse didn’t look egregiously hard. They were

reminded that day of an old truism about creating

adventure races: Don’t believe what you see on a map.

The pools were actually ponds of what Hodder,

51, characterizes as “really, really cold” water, deep

enough to require stretches of swimming. The

shallower sections served up jumbles of slick, algaecoated

rocks hidden just under the surface of the

dark water, making every footfall a gamble. “It was

a matter of finding a speed where you’re not bashing

your shins or falling off rocks,” says Flavelle, 61.

There was no getting around the water, either: The

jungle along the banks was denser than the beats

on a K-Def record. In the end it took nine hours to

stumble, slip, curse, wallow and churn their way

through the canyon—and all four are strong

athletes from the mountains of British Columbia.

“When you’re tired and wobbly,” Flavelle says,

“you’re just fighting for every step.”

On the other side they looked at each other in

the dimming light, aware that they faced a

reckoning. If they eliminated the difficult leg from

the race, they’d just beaten themselves up for

nothing—and would still have to identify and

execute a Plan B the next day, to connect the east

and west sides of the island. “We would be cutting

out the heart of the course,” Hodder says.

But if they kept it? They would need warming

tents to treat hypothermic racers. With 66 teams of

four participants each navigating that terrain, the

potential for unscripted carnage—broken ankles,

Designing a televised

adventure race is like

writing an epic story. You

need crucibles of danger.

dislocated shoulders—would be significant. And

with the low cloud cover, flying in a rescue chopper

would be dicey.

Even if there were no injuries, that 6 miles

would likely destroy any number of teams that had

already been racing almost around the clock for

somewhere between five and eight days by this

point. It would be great TV. But there’s a line, and

they were right on it. As Hodder puts it, “The

question in our minds was, Is it too much?”

Designing a televised adventure race is like

writing an epic story. To create a great one

you need crucibles of indecision and danger

(or at least the appearance of them); moments of

rollicking fun and meditative ones; and challenges

that deliver racers to both Herculean mountaintop

triumphs and morale-killing slogs.

To pull off such a race, someone has to assemble

all of those narrative parts. Which is why, when

producers Mark Burnett and Lisa Hennessy decided

in the summer of 2018 to revive Eco-Challenge after

a 16-year hiatus, they called Hodder and Flavelle.


The race's start is pure bedlam as 66 teams scramble into outrigger canoes and fight rush-hour traffic as they head toward the sea.


In a blur, a Spanish

team mountainbikes

past a Fijian

village on the third

day of the grueling



Xibalba caption here

Burnett wanted the

toughest edition ever.

Grylls signed on as host,

adding to the hype.

Burnett is the godhead who essentially invented

outdoors-based reality television with Eco-Challenge

and Survivor. The former ran from 1995 to 2002

and is largely responsible for the global adventurerace

craze that endures today.

Burnett had selected British Columbia for the

show’s second season, which aired in 1996, and he

chose Flavelle to help design the course. Though

he was only 38 then, Flavelle already had a vast

résumé of mountain expertise; his work in

expedition-film documentaries had taken him all

over the world. He, in turn, hired Hodder, and the

two have since built a cottage industry around

staging immense outdoor experiences. Hodder was

the operations manager at Whistler Olympic Park

during the 2010 Winter Games and has produced

challenges and contests for many competitionreality

shows, including Survivor, Big Brother and

Get Out Alive with Bear Grylls.

Once they fielded the call that Eco-Challenge was

back, the two old compatriots met at a coffee shop

at Whistler and spitballed possible destinations.

They quickly settled on Fiji, an aspirational, scenic

destination loaded with knee-buckling hall-of-fame

terrain, including mountains, jungles, whitewater

rivers and even its own inland sea. They’d both

designed a couple of adventure races there before—

in fact, Fiji was featured in the final, 2002 edition

of the original Eco-Challenge.

But that didn’t mean it would be easy. This

incarnation of the show needed to be next-level

great. For the reboot Burnett had partnered with

Amazon Prime, which meant greater resources and

loftier expectations than the Discovery Channel had

brought. Burnett wanted the toughest edition ever of

the world’s toughest race. Bear Grylls would sign on

as the host, conferring an even greater level of hype.

But the team still had to manage the risks. “You have

to balance it,” Flavelle says. “To put yourself into

stupid danger is definitely not part of the criteria.”

The harder miles would need to be interspersed

with easier ones, to give teams an opportunity to

recover after they suffered. The rules specify that if


one team member drops out, the remainder of the

team is disqualified.

Then there are the idiosyncrasies of the Eco-

Challenge franchise. The race draws some of the

world’s top athletes—beasts with massive engines

who can endure days of hardship and suffering—so

the course must rise to meet them with seriously

stiff challenges. But because it’s a reality TV show,

the race can’t be so hard that it quickly spits out the

“lifestyle” teams: the ones with made-for-television

stories about overcoming personal hardships or

father-and-daughter teams racing together. The

former group will be competing to win; the latter

will consider it an enormous triumph just to make

it to Camp 3.

“We’ve got the LeBron James of the sport

competing against high school players, on the same

course,” Hodder says. “The NBA doesn’t have that


And of course it all had to look really, really

good: Camera technology had made a quantum

leap since 2002, so the course would be its own

character—one that would be presented in far

greater detail than any of the previous installments.

Ultimately, there would be 200 cameras filming the

action, including 23 Varicams and a small army of

GoPros and drones.

No pressure, right? Hodder and Flavelle spent

a few weeks sorting through options, a process that

involved studying maps and Google Earth and

talking to people in Fiji. “First and foremost, it had

to be the right adventure,” Hodder says. “It’s all

about the course.”

A U.S. team called

Checkpoint Zero

tries to shine while

racing after dark.

Leading the race to create the new Eco-Challenge were race

director Kevin Hodder (top) and course designer Scott Flavelle


Once they’d done their advance scouting, the

real work began: They would spend the entire

months of February and March 2019 on the ground

in Fiji, and at the end of that time, for the show to

come off on schedule, they needed to have a course

ready to present to Burnett.

It would become the adventure behind the

adventure race. Because if you want to create

a great course, you have to do the whole thing

yourself. And then some.


In theory, the mission is utterly straightforward.

“Once you know the 10 places you want to

include,” Hodder says, “then you try to piece it

together like a puzzle.”

One immutable fact when designing a race of

this magnitude: Just like with a puzzle, there will

be trial and there will be error. Pieces that look

right won’t actually fit. Early on, Hodder and

Flavelle tested a route-finding challenge. It would

be interesting, they thought, to offer teams the

chance to cut out a hike around a huge oxbow in

a river. Instead of the long, predictable way along

the riverbank, contestants could try their luck with

a shortcut through the bush.

“It happens every time we design one of these

courses,” Hodder says. “You get into one section

that, you look at it on the map and you look at it

on Google Earth and it’s like, ‘Oh, how hard can

it be?’ ”


Six days into the competition, an American squad tries to

navigate a whitewater section.

In this case, they almost immediately ran into a

mass of vines and thorns that drooped to waist level,

so they were either constantly crawling under the

bush or hacking away at it with cane knives and

machetes. And although the landscape looked flat on

the map, it was actually an endless series of slippery,

mud-covered ravines. “Whenever there was a section

of jungle that we assumed we could get through

easily, it sort of turned out we couldn’t,” Flavelle says.

They realized that because it was so close to the

start of the race, most teams, still operating at full

strength, would likely take their chances with the

shortcut. But in addition to the harsh terrain,

navigating with a map and compass at night would

be impossible. (Teams aren’t allowed to use GPS.)

They imagined a mass of racers bunched up,

thrashing around the jungle, lost. “There was a risk

that it could just be a complete flop on day two,”

Flavelle says. So they scrapped the shortcut.

Another time, they considered linking two

sections with a hike across a tall-grass pasture that

had looked promising from Google Earth, and even

a pass in the helicopter. “And then you get there,”

Hodder says, “and underneath is like this matrix of

heavy vines that are giving you a bruise on your

shins every step of the way.”

They were reminded repeatedly that in Fiji, the

waterways are the real trails. And such lessons came

with a cost. In many cases, they knew early in their

day that a section was unusable but were committed

to exploring it—their ride would be waiting at the

Like the teams who would

come later, the course

designers were also

racing the clock.

other end, and there was often no cell service. “You

know you’re never going to use this piece of terrain,

but you’ve got four more hours of this to do,”

Hodder says. “It’s so frustrating and demoralizing.

And the next day you’re going back to Point A and

have to figure out another route to Point B.”

Like the teams who would come later, they were

also racing the clock, in a sense. Hodder was

expected to present the course to Burnett in early

April. And because it was a scouting mission, the

team could move only in daylight—in order to assess

hazards, note where ropes would need to be rigged

and figure how many bolts would be needed, among


Eco-Challenge is

at once a stout

adventure race and a

televised melodrama,

and Grylls is the

embodiment of both.

With competitors anxiously listening, Grylls offers a preview

of the course and the challenges they’ll face.

A Canadian squad tentatively floats downstream on tipsy

rafts on the fourth day of the adventure race.



many other considerations. They might pedal a

mountain-biking section several times to pin down

the best possible route, or to find a way to avoid

private land. Sometimes they slept in the bush,

other times in villages.

Complicating things further, they couldn’t rush

through Fijian villages without stopping for

introductions and a conversation about their plans.

“You have to stop and have kava”—a ceremonial,

peppery drink made from a root—“and ask for

permission to pass through,” Flavelle says.

Still, just like the racers who would follow their

path, they had their triumphant moments. The day

after the debacle in the tall-grass pasture, they

located a beautiful grassy ridge that led to a village

that’s inaccessible by road and sees few foreigners.

What they sought above all else was variety,

Hodder says. Eco-Challenge teams will hike and

climb, of course, but they will also maneuver pack

rafts, stand-up paddleboards, mountain bikes and

a type of Fijian boat called a Camakau outrigger

canoe, which can be sailed or paddled but is

perilously tippy either way.

Hodder ultimately completed every inch of the

race course, using the same mode of transport the

racers would use, carrying the same gear. Usually

Flavelle came along, but sometimes he traveled

with experts hired for individual disciplines—for

example, he pedaled the mountain-bike legs with

Brian Finestone, former manager of the legendary


In the dense tropical jungle, often the only clear path is right

down the middle of a muddy, fast-flowing stream.

Whistler Bike Park. They capsized the outrigger

canoes, sometimes on purpose—to see how hard it

was to right the boats, and guess at the possible

number of open-water rescues—and sometimes not.

And then, finally, after eight weeks, the course

came together. Many so-called survival-based reality

shows exist in the space where raw athleticism

meets made-for-television stunts, and campy

suffering meets true grit. At times it can be hard to

tease apart the difference.

But Hodder and Flavelle’s course proposed to

leave no doubt about the onscreen hardships. The

route spanned 417 miles that the racers would have

to cover in no more than 11 and a half days, hitting

cutoff times along the way. The total elevation gain

was 29,730 feet, or about 700 feet higher than the

distance from sea level to the top of Mount Everest.

Four climbing sections would require 30,000 feet of

fixed rope. These sections would include 2,000 feet

of cliffs, waterfalls and overhanging rappels.

Fiji can dish out

more than tropical

scenery, as this

South African squad

discovered on a

mountain-biking leg.


A team of Swedish

racers digs deep on

an outrigger section

they’d hoped to sail,

but the Fijian weather

does not cooperate.

Only at the end, when they could evaluate the

race in its entirety, could they make the call on

individual parts—like the cold-water canyon hike.

Hodder and Flavelle ultimately decided to keep it

in because of its position near the end of the race.

Contestants who made it through that would likely

finish—which, of course, doesn’t make it any easier

in real time. “That was the proverbial fence that

they had to climb over,” Hodder says. “When you

see the TV show, you’ll see that everybody’s

suffering. There is no free pass.”

At the end of March, Hodder flew out to

California to show Burnett the proposed course.

The course spanned 417

miles and had 29,730 feet

of elevation gain.

Eight weeks on the ground and they’d barely finished

in time. “I needed every hour in Fiji,” he says. “Like,

we just got it done, went to the airport for the flight

and drove straight to the office in Santa Monica.”

Five months later, teams would arrive in Fiji to

start racing.

The mood at the Pullman Nadi Bay Resort is

twitchy and tense in the days leading up to

the start. Eco-Challenge teams are required to

report a few days in advance, to attend orientation

sessions on the outrigger canoes and ropes sections

and pose for cameras. Those who traveled from the

other side of the world need to acclimate to the time

change. But the sense of anticipation, and the

mostly idle days, clearly chafes.

The teams of elite racers from places like New

Zealand and Switzerland and Brazil normally don’t

do much sitting around. Then there are teams that

don’t necessarily have world-class athletes but have


A team of racers

from Costa Rica

navigates a

tropical river on

the sixth day of


Grylls and Burnett pose with all of the Eco-Challenge racers

just moments before the chaos begins.

stories. Team Unbroken features three American

veterans working their way through combat trauma,

including Gretchen Evans, who is deaf, plus a

physician—none of whom have ever competed in

an adventure race before. There is a team of videogame

makers and a team from a town in California

devastated by wildfire. There’s a father who had

raced in the previous Eco-Challenge in Fiji and is

now back to compete with two daughters. One team

features 23-year-old twin sisters from India who’d

summited Everest. Another has two teenagers, and

yet another has contestants with an average age of

66. There are CrossFit geeks and a circus acrobat

and beach volleyball player. It’s an impressive crosssection

of humanity, and how they will fare against

the assembled challenges here is anyone’s guess.

Milling around among the racers are Burnett and

Grylls. Both men seem eager to ratchet up the

adrenalized scene with the kind of hyperbolic sound

bites that television people specialize in. Burnett

calls the race “an expedition with a stopwatch.”

Grylls recounts how, over the past 15 years,

Burnett would occasionally tell him about his plans

to bring Eco-Challenge back: “He’d say ‘I’m going to

give it to you to make it your own, and you’re going

to make it bigger and badder and tougher than ever.”

With the course, Grylls says they’ve succeeded.

“This is now officially the toughest, most extreme



“This is officially the

toughest, most extreme

adventure race in human


adventure race in human history.” He adds that,

although he believes the teams are qualified, “I do

believe there is the potential that no one will finish

this course. We really have set it that high.”

Somewhere inside the hive of humanity,

Hodder paces and talks into his radio, ticking

through countless final tasks. Square-jawed and

preternaturally calm, with a deliberate, precise

affect, he admits to feeling roiled up for days

beforehand. What began with him and Flavelle in

a coffee shop has mushroomed into a production

that costs tens of millions of dollars.

No pressure, right? “We want a significant

number of teams to finish,” Flavelle says. “And

we’re a bit paranoid that nobody will finish.

Imagine on day one: ‘Oh no, I think we made the

course too hard.’ ”

At the start, finally, 66 teams load into 66

outrigger boats on a 10-foot-high riverbank. They

will paddle several miles toward Fiji’s inland sea,

where they will raise their sails. As teams go

through their preparations, Hodder moves up and

down the riverbank with a megaphone, calling out

instructions, a thin line of order against a mass of

chaos. When word finally goes out to start, months

of preparations and workouts and nerves and barely

harnessed energy boils over in a crush of boats

heading together toward a bottleneck in the river.

Half a dozen canoes flip in the frenzy.

A few things, inevitably, go sideways on the

first day: One team collides with part of a bridge,

damaging their boat and prompting Hodder’s

helicopter to land nearby so he can troubleshoot.

Fiji’s omnipresent winds are somehow a no-show,

causing the contestants to paddle what is expected

to be a sailing section. A member of the first team

to finish that sea crossing passes out in the jungle

heat on a subsequent hike. Then the gusts finally

reappear, and the last teams to recross the water

have to be bailed out when they capsize and run up

against squalls and a brick wall of a headwind.

But that afternoon on the second day, as teams

roll into a checkpoint on the island of Leleuvia,

Hodder feels a wave of relief. “Proof of concept,”

he says, grinning.

Within two days, a few teams had already

dropped out or been eliminated—a surprising

happenstance. Others will soon reach the cold-water

canyon, where they will “push themselves to the

absolute brink,” Hodder says, “to the point where

I thought, This team is done—they’re not going to

be able to move from this checkpoint.”

Will they or won’t they? What happens next?

These are the questions Mark Burnett and Amazon

hope you’ll ask yourself this summer.

Midway through the

epic race, Grylls

surveys the vast

Fijian wilderness.


The popular Twitch streamer Anne Munition—a vocal advocate against

online bullying—is shutting down the haters and killing them with kindness.




Anne Munition, 30,

has more than

600,000 followers on

Twitch and takes pride

in having one of its

nicest communities.



As a kid, Anne Munition was a “tiny

little wannabe rock star,” the vocal,

independent, youngest of three kids who

was playing open mics at coffee houses

by age 13, always looking for attention.

She has it now. Today, Anne Munition

(not her real name), 30, is a professional

streamer and a legitimate star to legions

of fans. Back in 2014, while working as

a UI/UX designer and feeling uninspired

by the job, she found Twitch, the livestreaming

platform for gamers that

allows viewers to subscribe to players’

streams and chat with them. She started

her own stream in June 2014, partnered

with Twitch a month later, then quit

her design gig and went full-time as a

streamer in 2015. Today she has more

than 600,000 followers on Twitch and

over 90,000 followers on YouTube and

has a partnership with Red Bull Gaming.

And beyond that, she has a platform to

talk about how we can all be a little

kinder online. Here are highlights from

a conversation about her life and career.

red bulletin: You have a tattoo

of the moon, sun and a star that

represents you and your siblings—

which one are you?

anne munition: I’m the star. That kind

of plays into the rock-star motif of my life.

Was being the star your idea?

No, my mom came up with that. She

used to draw a sun, moon or star on our

Christmas presents instead of our names.

She would say we were her universe.

Your mom gave you a Super Nintendo

when you were 7. What got you

hooked on gaming?

I like solving puzzles. I think that’s what

really drew me in, especially as a kid,

was that video games were about solving

a problem.

You were 11 when you first

encountered harassment playing

games. How did that not deter you?

Anytime you’re playing online, you’re

going to deal with people who are not

very nice. I was just bullheaded. Even as a

kid, I liked to prove people wrong. When

people would say things to push me away

from playing, it was more of a challenge

to me. I was like, OK, you don’t want me to

do it? I’m going to do it even more.

When you first discovered Twitch,

what did you find so enticing about

watching other people play?

Imagine there’s a person online who is

really good at a hobby you enjoy. You can

practice that hobby with them, you can

ask them questions about it, and they’ll

respond in real time. I was working

a full-time job, so I didn’t have time to

play myself, but I loved the games. So

I would watch people play and kind of

live through them vicariously.

What was it about you that made you

think I can do this. I can be a streamer.

I don’t think you get into it thinking,I’m

going to succeed at this. But you get into it

thinking This is interesting and I want to

try it. It turned out that people thought

I was funny. And that’s something that I

pride myself on. I think I can be pretty

entertaining, and other people agreed.

Besides being entertaining, you’ve built

an environment known for being kind.

I’ve been streaming for almost six years,

and I’ve been pretty stringent about

creating a community that people enjoy

hanging out in. Imagine going to work

every day and you hate all your coworkers,

or they’re all mean to you. I didn’t

want to deal with that. People say I have

one of the nicest communities on Twitch,

and that’s one thing I’m very proud of.

“Streamers are trying to build a relationship with people on our channels,” Anne says.

You’ve said people underestimate how

bad it can be online for women or

people recognized as “other.” How

bad can it be?

People will search for anything that

makes you different and pick it apart. I’m

sure athletes or celebrities go through

the same thing, but they don’t usually

have a direct conversation with their fans

on a day-to-day basis. Streamers are

trying to build a relationship with people

on our channels and in our chat, so I

think it cuts deeper. The effect it’s had on

my mental health is pretty bad. It makes

it hard to see the positive side of your

job when you’re constantly exposed to

this negative force. A lot of people see it

like, “Well, you just play video games for

a living. That’s easy, right?” They don’t

see the hate mail you’re exposed to.


Anne Munition took

inspiration for her

moniker from roller

derby. “That sport

has really kickass

names,” she says.

“Anytime you’re playing online,

you’re going to deal with people

who are not very nice. I was

just bullheaded. Even as a kid,

I liked to prove people wrong.”

How has it affected your mental health?

I’ve become extremely paranoid about

my privacy. It’s also one of those things

where you feel like you can tie your

worth directly to a set of numbers.

Because how many subscribers you have

determines how much money you’re

making, how many viewers you have


What do you do to ensure your stream

is a kinder place?

I think a lot of streamers are afraid of

being too harsh with their audience.

They’re too scared of timing people out

or banning people from their channel.

I’m pretty ruthless about it because I

won’t tolerate people treating me or

other people with disrespect. Even if

they’re longtime viewers, if someone

starts saying mean things, they’re gone.

What are some of the physical and

mental stresses of streaming full-time?

When I first went full-time, I streamed

for eight to 10 hours straight. I can’t do

that anymore. Now I do four-hour

chunks with a two-hour break in the

middle because it’s not healthy to be

sitting for that long. I take my dog

outside, that kind of thing. But mentally,

it’s hard because when you turn off your

stream, the viewers go away. Even if you

take a bathroom break, you lose people.

It’s like when you’re at a concert and you

get to the front, and you’re like, Well

I really have to go to the bathroom, but

you can’t because you’ll lose your spot.

So you stay there the whole time.

determines where you’re ranked on

the website. Those numbers go up and

down, and sometimes you see that as

your own worth diving. There’s always

that fear the numbers will just keep

going down, and I’ll have to find a

different job. There’s also the paranoia

about other streamers. Sometimes

“I like solving puzzles.

I think that’s what

really drew me in,

especially as a kid,

was that video games

were about solving a

problem,” she says.

people seek you out because they know

you have a good audience. People have

gone through people I actually am close

friends with to get to me. Then I’m not

sure who to trust. Like, who actually

wants to be friends with me? Do these

people care about me, or do they just

care about my channel?

What do you do in terms of exercise

and nutrition to be a better streamer?

I used to have a personal trainer, and

that was maybe the best shape I’ve ever

been in. I did buy a rowing machine. I

use it, but not as often as I should. Diet is

hard for streamers because when you’re

streaming for 10 hours, the easiest thing

is to order food, and it’s often not very

healthy. I’m working on getting better

at what I’m eating. I want to try meal

prepping, making a meal in advance and

then throwing it in the microwave. So

like fast food without it being fast food.

When did you decide to withhold your

real name?

I came up with my username before I

even knew what streaming was. It was

just a gamer tag that I used on Xbox.

What was the inspiration for Anne


Roller derby. That sport has really kickass

names. I was trying to think of a name

that would be similar in style, and I really

liked first-person shooters [the genre of

video games focused on weapon-based

combat], so it tied in. It also works as a

first and last name. People will come up

to me at events, and they’re like, “Is your


Although Anne

Munition makes

public appearances,

she fiercely protects

her true identity.

last name really Munition?” I’m like, “Yep,

totally. It totally is.” I have a pretty unique

[real] name, and so it’s dangerous because

it makes it easy to find more information.

If you give people three pieces of a puzzle,

they’ll find out everything else.

Why is it important to you to protect

your identity?

I think people who have an online

personality, and even just private users

of the internet, should read more about

info security and social engineering, and

how easy it is for someone to go from

knowing one thing about you to knowing

everything about you. They can find

your home address, your phone number,

your family’s addresses, your relatives.

There was a story of a YouTuber couple

who hid in the closet after one of their

fans broke into their house. The guy had

a gun and was going to kill the boyfriend

because he was jealous. That kind of

thing can and has happened. You never

know when you’re going to meet

someone who seems normal but isn’t.

You can see the signs when you’re in

person, especially as a young woman.

You learn the signals and what to avoid.

But online you don’t have that. It’s hard

to have intuition about who’s got good

intentions. Sometimes I feel bad because

people who are just generally curious

will ask, “Oh, where did you grow up?”

I’m like, “Why? Why do you want to

know?” That goes back to my paranoia.

You’ve shared your relationship status

with your followers. How do you make

the calculation between what’s OK to

share and what’s not?

It depends on who is asking, and if I feel

like they can use that information for

something else. My brain kind of has a red

flag where I’m like, “That information

isn’t going to help you find my channel

more interesting. It’s just not relevant.”

Do you ever have a hard time toggling

between your two identities?

Yes. Sometimes I forget what my real

name is. I almost responded to an email

that I was sending to my mom with

[Anne Munition] because I’m so used to

putting that in my emails.

You’ve written about the importance

of having a backup plan—why is that

important to you?

There are a lot of people who dropped

out of high school or college and got into

streaming full-time. I think that’s pretty

dangerous. I discovered streaming after

I got my degree, and I’m still practicing

graphic design and video editing. So if

I don’t want to stream anymore I could

work in video editing or for a company.

People have said, “Oh you’ve just been

streaming, you’re screwed if your

channel dies.” That’s not true because

I’ve been developing relationships with

Corsair and Intel and Red Bull, and now

I have all these personal connections. It’s

obviously not a guaranteed job, but it

gives you a leg up.

Has your passion for gaming changed

over the years?

It comes and goes. It’s like anything you

do every single day. Even if you love it,

it’s going to become tedious over time.

And I’ve been doing this for six years.

When people are like, “Oh, it’s easy. You

“A lot of streamers are afraid of

being too harsh with their

audience. I won’t tolerate people

treating anyone with disrespect.”

When she’s not social distancing, Anne says in-person interactions at conventions are a huge

boost to her confidence. “People are genuinely excited to meet you,” she says.

just play video games,” I’ll say, “Yeah,

I love pizza, but I don’t want to eat pizza

every single day for six years.” Going to

conventions helps me feel revitalized.

Because here’s the thing—when you’re

online you have positive and negative

experiences. When you’re in person, you

almost always have positive experiences

because people who go out of their way

to go to a convention want to meet you.

Those are the people who are really

kind. So when you go home you’re like,

Oh, this is great, everyone loves me,

everybody’s super nice, and I want to

play video games.

Given this time of social distancing,

how are you doing?

Because the conventions I typically

attend throughout the year are

(rightfully) being canceled, coupled with

the stay-at-home restrictions, I do feel

like my mental health has taken a huge

hit. Part of what makes streaming so

difficult mentally is dealing with the

vocal minority of toxic people who are

empowered by the anonymity of the

internet. Attending conventions is the

polar opposite—you’re mostly meeting

people who are genuinely excited to

meet you and it’s a huge boost to my

confidence, which takes little hits each

day. From my perspective, things haven’t

changed too much, but I have had a lot

of people thanking me for streaming

consistently during the quarantine to

provide some respite from the constant

barrage of negative news online.




To true fans, video games are about community—about

connecting people despite barriers like language and

distance. But like all communities, there’s work to be

done. Consider that 46 percent of gamers are women,

yet they compose just 22 percent of the industry’s

workforce. The overwhelming perception is that gaming

is primarily straight, white and male. But increasingly,

those from other backgrounds are combining their love

of gaming with their talents and drive to create a far

more inclusive community. Here are four of them.


Illustrations PETRA ERIKSSON






hile playing video games as a kid,

Geneva Heyward (who prefers

the pronouns “they” and “them”)

felt bad for Mario when he fell

into the lava. Heyward was

fascinated by how their choices

could change the fortunes of

characters in visual novels. And

they got super attached to a robot

in a cyberpunk adventure game.

They just wanted that robot and

its friends to be happy.

It was this sense of connection

and constant interaction with

storylines and characters that

made Heyward—a tech-savvy kid

who loved storytelling—pivot

from an initial dream of being an

animator to being a video game

designer. And the games they

create today make use of that

interaction to tell stories that

foster awareness.

While in high school,

Heyward attended two game

design programs—one at New

York University and one at the

School for Interactive Arts—

and won two national student

competitions for their game,

Green Hero. “It’s a game about

a hero without powers trying

to fight climate change,” says

Heyward. “I was just worried

about the world. A lot of crazy

stuff was happening, and I was

thinking, OK, I could just make

people more aware about it. But

I wanted to do something more,

and be like, ‘Hey, you can do

something as simple as turning

off electronics to help the Earth.’ ”

Heyward has since won

numerous additional awards

and recognition for their games,

including for one called Skate

and Date, a roller derby game

about high-school-aged lesbians,

in which players are helping a

girl named Maggie dodge other

skaters while impressing a

competitor she has a crush on.

“I made sure there’s a diverse

cast of characters, and I wanted

it to be an E for Everyone type

of game,” says Heyward. “When

I was in high school and finally

found games that reflected me,

I was like, ‘Wow, this is great.

Where has this been all my life?’ ”

Heyward now teaches at the

School for Interactive Arts while

studying video game design as

a sophomore at New York

University and has received

consecutive Computer and Video

Game Arts scholarships from

the Entertainment Software

Association Foundation. The

scholarship program supports the

next generation of video game

developers by providing tuition,

mentorship and access to

industry events for networking

opportunities. It’s a program that

Heyward says gives them hope

for what they call a “very messy”

industry, in part because of its

lack of diversity and inclusivity.

An industry they say could

benefit from more diversity in

playtesting games, consistent

recognition of preferred

pronouns and gender-neutral

restrooms at events.

“I want the games industry

to change for the better,” says

Heyward. “A game came out

last year that had a characternaming

screen that was worded,

‘What’s the name that your

parents gave you?’ And that’s

not OK at all. The industry needs

to acknowledge that different

types of people exist.”

Heyward intends to make

that happen. They plan to work

for a small studio, making fun

games with knights and dragons

and stuff, but games that are

inclusive and “not super cis white

male straight and whatever.”

Games that raise awareness

about the many ways people live

this life; that can help all of us

understand ourselves—and each

other—a little better.


“When I was in high school and finally found games

that reflected me, I was like, ‘Wow, this is great. Where

has this been all my life?’ ”


“If we want change, we have to create a network where

we’re nurturing talent, bringing women into the industry

and retaining them.”




Executive Director, ESA Foundation


want to champion people with

passions,” says Anastasia Staten.

Staten serves as the executive

director of the ESA Foundation,

the charitable arm of the

Entertainment Software

Association. The foundation

leverages video games to create

educational opportunities

for kids and provides funding for

schools and nonprofits across the

country. It has also partnered

with Red Bull to create We Are,

an initiative to connect, educate

and inspire women from diverse

backgrounds in the gaming


“I sometimes cheekily refer to

it as cradle to career,” says Staten,

meaning her empowerment of

dreams starts with the very

young. Staten will go into middle

school classrooms, ask who loves

video games and watch nearly all

the hands go up, then watch half

those hands go back down—often

along gender lines—when she

asks who wants to make games.

They don’t like science, they say;

they’re not good at math. “I’m not

good at math either!” she tells

them. But do they also love art?

Fashion? History? Do they want

to be a makeup artist, run a

production crew or be a lawyer?

All these jobs—and more—exist

within the gaming industry, she

tells them. “We try to get them to

think outside the box and show

them role models,” says Staten.

“Many of these schools have a lot

of underrepresented students, so

if you see it, you can believe it.

You can be it.”

High school kids who become

ESA scholars receive money for

tuition or other college expenses,

and for attending industry events

where, among other things,

they’ll get mentorship from

professionals, which can end up

launching their careers. These

are the students, Staten says,

who embody what she never

quite had growing up—a

singular, life-defining passion.

“To play a part in removing the

economic barrier to a quality

education and giving them

access into the industry so they’re

in the best position to get a job,”

she says, “is the most fulfilling

part of my work.”

But she admits that money

alone will not fix the problem of

underrepresentation. “If we want

change, we have to create a

network where we’re nurturing

talent, bringing women into the

industry and retaining them,”

she says. The We Are initiative

targets college students and

those who are early in their

careers and hosts events that

connect them with each other

and with professionals in gaming

and esports to promote

networking and mentorship.

“One of the primary

challenges is that people do not

feel like their voice is valid

because they’re women, and part

of why certain cultures develop

[while others do not] is the lack

of diversity,” says Staten. By

sharing their experience and

expertise, the female industry

veterans of We Are are inspiring

the next generation, who will

further diversify those cultures

for the better.

Facilitating this kind of cradleto-career-to-change

trajectory is

Staten’s passion—a passion she’s

turned into her life’s work.




Esports journalist, host, analyst


he calls herself the Esports


For Amanda Stevens, the

moniker had something to do

with her previous gamer tag,

SageGnosis—gnosis is Greek for

“knowledge”—being too hard

to remember and even harder

(for some) to spell. While

contemplating a new one, she

decided that since unicorns were

her jam, and since people had

gotten used to seeing the colorful

Tokidoki Unicornos with the

oversized heads pinned on her

backpacks and clothing, the

tagline made sense. But the name

captures much more than her

love of mythical creatures.

“I’m a marginalized person

twice,” says Stevens. “I’m African

American and I’m also queer

and trans. There are not a lot of

queer, trans, black people in

esports, especially in the content

creation sector.”

Stevens has coupled her work

as a multimedia journalist, host

and analyst with her background

in diversity training (she was

a student coordinator for the

University at Albany Safe Space

Program) to make a niche for

herself in the gaming industry. As

a former judge for the card game

Magic: The Gathering, she didn’t

always feel safe or comfortable at

the game’s bigger events. She

began holding seminars at judge

conferences in both the U.S. and

Canada on how to make game

stores and tournaments more

inclusive. The seminars attracted

the attention of the Organized

Play Foundation, a global

organization that regularly brings

gamers together, and Stevens

helped influence the group’s

policy changes on behaviors that

warrant a game loss in Magic


“Being misgendered five,

six years ago wasn’t culturally

considered threatening language,

and [offenders] only got a

warning,” Stevens explains.

“Imagine you’re a queer person

and someone is being completely

homophobic to you. Well, that

wasn’t considered threatening

language [either], and the most

the person got for it was a

warning. How does that make

you feel at a Magic tournament?

I became very staunch and very

loud about [how] this policy

does not work, not just for queer

people but across the board.”

In esports, Stevens is just as

vocal. She uses her platform to

talk about systemic racism in

the industry like the use of

transphobic language, and how

the inherent expenses in online

games—a dedicated computer

and fast internet—contribute to

a lack of diversity in esports. At

conventions she works booths

for organizations promoting

diversity and inclusion and sits

on panels to discuss the many

ways women are increasingly

contributing to the gaming

world, not just as team managers

or streamers but as business

devs and CEOs. Right now, she

says, her project is challenging

organizations to make their

LGBTQ and POC event

activations more honest and

meaningful, beyond just token

uses of pride colors in June.

There are trans people,

bisexual people, asexual people,

and people in those communities

don’t think the rainbow is this

great signifier that unites us. Or

maybe it’s Black History Month

and you’d like to see someone

who is mixed represented. If

we’re pushing to make esports

more mainstream, it needs to

represent the community. The

industry has a diverse fan base,

and you’ll get so much more out

of them if you meet them where

they are.”


“If we’re pushing to make esports more mainstream,

it needs to represent the community. The industry has

a diverse fan base, and you’ll get so much more out of

them if you meet them where they are.”


“Hairstyle is my main content because it’s been one of

the most important things to me in real life. I wanted this

content for a long time, so I’m happy to share it.”




Content Creator


ell, since it’s not there, I’m going

to make it myself.

And with that thought,

Danielle Udogaranya, aka

EbonixSims, decided it was time

to start making content for The

Sims 4, a life-simulation video

game. Content that would allow

her to make characters that look

like her, represent her culture

and embody her experience as

a half-Nigerian, half-Bajan (her

mother is from Barbados)

woman living in London. The

first thing she made was a

dashiki—a colorful, loose-fitting

shirt commonly worn in West

Africa—and it was not easy.

The first time I opened

Blender [an open-source 3D

creation suite], I closed it down

straight away,” says Udogaranya.

“I was like, ‘No, not today.’ ” She

laughs. “But I always tell new

creators don’t be scared to try

new things. You just have to

have patience.”

That was five years ago. Today

Udogaranya is a Twitch partner, a

recipient of a 1000 Dreams Fund

Twitch BroadcastHER grant and

a full-time content creator also

known as EbonixSims, who is

beloved by her community for the

hairstyles she creates—braids,

locks, curls, Afros—which she

has long made available for free


“Hairstyle is my main content

because it’s been one of the most

important things to me in real

life,” she says. “Hair is something

in black culture that is just

amplified. Like when you have

a really nice hairstyle, it’s always

commented on first. I wanted

this content for the longest time,

and so I’m happy to share it.”

Describing the response to her

work can leave Udogaranya

briefly speechless. She is

overwhelmed with gratitude. She

likes especially to talk about the

woman who messaged her about

her niece, describing how much

the girl loved The Sims but never

created one that looked like her

because she herself didn’t like

how she looked. The woman

asked if Udogaranya could create

a certain hairstyle for the child,

and when she did, the woman

wrote to say her niece had fallen

in love with her Sim self and

wanted her own hair done the

same way.

Udogaranya could relate to

that girl. She remembered

playing The Sims 2 as a 13-yearold

and being unable to make

characters that reflected her. “It

made me feel bad about myself,

like, well, I don’t have hair that

people care about making. So

I was able to change how a little

girl perceives herself, and that

will sit with me always. Always,


She thinks the industry may

be listening, noting that The Sims

now includes more representative

hairstyles. “For me, it’s the

element of having to pay for that

content that makes it feel a little

like a microaggression,” she says.

“It’s like, ‘OK, we’ve made it, but

now you have to pay extra for it,

just to make a character that

looks like you.”

But she is hopeful. And she’s

thinking about the future, about

her own role in ensuring that

everyone can see themselves in

games. Something along the lines

of a chief diversity officer but not

just for a single entity. For the

whole industry.

“All companies could tap me

for advice on being inclusive

when it comes to content

creation,” she says. “And I could

say, ‘Hey, it’s not quite right.

This is what you need to do.’ ”





On an alpine quest for knowledge and adventure on

the glacial slopes of the unpredictable volcanoes of

Iceland, one potentially explosive truth becomes clear:

Life doesn’t always transpire on solid ground.




Left: Iceland’s


volcano erupts.

Above: The author

climbs out of an ice

cave on Langjökull,

one of Iceland’s

largest ice caps.

We are lost in a whiteout on

the side of the most famous

volcano of the 21st century,

Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull. A

blinding snowstorm rushed

over us in a matter of minutes

and we had to turn around to

avoid driving right off into

the crater. Now we are

heading steeply downhill

into a white void.

Suddenly our superjeep

—a jacked-up 4-wheel-drive

with big balloon tires—has

lost traction and we’re sliding

sideways down the glacier.

The windshield and side

windows are a smear of

disorienting snow and fog,

and I feel certain we are

about to plunge into the

maw of a crevasse.

“Do you know where

the crevasses are?” I ask my

Icelandic guide, Karl


Ingolfsson, sanguine as

the Viking he is, grins. “Most

of them.” As a naturalist,

historian, raconteur and

professional glacier driver,

Ingolfsson has spent more

time on glaciers and in

blizzards than anyone I know.

“Glaciers thrive on

whiteouts and bad weather,”

he says. “They wouldn’t exist

without them.”

Perhaps Ingolfsson

wouldn’t exist without them

either. As an accomplished

skier, ice climber and

mountain guide, glaciers are

his natural habitat. Built like


a polar bear, with a bald,

basketball-size head and

mischievous blue eyes, he isn’t

even looking out the

windshield; he’s hunched over

the steering wheel staring at

the little screen on the GPS.

We are somewhere on

the eastern flanks of

Eyjafjallajökull, the volcano

that erupted 10 years ago

and resulted in the largest

air traffic shutdown in

northern Europe since World

War II. Spewing 500 tons of

ash into the air every second,

the Eyjafjallajökull eruption

closed airspace across Europe

for a week. Our original

goal had been to drive up

the heavily glaciated volcano

and circle around the crater

rim, examining whatever

changes have occurred since

the 2010 eruption. Zerovisibility

conditions, which

we would experience many

times in the next few weeks,

turned us back.

“We should be crossing

our uphill tracks,” says

Ingolfsson, talking directly

at the GPS. “Open your

door and see if you can

spot them.”

I swing open the

passenger-side door and

the storm envelops me.

I lean my face down close

to the moving glacier and

attempt to identify old

tire prints.

“Nothing,” I shout.

“Can’t see a thing.”

“No problem,” Ingolfsson

replies as I slam the door


For over an hour we

travel blind, Ingolfsson

navigating exclusively by

GPS, confidently guiding

the superjeep through a

swirling, opaque whiteness.

We don’t drop out of the

storm clouds until we are off

the glacier and back on black

volcanic rock.

He spins the jeep around

so we can see the storm cap

over the volcano.

“We’ll try again when

the weather improves,” he

growls, clearly disappointed

that he has been thwarted

by the extreme conditions

he so relishes.



jacked-up 4-wheeldrive

vehicles with

big balloon tires—

are designed to

traverse glaciers

with minimal


The author and his team enter a glacial cave formed by volcanic activity deep

inside the Vatnajökull glacier. A hot-springs river runs through the cave.

Iceland, a stark Arctic

country the size of Virginia

with only 360,000

inhabitants, sits directly on the

Mid-Atlantic Ridge. This is a

10,000-mile-long crevice

where the North American

plate and the Eurasian plate

are separating and magma

from deep within the earth is

bubbling up. The island itself

is entirely composed of lava.

By Icelandic standards, the

Eyjafjallajökull eruption was

quite small, and yet it caused

enormous economic havoc.

Between April 15 and April

20, 2010, more than 100,000

flights were canceled and the

airline industry lost $1.7

billion. The postmortem

revealed two reasons why this

particular eruption was so


The magma exploded

when it came into contact

with the glacier ice,” explains

Páll Einarsson, “fragmenting

into very fine particles that

would remain aloft for several

weeks.” Einarsson is a leading

Iceland volcanologist who

has published 150-plus papers

on the subject. We meet in his

office at the University of

Iceland in Reykjavik.

“However, the most

influential factor was the

weather: The ash plume was

blown directly south,” says

Einarsson with a wry smile.

“It was almost a joke how

efficient it was at getting into

an area where it could do

maximum damage.”

In comparison, an

eruption 100 times more

powerful occurred just a year

later, from the Grimsvotn

volcano, 70 miles northeast

of Eyjafjallajökull. The plume

reached 12 miles into the

stratosphere, but the wind

blew all the ash north over

the Arctic Ocean.

“Hardly anyone outside

Iceland knew or cared about

the 2011 Grimsvotn

eruption,” Einarsson adds.

Grimsvotn has a grim

history here in Iceland. It has

erupted at least a dozen times

in the past 500 years. In 1783,

a fissure on the southwest side

of the volcano, called Laki,

exploded, spraying clouds of

poisonous hydrofluoric acid

and sulfur dioxide across the

country. Over half of the

livestock of Iceland was wiped

out, which led to a famine that

killed about 25 percent of the

island’s population. The sulfur

dioxide subsequently cycled

through the Northern

Hemisphere, causing crop

failures across Europe and

killing 6 million more people.

Benjamin Franklin wrote

about a “constant fog over all

Europe, and a great part of

North America.” Some climate

historians even connect the

food shortages started by the

Laki eruption to the French

Revolution of 1789.

“And Grimsvotn is just

one volcano,” says Einarsson.

“We have 33 active volcano

systems in Iceland, with an

eruption occurring about

every other year. Eruptions

are our most popular form

of entertainment,” he jokes,

obviously pleased. “With the

Bárdarbunga eruptions in

2014 and 2015, everybody

wanted to go have a look, and

civil defense had to close the

region due to the high levels

of sulfur dioxide in the air.”

Bárdarbunga, another

volcano beneath the

Vatnajökull ice cap only 20

miles north of Grimsvotn, is

the location of the most recent

eruption in Iceland. Scientists

had known Bárdarbunga was

about to blow for months.

GPS measurements had

revealed the volcano was

inflating with magma, like a

balloon, and seismographic

recordings had revealed an

increasing frequency of small

earthquakes. By the summer

of 2014, “swarms” of little

earthquakes, sometimes over

a thousand in one day, were

rippling through the volcano.

On August 29, rather than

blasting out the old caldera,

pressure from the rising

magma created a dyke

that flowed horizontally


The author explores

an ice cave. The

dark striations in

the ice are layers

of vocanic ash

deposited over the


Inside the lower

Kverkfjöll glacier

cave, a river

warmed up by the

volcano creates a

lot of water vapor.

underground for 30 miles

before breaching the surface.

Although there was no ash

explosion, lava flowed from

the fissure for the next six

months and 11 million tons

of sulfur dioxide was spewed

into the air, more than is

produced by all the factories

in Europe in one year. On

February 28 the eruption

officially ended, the fissure

having acted as an effective

release valve.

The source of the uplift

for Bárdarbunga is 10

kilometers underground,”

explains Einarsson. “So it

took a long time for the

magma to reach the surface

and we could track it quite

well. But each volcano

behaves uniquely; each is

different, and you can’t

necessarily apply experience

from one to another.”

Einarsson says he tends

to see volcanoes much like

people, with their specific

temperaments and behaviors.

“Grimsvotn, Bárdarbunga,

Krafla—they’re all restless,”

he explains. “But Hekla, Hekla

is ready to blow!”

Hekla is a small,

independent volcano that has

erupted more than 20 times

in the past millennium.

“Hekla is more dangerous

than Bárdarbunga or

Eyjafjallajökull,” says

Einarsson, “because it has

such a short fuse. Most

volcanoes give considerable

warning before they erupt,

but on Hekla, the time from

the first earthquake swarms

to the actual eruption can be

just 20 minutes. Anyone on

Hekla, a popular volcano for

hikers, would not have time

to escape.”


This dire prognostication

inspires Ingolfsson to

take me for a drive up

Hekla, a volcano we hadn’t

explored on my last visit to

Iceland. Awake before dawn

for a proper Viking breakfast—

two slugs of cod liver oil

washed down with a big bowl

of skyr, a sour yogurt—

Ingolfsson checks the

weather on his computer.

“Fog, then a bit of

righteous sun, then cold wind,

maybe some real snow,” he

says cheerfully, rolling his Rs,

his accent sounding a little

Scottish. “Iceland has four

seasons: morning, day,

evening and night.”

As we drive east from

Reykjavik, the world’s

northernmost capital, home

to more than 200,000 people,

two-thirds of all Icelanders,

Ingolfsson says that his

country has only two endemic

species, the field mouse and

the Arctic fox. “The landscape

is too severe to support large

ungulates like elk or deer,”

he says. “We have just three

geographic zones: inhabitable

lowlands where humans live,

uninhabitable highlands

where almost nothing

grows and glaciers, where

nothing lives.”

Vatnajökull, the largest

glacier in Europe, covering

3,100 square miles with

an average thickness of

1,600 feet, fills much of

southeastern Iceland.

Vatnajökull is actually an ice

cap composed of dozens of

glaciers and paves over two

large volcano systems,

Grimsvotn and Bárdarbunga.

Iceland is also home to the

most powerful waterfall in

Europe, Dettifoss, which,

engorged with glacial

meltwater, can pour at 21,000

cubic feet per second, about a

quarter that of Niagara Falls.

We stop at a roadside

diner for a classic Viking

lunch: mutton soup—large

chunks of lamb with potatoes

and carrots—and a hunk of

dense bread. The wind is

cuttingly cold, but Ingolfsson

is inured. I’m in mountain

boots and a wind parka. He is

wearing a holey wool sweater

and sandals. “Sandals and ski

boots are all you need in

Iceland,” he insists.

Fortified, we set out in our

superjeep, winding through

high, barren, rust-colored

hills up into the snow.

Ingolfsson drops the double

transmission into “crawler

gear” and we begin to ascend.

Superjeeps are unique

to Iceland, although a few

have now been exported to

Antarctica. Outwardly

they appear similar to a

customized, big-wheeled

off-road vehicle, but in this

environmentally sensitive

country, ORV travel is

prohibited. Superjeeps are

designed exclusively for

travel over snow and selfhealing

glaciers, not redneck

mud-hogging. For flotation,

the tires are exceedingly

wide and soft.

Halfway up the vast white

cone of Hekla, we start to bog

down in deep snow. “Drop

the tire pressure to 7 psi,”

says Ingolfsson, adjusting his

wraparound glacier glasses

on his shaved head.

At my left knee, in the

passenger seat, is a vertical

metal rack with six switches

on the front and pressure

hoses extending out the back.

The hoses weave through the

vehicle, plugging into each

tire and the air pump. There

is a deflation switch, an

inflation switch and a switch

for each individual tire. I flip

the deflation switch and open

the gauges for all four tires.

As the tires deflate, they

begin to grip the snow and

the superjeep lurches uphill.

As we traverse an eyesearingly

white side slope,

the superjeep, keeled over

like a sailboat in a strong

wind, begins to lose traction

on the uphill side. Ingolfsson

orders me to drop the rightside

tire pressure to 3 psi.

I hang out the window and

watch as the huge tires go

basically flat, the rubber


The Bárdarbunga

eruption began in

August 2014 and

lasted six months.

wrinkling, and begin grabbing

the snow like claws.

Ingolfsson has been glacier

driving since he was a boy

and can feel the consistency

of the snow through the

chassis of the jeep. We swing

back to the northeast ridge

of Hekla and the tires start

to spin out. The angle is

so severe it feels like the

superjeep is about to flip

over backward.

“I don’t think we can

make it,” I say.

He winks. “Drop the

pressure to 2 psi for all tires.”

I do so, but the tires

continue to spin out.

Ingolfsson opens his driver’sside

door, stands up and gets

his substantial body weight

forward of the cab, steering

with one leg.

“You need to get out on

the front bumper,” he yells.

I jump out, climb my way

up the snow and pull myself

onto a square aluminum

platform that juts out from

the front bumper. He had

this perch specifically

designed for redistributing

weight and balance. My body

weight gives the front tires

just enough traction and we

slowly begin to bounce our

way up the icy snow.

Improbably, we drive

right to the summit of a

mountain that is a steep

tramp for hikers in the

summer. We park, get out

and walk around.

Heat from the belly of

Hekla has melted the snow

off the top of the volcano.

The black rocks are rimed

with icicles and steam rises

from holes between the rocks.

It does feel as if this volcano

could blow at any moment.

One key objective

of researchers who

study Icelandic

volcanoes is to

determine in

advance when

they’ll erupt.


Icelanders, who

mark history by

volcanic events,

know that

explosive change

is a constant.

“When Hekla blew in

1104, the Celtic monks of

Iceland began spreading the

word that Hekla was the

passageway to hell,”

Ingolfsson remarks. “Sailors

steered clear for centuries.

The eruption in 1693

killed off many trout, salmon

and ptarmigan,” he continues,

as if it happened just last

week. “The eruption in 1947

lasted 13 months and spread

lava over 15 square miles.”

Driving down off the

summit of Hekla, we start to

slide and I’m tempted to just

get out and walk. I think we

might roll, but we don’t. We

just keep slipping over the

ice, which doesn’t bother

Ingolfsson in the least.

“It’s just like being on skis,”

he says. Ingolfsson has been

imperturbable in every

situation I’ve ever been in with

him. He has ice in his veins.

Back on a sandy black

road, he checks the forecast.

“Everything has changed, of

course,” he says. “We’ve got

a window of decent weather.

I think we should try

Eyjafjallajökull again.”

Iceland was founded by

Norwegian Vikings and

their Celtic slaves in 874

AD. Although there was

periodic trade with Europe

over the centuries, separated

by an enormous, icebergfilled

ocean, Icelanders

developed a distinct culture.

They still speak 9th

century Norse, a language

that modern Norwegians can

no longer understand, and

have a written record that

goes back to the beginning.

The literacy rate is 99

percent and literature is

revered. All students still

read medieval Icelandic

literature—the Saga of Eirik

the Red, the Saga of Ref the

Sly, the Saga of Gunnlaug


Chess is a national sport,

hákarl—putrefied shark—

a national dish, and the

otherworldly weather a

national conversation. There

is virtually no crime and no

poverty and the police do not

carry weapons. Almost half

of all Icelanders are atheists.

Homes are warmed with

cheap geothermal hot water

and soaking in natural hot

pools is a national pastime.

Icelanders have lower infant

mortality and greater

longevity than Americans.

Taxes are high but health care

is free. According to a United

Nations report, Iceland is

ranked as the 4th happiest

nation in the world.

All this even though

Iceland is covered with

glaciers and volcanoes.

Icelanders live in a world

where geologic time and

historical time are

contemporaneous. They

mark their history by

volcanic eruptions.

Iceland has the oldest

functioning legislative

assembly in the world, the

Althing, established in AD

930, and in AD 1000, floods

caused by the eruption of the

Katla volcano washed across

the country. Hekla erupted in

1104, 1158, 1206 and so on.

The Katla eruption of 1625

destroyed 25 farms. Three

people died in the 1727

eruption of Öraefajökull.

Grimsvotn erupted in 1903,

the same year the first

Icelandic fisherman bought

an outboard motor. At that

time there were no hospitals,

no highways, no public

schools, no police. A century

later, despite continuing

eruptions and the economic

devastation of 2008 (after

Lehman Brothers went under,

the major Icelandic banks

exploded and the value of the

krona collapsed), Iceland is

still one of the world’s most

prosperous countries.

“Never underestimate

climate or geography,”

Ingolfsson told me a decade

ago, after we’d gone ice

climbing inside a glacier cave

on Langjökull; the cave

collapsed several years later.

“Climate and geography are


Most of us imagine that

the ground beneath us is

relatively unchanging. We

have metaphors about

building a life on solid ground.

Icelanders know better. The

geography of their country is

always changing. Icelanders

expect change, even explosive

change, and expect to figure

out how to deal with it.

“Change, not stasis, is our

status quo,” Ingolfsson told me.

Iam probing along the

crater rim for crevasses.

After Eyjafjallajökull

erupted in 2010, the caldera

collapsed, snow fell and the

glaciers began to grow again.

Ingolfsson has sent me out

ahead of the superjeep with

an avalanche probe to make

certain we don’t drive into an

unseen crevasse.

“Don’t get too close to the

crater’s edge,” he warns. “You

never know where heat from

the volcano has hollowed it

out underneath.” Peering over

the lip into the snow-filled

caldera, I see steam rising

from small black holes.

On mountains around the

world, I have probed for


A drone


captures the

peculiar surface

formations around

the entrance of the

Kverkfjöll cave.

crevasses, but I have never

needed a snowbridge that

could support the weight

of anything more than

a mountaineer. Now

Ingolfsson, in our hefty

superjeep, is crawling

along behind me as we

circumnavigate the rim of

Eyjafjallajökull one pole

punch at a time.

There are fantastic

photographs of the

Eyjafjallajökull eruption, a

plume of black ash billowing

into the sky above a white

cone, some of which are in

the Volcano Museum in

Stykkishólmur, founded by

glaciologist Haraldur

Sigurdsson. “In hindsight, the

Eyjafjallajökull eruption need

not have been so disruptive to

air travel,” says Sigurdsson,

editor-in-chief of the gigantic

2015 Encyclopedia of

Volcanoes. “The European

aviation agencies simply

panicked. Decisions were

made without data.”

Several months after

the eruption, Rolls-Royce

released a study that revealed

its jet engines could

withstand 2,000 micrograms

of ash per cubic meter of air.

The Eyjafjallajökull eruption

only created 40 to 70

micrograms of ash,”

Sigurdsson says, “onefortieth

what the aircraft

engine could tolerate.”

The ash cloud never went

higher than about 25,000 feet,

and most transcontinental

flights cruise above 30,000

feet. In truth, there was no

real threat to the safety of

airline passengers. European

agencies were simply being

extra cautious. In the decade

since then, regulatory

agencies and airlines have

changed their disaster

response models to include

recent scientific data.

The real trick is to be

able to predict eruptions—

to know basically what will

happen before it actually

happens,” says Sigurdsson.

“This requires ground

deformation studies.”

Using radar and GPS

data, the rate of

inflation or deflation

of a potentially threatening

volcano can be accurately

determined. Indeed, by closely

monitoring GPS data from

Bárdarbunga, Sigurdsson

predicted in October 2014

that, according to a formula

his grandson Gabriel Solvi had

developed, the eruption

would end after 173 days, on

March 4, 2015. He was almost

dead on; the eruption ended

on February 28.

This confirmed what

Einarsson had told me when

I first arrived in Iceland.

“When we have the data,

we can forecast eruptions

quite well, actually. I know

the popular sentiment is that

eruptions are random,

unpredictable events, but in

the past 40 years, we’ve

successfully predicted most of

them,” he said. “What we can’t

predict is the human reaction.”

Then he told me the story

of the time he was on a talkradio

program during the

Eyjafjallajökull event. An

Irish woman dialed in and

was aghast at Einarsson’s

insistence that volcanic

eruptions were largely

predictable. “Look at all these

poor people stranded in the

airports,” she said. “If you

can predict an eruption, why

don’t you just stop it.”

Ingolfsson and I manage

to completely traverse

Eyjafjallajökull by superjeep,

and then without stopping

continue on up Mýrdalsjökull

glacier to the top of Katla,

another notorious Iceland


On the summit he steps out

onto the glacier in his sandals,

dropping into the snow. We

are surrounded by brilliant

whiteness that curves off to

the horizon in all directions.

“When this one goes

again, it’s predicted to be 10

to a hundred times bigger

than Eyjafjallajökull,” says

Ingolfsson, almost joyful at

the uncontrollable geological

exuberance of his country.



Get it. Do it. See it.



Though it’s not the best time to travel, it’s an ideal

time to plan a life-list adventure. Here are four very

big ideas for your bucket list. Words EVELYN SPENCE

Picture yourself on a

freeform epic on

New Zealand’s South

Island, where primo

beaches and Instaready

peaks beckon.


Do it




If—since the COVID-19 era

began—the thought of being

around crowds of people

makes you break out in

anxious hives, consider

Canada’s Yukon Territory.

It has an area larger than

California with onethousandth

the population.

(Twice as many moose as

humans, they say.) And

consider, then, how to get

away from the Yukon

standards. The answer? A

multiday SUP trip on the

Yukon River, which rushes

up to 8 mph past wolves and

moose and mink, Klondike-era

cabins and creepy remains of

sternwheelers the length of

Boeing 737s. You and your

inflatable paddleboards and

bear-proof barrels of grub can

all be dropped by floatplane

at the headwaters, where the

first section of water, Thirty

Mile, pours out of moody Lake

Laberge—and is considered

one of the finest stretches of

paddling on the continent.

From there, it’s the Wild West:

You don’t have cell service,

you don’t have to wrangle a

permit, there’s no road access

for miles, and you can camp

wherever the hell you want as

long as Leave No Trace is your

religion. It’s no whitewater

gauntlet, either; even relative

newbies can handle the

Yukon’s cruise control. If you

want guidance—and portable,

propane-powered hot tubs

that simmer under the

Northern Lights—reserve a

four-day, 120-mile trip from

Laberge to Carmacks with

Stand Up Paddle Yukon, the

only outfitter who runs the

river. The laid-back owner,

Stuart Knaack, can tell river

yarns all day (and will feed

you really good fire-grilled

steak). “Understanding the

Yukon, for me, is like trying to

understand the sun setting

over the ocean,” says Knaack.

“It’s one of those things you

just have to see for yourself.”

Stay The stylish, just-opened

Raven Inn—cabin chic, with

a hot tub looking over the

Yukon River—is the first new

hotel in Whitehorse since the

1970s. The floor-to-ceiling

windows of the “glass chalets”

at Northern Lights Resort and

Spa, about 20 minutes from

town, are perfect for viewing

the aurora.

Eat Opened last year,

Wayfarer’s Oyster House has

its shellfish flown in from both

coasts and feels more L.A.

than lumberjack. Pre-mission,

fill your belly with an ABC

(avocado, bacon, cumin

gouda) from Montreal-style

Bullet Hole Bagels or some

Sleep can wait if

you stay in the

glass chalets at

the Northern

Lights Resort.

There is getting

away from it all,

and then there is

an SUP adventure

on the Yukon River.

carrot-lox toast from brandnew,

vegan Kind Café.

Drink The beer on tap at

Woodcutter’s Blanket, a

refurbished 1930s-era log

cabin, changes constantly at

the whim of quirky brewer

Scott Shailer—and cocktails

are mixed with foraged,

boreal bitters from Free Pour

Jenny’s. For good cocktails

and fancy bar food, hit Dirty

Northern Public House. Divey,

historic 98 Hotel is one of

the Yukon’s two remaining

“breakfast clubs” (it opens

at 10 a.m.).

Guide Stand Up Paddle Yukon

checks off all the highlights,

including the floatplane ride

from Schwatka Lake to the

headwaters of the Yukon.


Dream Trips

The snorkeling

options around

Nosy Be are

almost endless.

Admit it, you’ve always wanted to

see a white-fronted brown lemur.

The Malagasy people have strong

traditions of theater and dance.




“Madagascar is a place like

no other,” says Chien Lee,

a wildlife photographer who

spends half his year on the

Texas-size island leading

trips—and staking out his

subjects. “The biodiversity

here is astounding.” There’s

a reason it’s sometimes called

the Eighth Continent: 90

percent of its plants and

animals exist nowhere else on

earth. But its geography is just

as varied—dripping tropical

rainforest like Masoala in the

east, dry forests in the west,

desert canyons in Isalo

National Park to the south,

3,000 miles of coastline and

250 smaller islands. You can

snorkel the extensive reef

system around Nosy Be,

especially the highly protected

Nosy Tanikely, and encounter

enormous, docile whale

sharks. Take a week and float

the Mangoky River, says Gary

Lemmer, owner of Remote

River Expeditions. “It’s so

peaceful, passes through one

of the largest baobab forests

on the planet and has white-

sand beaches you can land

a 767 on,” he says. In Tsingy

de Bemaraha, you can crawl

through caves and cross

suspension bridges to check

out extraterrestrial limestone

formations; in steamy

Ranomafana National Park,

you can spot several species

of endangered lemur

(Madagascar has 101 kinds).

Remember, travel here is no

cakewalk. “Roads are mostly

terrible,” says Lee. “Deep,

axle-grinding potholes for

nine-plus hours.” And unless

you’re fluent in French or

Malagasy, the language

barrier is real. But it’s worth

the challenge, says Lemmer.

The Malagasy are the most

sensitive and welcoming

people in the world.”

Stay Gary Lemmer’s

welcoming hotel in

Morondava, Chez Maggie,

is more than just a place

to crash—it has a decent

restaurant, pool, gardens and

spectacular sunsets. Accessible

only by sea or foot, the six

stilted bungalows of Masaola

Forest Lodge are surrounded

by pristine rainforest and reefs.

Eat “One place really sticks

out for absolutely fantastic

food,” says Lee. And that’s

Mad Zebu in dusty Belo


French-leaning, white

tablecloths. In Antananarivo

(usually called Tana), Le

Saka—in the charming

Sakamanga Hotel—is beloved

for its French/Malagasy


Drink Three Horses Beer

(THB, or “Tay-Ash-Bay”) is

cheaper than water and you’ll

see it everywhere; rhum

arrangé (spiced rum) comes

The Masoala

Peninsula has

vast protected


in seemingly countless flavors.

You’ll be passing through

Tana at some point, so while

you’re there, stop into Kudéta

Urban Club for swank and

Madagascar Underground

for live music by locals.

Guide For hiring vehicles,

booking domestic flights and

making lodge reservations,

Boogie Pilgrim—in country

for 30 years—will nail the

logistics. Prefer a high-end

trip? MT Sobek (glamping,

sundowners) has been

running trips here since the



Do it




Call us sentimental, but after

everything northern Italy has

been through this year, it

makes sense to throw a little

love thataway—not that it’s

ever hard to rave about a place

like the Dolomiti. Spires and

towers, so blocky they’re

almost architectural, jut like

molars out of gentle emerald

foothills and Insta-ready

towns, all dotted with highalpine

huts and connected

by strings of ski lifts. “I’m a

mountain lover, and I’ve

visited many mountain ranges

in the world, but I’ve never

seen anything that compares

to my Dolomites,” says Enrico

Maioni, an IFMGA guide and

Cortina d’Ampezzo native

who’s worked the rock for 36

years. There are hundreds of

limestone walls and craggy

pinnacles to climb here, most

of which start at your front

door: 5.10 Tofana di Rozes is

long and demanding, “a local

classic,” says Maioni. Piz

Pordoi has 20-plus pitches

of amenable, 5.7 cruising.

Cortina, especially, is known

Whether you want

to hike, bike or run,

the local trails dish

out crazy-good


for the suspension bridges and

ladders of via ferrata. To cover

more ground, take a mountain

bike on the Sellaronda, a 40-

mile or so circumnavigation—

up chairlifts, down singletrack,

through mountain villages—

of the stunning Sella Group.

(You can bike the roads, too.)

Hikes range from idyllic

meadow strolls to nearvertical

scrambles: the10-plusmile

loop from Selva Val

Gardena to Rifugio Puez has

all of it. Don’t miss the crowsnest

of Rifugio Nuvolau, says

Maioni; it’s the oldest hut

in the Dolomites, with

360-degree views, and

exemplifies the civilized

adventure you find here. It’s

the kind that starts with

cappuccino, ends in Nosiola

and exudes a living nostalgia

we’ve come to crave.

Stay For Maioni, a night at

Rifugio Lagazuoi can’t be beat:

a Finnish sauna built from

local larch, hearty dinners

and 9,000-foot views. Each

room at the Ambra Cortina is

unique—from cow prints to

elaborate boiserie—and it sits

square in the middle of town.

Après adventure is on a higher level at La Stua.

Resplendent in the middle

of Alpe di Siusi, the largest

mountain plateau in Europe,

Adler Lodge Alpe has none of

the Tyrolean twee of many

hotels in the Dolomites.

Eat In Cortina, Ristorante 5

Torri has more than 50 kinds

of pizza—all likely better than

anything you can get in North

America. St. Hubertus, in Alta

Badia, has racked up three

Michelin stars for super-local

wild game and mountain

herbs. The Dolomites region

is known for a unique Ladin

culture and language, and

family-owned Maso Runch

Farm is the spot to try its

cuisine: filled savory pastries,

barley soup and furtaies (a

spiral-shaped, fried dessert).

Drink On the edge of Selva, La

Stua has a big sunny terrace

and large platters of speck (get

a small balcony if you want an

exclusive sommelier). Enoteca

Cortina serves Soave, prosecco

and local cheese under

vaulted ceilings. For good

beer, Bar Sport in Cortina is

usually packed. Wherever

you are, try a bombardino—

brandy, warm egg liqueur and

whipped cream.

Guide For climbing and via

ferrata, Maioni knows the

Cortina area front and back;

he was part of the Gruppo

Scoiattoli (the “squirrel

group”), the most famous

group of climbers of Italy.

Bike Hotel Linder, in Selva,

has knowledgeable guides

and all-inclusive packages.

Rethink roughing it at the Adler Lodge Alpe.


Dream Trips

You won’t be stuck

at home forever, so

start dreaming—

and planning—now.




We’ve all fantasized about it,

but few of us have done it:

flown to the other side of the

world, rented a campervan,

disdained the word “itinerary”

and taken to the road on a

meandering search for

adventure. And the South

Island of New Zealand tops

the nomad’s canon thanks to

its freedom-camping ethos—

and the mind-blowing number

of nooks, crannies, glaciers,

fjords, rapids and summits

stacked across a landmass

a bit smaller than Georgia.

Some greatest hits: The new,

34-mile Paparoa Track is the

only purpose-built route for

both mountain bikers and

hikers, with overnight huts

along the way. For a mix of

gravel and roads, the 75-mile

West Coast Wilderness Trail

is gorgeous (and soggy), not

far from the area’s biggest

draw, the Fox and Franz Josef

Glaciers. Kayak or SUP the

Class III wave trains on the

Buller River, one of the

country’s longest—or paddle

past dolphins and fur seals in

Doubtful Sound, bigger and

less known than nearby

Milford. For views, the Sealy

Tarns Track stairsteps 2,000

feet to the payoff: 12,218-foot

Mount Cook and the Hooker

Valley. (You can climb Cook,

but Mount Aspiring is a less

dangerous, equally technical

test piece.) If you’re proficient

at sight-casting dry flies, the

crystal-clear waters of the

Moteuka and the Rai hold

brown-trout torpedoes. And

the golden-sand beaches,

native forests and limestone

cliffs of Abel Tasman National

Park have some of everything,

so swap your camper for

hiking boots, kayaks, water

taxis or a catamaran. Of

course, this is just a start, and

one that’s starting to sound

a bit too much like a plan. Just

throw this out and begin your

own search.

Stay Download Campermate,

an app that’ll show you

campgrounds, dump stations,

petrol, public showers and

more. If you need a break

from vanlife, the chalets (and

massage studio) at top-ranked

Abel Tasman Lodge are a fiveminute

walk from the national

park. At SkyScape, near

Queenstown, each room has

the best kind of glass ceiling.

Eat Some people say

Fergburger, in Queenstown,

has the best burgers in the

world, but they’re likely the

most inventive: wild Fiordland

deer with Thai plum chutney,

New Zealand lamb with mint

jelly. Acclaimed Kika, in

Wanaka, tweaks tapas with

chili gel, avocado mousse and

cotton-like pork floss. The togo

staple in NZ is fish and

chips—both Akaroa Fish and

Chips, and Happy Chippie

(near Abel Tasman) are

perfectly greasy and newsprint


Drink The Marlborough region

is justly famous for wine—

Framingham and giant

Cloudy Bay are good bets out

of the 140-plus around here.

Smiths Craft Beer House, in

Queenstown, has a dozen New

Zealand brews on offer. For a

speakeasy vibe, OGB, housed

in the historic Old Government

Building in Christchurch, kills

it with their mixers. And

hopping the beer bars in

Nelson—hops central—can

easily take up a few days.

Guide All you.

Kika turns out reinterpreted tapas.

OGB in Christchurch is a swank

cocktail bar with an elegant

speakeasy vibe.


Do it





Longtime Halo pro Michael

“Flamesword” Chaves shares how

he trains for esports success.

A self-described health and fitness

junkie, Michael “Flamesword” Chaves

won multiple championships as an

esports athlete before retiring from

professional play in 2016. His specialty is

first-person-shooter games, especially

Halo and Call of Duty, where quick

reflexes and mental focus are essential

for success. Just like any other sport,

gaming requires many hours of practice,

and Chaves still spends up to 10 hours in

front of his screen. The hours of stress

add up, and a health scare in his early 20s

led Chaves to rethink his approach. “I

should just train like an actual athlete,”

he recalls thinking. “If there is something

that’s optimal for basketball players,

there has to be something that’s optimal

for gamers.” Esports tournaments

alternate hours of downtime waiting for

matches with high-energy sessions at

the controller. He says his physical

fitness helps him recover from the

intensity of gaming and feel refreshed

when he sits back down to do it all again.

“After I began working out,

I immediately saw success

in my placings,” says

Chaves, who was a top Halo

pro from 2008 to 2016 and

coaches now.




“Yoga brings




“A foam roller is like

having a personal

massage therapist.”

“On Tuesdays, I do a yoga

form called Yin, which is a faster

stretching-release yoga style.

Thursdays, I do Kundalini, which is

more relaxed—more of a closing your

eyes and meditation type of yoga.

Then Saturdays or Sundays, I do

Bikram or a body-flow class. I think

yoga helps you remain in control of

your breathing and to be one with

yourself there in the moment.

I think that’s huge for gamers. No

matter who we are, no matter what

speed we’re at, nerves are a part

of everything we do. And you have to

be on your A-game at all times.”

“Your fitness involves a whole

system. It’s the working out, the

nutrition; it’s recovery—part of

which comes from sleep. I think a

foam roller or even a tennis ball is

great to have. After a long gaming

session, you can roll out your body

and hit your glutes, hamstrings and

the rest of your legs. It releases all

that tension. Most likely, your

shoulders are in an upper crossed

position from leaning forward. You

can utilize that foam roller for all

those things. I would prefer to have

a personal massage therapist, but

we have to deal with what we got.”


“Gamers need to

strengthen their



“I look at food as

gasoline to run

around all day.”


“My four yoga days are also

run days. For the most part,

I aim to run a mile each of those

days. Depending on what my

fitness goal are, I’m working out

three or four days each week

with weights. The goblet squat,

with a dumbbell or a kettlebell, is

an incredible technique for

gamers, who sit all day, or for

anyone with a desk job. It’s a squat

that helps you correct your

posture. Having the weight in front

of you, as opposed to on your back,

helps bring your chest up and

corrects your whole body.”

The things we put in our body,

it’s like putting fuel in our car.

I like to eat fruit at the start of

the day. I have an omelet, with

mushrooms, spinach or kale. For

protein, it’s anything grass fed,

and I like plant-based protein

powders. Many of the carbs I take

in are starchy carbs, like sweet

potato, that last longer in the

body. And for sure, I drink lots of

water every day. If you stay

hydrated, you avoid body cramps

and headaches. Everything in

your body is running the way it

should be.”



“My go-to favorite right now

is almond milk with a half cup

of ice, half cup of cut-up

frozen avocado, half of a

banana, plant-based protein

powder and chocolate with

some peanut butter or

almond butter.”



August/September 2020




LIVE Questions

abound when it comes

to what spectator

sports will look like

this fall, but even if

stadiums are empty,

you can still watch the

Super Bowl champs

Kansas City Chiefs

take on the Houston

Texans on NBC.




It’s been nearly 30 years since these most excellent time travelers graced the big screen, which

begs the question: Will anyone care that they’re back? But the love for this cult franchise still feels

strong, and with few new releases this summer, perhaps the timing couldn’t be better to head to

your closest drive-in theater for some popcorn therapy. Even acclaimed director Steven Soderbergh,

who saw an early cut, gives his stamp of approval. Party on, dudes!

Available now


Many exploits come to mind when

talking about the Arctic Circle;

mountain biking isn’t one of them. But

when four freeride legends headed to

uninhabited Axel Heiberg Island in the

Arctic Ocean, they were intent on

riding the ultimate rampage line in a

hostile landscape of volcanic cliffs,

glacial plateaus and endless daylight.

The risks were high—there’s only one

month when temperatures sit above

zero, and the nearest hospital is a 12-

hour plane ride away. A thrilling,

spectacular doc.





LIVE The show must

go on, and not even

a pandemic can keep

celebrities from

getting their awards.

As of press time,

nothing had been said

about whether the

statuettes would be

handed off in person

or simply announced.

Or will acceptance

speeches be delivered

in sweatpants over

Zoom? But in any case,

Jimmy Kimmel has

signed on to host,

whatever that entails.



August/September 2020


Available now




With F1 back in action,

we once again get to

marvel at that greatest

of engineering art

forms—the live,

supersonic pit stop.

As a perfect side order,

this film follows the

mavericks who took

what was once a

painfully slow pause

during a race and

transformed it into

a choreographed

exercise in precision

that, last year, saw

the Red Bull Racing

pit maestros service

Max Verstappen’s

F1 car in a world-record

1.82 seconds at the

Brazilian GP. Naturally,

he won it.






In 2018, Polish ski

mountaineer Andrzej

Bargiel embarked on

a feat never before

achieved: to scale K2,

the world’s secondhighest

peak, then ski

back down. It’s an epic

tale, documented here

with the highest drone

footage ever filmed.




It’s been a tough summer for

moviegoers, with blockbusters like

Daniel Craig’s final Bond outing and

Top Gun 2 delayed till later this year

and beyond. But DC’s superheroes

are coming to the rescue. This 24-

hour virtual event will feature new

footage and live panels with the cast

and creators of films like Wonder

Woman 1984 (now set for release on

October 2), the Robert Pattinsonstarring

The Batman and the muchanticipated

“Zack Snyder cut” of

Justice League, which Warner Bros.

announced after fans voiced dismay

at the original version delivered by

Avengers director Joss Whedon.

Think of it as a virtual Comic-Con.




LIVE Pending

government approval,

which was still needed

as of press time,

players were planning

to gather at the USTA

Billie Jean King

National Tennis Center

in Queens for this

two-week tournament.

But it’s already been

announced that

spectators won’t be

present, and it’s

ultimately up to

athletes to decide if

they want to compete,

which puts global

players who have to

travel to the U.S. in a

particularly difficult

situation. Silver lining?

At least tennis isn’t

a contact sport.




These days, the best adventures don’t

require complicated planning or travel.


Danner’s Trail

2650 is grippy,

lightweight and

cushioned for your

next dayhiking





These don’t look much like old-school hiking

boots, which is a good thing. The running-shoelike

men’s and women’s Trail 2650s are perfect

for dayhikes, with a lightweight EVA foam

midsole for cushion paired with a TPU shank to

protect your feet from sharp rocks and provide

structural stability. The grippy outsole is at home

on all natural surfaces, and optional Gore-Tex

versions add all-weather protection. $150-180;



Adidas pairs its bouncy, durable Boost TPU

midsole with an upper made from recycled ocean

plastic to create a high-performance trail runner

for natural surfaces, available for men and

women. The aggressive Continental Grip tread

pattern bites on hard and soft terrain and sheds

mud easily. The Primeknit upper’s Jacquardstyle

construction adapts to your foot shape and

volume for comfort. $180;



Don’t look for oddly placed cargo pockets or

dorky zip-off legs on these pants. Instead take in

the stretchy, quick-drying fabric that moves with

you; subtle ankle drawcords for bug protection;

and men’s and women’s specific trim, modern

fits suited for a hike, travel or casual work. The

mesh-lined pockets ventilate to keep you cool,

and a zippered thigh pocket offers a secure spot

for a phone or keys. $125;


This pack is the definition of minimalist, with a

spartan profile that has everything you need and

nothing you don’t: 854 cubic inches of cargo

capacity, with smartly designed stash pockets

for things like valuables and a headlamp, plus

sleeves for trekking poles. The lightweight

ripstop nylon body is rugged but keeps total pack

weight below half a pound. It’s perfect for peak

bagging and other fast/light dayhikes and

adventures. $50;


It’s hard to find a more full-featured outdoor app.

With a global database of more than 100,000

trail maps for hiking, cycling and running, you

can search for difficulty, dog-friendliness or

ADA accessibility; read reviews; and check out

amenities. The Pro version adds offline maps,

weather and the ability to share your real-time

location with loved ones. Extra relevant right

now: Heatmaps let you avoid overcrowded spots.

Free ($30/year for Pro version);


Bring the tunes and enjoy the outdoors with

these cool audio shades. Tiny speakers in the

temples direct the beats at your ears and let in

outside sound, while remaining virtually silent to

anyone else. The one-button operation combines

with gestural control so you can adjust volume,

take calls, even summon virtual assistants.

Scratch-resistant polycarbonate lenses block

99 percent of all UV light. Want a softer, rounded

look? Try the Rondo instead. $200;

The heatmaps option on Alltrails allows you

to find trails that are uncrowded in real time.





Why lug a heavy hardside cooler if you don’t need

to? This soft cooler is spacious enough for a

picnic for four, or up to 20 cans of your favorite

beverage, and its thick, closed-cell foam-rubber

insulation keeps things cold for hours. The

convenient shoulder-carry strap and lighter

weight (just 5.1 lbs empty) make it easy to haul

on foot—perfect for when you need to scramble

over a few dunes or up a grassy hillside to that

secluded lunch spot. $300;


Picnics are supposed to be easy and casual, but

have you ever struggled to cut blocks of cheese

on a plate set on a blanket, or set down a drink on

uneven ground, only for it to fall over? Enter the

Chelan snack table. Its 11-inch height is perfect

for stable, ground-level eating and drinking at

the beach or a local park. Sturdy construction

and locking pins prevent wobbles or unexpected

collapse, and the oil-rubbed ash wood is

beautiful and durable. $165;


Stay out late with this compact camping lantern.

The 350-lumen output casts enough light to

read, eat or socialize by, and the lens and

reflector soften it for a warm, even glow. The

rubberized housing is shock-resistant and

waterproof, so it’ll easily survive a tumble off a

table or a sudden downpour. It features four

power levels, including a blinking SOS mode, and

runs between 6.5 to 65 hours (depending on

setting) on four AA batteries. $50;


This light, cozy full-zip hoodie has the credentials

to become one of your trusted, versatile pieces

of wardrobe. It’s at home on a chilly morning at

the trailhead, or for post-hike beers on a brewery

patio. It doesn’t just look and feel good: The

Power Air microfiber fleece is Bluesign certified,

made from 54 percent recycled materials and is

designed to shed far less microplastic pollution

than other fleeces. Available in men’s and

women’s styles. $250;


You won’t find a more ingenious, space-efficient

folding chair design than the Uno, which unpacks

from a 2-inch-thick, foot-wide disc for easy setup

as a comfy camp chair. The storage disc doubles

as the base, offering stable footing on

all surfaces. With a minimalist design, the chair

can also convert into a small side table. The

durable aluminum frame and reinforced pole

pockets ensure you’ll get years of use. $90;



This awning unfolds from a roof-rack mount to

provide a spacious patch of protection from sun

or rain. Aluminum poles provide sturdy support

and adjustable height and angle, while gut ropes

offer stability in windy conditions. At only 28 lbs,

it’s easy to install or remove with the universal

rack mounts, but the rugged, PVC-coated cover

provides all-weather protection if you leave it on

your vehicle. $275;

The Power Air hoodie is made from Bluesigncertified

fleece, made using minimal chemicals.


The Frontrunner

Easy-Out 2M

Awning will give

you 34 square

feet of protection

from sun or rain.

Why not buy

boardshorts that

can perform in

heavy water and

look good when

doing light work?





Whether paddling out to the lineup or pedaling

down to the café, these comfy boardshorts are

versatile and stylish, with an at-the-knee fit that’s

both casual and classic. The fast-drying fabric is

made from recycled polyester with 11 percent

elastane, so it moves with you when working out.

The no-tie closure eliminates annoying chafing,

and a zipper pocket provides secure storage for

your keys or phone. $59.50;


Cut annoying sun glare off water with Native’s

ophthalmic-grade polycarbonate lenses, which

feature a durable polarization film that boosts

contrast and clarity in harsh sun. You also get

100 percent UV protection and a scratch- and oilresistant

coating, in an eco-friendly bioplastic

frame. The moderate sweep protects your eyes

from wind and debris but isn’t too sporty to work

as casual wear. Choose from seven frame color/

lens combos. $59-$79;


Don’t fight for car parking at the break. Carver’s

durable surfboard racks mount easily to bikes

and mopeds. The U.S.-made tubular steel arms

and machined aluminum clamps attach quickly

and provide sturdy support for most sizes and

styles of surfboard and won’t interfere with

pedaling. A $20 SUP arm option fits thicker

stand-up paddleboards. Coated arm cradles

protect board surfaces from abrasion and other

damage. $149;


Half a Benjamin is a lot to pay for sunscreen but

hear us out: This sport sungel uses physical and

chemical sunscreens to offer SPF50+ protection

with four hours of water resistance—double that

of most waterproof sunscreens. And since

there’s no water in the formula, you need just a

pea-size blob to cover your face. What’s more,

it’s reef-safe to Hawaiian sunscreen standards

and includes no parabens or other harmful

chemicals. $50 (3.4 oz tube);



If you want to hit the beach, but bring all your

food and drinks from home, this backpack cooler

fits the essentials in its roomy interior. The foodgrade,

BPA-free liner encases closed-cell

insulation that keeps contents cool all day. The

clamshell lid offers easy access, and a watertight

YKK zipper to contain spills. It has several

accessory pockets and a mesh exterior pocket

that holds a water bottle. $175;



Grab this sheer pullover for any outing and you’ll

have a stylish layer for protection from sun, wind

or chill. The recycled polyester dries fast and

provides UPF50+ protection. It’s treated with

HeiQ Fresh odor control to keep funk at bay, and

the generously cut hood fits over a cap. At 8.3 oz,

it’s easy to throw in a bag or pocket if you’re

cruising to the boardwalk or halfway around the

world. $59-$69;

A pea-size blob of Skinnies covers your whole

face and gives four hours of water resistance.





Ask an Egg fan and they’ll tell you these

distinctive, squat cookers are far more versatile

than conventional gas or charcoal grills. The

large size will roast a whole turkey, bake a pizza

or smoke low and slow for great BBQ flavor. The

kamado-style ceramic shell heats quickly and

efficiently, while the adjustable airflow allows

precise temperature control for perfect grilling.

Kit includes grill, stand, lump charcoal and

several accessories. $1,299;


Bored with cornhole? Check out Kubb (say

koob), an ancient Swedish lawn game also

known as Viking chess. Throw the dowels to

knock down your opponent’s knights, then

topple the king for the win. The durable

hardwood pieces stand up to knocks and nicks,

and their heft provides stability on grass, sand

and even snow that lesser plastic sets won’t.

The included carrying case is ideal for meeting

friends in the park. $50;


Get the party started with this waterproof

wireless workhorse of a speaker. The domed

design cranks out 360-degree sound with

chunky bass that is far meatier than its compact

size suggests. The 3,600mAh battery provides

up to 20 hours of beats on a single charge, and

wireless daisy-chain pairing means you can link

multiple Shells together, up to 15 feet apart and

45 feet from the source. Available in seven

colors. $110-$131;


Campfires right now are not such a hot idea. But

you can bring the experience home with this fire

pit. The ventilated design burns hot and clean, so

you don’t smell all smoky afterward. The

20-pound unit is portable enough for overnights

you might make when parks and campgrounds

reopen, but the durable, all-weather stainless

construction also fits inside fire pits, so it’s

perfect for backyard s’mores and cool summer

nights on the patio. $350;



When night falls, turn your eyes skyward with

this powerful telescope designed for novice

stargazers. Celestron’s smartphone app

automatically lists viewable objects in your night

sky; just put your phone in the mount and follow

onscreen arrows to aim the scope until the

bull’s-eye turns green. The 130 mm lens serves

up clear, sharp images even in brighter urban

settings. $400;



Make your own outdoor movie night with this

compact projector. Microlaser diode tech

produces a vivid, 1,280HD-sharp widescreen

picture on screens up to 150 inches wide. The

2,000-lumen output results in a bright picture

even before the sun has set. Built-in Android TV

app streaming and Bluetooth wireless speaker

support is perfect for backyard shows or an

indoor home theater. $1,000;

With Epson’s new streaming projector, you can

watch movies on a huge screen—before sunset.


Compact, waterproof

and ready to rock,

the Turtle Shell 3.0

will amp up your next

backyard party.





The Red Bulletin

is published

in six countries. The

cover of this month’s

German edition features

Austrian cyclist Fabio

Wibmer, who’s known

for his daredevil stunts

on two wheels.

For more stories beyond

the ordinary, go to


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10 issues for $12



Action highlight

Floating point

For this dramatic stunt, Estonian slackliner Jaan Roose chose an atmospheric

setting—Seli Raba (or the rather less attractive Seli Bog when translated into

English) in the northern part of his country. Needless to say, the three-time world

champion and sometime Hollywood stuntman landed the trick perfectly.

The next

issue of


is out on

September 22.




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