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Words to Run By - Day 8

Over the course of the expedition we ran through a total of 254.5 million years, from before the start of the dinosaurs to the ascent of mankind. Yesterday we arrived back at present day.

Human evolution has spanned several million years, with modern humans present by about 200,000 years ago. Man entered the North America between 20,000 and 30,000 years ago, but today we will be focusing on prehistory in the formative (agricultural) period, about 1000 years ago. The people found in this area at that time were of the Fremont and Anasazi cultures, or Ancestral Peubloans.

When you run today please consider what life would have been like for the early people of this region, how they would have lived on this land you are running through, which is essentially unchanged from then. How did they function in a world without cars, roads, stores, and cellphones? What impact have the changes in our technology and culture in the past 1000 had on the environment? Given what you have learned over the past 8 days what conclusions can you make about the relationship between human activity and world ecology.

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Day 7 Video

Today was the unsupported run and all five Ambassadors loaded up with water and food to last for a day on the trails with multiple river crossings and running through sandy canyons. Emma and Steve were excited to lace up again and join the team. The group gets stronger each day and they moved quickly through this technical terrain. At the end of the run, the Ambassadors worked with our botanist Amber on a restoration project by planting 130 willow trees at the canyon river bed which re-introduces native, helpful plant life into the area. Today’s run and educational activity completes the process of ‘Running through Time’ from the Paleozoic Era to modern day. Tomorrow will be their final run, but before that the entire camp is enjoying some time around the bonfire with singing and a little Western line dancing!

Day 7 Daily Dispatch – Today!

The cameraman on this expedition stood before the two men with lassoes and said with total confidence that he could run past them. “Not a chance you’re catching me,” he declared. Moments later he was tied by hands and feet, two perfect snaps of the rope, and he was locked and spread out in the dust like a prize pig. If only our borders could be just as well contained. And we’re not talking about the arrival of unwanted humans, but invasive species, specifically plants and animals. For the first time this expedition the ambassadors were running in present day, along a river in the midst of an attack. The Russian Olive is growing in abundance, and outperforming the local plants, threatening them with eradication. It’s a common storyline around the world. Humans have found ways to transport themselves across the globe, and in doing so are redistributing other organisms, sometimes causing ecologic imbalances that potentially lead to extinctions. In a small effort to mitigate such an imbalance today the youth ambassadors planted a threatened native species of tree along the Escalante River. Tomorrow our run through time goes backwards again, to the early humans of this region. The ones with some of the strongest connections to the land. Perhaps those with lessons we should relearn.

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Day 6 Daily Dispatch – The Rise of the Mammals

Some life forms are better able to adapt to their surroundings, whether it’s favorable environmental conditions, or an absence of predators. But on the run today one can’t help but wonder about the additional attributes that help us succeed, the ones that are harder to quantify, things like sheer will. Today the environment favored the runners; the wind was at the youth ambassadors back all morning, the clouds left the land cool, but there was also their drive to set a record, a goal beyond their basic requirements for the day. The Youth Ambassadors ran 52 kilometre (32.3 miles) today. It’s the greatest distance any i2P youth expedition team has ever covered. And it’s a fitting accomplishment on a day when we are acknowledging the rise of mammals. The youth are running on terrain created 10 million years ago, a time when mammals realized their potential with the dinosaurs gone. They grew, they multiplied, they filled the land and they remain today, though we must show some pause with our celebration, because while humans are now the mammals on the top of the food chain, we may be in the midst of another great extinction, one which is thought to be of our creation.

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Day 6 Video

The day started early with a difficult decision to have Emma sit out the run due to severe Achilles tendonitis and a swollen ankle. She’s an extremely strong young woman and didn’t want to rest, but it was a smart medical decision. Today’s run was supposed to be 40k, but shortly after starting the remaining three Ambassadors decided to attempt breaking the i2P single-day run record (51K). The rest of the day was focused as the Ambassadors narrowed in on the distance, while also managing to live video conference with students at lunch. A member of the Education team, Peter, joined the pace crew and ran his first ever marathon which spurred the Ambassadors on to finish strong with a huge sense of accomplishment over breaking the i2P record and joining the ultra-marathon world at 52K. After a quick celebration, they settled in for a discussion with Dr. Allan about the Rise of the Mammals. After dinner the cowboys and Ray practiced their ‘roping’ skills keeping the entire camp in stitches!