Bursting Barkley and Bro-science Bubbles

Bursting Barkley and Bro-science Bubbles
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Last Friday, Jasmin Paris became the first woman to finish the 2024 Barkley Marathons – it's an incredible achievement for anyone to finish the race which is designed to be unfair, if not impossible. The course, in Frozen Head State Park in Tennessee, varies from year to year, but it's always 100 miles which runners must complete without the aid of GPS and in under 60 hours. Only 40 are selected to run, drawn from a ridiculously convoluted application process. Oh, it's just racist as all get-out. The founder of the race, Gary Cantrell, has banned Black Lives Matter singlets from his races, for example, while letting the Confederate Flag continue to fly. He has said he was inspired to start the race by a prison escape attempt by James Earl Ray, the man who assassinated Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (Background info missing from almost every single piece of reporting I read this week.) So yeah. What are all those white runners re-enacting when they're out there running around in the Tennessee woods? I dunno. Not a race that I'd be keen to run, and despite Paris's achievement, not really something I want to celebrate. Trail running and endurance running need to grapple with their racist histories and hold the powerful people in their communities accountable, not laud the people and places that are the cornerstone of continued violence and exclusion.

In other sports news: "Powerlifting Through Puberty" – Men's Health looks at the high school powerlifting team at Three Rivers High School in Michigan. "Move over marathons," writes The Guardian, as ultra-endurance sports become more popular. Deanna Stellato-Dudek, age 40, became the oldest female figure skater to win a world championship this week. But the skating performance that wowed me the most this week was Ilia Malinin's – six quadruple jumps!!! – and if you haven't carved out the ten minutes to watch this, I urge you to do so right now. March Madness something something something. I really can't keep track of all the sports, I reckon/I'm sorry, but good luck on your brackets and betting endeavors. (And may the odds of being selected for the NYC Marathon have also been in your favor.)

"Performative hydration has gone too far," writes Caitlin Dewey. Co-signed, for sure. I've recently given up all on the various "hydration mixes" that the running technology industry convinced me I needed. (I don't think that I actually do. YMMV. Mine might once it gets warmer out, of course.) Elsewhere in the health technology hustle: "Metyos is building a biowearable to monitor chronic kidney disease," says TechCrunch. Always fascinating to read the backgrounds on people who develop new health machinery. The students in Fresno USD feel that an app that's used to time their bathroom breaks is invasive and unfair. (I looked up the founders' backgrounds on LinkedIn. Spoiler alert: not people who menstruate or worry about such things.) Ed-tech — always and forever committed to disciplining and punishing bodies. Via Rolling Stone: "Meet the Lady Carnivores Taking Over TikTok With Butter and Raw Meat." And speaking of health misinformation, The Washington Post reports that women are getting off of birth control due to the rampant falsehoods spread online about the dangers of hormonal contraception.

But wait, there’s more! New York Magazine's feature this week looked at popular podcaster and misinformation peddler Andrew Huberman. The story didn't focus so much on his dismal record of accurate science and health communication – his penchant turning every clinical study into some sort of weird "protocol" – but rather at his deceitfulness and abusiveness in juggling relationships with six women (or more) at once. So listen folks, how many times can someone say, "you can trust me. I'm a Stanford scientist," before we realize that almost everything that comes out of that school or is adjacent to that school or that markets itself as such is a going to turn out to be a total scam. (Spoiler alert: there is no "Huberman Lab.")

If you're looking for a podcast that isn't a bro-science horror show, might I recommend Julia Louis-Dreyfus's Wiser Than Me, which just started its second season with an appearance by the one and only Sally Field.

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