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April 21, 2014

Andrew Silow-Carroll: Passoverkill? Suggestions to make next year's seders even more culturally sensitive

Sara Israelsen Hartley: Seeking the Divine: An ancient connection in a new context

Christine M. Flowers: Priest's execution in Syria should be call to action

Courtnie Erickson: How to help kids accept the poor decisions of others

Lizette Borreli: A Glass Of Milk A Day Keeps Knee Arthritis At Bay

Lizette Borreli: 5 Health Conditions Your Breath Knows Before You Do

The Kosher Gourmet by Betty Rosbottom Coconut Walnut Bars' golden brown morsels are a beautifully balanced delectable delight

April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review July 8, 2014 / 10 Tammuz, 5774

Tough Mudder and Spartan Races: Masochism goes mainstream

By Jennifer Graham




http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | For anyone worrying that China is going to take over after we’ve all eaten ourselves into oblivion and blown the defense budget in what remains of Iraq, there is hope. Unbeknownst to the couch-ridden masses, America has a powerful core, a national equivalent of SEAL Team 6. It is strong, it is invincible, it is the Terminator, the offensive line of the Patriots, and the surliest toll collector on the Mass. Pike rolled into one. It is the hard underbelly of the fitness elite: those who engage in extreme athletic competitions like Tough Mudder and Spartan Race.

So you ran the Boston Marathon in under three hours? Meh, these men and women say. There was no barbed wire to crawl under, no flaming pit to jump over; you just ran down a city street, bathed in admiration. What’s the challenge in that? Where’s the electro-shock treatment? What, no 3,000-foot ascent? Slacker.

The rise of extreme obstacle racing — Tough Mudder and Spartan each expect an estimated 1 million participants this year — is a welcome aberration in a nation that appears doomed to expire of abdominal flab. A predictable extension of the running boom, it gestated at the finish lines of marathons and 10Ks. The weekend warriors cried, “Now what?”

When Harvard Business School grad Will Dean, the Mark Zuckerberg of the fitness industry, envisioned Tough Mudder, he understood not just viral marketing but the philosophy of William James: “The strenuous life tastes better.” Not much is strenuous about modern life, and when primal urges go unmet in the urban savanna, a vital thing withers. For a people to function, loins must be girded. Extreme competitors get this.

From a distance, the phenomenon invites ridicule. Consider the Tough Mudder tribe, whose idea of a rollicking good time is an all-night relay carrying 40 pounds of bricks, a plunge into ice called an “Arctic Enema,” and a slide that deposits the competitor in licking flames, a human grill called “Fire in Your Hole.” For all this, the Tough Mudders who endure receive orange headbands that evoke a certain ’80s movie, “Flashdance,” and its attendant song, “Maniac.” Seems fitting.

Meanwhile, over at any Spartan Race, or its predecessor, the impressibly merry Death Race, participants sign waivers that suggest their extinction is imminent. The founder, Joe De Sena of Vermont, begins his new book “Spartan Up!” by describing a nearly fatal 350-mile race in Quebec — in mid-winter. What fun!

Milder, but also non-traditionally challenging, is the new series of mountain races begun by four friends that include former US Senate candidate Gabriel Gomez. Hingham-based O2X will hold its inaugural race, with “natural” obstacles, in September at Sugarbush Mountain in Vermont. The rigorous ascent, “a cross between obstacle-course racing and trail running,” might deplete the body but will mercifully leave the mountains intact, co-founder Craig Coffey told me. “We will leave the mountain better than when we found it,” Gomez said. Presumably, too, the competitors’ resolve and physiques.



Three of the four 02X founders were Navy SEALS — not surprising, as a hard streak of green-and-brown camouflage runs through extreme athletic endeavors. On the Spartan blog, De Sena says some of the events were designed by the US military. When an Army recruit crawls though mud under barbed wire, however, he is preparing for an experience that might actually transpire. When an investment banker does the same, wearing an orange headband, what is the point, beyond ensuring that masochism becomes mainstream?

De Sena explains it as a change in perspective: “I believe that confronting these insane obstacles is the best way to rewire a human brain after years or even decades of coddling, predictability, and excuses,” he writes.

If, of course, your brain is not fried on the course, or worse. Injuries in extreme races have included electric shocks, broken bones, a stroke, and four deaths. A lawsuit was filed on the most recent, a 2013 drowning in West Virginia, but so far, no race organizer has been held culpable in any fatality. I note, however, that the once vaunted Web address of the Death Race, www.youmaydie.com, now redirects to a comparably benign www.peak.com/death-races.

That people find events like the Spartan race attractive — and will pay upwards of $100 to enter — seems odd, given that the number of young people who find military life attractive has dropped over the past 10 years, from 63 percent to 40 in one study. Maybe our inner GI Joes get all the adrenaline they need in a weekend race with no threat of an extended stay in Baghdad.

There is, however, a certain comfort that can be derived from knowing that the Tough Mudders and the Spartans exist. They are the new American militias, unarmed but for their extraordinary triceps.


Previously:


June 6, 2014: Divorce court --- the best way to discourage divorces

Nov. 6, 2013: American Idle

Oct. 23, 2013: The profanity that isn't

Sept. 19, 2013: Hollyweird Goes Normal: Filmmakers suddenly rushing to the side of intact families

Sept. 12, 2013: Let there be night: Has unnecessary lighting become a new form of home invasion?

August 28, 2013: The NFL has become the champion of women that feminists never could


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© 2013, Jennifer Graham

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