Sunday, February 16, 2003

World's most psychotic sporting events



By Ryan Ernst
The Cincinnati Enquirer

The Iditarod: The trail this year is 800 miles, across the Alaska wilderness. No musher has died in the race's history. But braving blizzards, crashing through ice, keeping a sled pulled by dogs upright on the trail and keeping a watch for wild animals isn't exactly the idea of living for most.

Swimming the English Channel: The channel is 16.5 miles at its narrowest point. It is busy with commercial ship and ferry movement. The temperature dips to 40 degrees. And winds and tides make the swim seem much longer than it really is. Many swimmers suffer from hypothermia and lose up to 25 pounds while making the effort.

Lumberjack sports: No pads, no safety nets, no harnesses. Just ax-throwing, boom-running, log-rolling, tree-climbing, chainsaw-revving, plaid-wearing, flapjack-eating fun. At last year's Great Outdoor Games, competitor Dustin Beckwith, the defending 90-foot tree climb champion, came into the competition with an injured wrist and left it with a broken leg.

The Eco-Challenge: This "expedition race" pits teams of four against one another in an around-the)clock race through the wilderness. It involves mountain biking, river rafting, horseback riding, mountaineering and kayaking. If a team loses a member from injury, sickness or in-fighting, it is disqualified. It's kind of like Real World, in the seventh ring of Hell.

Climbing Mount Everest: Before 1973, the number of people to reach the summit was equal to the number of fatalities on the mountain, 28. Recent advances in equipment have led to a higher percentage of success. Five people died on the mountain in 2001; 182 reached the top.

The Running of the bulls: This nearly 300-year-old tradition in Pamplona, Spain, takes place during the San Fermin Festival. "San Fermin" is Spanish for "watch the tourists get trampled and gored." At last year's festival, 206 people were injured during the eight-day celebration. An estimated 13 people have died during the annual frantic scramble for life. The most recent fatality came in 1995 when an angry bull skewered a young American, uh, tourist.

The Ironman: It's a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride, a 26.2-mile run and an endless supply of pain. They must be "iron," because competitors face muscle cramps, blisters and road rash from bike crashes.




REDS-BASEBALL
Changes few, expectations many for Reds
Central Division rundown
Reds Notebook: Anderson seeks No. 5 spot
Reds E-mail: Readers lower boom on Boone
Cards move Ankiel to bullpen

BENGALS-NFL
Bengals will mine combine for prospects
Top pick means possibilities
Lewis knows how to win; it's his way
NFL Notebook: Bears might pursue free agent QB

XAVIER BASKETBALL
Xavier 93, Rhode Island 70
XU Notebook: Chalmers rides pine after fouls
XU women run past La Salle

UC BASKETBALL
Charlotte 74, UC 64

NCAA TOURNAMENT LOOK AHEAD
Preview to Selection Sunday
The Enquirer's projected NCAA field
NCAA Tournament sites, dates
Postseason ticket information

MORE COLLEGE BASKETBALL
Miami 69, Marshall 49
Kentucky 68, LSU 57
UK Notebook: Barbour coming around
Louisville 73, Marquette 70
Kentucky Wesleyan 71, NKU 68
Local college basketball games
Michigan 70, Ohio State 54
Wisconsin 71, Indiana 59
Hunter's dream depends on dirty work

BOXING
Austin loses IBF bantamweight crown

MORE LOCAL SPORTS
Ducks, Cyclones lose
Miami blanks Buckeyes in hockey
Hyde Park man set to run 800-mile Iditarod
World's most psychotic sporting events
Enquirer Power Rankings
Sports on TV-Radio

MORE PRO SPORTS
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Tiger, Mickelson go one-on-one today
NBA Games: Blazers back on track
Agassi, Sanguinetti meet in finals
Trust N Luck wins Derby prep

HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
Revised basketball schedule
Alter tries to beat LeBron
Boys Games: No. 1 Withrow finishes undefeated
Girls Games: Ursuline ousts Princeton
Ky. Games: Dixie duo hit milestones
Indian Hill, Ursuline swimmers win districts
Girls swimming results
St. X, Western Brown win wrestling sectionals
Campbell tops Ryle for wrestling title
Schaffer trades appendix for assists
N.Ky. skater aims for nationals