At the Extremes…


Nobody cares about mediocre.

I have never seen a foot race in which the winner is the one who comes in closest to the average time of all the competitors. Everybody would just snooze on the starting blocks and win.

People love winners. They are the ones who overcome, prevail, and generally knock the socks off of anything that gets in their way.

You have probably never seen a trophy for the average-est runner, the most ordinary team, or the most fair-to-middlin’ of anything. Nope! It doesn’t happen. We prefer nail biting events and the champions who win them.

Since 1894, the Olympic motto has been Citius, Altius, Fortius, which means “Faster, Higher, Stronger.” People who press beyond the utter limits of human ability inspire us, or at least they amaze us. Some of the most bizarre events emphasize extreme danger. Consider these,

  • Freestyle Alligator Wrestling Competition. This one is based on ancient Native American hunting techniques in search of food in Florida’s swamps. Organizers prioritize the safety of the alligators above the humans, citing Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission rules.
  • Extreme Ironing. The competitor irons in the most remote, extreme location possible using an ironing board. It combines “…the thrills of an extreme outdoor activity with the satisfaction of a well-pressed shirt.” Winners have included people who iron while bungee jumping, while underwater, while skydiving, flying an ultralight airplane with an open cockpit, and ironing on horseback. It all started in 1997 in Leicester, UK, and has since gone worldwide.
  • Hot Dog Eating. Every year on July 4 competitors in Brooklyn choke down as many hot dogs as possible in 10 minutes. In 2013, Joey Chestnut won his seventh time in a row swallowing a mind-boggling 69 hot dogs (with buns!) in his allotted 600 seconds. One hot dog every 6.7 seconds does qualify as extreme, right?

Amazed yet?

Personally, I prefer Rain’s method. He said, “The biggest competition is myself. I am not looking to follow others or pull them down. I’m planning to test my own boundaries.” Rain is the stage-name of 37-year-old Jung Ji-hoon, the South Korean K-pop, R&B singer-songwriter and actor who already has seven albums, 28 singles, and a bunch of round-the-world concert tours on his personal score board.

Athletically, my extreme adventures push me past my own limits, not past anybody else’s. I love every calorie-burning bike mile and hour that I do, much more than whatever you do. Just enjoy yourself in your own way and we’ll have an extremely lot in common.

So, this week, our contributing cover story writer, Joni Blackman, brings us an invitation to get in the game ourselves. Joni quotes Mark and Tonia Wilson who created and run The Southern Tier Triathlon Series, one of the most extreme tests of an individual:

CAUTION: Participating in the sport of triathlon with Mark Wilson may cause radiant health & spiritual well-being.

Please enjoy the wonderful summer weather that has finally decided to stay around our neighborhood for a while and consider using a little bit of it to test out your own limits. The most extreme part of it might just be the enjoyment you get out of it, so why not try it?

And of course, please (extremely) enjoy the read this week.

Walt Pickut

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Walt Pickut
Walt Pickut’s writing career began with publishing medical research in1971 while working at the Jersey City Medical Center and the NYU Hospital and School of Medicine. Walt holds board registries in respiratory care and sleep technology as well as bachelor's degrees in biology and communication, and a master's degrees in physiology from Fairleigh-Dickinson University in New Jersey, with additional graduate work in mass communication completed at SUNY Amherst. He currently teaches Presentational Speaking in the Houghton College PACE program at JCC and holds memberships in the Society of Professional Journalists and the American Society of Business Publication Editors. He lives in Jamestown with his wife Nancy, an MSW social worker, and has three children: Dr. Cait Lamberton in Pittsburgh, Bill Pickut, a marketing executive in Chicago, and Rev. Matt Pickut in Plymouth, IN.