by Drew Martin
I read an article yesterday from the 01.15 issue of Outside magazine that mentioned a stellar endurance athlete, Marcus Elliott, who I knew when I cycled and ran with that crowd back in the late 80s/early 90s in Santa Barbara while I attended UCSB. I never followed his career path but according to the article he went on to Harvard and became a sports scientist who has, in his words "...been innovating sports science for the past 20 years."
The article is about misogi, originally a Japanese Shinto practice of ritual purification, which in Elliott's hands is an endurance challenge for some of his professional athlete clients. The most recent endeavor was an underwater, rock-carrying relay for five kilometers (which took nearly five hours).
It is about bettering your physical self but it is really about realizing physical limits that our prehistoric ancestors expanded, which modern society has narrowed to our comfort zones. The subtext, with the band of tough guys, giggling girls looking on, and having a beer together, is about being a man.
The article fell into my lap at a perfect time because the night prior I watched the Morgan Spurlock (Supersize Me) produced movie A Brony Tale, by film maker Brent Hodge, about bronies - young men who are fans of My Little Pony. Hodge and Ashleigh Ball, a voice-over talent for two of the show's characters, set off from British Columbia to the New York hosted Bronycon, to come face to face with her and the show's fans.
Much discussed is the question of what is manly, and whether or not you can be a real man and like colorful cartoon ponies designed for little girls. The military-, gym-rat-, and motorcycle riding-bronies say yes.
The documentary is very optimistic and well done, and Ball is a great personality to tag along with. Coincidentally she is also the lead singer of Hey Ocean!
Below is the trailer for A Brony Tale, and a video of the Hey Ocean! hit song Big Blue Wave.