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Portland’s Backyard Collective: Battlin’ Ivy with the Conservation Alliance and Friends

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During a 2 year partnership with the Conservation Alliance, our Portland office had a chance to participate in many events, but the one they look forward to the most is the Backyard Collective. It’s a wonderful experience to get outside and help maintain the local parks and trails that all of the team at our US headquarters use during our time away from the office.

This year our Icebreaker US team headed to Forest Park, just a few blocks from the office, to spend the morning pulling invasive ivy from the areas near the trails. It was tough work, but the team said it was really satisfying, especially when they were able to see the positive changes previous Backyard Collective efforts have made on the surrounding areas. It’s a constant battle to remove the non-native plant that destroys trees, but thanks to the folks at the Conservation Alliance and the Forest Park Conservancy, the battle is being won – as of May, 33 acres of the park were declared free of invasive plants!

The team had a great time working with their fellow Conservation Alliance members (and neighbours) Keen, Columbia, REI, and Merrell and they can’t wait for the next Backyard Collective!

The world’s coldest and toughest ultra

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Sometimes people just do the most amazing things. On February 4th 2012, Justin Wallace began running the Yukon Arctic Ultra, pulling a 50lb sled across the frozen Yukon river and over the wooded hills that surround it as well. 100 miles (160km) and in a time of 21 hours and 41 minutes later he was the first competitor to arrive in Braeburn, getting there before the finish line had even been set up and establishing a new course record!

“The race started out too warm for my 200 weight GT top from Icebreaker, but as temperatures dropped to below -30ºC during the night, the base layer really shone. With only a light jacket over top and a well covered head, I ran through the darkness warm and dry. My physical comfort allowed me to enjoy the race, marvelling at how the snow crystals in the trees twinkled in the moonlight and watching the faint northern lights dance in green waves overhead.”


Here’s an excerpt from the February 5 Yukon Arctic Ultra News:
“Justin Wallace from Whitehorse sets new record and wins 100 mile race. We knew yesterday morning that Justin would be fast. I do admit that I did not expect it. Simply because I did not know him. Friends of his were not as surprised. I am told he trained very hard and used any excuse to go to places pulling his sled rather than taking a car. Not just once he showed up with an iced up face mask at friend’s places after a long run. And it paid off. Justin reached the finish line in Braeburn at 08:13 this morning, 21 hours and 41 minutes after race start and won the 100 miles. And not only did he win. He also broke the existing record by more than 2 hours!”

Woolly Kiwi Skateboarder in the Record Books

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People told me it would be near impossible to travel by skateboard, carrying all my travel gear in my backpack. 1.5 years and 12,159km later, I had not only proved them wrong, I was also a Guinness World Record holder; for the longest journey by skateboard (as seen in the 2012 Guinness Book of World Records).

The journey started in 2006; to cycle 12,000km from Japan to England was the plan. Somewhere in the depths of Central Asia, however, I got the idea stuck in my head that travelling by skateboard would be not only more unique, but also potentially more convenient; my daily budget was around $5 a day, and wild camping with a bike was a hassle at times.

I made it to Switzerland on my bike, and there I switched to the longboard and never looked back. The remaining 1,500km from Switzerland to England was awesome; smooth separated cycleways along the scenic Rhine river. Keen for more adventure, I headed to the US (crossing the Atlantic as crew on a sailboat) to skate across that continent.

I broke the Guinness World Record half-way across the US, but still hungered for more. No one had ever skateboarded across China, so that, along with the knowledge that it was home to plenty of fresh new tarmac, made it the obvious choice. China did not disappoint; 5,000km of the most buttery, divine pavement on earth, wild deserts, high passes, and diversity of culture made it the highlight of the trip.

All up, I travelled a shade over 25,000km over 2.5 years before arriving back home in New Zealand. I bought my first set of Icebreaker garments for the original bike trip (GT320 zip top, 280 weight midlayer, and a few sets of 200 and 150 weight base layers), and they managed to last me those 2.5 years of abuse and sweat and heat and frigid cold. 21 days without washing was my record for anti-hygiene, and the Icebreaker merino-wool goodness lived up to the hype. Thanks Icebreaker for your commitment to great design and functionality.

- Rob Thomson (, Guinness World Record Holder and Icebreaker fan.