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4 Races Around the World

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Looking for a challenge? Try racing around the world! These trips around the globe may not have earned any notice from Jules Verne or the producers of The Amazing Race, but they certainly enabled racers to see the world in unique ways.

1. British Convertible Takes on the Globe

When British automaker Austin introduced its Austin A40 Sports in 1950, it was taking a risk. The little convertible was really more of a small touring car than a true sports car, and it was fairly pricey for its day. When initial sales were a bit slow, Austin chief Leonard Lord came up with a clever publicity grab: he bet his PR man Alan Hess that Hess couldn't drive an A40 Sports around the world in 30 days.


Hess gamely accepted the challenge, and in 1951 he took off on his journey. With the help of a cargo aircraft to move the car from continent to continent, Hess actually pulled off the around-the-world feat in just 21 days. He covered 10,000 land miles at around 29 miles per gallon. Even this well publicized stunt couldn't save the A40 Sports, though. Austin discontinued it in 1953 after only producing around 4000 of the convertibles.

2. Modern Sailors Make Like Magellan

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Ever wonder what sailing around the world would be like? Try getting onto a crew for the Volvo Ocean Race. The race, which began in 1972 and goes off every three years, sends a special class of 70-foot yachts on a nine-month journey around that world that covers almost 39,000 nautical miles. The last race began in October 2008 in Alicante, Spain, and ended in June 2009 in St. Petersburg, Russia.


As you might expect, building a giant yacht and racing it for nine months is a pretty expensive endeavor; the winning Ericsson team in the last race spent around 50 million euros on its boat and crew. However, there's no cash prize for winning this epic race. Instead, the winners simply get a crystal trophy and recognition in the sailing community. [Image credit.]

3. Sixties Sailors Go Solo

Although the Volvo Ocean Race has been popular since the 1970s, one of its precursors didn't go anywhere near as well. In 1968, the British newspaper The Sunday Times sponsored a first-of-its-kind non-stop single-handed sailing race around the world. ("Single-handed" is sailing jargon for solo voyages; each boat only held a single sailor.) The paper offered a cash prize of 5,000 pounds sterling to whichever sailor made the fastest time around the world. It sounded like a good idea at the time, but the race ended up being an unqualified disaster.

johnson-raceOf the nine boats that started the Sunday Times Golden Globe Race, four gave up before getting out of the Atlantic Ocean. Another called it quits after rounding the Cape of Good Hope. A sixth competitor, French sailor Bernard Moitessier, looked like he could win before he decided that a commercial sailing competition made him uncomfortable and he set sail for Tahiti mid-race. Sailor Nigel Tetley looked like he would win the race with only 1,100 miles remaining, but his boat sank.


Obviously, this race was more than a little star-crossed, but the most tragic story belonged to British sailor Donald Crowhurst. Crowhurst owned a failing business, and he thought winning the race would give him the cash infusion to keep his company afloat. However, he wasn't a great sailor, so his plan involved cheating. Crowhurst had decided he would selectively sit out a portion of the race, radio in false positions, and then reunite with the leaders at a later date. The plan might have worked, but the months of solitude and the complex calculations required to radio in false positions apparently drove Crowhurst mad. He disappeared at some point during the race, and an analysis of his logs made investigators think Crowhurst went insane and committed suicide by jumping overboard.

In the end, Robert Knox-Johnston (pictured) won the race by default—he was the only sailor to finish the circumnavigation. He donated his winnings to Crowhurst's widow and children. Although this particular race was a debacle, it inspired the single-handed around-the-world race the VELUX 5 Oceans Race that's currently quite popular with sailors.

4. Danish Runner Races Himself Around the Globe

olsenThink running a marathon sounds daunting? Danish runner Jesper Olsen ran more than a marathon a day for 22 straight months to become the first runner to make it around the world on foot. From January 2004 to October 2005, Olsen averaged 28 miles a day as he hoofed it across four continents and ran in everything from Siberian cold to Australian heat.


Olsen first ran from London to Vladivostok, at which point he jumped in a plane for Japan, ran across the country, and hopped another plane for Australia. After running a Sydney-to-Perth route, he flew to Los Angeles, ran to Vancouver, and then traversed North America to get to New York. By the time it was over, Olsen had logged 26,000 km on foot, which earned him Guinness records for both the longest distance run ever and for being the first person to ever run a lap around the world. You'd think that would wear Olsen out, but he's currently in the midst of an even longer run of 40,000 km that he started in July 2008.

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These $425 Jeans Can Turn Into Jorts
May 19, 2017
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Modular clothing used to consist of something simple, like a reversible jacket. Today, it’s a $425 pair of detachable jeans.

Apparel retailer Opening Ceremony recently debuted a pair of “2 in 1 Y/Project” trousers that look fairly peculiar. The legs are held to the crotch by a pair of loops, creating a disjointed C-3PO effect. Undo the loops and you can now remove the legs entirely, leaving a pair of jean shorts in their wake. The result goes from this:

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To this:

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The company also offers a slightly different cut with button tabs in black for $460. If these aren’t audacious enough for you, the Y/Project line includes jumpsuits with removable legs and garter-equipped jeans.

[h/t Mashable]

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This First-Grade Math Problem Is Stumping the Internet
May 17, 2017
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If you’ve ever fantasized about how much easier life would be if you could go back to elementary school, this math problem may give you second thoughts. The question first appeared on a web forum, Mashable reports, and after recently resurfacing, it’s been perplexing adults across social media.

According to the original poster AlmondShell, the bonus question was given to primary one, or first grade students, in Singapore. It instructs readers to “study the number pattern” and “fill in the missing numbers.” The puzzle, which comprises five numbers and four empty circles waiting to be filled in, comes with no further explanation.

Some forum members commented with their best guesses, while others expressed disbelief that this was a question on a kid’s exam. Commenter karrotguy illustrates one possible answer: Instead of looking for complex math equations, they saw that the figure in the middle circle (three) equals the amount of double-digit numbers in the surrounding quadrants (18, 10, 12). They filled out the puzzle accordingly.

A similar problem can be found on the blog of math enthusiast G.R. Burgin. His solution, which uses simple algebra, gets a little more complicated.

The math tests given to 6- and 7-year-olds in other parts of the world aren’t much easier. If your brain isn’t too worn out after the last one, check out this maddening problem involving trains assigned to students in the UK.

[h/t Mashable]

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