Earth Day at Biosphere II

By Chris Kostman

Originally published in Triathlete, July 1993

Some of the big names in triathlon and multi-sports gathered to celebrate Earth Day at Biosphere II in Oracle, AZ over the weekend of April 17-18, 1993. On hand were well-known triathletes Scott Tinley, Ray Browning, Colleen Cannon, and Joan Hansen, plus multi-sport athletes Steve and Deborah Ilg and Chris Kostman, and Native American ultra-distance triathlete Clare St. Arnaud, who also serves as fitness consultant to the Biosphere II staff.

Biosphere II is a fully-sealed and self-sustaining research project in the Arizona desert in which eight humans are living in harmony with 3,800 different types of plants animals in a miniature version of Planet Earth (Biosphere I). Seven different biomes make up the Biosphere: rain forest, ocean, desert, marshes, savannah, intensive agricultural area, and a human habitat, all in 3.15 acres! All water, air, and waste is recycled and only information and energy is supplied to the Biosphere. The first team of eight Biospherians complete their initial two year mission in late Spetember. The goal is to learn about how the planet works as a system and to develop biospheric technology so that similar concepts can be utilized in long-range space travel and exploration.

Under the theme that "Earth Care Begins With Self Care," the Earth Day festivities included a three mile fun run, seminars by the different elite athletes, plus environmental artist Wyland painted one of his famous Whaling Walls while many other exhibits and demonstrations were organized. For the sports-minded folks who attended, it was a rare opportunity to run and interact with such well-known athletes in a low key, non-competitive atmosphere. The run itself was both trail and pavement and wound its way around the Biosphere II compound. The highlight of the course was the run along Panoramic Ridge above the Biosphere; the eight Biospherians inside watched the race from the tower above their human habitat area. Besides giving seminars on a variety of topics, the athletes were on hand for autographs and to participate in a wide-ranging roundtable discussion. Additional athletic events are planned at this beautiful and educational location.