Two runners from Flagstaff are teaming up with The White House on a new campaign. Rob Krar and Christina Bauer are husband and wife, and they’ve been enlisted by President Obama in an effort to call attention to the value of the nation's public lands. Krar and Bauer joined Arizona Public Radio's Aaron Granillo to discuss their new partnership with the president.
Aaron Granillo: The White House is building this coalition of outdoor athletes to help spread the word about protecting public lands. Can you tell us a bit more about what you know about the president’s intentions here?
Krar: Sure, I think it really shows the White House is aware of the importance of land conservation and I think they had a chance to watch the film we took part in with the Sierra Club earlier this year called, "Chasing the Distance." We're happy to be a part of the campaign to raise awareness of land conservation.
I have a clip from that film, and it’s from Christina, and you’re talking about running and camping on public lands, specifically at the Grand Canyon. Let’s have a listen.
"We fell in love camping here. A piece of my heart is in this place. You can just feel so connected to something, but so small at the same time. It's this place where you can feel free."
Christina, it sounds like you have this deep love and appreciation for the land out there.
Bauer: I like to say I grew up on these lands, and I did not actually physically grow up on these lands. I grew up out east, you know, where things are much more packed. But, I moved out here in my Honda Civic in my 20s. And, I think I really just found who I was camping and traveling and exploring in these places. And, I just am so ever grateful for that, and I want everyone to have that opportunity to challenge themselves in that way and really find who they are because I think that's really part of America.
When I introduced you, I called you both runners, but that’s a bit of of understatement. You’re actually ultra-runners, right?
Krar: You could say we're ultra-runners, correct.
What does that mean exactly? What does an ultra runner do?
Krar: I suppose the definition is any distance greater than a marathon, but both Christina and I have raced and run a number off 100-miles races in the past few years.
Let's get back to the president's initiative and his plans to protect public lands. What are your roles specifically?
Krar: Well I think I am in a position. I feel very fortunate the last few years to have had some successful races and a social media presence where I feel like I can make a difference in reaching out and letting people know about the value of these lands. So, right now I would say I'm a bit of on the outside, but doing my best to be vocal and keep my fingers crossed that the Greater Grand Canyon Heritage National Monument is declared by President Obama.
It sounds like you're more so playing the role of spokesperson and advocate. Is that right?
Krar: Yea, so far they reached out the day before President Obama's most recent declaration of the three new national monuments in California. So, right now social media is my greatest means of reaching out and no other concrete plans at this moment.
Christina, how threatened are our public lands, do you think, in this country?
Bauer: Well, I think they're under great threat right now. I think, you know, if we look at what is our backyard. You know, it's just these connected land and there are so many uranium mines and claims. And, if we look at the legacy of uranium mining in our neighborhood - I mean up out on the Navajo reservation or things. I mean, it's a lot of permanent damage. And, I think we're just fools if we don't look at the greater good of keeping these lands open and the recreational value to the towns around it and the income that will come from allowing people to use these lands to hunt and to fish and to climb and to camp. And, I think that we of course need to use our resources and use them wisely, but I think there are also places that deserve to be open to allow people to feel that feeling of freedom.