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June 16, 2022

Circles of hell: an event that's part disc-golf tournament, part endurance test | We tasted all the ice cream. These are our faves | Why are women suffering disproportionately from heat illness?

CARY TROTTER HAS been around the game of disc golf since before he was born. “My mother won a disc-golf tournament” — the 1985 Sunset Park Daylight Savings Classic — “when she was pregnant with me,” he says. Imagine the endurance test that must’ve been: trudging those long grass fairways, torquing your body through throw after throw (there’s so much more to it than flicking your wrist), all with a future disc-golf tournament director pouched in your belly.

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Fitting, then, that Trotter, after a lifetime around the game, has returned to the same park 37 years later to head up an even more grueling endurance event, 100 Holes of Hell. The premise is right there in the title: In the skanky broil of the Vegas summer, participants gut out 100 holes of disc golf. This year’s takes place Saturday and Sunday on Sunset Park’s sprawling course.

The game itself is simple enough. You throw specially made discs — please, don’t call them Frisbees — from tee pads, down a fairway, and into a chained basket that serves as the hole. Score it like golf. The nonprofit Las Vegas Disc Golf Club oversees a slate of tournaments and other events serving the lively disc golf scene here, itself part of a growing sport, complete with pro players, sponsorships, media channels, somewhat lucrative tournaments, and courses everywhere. Many local parks have them, as do an increasing number of traditional golf courses.

Amid all of that, 100 Holes of Hell stands apart for its blatantly punishing format and the dromedary stamina required to finish. Trotter and his volunteers will set up watering stations along the course, but in the end, it’s player vs. course vs. heat. Fortunately, at press time, the National Weather Service was predicting highs of around 100. It could be worse.

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“Every tournament has its own draws,” says Trotter, who’s running his first 100 Holes. “For some it’s because the course is good; for some it’s the payout. This one is a self-challenge.” Do you, in fact, have what it takes to finish?

As of press time, 100 players had signed up, a few out-of-towners from Southern Utah, Arizona, and California, though Trotter says 90 percent are local; this isn’t an elite tournament that draws national attention. “It’s more just a fun thing,” he says. He expects about 10 percent to drop out before finishing, an astoundingly low figure when you consider the very real likelihood of heat-induced vomiting. “Everyone who finishes is a winner in my book,” he says.

Some years, 100 Holes of Hell takes place entirely in one day, an epic, energy-sapping, dehydrating — but fun — heat-slog. This time it’s spread over Saturday and Sunday, 50 holes each day. But, says Steve Berger, one of the valley’s top players, that doesn’t mean it’ll be easier. “It’s still going to be a tough endurance test,” he says. For the single-day version, the overall course would be shortened, the baskets moved closer to the tees to speed the play. “For this one, we’re pretty much going to be playing the standard layout,” which is longer, requiring more throws per hole, more walking, more heat. “Usually, it’s a long day of sunrise to sunset, but this year, because of the layout, it’ll be two days of sunrise to sunset.”

Berger’s played this event four times before, among the 80 or 90 tournaments he’s been in. He’ll be out there again this weekend, lugging his bag full of favored discs — there’s a nearly endless variety of them now, made from different plastics, bestowed with varying weights and flight characteristics — and, of course, all the water he can carry. Though he’s always mindful of his score, when it comes to 100 Holes, “it’s more about finishing. I mean, I want to have good stats, but finishing this is an accomplishment on its own.”

“If you’re smart,” Trotter says, “you’ll start getting hydrated a couple days in advance.” Maybe up your carbs a bit, too, Berger adds. “After that,” Trotter says, “it’s just a matter of knowing you’re in for a long weekend.” There is one other measure you can take, Berger says: “Consider taking Monday off.”

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100 Holes of Hell takes place 8a Saturday June 18 and 8a Sunday June 19 at Sunset Park. Registration information and more details here.

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Vanilla? So vanilla. Try the Guinness stout

When it comes to cups and cones, Las Vegas has both fine franchises and homegrown flavors. Bringing the Ohio old school is Handel’s (, where flavors include banana cream pie with chunks of graham cracker, and peanut butter parfait studded with peanut butter cups. In Downtown Summerlin,  Mora Iced Creamery ( keeps its flavors more focused, with a Mexican chocolate spiked with spicy cinnamon, and a swirly dulce de leche. Vegas’ own  Cream Me ( is a kitschy pastel parlor where flavors range from circus animal cookie to Guinness stout; the honey lavender has a Willy Wonka color but an elegant Downton Abbey flavor.

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My top pick:  Secret Creamery (, which uses GPS coordinates instead of an address. The flavors are high-concept comfort food, like toasted marshmallow boasting a melted-cloud texture and an ube brownie, with blue sweet potatoes as a base for brownie chunks baked by Carl’s Donuts. Lissa Townsend Rodgers

A creamy punch in your mouth

Concentrated flavor is the trademark of gelato. Churned slowly and thus less airy than ice cream, gelato packs a punch on your palate. I started in Lake Las Vegas at  Bellalinda Gelateria (, where the lake and lavender flowers floating above you make for a romantic setting. Loved the cotton candy gelato because being here is as girly as it gets. Next stop:  Il Gelato at Eataly in Park MGM ( From the flat scooper to the traditional flavors such as stracciatella, this gelato reminded me of frozen treats in Rome.  Gelato Bar in Chinatown ( boasts a cornucopia of cone possibilities. Sampling the caramel popcorn and the piña colada felt like eating Cracker Jacks on a tropical island. My top pick:  Solo Qui on Lake Mead and Buffalo (702-749-3904). A local couple owns the spot, offering a taste of Grandma’s gelato recipes from northern Italy. Every bite from the rotating selection is sublime. (Above, Solo Qui's pistachio gelato.) And a bonus for animal lovers: a scoop for pets made with almond milk and peanut butter. Dogs and gelato, my perfect pairing! Lorraine Blanco Moss

Simple classics with some tasty twists

The self-serve options at  Island Frozen Yogurt ( are standard — think cake batter to peanut butter to Euro tart — and you’re in luck if you’re craving some old-school Dole Whip. Next, I tried  SomiSomi (, which serves ah-boong, a goldfish-shaped waffle cone stuffed with a choice of filling (get the custard!) and soft serve. Is it custard? Is it ice cream? I don’t know, but it was tasty!  Nielsen’s Frozen Custard (, right), a facsimile ’50s soda fountain, boasts a menu of simple classics (vanilla to apple pie), whereas  Luv-it Frozen Custard’s list of treats ( nearly covers the facade of its small building. For its broad menu and no-frills, neighborhood feel, Luv-it comes out on top as my fave frozen custard joint in the valley. Frozen with indecision over Luv-it options? Can’t go wrong with the fudgey, caramel-drenched, pecan-sprinkled Western. Nicholas Barnette

It's all about the "milk"

The thing longtime vegans pay close attention to in ice cream is its base — the “milk” makes a huge difference in taste and texture. This was evident at my first stop,  Emack & Bolio’s in Area 15 (, where my friend Angela chose her coconut-lemon combo wisely, given it blended well with the coconut milk base. My chocolate-mint freckle?  Not so much. While luxuriously creamy, it had a funny aftertaste. On to  Scoop LV (, with its huge almond milk-based selection, whose textures ranged from grainy to rock hard. Still, my husband found the chocolate to be damn near Breyers’ cow-based version. Two places that have dialed in both texture and flavor are  Almond Milk and Paradise City Creameries. Hanging around the walk-up window, tourist Connie Fulkerson told me she’ll make a point of coming back to  Almond Milk (702-912-9092) for the smooth-as-silk white chocolate peanut butter shake when she’s in town. (Right, Almond Milk's Almond Vanilla.) But  Paradise City ( wins top pick, because of its in-house oat-cashew milk blend and inventive flavors, like the pistachio-rose-date, my overall favorite.  Heidi Kyser

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LAS VEGANS ARE all too familiar with extreme summer temperatures. This heat is exaggerated in urban settings, says Erick Bandala, the lead author of a study published recently in the International Journal of Environmental Science and Technology. “By nighttime,” he says, “all the heat that was collected by the buildings and paved surfaces is released into the atmosphere and can't cool as much."

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As acclimated to the urban heat island as some locals may think they are, it’s making more and more of us ill. From 2011 to 2018, Bandala and his fellow researchers observed that the number of people getting sick from the heat each summer rose along with the temperatures. That makes sense. Less predictable, however, was this detail: A decade ago, men comprised around half of people experiencing heat-related illnesses, but by 2018, a whopping 86 percent of them were women. The explanation, Bandala and his colleagues say, is that women are increasingly moving into outdoor work.

Another explanation? Women are drinking way too much water. Though nearly every desert dweller is acutely aware of the dangers of dehydration, there’s a hydration sweet spot. To help us weather Las Vegas’ sizzling summer days, well-meaning healthcare practitioners dish out the age-old axiom, “Drink more water.” But for women, Bandala says, this is advice has potentially deadly consequences, as women are more vulnerable to the medical emergency physicians call “hyponatremia.” You might have heard of it by its more colloquial name: water intoxication. It doesn’t sound terribly threatening, but it could be the reason behind the skyrocketing number of women getting sick during extreme heat waves reported by Bandala and his colleagues.

So why are females more vulnerable to water poisoning than their male counterparts? It comes down to hormones. Water intoxication is essentially a salt deficiency in your blood (hence the name hyponatremia: in Latin hypo means “low,” natrium is “sodium,” and - emia means “presence in blood” — “low salt presence in blood”). Your body works earnestly around the clock to stabilize your blood levels of sodium so that everything hums along normally. But when you decide to go on a jog at noon on a 105-degree day, you disrupt that delicate balance by losing both water and sodium in your sweat. Your natural instinct is, of course, to chug your entire 40 oz. Hydro Flask of water. Men are better able to tolerate this influx of sodium-free water, but for women (like literally everything else), it’s more complicated.

It turns out, the scientists explain, that the progesterone in female blood vies to connect to the same receptors as another hormone called aldosterone, which regulates how much sodium women’s bodies excrete. Long story short: progesterone wins, blood sodium is diluted, cells lose proper water balance, and you may end up at the nearest ER — if you’re lucky enough to recognize water intoxication symptoms early on. Many don’t, or worse still, confuse it with heat stroke and drink even more water.

To avoid this fate, Bandala advises, “It's better to hydrate by using electrolytes."

Of course, the problem is too great to solve through personal responsibility alone. Women’s specific needs are often left out of discussions about preparing for and dealing with heatwaves, with deadly consequences. As our climate changes and summers get hotter here in Vegas, public health recommendations must shift from the boilerplate “Drink more water” to advice that takes into account women’s particular vulnerability: “Drink more water, and make sure you’re also replenishing your electrolytes when you do.”

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Photos and art: disc golf: Shutterstock; ice cream: Christopher Smith and Scott Lien; climate: AP John Locher

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