“For me it’s always been about the journey, about the adventure & about living my passion—that’s been enough reward for me.”
As I write this entry, it’s Sunday evening, January 10 around 8pm. Less than one hour ago, after days spent slogging across Antarctic desert in -30 celsius temperatures, 30-year old pro triathlete turned mountaineering adventure athlete Colin O’Brady reached the South Pole — the first stop on his world record quest to become the youngest and fastest human to ever complete the Explorers Grand Slam — an adventurers challenge to summit the highest mountain on each of the seven continents as well as trek to both the North and South Poles.
Only 44 people in documented history have successfully completed the challenge. Of these, only 2 have done it under a year.
Colin’s goal? Get it done in five months.
If that’s not amazing enough, consider that just eight years ago, Colin faced the very real possibility he would never walk again.
After graduating from Yale in 2006, Colin left to explore the world on a backpacking trip. While in Thailand, he suffered a tragic accident and was severely burned in a fire. His injuries covered nearly 25% of his body, causing potentially irrevocable damage to his legs and feet.
Determined to beat the odds, he set a seemingly outlandish goal to not just walk again, but to complete a triathlon following his recovery. Colin didn’t just finish a triathlon. In his first attempt he won — stunning the multisport community with an overall amateur title at the prestigious 2009 Chicago Triathlon less than two years post-accident and after only a few months of training.
On the day immediately following his victory, Colin turned pro, quit his job as a commodities trader, hopped a flight to Australia and spent the next five years representing the United States in triathlon competitions all over the world with a keen eye on landing an Olympic berth.
Insane. And yet despite his amazing success, Colin sensed something missing from his life. He wanted more. A compulsion to more deeply explore uncertainty and precariousness that fatefully gave birth to the expedition he calls BEYOND 7/2.
His inspiration isn’t fame, but pure adventure, buttressed by a conviction to land a blow to childhood obesity by raising $1 million on behalf of the Alliance For A Healthier Generation, a non-profit founded by the American Heart Association and the Clinton Foundation dedicated to helping kids to develop healthy habits.
From his hippie upbringing to life at Yale, organic farming on Kauai, and the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual fortitude required to succeed in his world record attempt, this is an incredibly inspiring conversation with a young man courageously embracing fear to meet his absolute limits in search of meaning, place and giving back.
We cover a lot of ground in today’s confab, including:
- Explorers Grand Slam history
- the logistics behind Beyond 7/2
- how to manage fear, risk & unknowns
- the difference between poles vs. peaks
- climate change impact on the North Pole
- the desire to combat childhood obesity
- Colin’s tragedy in Thailand
- Colin’s remarkable recovery
- Colin’s Olympic dream
- the discipline of swimming as a springboard
- lessons learned from world champions
- physical/mental preparation
- Colin’s daily meditation routine
I sincerely hope you enjoy this exchange with a remarkable human. Colin needs all the support we can give so let’s put some wind in his sails by taking a moment to send Colin a positive message on social media (links below).
Peace + Plants,
Thanks to this week’s sponsors:
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- South Pole (Antarctica)
- Mt. Vinson (Antarctica)
- Aconcagua (South America)
- Carstensz (Australasia)
- Mt. Kilimanjaro (Africa)
- Mt. Elbrus (Europe)
- North Pole (Arctic Ocean)
- Mt. Everest (Asia)
- Denali (North America)
Help Colin reach his $1,000,000 goal to combat childhood obesity at Alliance For A Healthier Generation
Background, Context & Reference:
- Explorers Grand Slam: explorersgrandslam.com
- Wikipedia: Explorers Grand Slam
- WashingtonPost: Six Months, Seven Mountains, Two Poles — And The Pursuit Of One Record
- USAToday: Endurance Athlete Will Try To Break Peaks Record
- FranklinPost: BEYOND 7/2: Colin O’Brady’s World Record Attempt
- Nike: The Beyond 7/2 Challenge
- AustinTriCyclist: Real Life of the Pros: ITU Triathlete Colin O’Brady
- TrepLife: Burn Victim Turned Pro Endurance Athlete Turned World-Record-Setting Mountaineer
- AND: Climber Tejas reclaims Seven Summits record at age 57
- Vimeo: Changing Lanes:Fitness Trucking
- SportsIllustrated: First African-American All-Ivy League swimmer found unlikely passion
- VeloNews: Mark Holowesko on pro cycling:It has to be a business
Notable People Discussed in today’s podcast:
- Richard Parks: former Wales international rugby union player turned extreme environmental athlete
- Vanessa O’Brien: British-American mountain climber, explorer public speaker & former business executive
- Frank Keefe: former head coach of the Yale swim team
- Tim Wise: Yale swim team coach
- Siphiwe Baleka: Yale graduate & founder of the Fitness Trucking Program
- Brian Gelber: Chairman of Gelber Group
- Pablo Morales: American former competition swimmer
- Siri Lindley: American triathlon coach and former professional triathlete
- Leanda Cave: British professional triathlete
- Mirinda Carfrae: Australian professional triathlete
- Luke McKenzie: Australian professional triathlete
- Greg Bennett: Australian professional triathlete
- Laura Bennett: American professional triathlete
- Melissa Hauschildt: Australian professional triathlete
- Tim O’Donnell: American long-distance triathlete
- Belinda Granger: Australian professional triathlete
Related Podcasts You Might Enjoy:
- RRP #113: David Clark: From Alcoholic to Badwater
- RRP #067: Charlie Engle on Running the Sahara
- RRP #149: The Iron Cowboy’s Assault On The Impossible
- RRP #115: Dean Karnazes: To Struggle Is To Be Alive
- RRP #166: James “Iron Cowboy” Lawrence, How He Completed 50 Ironmans In 50 States In 50 Days
- RRP #170: Conrad Anker On Suffering, Risk, Reward & The Allure Of Meru
Production, music & sound design by Tyler Piatt. Additional production by Chris Swan. Graphic art by Shawn Patterson.
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