If you ask this week’s guest what drives his success as a multiple world record breaking adventure athlete, his answer just might surprise you.
It’s not grit. It’s not talent, perseverance or focus. Instead, it’s infinite love.
Returning for his fourth appearance on the podcast, Colin O’Brady is here to elaborate.
Longtime listeners are well acquainted with Colin’s story from burn victim to boundary eclipsing adventurer. Even if you’re new to the podcast, chances are stumbled across his story by way of his appearances everywhere, from the Today show to the Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon.
For the unfamiliar few, Colin is a former Yale swimmer turned professional triathlete enjoying a third act as an elite adventure athlete with 5 breathtaking world records to his name.
Notable among his many palmarès, Colin is both the youngest and fastest human to complete The Explorers Grand Slam — a challenge of exceptional prestige that encompasses scaling the highest mountain on each of the seven continents and treks to both the North and South Poles. Not only did he demolish the previous record by an astonishing 53-day margin, along the way he simultaneously broke the 7 Summits world record by two days.
Last year, Colin became the first to cross Antarctica solo, unsupported and unaided. Under his own power, Colin pulled a 300-pound sled 932 miles in just 54 days across the coldest, windiest, most remote continent on earth from the Atlantic to the Pacific via the South Pole. It’s a stunning feat of human will that captivated millions — and created controversy along the way.
This past December, Colin and five crew mates successfully completed the first and only human-powered ocean row across the Drake Passage — a treacherous 13-day, 600 nautical mile excursion from the southern tip of South America to the edge of Antarctica — aptly titled The Impossible Row — chronicled in a mini-series produced by Discovery.
Colin’s latest accomplishment coincided with the release of his new book, The Impossible First. Dubbed by Kirkus a “brutally sublime tale of derring-do that transports as well as teaches”, it’s a memoir that chronicles his incredible life and the many lessons learned about human potential, possibility, and the power of infinite love.
”What's most important to any of us is the six inches between our ears. It's what we can create within our minds that dictates a lot of what we're able to do.Colin O'Brady
If you missed our previous conversations (RRP#207, RRP#235 and RRP#439), they’re an excavation of Colin’s origin story growing up on a commune. How he survived an almost lethal burn accident that left him unlikely to walk again. His phoenix-like transformation into a professional ITU triathlete and Olympic hopeful. And how he morphed into a mountaineer with the audacity to attempt such incomprehensible feats of adventure athleticism is well worth the time invested.
Today we pick up where our ongoing series last left off.
Note: we recorded this conversation many months ago on January 18. My initial plan was to share this episode on February 9. However, on February 2, National Geographic published an article entitled The Problem With Colin O’Brady – a 7,000 word take down that accuses Colin of embellishing his accomplishments.
It’s an upsetting piece that left me confused. I’ve known Colin for many years. I’ve spent quite a bit of time with him and his wife Jenna. I consider him a good friend. And myself a decent judge of character. However, in light of this development, it also felt tone deaf to release the podcast as scheduled. So I put a pin it.
Two weeks later, Colin published a thorough, 16-page point-by-point refutation of the National Geographic article.
I thought it only fair to provide Colin an opportunity to comment on the allegations. So, on March 8 (still pre-pandemic), we sat down again for a subsequent conversation to discuss the controversy particulars.
Today I share both conversations. First, the original interview we conducted in January. It’s an exploration the hows and whys behind The Impossible Row. The intention behind his new book and the process of birthing it. And a deep dive into human potential and the infinite love that fuels his.
Immediately following this initial exchange is an additional 30-minute discourse specific to the National Geographic scuffle appended to the audio version of the podcast and viewable as a stand-alone piece here & below.
The visually inclined can watch it all go down on YouTube — where we separated the main podcast conversation and Colin’s thoughts in response to the article into two distinct videos. And as always, the audio version streams wild and free on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.
As Colin and I are both fond of repeating, we all sit atop mountains of untapped potential. May this conversation help you tap yours.
Peace + Plants,
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- Connect With Colin: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
- Book: The Impossible First*
- Outside: Colin O’Brady Wants to Tell You a Story
- WSJ: An Antarctic Explorer’s Mental Journey
- WSJ: ‘The Impossible First’ Review: The Great White South
- NY Times: He Crossed Antarctica Alone. Now He Plans to Row There.
- TODAY: Daredevil Colin O’Brady talks about crossing Antarctica and Drake Passage
- Jimmy Fallon: Colin O’Brady on His Historic Solo Crossing of Antarctica
- Discovery: The Impossible Row
- National Geographic: The Problem With Colin O’Brady
- Colin’s Response To NatGeo: Letter To Nat Geo Editor Susan Goldberg
- The New Yorker: The Polar Explorer Colin O’Brady and the Problem with “Firsts”
- TIME: 6 Rowers Become First to Cross Infamous Drake Passage Unassisted
- Business Insider: A burn victim who was told he’d never walk normally is climbing Mount Everest with his wife after crossing Antarctica alone
- NY Times: Crossing Antarctica: 7 Takeaways From the Solo and Unsupported Journey
- NY Times: Racing Across Antarctica, One Freezing Day at a Time
- NY Times: Colin O’Brady Completes Crossing of Antarctica With Final 32-Hour Push
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*Disclosure: Books and products denoted with an asterisk are hyperlinked to an affiliate program. We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.