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Colin O’Brady’s Attempt On The Explorers Grand Slam World Record

By January 10, 2016January 19th, 20242 Comments

“For me it’s always been about the journey, about the adventure & about living my passion—that’s been enough reward for me.”

Colin O’Brady

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.

Colin just moments after successfully reaching the South Pole at 1:55 PST on January 10. The clock on the World Record attempt is now ticking!

Colin just moments after successfully reaching the South Pole at 1:55 PST on January 10. The clock on the World Record attempt is now ticking!

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,


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The BEYOND 7/2 Calendar:

  • 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:

Notable People Discussed in today’s podcast:

Related Podcasts You Might Enjoy:

Production, music & sound design by Tyler Piatt. Additional production by Chris Swan. Graphic art by Shawn Patterson.

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  • patjochnick says:

    Remarkable story, great podcast RR. Best of luck Colin, wonderful to hear how true you are to your values. Beautiful authenticity.

  • Tommy F says:

    That crazy jump-rope fire in Thailand musta somehow supercharged Colin’s pain-tolerance. Sounds like he went through hell from that accident, but emerged out of it as an endurance-machine! Inspiring young man.


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