One continuous “Antarctica Ultramarathon” push to the finish line

Thursday, December 27th, 2018

When I listened to the audiobook version of Endurance, I thought it definitely qualified as a “harrowing” tale. British explorer Ernest Shackleton’s 1914 attempt to reach the South Pole did not go well, but modern endurance athlete Colin O’Brady‘s recent attempt to cross Antarctica, solo and unaided, has gone well:

Day 54: FINISH LINE!!! I did it! The Impossible First. 32 hours and 30 minutes after leaving my last camp early Christmas morning, I covered the remaining ~80 miles in one continuous “Antarctica Ultramarathon” push to the finish line. The wooden post in the background of this picture marks the edge of the Ross Ice Shelf, where Antarctica’s land mass ends and the sea ice begins. As I pulled my sled over this invisible line, I accomplished my goal: to become the first person in history to traverse the continent of Antarctica coast to coast solo, unsupported and unaided. While the last 32 hours were some of the most challenging hours of my life, they have quite honestly been some of the best moments I have ever experienced. I was locked in a deep flow state the entire time, equally focused on the end goal, while allowing my mind to recount the profound lessons of this journey. I’m delirious writing this as I haven’t slept yet.

Colin O'Brady in Antarctica

There is so much to process and integrate and there will be many more posts to acknowledge the incredible group of people who supported this project. But for now, I want to simply recognize my #1 who I, of course, called immediately upon finishing. I burst into tears making this call. I was never alone out there. @jennabesaw you walked every step with me and guided me with your courage and strength. WE DID IT!! We turned our dream into reality and proved that The Impossible First is indeed possible. “It always seems impossible until it’s done.” – Nelson Mandela.
#TheImpossibleFirst #BePossible


  1. Senexada says:

    The physical feat is impressive but I can’t agree with the terms “unassisted” or “unaided” for someone who phoned home every night to receive a variety of support, both emotional and logistical.

    Those terms appear to have specialized definitions in the adventure community, but using skis, a sled, and daily satellite logistical support, but not a kite, feels like a somewhat arbitrary distinction, and I’m curious if this version is truly net harder (overall, not just physically) than earlier versions.

  2. Ezra says:

    A significant accomplishment considering that most of the trip is across the high plateau of Antarctica which is around 3,000 meters high.

  3. Graham says:

    Well, respect due for the physical, psychological and planning accomplishment O’Brady managed. It is far out on the extreme end of extreme and worthy.

    But Senexada raises a larger point. A great deal of what passes for overclass culture today seems to be about maximizing adventure, travel, experience, sensation, opportunity. It’s a curious mix of naive, passionate enthusiasm with the kind of subtle jadedness that makes one always find the everyday too little and seek the constant high of the new. Consider the proliferation of travel enthusiast publications, the rise of extreme and not so extreme foodie cultures, and of course ever more kinetic or demanding physical activities. I had a boss once who, at the micro level, actually spoke against Christmas gifts on the account of, at her [still fairly young] age, wanting to just collect ‘experiences’.

    I get it- on some level this has always been a goal of life for many, perhaps most, and a little dream for most of the rest. It’s human. But it gets a lot more emphasis now.

    Why? Because it’s safe[r]. Crossing Antarctica is beyond most humans, but it’s not exactly a feat of daring like it was a century ago, nor of exploration in any traditional sense.

    Not for nothing that the same culture that pursues experience and sensation is the most safety-obsessed ever to exist.

    It’s a weird time.

  4. Kirk says:


    To be honest, I think it’s all of a piece with a bunch of the other “weirdnesses” we have infesting our culture, these days.

    At one and the same time, the schizophrenic elite embraces this sort of thing as being something to emulate, seeking sensation for sensation’s sake, they demand that everyone else be drone-like enablers for their BS. They don’t go to other countries and become the “other”, they go there expecting that the campesinos and other indigenes are there as though they were so many Disneyworld employees. They don’t grant agency to them, or the rest of us, in their minds. We’re all a projection of theirs, and when they run into contradictory experiences, they react with shock and horror.

    Case in point? The recent murders of those idiotic little girls in Morocco, who were filmed having their heads sawn off by a bunch of atavist Muslim males they’d put themselves into reach of, while crying out for their mothers. The Muslims in question were treating them as though they were the Eid sacrificial sheep… And, in a sense, they were.

    The “cognitive elites” we have running our civilization into the ground are all delusional; they are the fools in Plato’s cave looking at the shadows on the wall, and thinking that those shadows are reality. If you step back from it all, I think there’s a lot of reason to look at our current situation as though our civilization has been taken over by a bunch of autistic sociopaths, who refuse to pay attention to the actual effects of their decisions and behavior.

    Sean Penn and his fellow celebrities are another perfect example; for years, they were all going down to Venezuela and telling the rest of us what a wonderful deal Chavez had going with his “Bolivarian Socialism”… And, now? Nary a word, once that whole mess crashed and burned. Yet, I can guarantee you, not a one of them will ever either admit they were wrong, or do the necessary extrapolation to figure out that they had even been wrong about the whole question of Venezuela.

    And, these are the people the rest of us put in charge. Hell, we keep electing people to Congress that can’t do enough basic math to understand that you can’t spend more money than you take in, tax-wise–And, we’re about to deal with the consequences of that in very short order.

    Our “cognitive elites” have been pulling a con on the rest of us, and it’s about damn time we started calling them on their BS, and holding them accountable for the actual results of their policies and delusional world-view. It’s going to come, and the reactionary regimes that become their successors are going to be unpleasant places for a lot of people to live in. I foresee a time when that entire crew that helped hide that cop-killer down in California will be summarily executed at the site of their capture, to the nodding approval of the masses. Hell, to tell the truth, I don’t think it’s going to be very long before politicians like Jerry Brown go up on the lamp posts, once the consequences of their malfeasance and incompetence become clear.

    We are in for some interesting times, and the fact is that our autistic elites will have created the conditions that mandate that. This Antarctic thing is just another symptom of it all.

  5. Sam J. says:

    “…I think there’s a lot of reason to look at our current situation as though our civilization has been taken over by a bunch of autistic sociopaths…”

    This is exactly what has happened. They get great joy in watching the suffering of those they mislead.

    I think this has happened many times in the past. Whenever an empire is formed is slowly creates a bureaucracy and the people at the top become removed from the common man. This is the perfect place for a perfect actor. A person who lies so well they have NO autonomous response to lying. There’s no tell that they are lying. Perfect sincerity.

    I know one one empire that expired this way for certain. Alcibiades was almost certainly a psychopath. Some had an intense hatred for him, some great love. It was Alcibiades that pushed the great idea of attacking Syracuse on the Athenians. The failed Syracuse attack was THE downfall of Athens. The failed attack destroyed them completely. The same Alcibiades went from city to city in the ancient world. In Sparta he was more Spartan than the Spartans. Changing his chameleon skin every time he moved somewhere else and betraying everyone he came in contact with. Alcibiades killed Athens with risky schemes to glorify himself.

    Story of Alcibiades*.html

    What did Plutarch have to say about him.

    “…He had, as they say, one power which transcended all others, and proved an implement of his chase for men: that of assimilating and adapting himself to the pursuits and lives of others, thereby assuming more violent changes than the chameleon. That animal, however, as it is said, is utterly unable to assume one colour, namely, white; but Alcibiades could associate with good and bad alike, and found naught that he could not imitate and practice. 5 In Sparta, he was all for bodily training, simplicity of life, and severity of countenance; in Ionia, for p65 luxurious ease and pleasure; in Thrace, for drinking deep; in Thessaly, for riding hard; and when he was thrown with Tissaphernes the satrap, he outdid even Persian magnificence in his pomp and lavishness. It was not that he could so easily pass entirely from one manner of man to another, nor that he actually underwent in every case a change in his real character; but when he saw that his natural manners were likely to be annoying to his associates, he was quick to assume any counterfeit exterior which might in each case be suitable for them…”

    One thing not widely known is King Agis of Sparta hated Alcibiades because Alcibiades had a child by the Kings wife.

    Psychopaths of the competent type are some of the best actors ever. I think it’s their nonreaction. No emotional cues from their bodies hides that they’re lying. I think subconsciously that we humans rely a great deal on these subconscious body reactions to tell if people are lying and when there’s none there we assume that someone is telling the truth.

    I have a theory that the period of time for the downfall of Empires is related to how long it takes psychopaths to move up the ladder of leadership. If a way is not found to restrain them the country disintegrates.

  6. Kirk says:

    “I have a theory that the period of time for the downfall of Empires is related to how long it takes psychopaths to move up the ladder of leadership. If a way is not found to restrain them the country disintegrates.”

    I think you’re absolutely correct, but I’d extend it out to say that you should also look at the amount of time it takes to make psychopathy and sociopathy norms in everyday society; consider how much “norming” of the perverse that has gone on here in the US since the 1950s, then look around and tell me that enabling and encouraging this sort of behavior in the general populace has not encouraged most, if not all, of our negative trends in society.

    Common thread with all this can be seen over in that piece about the soy-boy FBI agent. You have two simultaneous trend lines going here: On the one hand, perversion and sociopathic self-gratification is idolized and encouraged, while on the other, you create all these people with false Polly Anna Disney movie expectations about the “goodness of others”, and what you wind up with is a fractured and dysfunctional society.

    You disarm the normies by teaching them that humans are innately good, and then ramp down the norms for “acceptable behavior” in the pervert class, and what the hell do you expect will happen? The normies are going to become disillusioned and give up on holding the line on public decency, and the perv class is going to support whatever party offers them the most latitude and least criticism.

    Kinda makes you wonder, sometimes… I’m not a huge fan of conspiracy theories, but when you look around today’s society, you kind of have to wonder how all this happened by “coincidence”. You could convince me that the whole thing was a deeply-laid plot pretty easily, because there are way too many things going on at once for this to all be sheer happenstance.

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