Hercules completed 12 impossible trials to earn his immortality. The Greek myth fascinates us because of the amazing power of will, strength, and intelligence Hercules needed to overcome the impossible.
But you don’t need to be the son of Zeus to do the unbelievable. Just last year mere mortals soared to fantastic heights and inspired the rest of us along the way. Now, you’re not aiming to row across the Pacific Ocean or scale a vertical cliff with nothing but your hands and some talcum powder. But some dude aimed to, and seeing them buckle down and accomplish them helps us understand that what we want out of life can be achieved. It takes dedication and time (lots and lots of time), but dammit you can row across an entire ocean if you want to.
This is the list of the most inspiration physical feats of 2015.
John Beeden Rows Across the Pacific Ocean… Alone
Ever try the rowing machine at the gym? It’s a great way to burn calories and build muscle, but it’s a tough workout. 25 minutes on that thing leaves me exhausted. After an hour I can barely crawl out of the gym to my car.
Then there’s John Beeden, who rowed 15 hours a day, every day, for seven months. From the beginning of June to the end of December, the 53-year-old British man tested the absolute limits of body and mind in a solo-row across the treacherous Pacific Ocean. He set off from San Francisco and arrived in Australia, with no human contact other than the occasional meet-up with a resupply boat.
Beeden rowed across the Atlantic Ocean four years ago, but apparently that wasn’t enough. He wanted to tackle the largest challenge of all and dammit, he did it. Hounded by sharks, set back months by terrifying storms, and discouraged by the fact he had to row 7,000 miles, this British explorer achieved the unthinkable.
James Lawrence Completes 50 Iron Mans in 50 Days in 50 States
A triathlon is considered to be a formidable physical test of conditioning and endurance. In its most common form, a triathlon forces its participants to go for a half-mile swim, followed by a 12-mile bike ride, topped off with a 3-mile run for good measure.
Apparently, that is not grueling enough for some athletes, and that’s how the Iron Man was created. An Iron Man forces participants to perfect their bodies and their minds. It is a 2.4 mile swim followed by a 112-mile bike ride, followed by a marathon. Completing just one Iron Man proves definitively, unequivocally, that you have “made it” into the highest echelon of athletes.
Just for good measure, 39 year old James Lawrence, popularly known as the Iron Cowboy, did fifty Iron Mans, one every day in a different state. He started in Hawaii and Alaska, and then wound his way across the continental United States in an RV with his family. Lawrence had to eat over 8,000 calories every single day to fuel his maddening rate of energy expenditure. Sleep was tenuous and he only got a few hours on some days.
Lawrence recognizes how crazy this accomplishment is. He plans to go on a well-deserved motivational speaking tour. He says: “I want people to know that anything is possible, and to not let anyone else dictate what they think is possible,” he said. “Chase your highest dreams… there are no limits to life.” Somehow that sounds way more believable coming from a guy who ran 1300 miles in 50 days than when my high school guidance counselor said it.
Tommy Caldwell and James Jorgeson Ascend the Dawn Wall
People like to climb to the top of high surfaces. It’s always been that way and will be so long as there are mountains. For some, regular mountain climbing is not enough. An especially crazy subset of people try and go up near-vertical cliffs with nothing more than incredible forearm strength and a bit of rope to get the job done. Sometimes they don’t even bring the rope. Palms getting sweaty yet?
For this subset of climbers, no challenge is more worthy than the Dawn Wall in the Yosemite Valley. The 3,000 foot vertical climb has loomed over the world of mountain climbing as an impossible feat. Even legendary free-climber Alex Hunnold has never scaled it in one go. And, as his stomach-churning videos aptly demonstrate, that dude can climb anything.
Then, at the start of 2015, the legendary beast was finally slain. Climbers Tommy Caldwell and James Jorgeson scaled the cliff and completed the impossible. The climb took them 19 days. At night they slept in tents that dangled off the cliff face, hanging precariously over thousands of feet of nothing. With the wind whipping through their tents at night, and having mere millimeters to grasp onto, Caldwell and Jorgeson did not have an easy go. They did, however, take the occasional break to tweet about their journey. “This is not an effort to ‘conquer,’ it’s about realizing a dream.” Jorgeson said at 2,000 feet.
All the guys on this list had #goals and they showed that impossible is nothing compared to the human will. Their accomplishments prove that the human body is capable of some amazing stuff, but so is the spirit. Whatever drives you, throw your all in and watch what you can achieve.