The Adventurers and Endurance – Part 2

As well as adventures looking to conquer the highest points in the world they have also looked to reach the coldest parts of the planet. Battles between nations and adventures have sometimes been races against time as they have attempted to be the first to conquer to most inhospitable climates and conditions.

Sometimes where the locations are so isolated it is difficult to ratify claims. This certainly the case with the North pole as two separate expeditions claim to be the first people to reach the extreme northern location.

Roald Amudsen first man to the South Pole

The first claim came April 21st 1908 when Frederick Cook and two Innuit men, Aapilak and Ittukusuk reached the location. However, he provided little records of this feat and in 1909 the University of Copenhagen ruled that there was little evidence to verify the achievement.

On April 6th 1909 Robert Edwin Perry, Matthew Henson, and four Innuit women, Ootah, Seegloo, Egingway and Ooqueah claimed that they had reached the pole. While it was accepted that this was the first expedition to reach the point there have been claims that in fact they had been 60 miles short and the arguments continue.

There are no doubts about who was the first to reach the South Pole as it turned into a contest between Robert Falcon Scott and Roald Amudsen. The 1911 contest involved two experienced and respected explorers with the Norwegian secretly trying to arrive before the American who was funded by the British Government.

Amudsen and his party managed to set off on his journey 3 weeks before Scott did and when he returned home it had taken him 99 days to complete the journey. Scott arrived 33 days after Amudsen, and exhausted and disappointed at the outcome, he and two of his party died in their tents on their return journey. The physical hardship of the voyage made Amudsen a hero world-wide and he received many awards.

Conquering bodies of water has also been appealing to many. One of the biggest challenges for distance swimmers is swimming the English Channel. The shortest distance across the water is 21 miles but is not only the distance that presents the challenges. The tides, the currents the temperatures and jelly fish all combine to make the swim both a mental and physical test.

Channel record holder Trent Grimsey

The first person to do it was Matthew Webb in 1875 and when Gertrude Ederle became the first woman to complete the swim in 1926 she did it in a record time of 14 hours and 30 minutes. The record for the swim was set in 2012 by Australian Trent Grimsey in a time of 6 hours 55 minutes.

In 1987 New Zealander Philip Rush set the record for the return journey in 16 hours 10 minutes. Not happy with his day’s work he turned around and swam a third leg, to set a record of 28 hours 21 minutes. The British female Alison Streeter achieved the same 3 way record in 1990 with a time of 34 hours 40 minutes.

There are other challenging swims that attract people who want to test their resolve. The Tsuagaru Channel has only ever been crossed 16 times despite numerous attempts. It is the body of water that separates the main Island of Japan from the northern Island of Hokkaido and the swimmer often has to contend with sharks and jelly fish.

The 12 mile straight is often filled with deep waves and strong currents and often the conditions are so challenging that the swimmers choose to take the 18 mile route between Kodomori Cape and Cape Shirakami.

As endurance feats become greater man finds way to challenge himself further. There is a burning ambition for someone to achiever a feat that no one else has ever done. This often involves testing the endurance of the athlete to the furthest extreme and in doing so the mental ability of the participator is also brought into question.

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