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Colin O’Brady Completed First Unsupported Solo Trek Across Antarctica


While the majority of us spent the day after Christmas sleeping off all those home-baked goodies we ingested, adventurer Colin O'Brady was packing up his small camp in Antarctica to begin trekking once again. According to the Washington Post and O’Brady’s Instagram, that day was the 53rd of his icy coast to coast solo trek, which began on Halloween when he flew in from Chile. 

Energized by the looming thought of becoming the first person to trek through the continent completely solo, unsupported, and unaided by wind O’Brady began to break trail at an unprecedented rate. On most days his paced average around 20 to 30 miles. In that final push, he ended up completing 80 miles. On social media, he described a kind of flow state that overcame him as he pressed on. The 375 pounds of equipment he carried, which contained a tent, sleeping bag, solar panels, skis, a satellite phone, and other essentials for frigid travel, failed to slow his pace.

The idea for the gargantuan sprint came while making breakfast. It seemed preposterous, but not impossible. Finding comfort in the notion that it’s not uncommon for people to do 100-mile runs, O’Brady simply pressed forward while getting lost in the rhythm of his movement. 32 hours and 30 minutes later success became a reality when his sled crossed over the edge of the Ross Ice Shelf, which is an invisible barrier but represents the point in which Antarctica’s sea ice begins. 

He had become the first individual to complete the solo mission across the continent completely unsupported and unaided. Following closely behind him was Louis Rudd, an experienced Antarctica explorer, who also sought the same goal. O'Brady ended up waiting for Rudd at the finish line, so the two could celebrate and travel home together.

O’Brady’s name will be written in the record books alongside other notable polar explorers like Borge Ousland who also crossed Antarctica solo, but was aided through the use of a kite.

O’Brady's life, including his historic achievement in Antarctica, is a testament to tenacity. The 33-year-old’s life was turned upside down on a trip to Thailand where his body was severely burned from a freak accident. The damage was so catastrophic on his lower body that doctors believed he’d be unable to fully recover. 

Proving them wrong, O’Brady persevered and pushed himself to start competing for triathlons. When he won an Olympic distance triathlon, he saw as a sign to quit his day job in finance and become a full-time professional triathlete. On top of his busy training schedule for the Olympics, O’Brady is also vying to complete the Explorers Grand Slam. It challenges adventurers to climb and visit both the North and South pole and all of the Seven Summits, which doesn't seem out of the realm of possibility for O'Brady considering his experiences.

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