The 8 adventure records that will make you sit in

By Will Gray

Speed Mountaineering – 8,000m Double

Type: Speed Record
Who: Benedikt Bohm and Sebastian Haag
Nationality: German
Where: Nepal / Tibet
Hazards: Extreme weather, altitude sickness
Insanity Level: 9
Status: Starts August 20, 2014

Climbing one of the world’s 14 over-8,000m peaks is not tough enough for extreme mountaineers Benedikt Bohm and Sebastian Haag. They plan to tackle two – Shishapangma and Cho Oyu - in one week, speed climbing up, skiing down and mountain biking between the two.

“Basti and I grew up together and we’ve learned a lot together. You learn to read the mountain, recognising things, learning those instincts.”

Round the World - 720 Degrees

Type: World First
Who: Angelo Wilkie-Page
Nationality: South African
Where: 48 different countries
Hazards: Exhaustion, political unrest, navigation errors
Insanity Level: 7
Status: Starts August 2014

Not content with going around the world one way, Angelo Wilkie-Page plans to become the first to circumnavigate it twice, from East to West then Pole to Pole, under human power. The 115,000km journey, done in stages, will visit over 48 countries and cross four oceans, nine seas and six deserts.

“Some say it’s overly ambitious, but it’s just one leg at a time - if I planned the entire expedition I would be stuck in my office for years.”

Freddy Nock balancing on the cable car ropeway at the Zugspitze in Switzerland.
Tightrope Artist Freddy Nock © Bongarts/Getty Images

Fell Running – The Wainwright Record

Type: Distance Record
Who: Steve Birkinshaw
Nationality: British
Where: England
Hazards: Bad weather, injury, exhaustion
Insanity Level: 6
Status: Done

Steve Birkinshaw climbed 36km and summated 214 hills on a 512km ‘lap’ of England’s Lake District. The run, which is based on Alfred Wainwright’s fell guide, is acknowledged as one of the world’s toughest and took six days and 13 hours – 12 hours faster than the previous record that stood for 27 years.

“There were some really tough times out there, but every time I reached a Wainwright top I met someone who had come out to support me.”

Steve Birkinshaw running down a hill.
Steve Birkinshaw running © Movieit

Strength Swimming – Brick Towing

Type: World First / Distance Record
Who: Jim ‘The Shark’ Dreyer
Nationality: American
Where: USA
Hazards: Drowning, lack of oxygen, sinking boat
Insanity Level: 8
Status: Done – but bigger ones to come

Jim ‘The Shark’ Dreyer pulled a boat filled with half a tonne of bricks for three days and two nights across Lake St Clair last year. He has since taken on an even bigger challenge for Stan Lee’s ‘Superhumans’ TV show – to be revealed next month - and will swim-tow the Straits of Mackinac next year.

"The hallucinations were entertaining. A ship sailed to me then dissipated and I saw a man in a white robe on the water. I'm thinking it was big J.C."

Jim Dreyer pulling a boat filled with half a tonne of bricksacross Lake St Clair.
Jim ‘The Shark’ Dreyer © Team Dreyer crew photo

Distance Cycling – Round the World Race

Type: Speed Record (unofficial)
Who: Lee Fancourt
Nationality: British
Where: Global
Hazards: Exhaustion, political unrest, navigation errors
Insanity Level: 7
Status: Annual cycle race

Lee Fancourt cycled around the world in 103 days, 23 hours & 15 minutes this year - almost three days quicker than Alan Bate in 2010. Bate retains the record, however, as Fancourt broke the rules by taking a taxi and not returning to where he left. He plans to try for an official time next year.

“The most challenging country was India, because there were no rules on the roads. There were also vehicles coming straight towards you.”

Tightrope Walking – High Altitude

Type: Height and Distance Record
Who: Freddy Nock
Nationality: Swiss
Where: Germany
Hazards: High winds, overbalance, nerves
Insanity Level: 9
Status: Done

Any normal person would take the cable car to reach the top of Germany’s highest mountain, Zugspitze, but for Freddy Nock climbing the wire above was more appealing. In an 80-minute death-defying stunt he walked 1km and gained 348m in altitude – claiming the record for highest and longest wire walk above sea level without a balancing pole.

“I don’t want to do it again, not without a balancing pole. It was exhausting.”

Freddy Nock balancing on the cable car ropeway at the Zugspitze in Switzerland.
Tightrope artist Freddy Nock © Bongarts/Getty Images

Extreme Climbing – Volcano Abseil

Type: World First
Who: Geoff Mackley
Nationality: New Zealand
Where: Vanuatu
Hazards: Extreme heat, flying red-hot rocks, unsteady footing
Insanity Level: 10
Status: Done

A cliff the height of the Empire State Building did not stand in the way of Geoff Mackley in his quest to get closer than anyone to an active volcano. The adventurer descended 400m into the crater of Mount Marum to stand just 30m from a lake of 1,250-degrees Celsius lava.

“You don’t really know (what it will do next) but it’s easy to see where the lava has been recently. If you go any closer than that, you’re stupid.”

Skateboarding - Longest Ride

Type: Distance Record
Who: Rob Thomson
Nationality: New Zealand
Where: Europe, USA, China
Hazards: Traffic, mountain roads, US Police (one briefly halted the ride)
Insanity Level: 5
Status: Done

Rob Thomson’s 12,159km record skateboard journey from Switzerland to Shanghai took one year 97 days. As part of a circumnavigation that included bikes, rafts, trains and boats, he skated 1,541km across Europe, 5,529km across the American continent and 5,462km across China.

“I’d skate for five to six hours a day. The first three hours of the day are great. The following two or three hours are tough. I love it and I hate it.”

Rob Thomson skateboarding around the world
Rob Thomson skateboarding © Rob Thomson

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