When I first started 777, I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. I remember when I went to book the initial trip to Antarctica, I asked myself: what am I getting myself into?
Now it’s done. And it seems bizarre. Honestly, it’s October 3 years later, WTF?
One of the purposes of an impossible challenge isn’t the challenge itself, but who you have to become in order to complete it.
A lot of the past few months have gone into reviewing that transformation and letting it sink in for me. It’s taken some time, to be honest, the entire summer has been a bit of a decompression phase and I’m just starting to put it all together.
As for the schools + the kids, we’re sorting out the details with the builds themselves (they’re in progress), and we’ll have more details on them soon.
I’ve got a bunch of things on the radar for “what’s next”, but before I jump into the next thing on the impossible list, I wanted to take time to look back on everything that it took to finish 777.
This post is a bit selfish – as it’s as much for me to help understand the actual transformation of myself through the challenge, but maybe you’ll get some inspiration from it as well.
- 1 Patagonia: The Kick-Off
- 2 Chicago: The Benchmark Race
- 3 Australia: The WTF Race
- 4 Antarctica: The Race At The End of the World
- 5 Thailand: Basically Hell
- 6 The Arctic, Finland: The Expedition Race
- 7 South Africa: The Final Ultra
- 8 We Do Hard Stuff + IMPOSSIBLE
- 9 What’s Next?
Patagonia: The Kick-Off
After an exciting launch, I headed to Patagonia to one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been: Torres del Paine. The race feels great and I’m excited about the rest of 777, but exactly 26 miles in, a 20mph gust of wind blows me across the road and I roll my ankle – hard. I try to walk it off and despite the pain, finish the remaining 13 miles. Icing the ankle post-race does nothing and I soon find out that I’m diagnosed with a severe sprain and can’t run for 6 months.
#tbt to when I started #777project and finished race #1 at the @patagonmarathon at Torres del Paine. This was after I busted my ankle and somehow made my way 13 more miles to the finish line but before I realized I was gonna have to take the next 6 months to rehab (thanks @movewellapp). Adrenaline is a hell of a drug. . To date – this is still one of the most beautiful places I've been able to run. Absolutely stunning. . . #pushyourlimits #dosomethingimpossible #pencilsofpromise #patagonia #ultramarathon #ultrarunner #travel #fitness #instatravel #instafit
— The Unplanned Intermission —
I busted my ankle, did 6 months of rehab, created MoveWell, got sued by a billionaire for 20 months, and after a way-too-long-process, was cleared. With a bruised ego, confidence and fitness. I started to look up….
Chicago: The Benchmark Race
After more than 18 months off running (with a loss of confidence and running fitness) I decided I either needed to give up completely and do something else or try and go for it and finish 777. I chose the Chicago 50k as the race that I did back in 2012 to build the first school with PoP as a “benchmark” race to see how I could hold up. Without telling anyone, I went to the race and did it. It was not a pretty race, but I was able to remind myself what I was capable of.
It wasn’t pretty, but it got done – and helped me gear up for the next stage…
Great warm fall day in Chicago for a long, long run. The Chicago ultramarathon is a small local ultra with views of the best skyline in the world. It was also the first race I did when I started with ultras. Ended up on the struggle bus around mile 20 (blood and messed up gear), but felt good to be back out on the trails, finish and knock out race #2 for the #777project #pushyourlimits #dosomethingimpossible #getafterit
Australia: The WTF Race
After I got my confidence back up, I decided to just go for it. I lined up a race on New Years in Narrabeen Australia, just outside of Sydney.
What I thought would be a 5k loop, turned out to be a 2.5km out and back, for 12 hours straight – while there was a party-boat blasting EDM music next to the trail.
New Years Eve. 6pm. 2.5km out and back. As many times as possible. For 12 hours. Some people go to clubs for fun. I run until my legs are numb and the farthest ultra I’ve run in years. More than the distance though, the constant back & forth over such a small distance was the real mind f—.
#tbt to starting 2017 by running 12 hours through the night to kick off the New Year. I wasn't trained for this race in any normal sense of the word, but I needed to do something to kickstart #777project and finish what I started. But, even as I got on the plane to Australia, I was in a bad spot confidence-wise and didn't even know if I could do the damn thing. . Fast forward 6 weeks and 4 races later in Australia, Antarctica, Thailand, and Finland and my entire mindset was changed. A lot less mindless questioning and a lot more action. . When I tell people to #pushyourlimits, a lot of people take it metaphorically, but I don't know of any better way to fix your mindset and headspace than to push yourself PHYSICALLY to the brink and then keep going. . Do something hard. Test yourself. Hit a wall. Then keep going anyways. It's worth it. . http://impossiblehq.com/777 . #pushyourlimits #dosomethingimpossible #pencilsofpromise #impossiblehq #rogerthat #wedohardstuff #getafterit #embracethesuck #sydney #narrabeen
Antarctica: The Race At The End of the World
The one that I had been dreaming of for years, was finally here. With only 9 people in this race, spread out over a 10k loop (that you ran 10 times), I realized that this race – if I could do it – meant I could finish the rest.
Despite the temperature and the unsure footing of running on compressed snow on a glacial field, it was like nothing else experienced. It was my last shot to run an ultra marathon on the continent as our running of the race was the final one.
3 weeks ago, I ran the Ice Marathon 100k as race #4 for the #777project. . It was the farthest race I've run to date, the coldest one, and did I mention it was in Antarctica? . I had been trying to run this race for 3+ years and now that it's done, I finally took the time to write up the race recap on ImpossibleHq.com (check it out). It was epic. . Oh and if you're keen on helping us build another school with @pencilsofpromise, we're less than $1,000 away from building school #5 and I'm matching every dollar donated – so we're super close! Just hit the link below and I'll double your donation. #boom . http://impossiblehq.com/777 . Reminder: If you want to do something, set your mind on it, expect it to be hard, work your tail off and go after it. The more #impossible it sounds, the better. . . . . #antarctica #icemarathon100k #ultra #ultramarathon #running #pencilsofpromise #pop #impossible #dosomethingimpossible #pushyourlimits #athlete #fitness #instafit #instatravel #travel #racefinish #unionglacier #impossiblemindset #impossiblefitness
Thailand: Basically Hell
After running 100k, just two weeks prior, I went into this race feeling confident – and for the first half of the race, it went amazing. The back half the race, things became hard. There was an un-runnable 2 mile section of a single-track up and down. The heat turned up as we hit noon and out-and-backs every 10k meant I invented an entirely new set of swear words that will be added to the dictionary in 10 years.
FINISHED. . Race #5 is in the books for the #777project! . This was the North Face Thailand 50k race for the Asia leg of the project, but don't let the distance of the race deceive you. There's a reason this is a qualifying race for UTMB. . No joke, this race tried to break me. I felt great through 18 miles. We did a ton of climbing through the first 25k, but my legs felt good and the rest of the race was supposed to be rolling hills (plus a quick single track climb). . LIES. ALL LIES. . The short single track climb turned into 2 miles of "no track" climbing, plus a mile straight down of basically stepping stones with no clear path. . I think mile 20 took me 30 minutes just cause there was no where to put your feet! No one was moving much faster either. . One I got down from that climb, my legs were completely trashed and I tried to hold on through the finish line, but no lie – this was an ugly one. . I've done a lot of hard (and long) races that hurt quite a bit, but I have never quit a race before (or even entertained the thought of it). But, over the last ten miles of this race, that thought popped into my head over and over again, but I put my head down and kept going (while cursing every small incline on the way). . With all that said, it is done. FINISHED. #boom💥 . 777 Update! ✅ 5 races finished ✅ 5 continents visited 🇺🇸 🇨🇱 🇦🇶 🇹🇭 🇦🇺 💰 $123,722 raised for @pencilsofpromise . Only 2 races to go and just over 2 more schools to build – PLUS I'm matching all donations. . Let's do this 👉🏼 http://impossiblehq.com/777 . . . . #777project #ultramarathon #ultra #marathon #travel #instatravel #fit #fitness #instafit #fitnessmotivation #running #runnersofinstagram #runners #asia #thailand #bangkok #bkk #tnf50k #thenorthfacethailand2017 #embracethesuck #pushyourlimits #dosomethingimpossible #gymjones #mindgames #endurance #athlete
The Arctic, Finland: The Expedition Race
10 minutes before the race started, my camelbak broke and soaked my entire gear bag. It was all downhill from there. My water bottle was finished by the first 10k, and in the following miles, I ate snow to hydrate, melted snow down over an open fire, poured it into my water bottle, only to have the water freeze from the cold. I got lost twice on the unmarked + self-supported course and almost broke my big toe. It was all worth it on the last mile of the race when the northern lights showed up as a welcome-back present.
At the start line for race #6 – the Rovaniemi 66km. Running 75% of the race on frozen rivers and lakes! #letsgo #777project . . . . . #finland #rovaniemi #ultramarathon #ultrarunning #fitness #instafit #inspiration #motivation #dedication #travel #instatravel #discipline #training #mindset #running #runners #ouch
— 48 Hours In Doha —
The last race almost didn’t happen. En route to South Africa, I was pulled off the plane in Doha, and told my passport didn’t have enough pages to enter South Africa (it did). What followed was a sleepless 24 hour chase around Doha to get an emergency passport at the US Embassy. After a sleepless 24 hours, I barely made it on the flight the next day to South Africa. #neveragaindoha
South Africa: The Final Ultra
My buddy Alan came out and we got to run with 11,000 other South Africans. Running in South Africa is amazing and the crowds there are like none other. It was a fun race and a beautiful ending to the running portion of 777.
We Do Hard Stuff + IMPOSSIBLE
For every workout challenge completed, a total of $300 was donated, and in June alone, we raised $36,124 built school #7 to finish the #777Project. #boom
Like I said in the intro, this summer has been a bit of a decompression period for me. I’ve been reflecting a lot on the last year and going through a bunch of projects that I put on “pause” while I finished 777. I’m excited to relaunch + share a few new ventures that I’ll be sharing in the near future, but for the rest of this week, I’ll be reflecting on 777 and releasing a few final videos and wrapping up 777 for good.
Keep your eyes peeled on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube for that.
In the mean time, #pushyourlimits and #dosomethingimpossible.
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