“Pain is only weakness leaving the body.” — Tom Muccia
It seems that for a few select super athletes, pain is the fuel that powers them even more. Here are nine fitness extremists who can seem to thrive in different kinds of pain to succeed in their preferred fitness extreme sport.
1. Alex Honnold – The No Big Deal Solo Free Climber
Here’s a 26-year-old guy who climbs the faces of giant mountains solo and free, meaning no harnesses, no ropes, no protective gear whatsoever. Armed only with a bag of chalk and sheer guts, Alex Honnold has made world records by scaling up the sides of natural towers like the Half Dome in Yosemite National Park and the cliffs near Borneo’s Kota Kinabalu peak. He is considered by many as the best solo free climber today.
For Alex though, he doesn’t think he’s more deserving of the fame than other climbers. Solo free climbing is just something he does. It’s like his job. He practically lives in his van while he travels around to climb mountains, free solo or with ropes. That is why his friends call him “No Big Deal” Alex because for Alex solo free climbing is not a big deal. It’s just what he loves to do.
2. William Trubridge – The World Record Free Diver
This is another young man who chooses to do another extremely dangerous activity without any protective gear. Thirty-one-year-old William Trubridge set the world record for unassisted free diving when he went 100 meters deep into Dean’s Blue Hole in the Bahamas. He dove without fins or an oxygen tank. Clearly, he can hold his breath and calm his mind for a really long time.
Teaser trailer “Breathe” about Trubridge’s free dive into The Hole
Video of Trubridge breaking the world record in unassisted free diving
3. Ed Viesturs – The Calculating Mountain Climber
Ed Viesturs is a veteran when it comes to mountain climbing. He has successfully climbed all 14 of the world’s 8,000-meter peaks. He accomplished this feat, an 18-year project he called Endeavor 8000, without supplemental oxygen. During the 18 years, he completed 19 Himalayan expeditions, reached the summit on 20 of these and went on top of Mt. Everest seven times.
Viesturs treats each climb as a carefully planned round trip. His philosophy is that you have to know when to go on, when to stay and when to retreat. If it conditions get too intense and dangerous, there is no dishonor in retreating to climb another day. Ed’s calculating methods of climbing has certainly made him one of the best high-altitude mountain climber to date.
4. Dean Karnazes – The Ultimate Ultramarathoner
This is a guy who does super ultramarathons. In his life, Dean Karnazes has run 350 miles continuously and without sleeping for three nights. He has run across Death Valley in mad hot temperatures and has run a marathon to the South Pole in cold temperatures. He has run 50 marathons in 50 states in consecutive 50 days. Dean is clearly the ultimate ultramarathoner.
And as if running wasn’t enough, Dean has also swum the San Fo Bay, surfed huge waves in Hawaii and California, and climbed mountains. There’s no doubt about it that Dean Karnazes is one of the greatest ultimate adventure athletes in the world.
5. Usain Bolt – The Fastest Runner Alive
His name says it all. This bolt of lightning can run 100 meters in only 9.58 seconds. Usain Bolt is currently the fastest runner alive. He holds the world record for the 100-meter and 200-meter runs, and the 4×100 meters relay. He is the reigning champion for these events. Usain Bolt is crazy insane fast.
6. Tom Owen – The Human Speed Bump
This man proudly answers to the nickname Human Speed Bump. He is a guy who lets trucks, even those loaded with several people, run over him and it doesn’t hurt him seriously. His stomach muscles are that powerful. Owen’s stomach muscles are so strong that during his training sessions he uses them to push one of his buddies who’s standing on his abs and holding heavy weights. How’s that for weight training.
7. Wim Hof – The Iceman
While some athletes contend with the pain brought on by heat, Wim Hof, aptly called The Iceman, tests his strength through cold. Hof has the uncanny ability to withstand extreme cold. He is able to endure extreme cold temperatures by controlling his own body temperature. This is a special skill that comes from serious training and focus.
Hof has set several records including one for the longest ice bath. He has also completed a half marathon in below 20 degrees Celsius temperature while barefoot and dressed only in shorts. Even with his affinity for cold, the Iceman sure knows how to heat up the record charts.
8. Martin Strel, The Human Fish
This ultra marathon swimmer prefers dangerous rivers like the Amazon. Martin Strel made world record when he completed his Amazon swim in 2007. Strel swam the Amazon from Peru to Brazil. He swam a total of 5,268 kms for 66 days. He certainly earns the description The Human Fish because of his river feats.
The Amazon isn’t Strel’s only river swim. He has swum other great rivers like the Yangtze and the Mississippi. Strel has also crossed the ocean from Africa to Europe. He is one fish that can swim in both salt and fresh water.
9. Hannibal For King – The Extreme Calisthenics Expert
This is a guy who does crazy and truly intense body weight calisthenics. His workout videos show him doing some incredible body weight exercises. He does all sorts of pull-ups and other bar exercises that are truly unbelievable. His core strength is amazing.