There’s marathons, ultramarathons, and even triathlons, but then there’s the coveted Ironman Challenge – one of the most difficult one-day sporting events in the world. One of a series of long-distance triathlon races organized by the World Triathlon Corporation, Ironman consisting of a 3.86 km swim, a 180.25 km bicycle ride, and a 42.2 km run raced in that order in one day. That seems like one of the hardest things a human can possibly do, right? Well, you could always take it up a notch.
As if an Ironman challenge wasn't enough, someone decided to take it to the next level with Project Iceman. Is that a new James Bond movie? No, that’s just the name of a project started by Anders Hofman – who’s almost as cool as Agent 007. Maybe even a little bit crazier. Hofman is a 29-year-old hardcore athlete who, upon completing the Ironman challenge, thought about how this challenge has been done all over the world but never in Antarctica. So, naturally, he decided to be the first in the world to complete the challenge in the Antarctic ice – as one does.
Hofman planned on heading to Antarctica to swim 3.9 km in ice water, then cycle 180 km, and finish off with a 42.2 km run across ice and snow. He began his Ironman challenge in Antarctica on Saturday February 22nd at 9 AM, with dangers of leopard seals and hypothermia not fazing him in the least. And just last Tuesday, Hofman completed the challenge to officially become the first human to complete an Ironman challenge in Antarctica, officially earning the title of Iceman. That's not to say his trip was without hardship; Hofman's body nearly gave out after 27 hours and, at one point, he was uncertain if he could complete what he had started. Hofman and his team got stuck in a blizzard for over a day during the race, so the full unofficial time of 72 hours, 54 minutes, and 9 seconds including the blizzard becomes 40 hours, 45 minutes, and 33 seconds without it.
For Hofman, it was about more than just a legacy; he had a cause attached to this project. Other than proving that limitations are just perceptions and wanting to inspire people to dare pursue their wildest dreams, Hofman hoped his efforts would bring the world’s attention to how global warming is melting the Antarctic ice.
Throughout the course of this challenge, Hofman and his team set up a fundraiser where people could donate to the cause of plastic pollution and how it impacted the world. The fundraiser started with Hofman’s first stroke in the frozen sea and ended with him completing the challenge. Why the limited time? Well, that was meant to represent the limited time we've got to act upon the impact of climate change that threatens the world as know it with every passing limit -- a poetic way to remind people that the time to act is now. The minimum donation amount was set at $7, representing the 7th continent that’s crucial for maintaining the world as we know it, highlighting the cause with the hashtag #7fortheseventh.
Anders Hofman decided to voluntarily embark on a daring mission for a title and a cause. And although he was as prepared as he could have ever been, nature showed a brutal side with circumstances more violent than he could have ever imagined. But besides successfully earning the cool title of ‘the world’s first-ever Iceman’ on his resume, Hofman has proved that limitations are in fact just perceptions – but maybe you still shouldn't try this at home.