5 Astonishing Achievements of Human Endurance, Courage and Plain Old Insanity
Sometimes a man or woman will instantly blow your mind with an out-of this-world stunt performed right before your eyes (or, more likely, witnessed later on YouTube). And sometimes it takes a little while for the fuse leading to the bomb that detonates your intellect to ignite — but when it does, you’ll realize just how stunning the physical achievement another living being has accomplished happens to be.
When bravery, skill, ingenuity and seemingly miraculous physiological tenacity come together in a bundle of talent and nerve, it can make us believe in the power of humanity again. Here are a few examples illustrating just how daring — and crazy — some of the people living among us truly are.
Alain Robert Scales the Burj Khalifa
When the “French Spider-Man” decides to climb the tallest building in the world (the Burj Khalifa in Dubai), you bet people will sit up and take notice. While Alain Robert (the aforementioned Spider-Man) had some safety equipment in place (he often climbs without a rope or harness), this daredevil delivered quite a spectacle when he scaled the 2,700-foot-tall tower in 2011. Be still our beating hearts.
Evel Knievel’s Wembley Jump
While this isn't Knievel Senior’s longest or most triumphant jump (he crashed), it was still pretty spectacular, made even more so by the fact that he kept on riding after wiping out. Back in 1975, Evel Knievel tried to jump 13 buses in London’s Wembley Stadium. He messed up and broke his pelvis and hands, and ultimately wasn’t successful. He would eventually succeed in jumping 14 Greyhound buses later that year, in Ohio.
Philippe Petit's Tightrope Walk
With Joseph Gordon-Levitt playing Philippe Petit in the film The Walk, this Frenchman’s high-wire antics — specifically, his crossing between New York’s Twin Towers in 1974 — have been getting plenty of attention of late. Setting the Hollywood treatment aside, Petit’s incredible feat is still something awesome, in that word's original sense. Trickery, false identification, breaking lots of laws, a bow and arrow, complicated rigging and then a breathtaking walk at dizzying heights make this incredible balancing act the one to beat.
Herbert Nitsch’s Deepest Free Dive
Herbert Nitsch really knows how to hold his breath. This Austrian freediver is the current record holder for the deepest freedive, making it to 831 feet below the ocean’s surface. The man can go without breathing for more than 9 minutes. And even after surfing from nitrogen narcosis (gases at pressure changing states of consciousness), he was still able to complete his historical dive — and more importantly, survive. While he didn't emerge from that dive totally unscathed, he’s training again, preparing for his next mind-blowing descent into the deep blue.
Zach Bitter's 100-Mile Run
Zach Bitter ran 100 miles in 12 hours. While that might not be as visually stunning as climbing the Burj Khalifa or jumping a motorcycle over a bunch of buses, it’s still pretty damn amazing. Mr. Bitter is the American utlra-running record-holder for a 100-mile race. Just to put that in perspective, he ran about one mile every seven minutes or so — for 12 freaking hours! We didn't even know human beings could do that.