We all know Bear Grylls is fond of looking like a badass on TV, as he "escapes" numerous wilderness areas, sleeps inside a dead camel and drinks his own urine (or at least he did, before he got his ass fired). But we also know that while he's jumping over lava and running through the wilderness, someone else is doing most of the same things while also carrying a camera.
That's why every single person on this list puts Bear Grylls' tales of "badassery" to shame ...
#5. Colter's Run
In 1808, a trapper named John Colter and another trapper named John Potts (the two would go on to inspire the name of the '80s hospital drama Trapper John, M.D., according to a lie we just told) set out in canoes on a trapping expedition near what is now Three Forks, Montana. Suddenly, they were surrounded by 800 Blackfeet Indian warriors on the shore. Colter decided that 2 vs. 800 were hopeless odds and surrendered, but Potts disagreed and started shooting at the Blackfeet. It was an inspiring moment for underdogs everywhere; Potts was basically Rudy.
Except the Blackfeet quickly killed him, ripped out his guts and threw them in Colter's face. In that way he was less like Rudy, and more like nightmares.
Though judging from his outfit, he might have just seen the intestines as an accessory.
Rather than killing Colter outright, the Blackfeet decided to make the kind of miscalculation that you would think only happens in movies. They asked Colter how fast he could run, to which he replied "Oh, like, totally slower than Native Americans" (we're paraphrasing a bit). With that knowledge, they stripped him naked, spotted him a 100-yard head start and told him to run. They were literally turning his impending death into a race, with the prize being Colter's scalp.
One problem, though ... Colter lied. He was actually a very fast runner. After two and half miles, he had left all the Blackfeet behind except for one. He then stopped and waited for that man to catch up. When the Native American lunged at him with his spear, he grabbed the spear point with his bare hands, broke it off and impaled the man with it. But the Hollywood movie style exploits were just getting started.
And thus, the first three-legged race was born.
After hiding out in a beaver lodge for a few hours, Colter swam five miles downriver, only to find that his would-be killers were still looking for him, likely shocked that someone would be so crass as to lie about how fast he could run when faced with an unspeakably painful death. The only way out of the valley he was in was through a narrow pass that was probably being guarded. So he decided to do the last thing they would expect and climbed over a mountain (still naked, we have to assume). After scaling sheer cliffs by hand, he spent the night on top of the mountain in the snow before coming down the other side the next day.
After that, there was nothing left to do but walk. And walk and walk and walk and walk. After 11 days, he finally reached Fort Raymond. He was half-starved, his feet were torn and bloody and his limbs were swollen. All told, he had run, walked, climbed and swam 250 miles. After watching his good friend get murdered.
Immortalized by his home town in this incredibly disturbing graphic.
Suck it, Bear Grylls.
#4. Meth Saves the Day
In June 1986, during Namibia's war for independence from South Africa, two Namibian guerrillas were on a mission just north of the border inside Angola when they realized they were being followed. They split up. One man went north and made an easy getaway. The other began running south and made a less easy but far more drug-fueled and entertaining getaway.
His trail was picked up by South African Special Forces trackers who began chasing after him in Casspir armored personnel carriers. Despite the fact that the trackers had vehicles with engines, and he was just a dude with legs, he actually managed to increase the distance between himself and the people tracking him.
Yeah, we're not talking about vehicles that have trouble when you remove the road.
When faced with a man who could outrun automobiles, the trackers upped the ante and called some helicopters, but that didn't work either, somehow. It's like they were chasing some kind of unstoppable half man/half god.
Say, what makes regular people think they're living gods? Ooh, we know: It's drugs!
The South Africans following his tracks found no evidence that he ever stopped to sleep. What they did find, however, was a bunch of used syringes. See, it wasn't adrenaline or fear that allowed this uncatchable guerrilla to get away; it was good old-fashioned methamphetamines. The drugs were so effective in keeping his run toward safety going that the trackers actually found spots where he had collapsed from exhaustion, then gotten back up and started running again.
"Hey, sometimes it takes a few seconds to find the vein."
This went on for five days. Finally, the Special Forces tracked his path to a road and the trail went dead. The South Africans gave up the chase, probably out of pure respect.
The guy is really lucky that he just happened to be carrying enough drugs to fuel him for 230 miles holy shit that's a lot of meth! Jesus. What was his plan with all of that meth if he wasn't being chased by Special Forces? Suicide? The worst two-man bachelor party? We really just want to meet this guy, we have so many questions.
Dude, nobody is chasing you!
#3. Chris Ryan: The One That Got Away
Chris Ryan was a member of patrol Bravo Two Zero, an eight-man British Special Air Service patrol sent to infiltrate Iraq in the opening days of the first Gulf War. Their mission was to cut a buried fiber-optic cable in the desert that ran alongside a busy road.
As soon as they landed, things started to go wrong. They found out they had been dropped right next to an Iraqi Army base, but were unable to tell anyone because their radios stopped working. Then their hiding place was discovered by a goat herder, who ran off and told the Iraqi Army. Never trust a goat herder. Never.
Tell us that goat isn't getting fucked by one right now.
They were then attacked by several truckloads of Iraqi soldiers and ended up ditching most of their packs and gear in order to get away.
With no radio contact, the men decided to walk to Syria, which was 200 miles away across the desert. Unfortunately, at that exact moment, the desert decided to stop being a desert. Temperatures dropped to freezing, and it actually started snowing. Chris Ryan and two other men -- Vince Phillips and Malcolm MacGown -- got separated from the rest. The other five were all killed or captured by the pursuing Iraqi Army.
Ryan, Phillips and MacGown pressed on. None of them had brought any cold-weather gear, because, hey, you don't expect it to snow, especially in the desert, especially when you're only going to be there for a little while to cut some goddamned cable. After three days of this, Phillips started to lose it after lying in snow all day and developed hypothermia. He kept falling out of line, and finally wandered off at night and got lost. MacGown and Ryan decided that if they didn't leave him and keep going, all three of them would die. So they pressed on.
"Hey, MacGown? Remember that part of the application that asked if you'd ever been cursed by the devil?"
The next day, MacGown and Ryan were found by another goat herder. Ryan decided he'd had enough of this goat herder crap and drew a knife to stab the guy, but MacGown stopped him and instead decided to ask the man for food. The herder told MacGown to follow him, and led him straight to the Iraqi Army, who captured him and tortured him. Vintage goat herder bullshit.
Ryan continued on, but soon ran out of water and began to suffer from hypothermia and dehydration. After a few more days, he found what he thought was water in a stream and filled his canteen. When he drank it, he found that it was actually toxic waste from an industrial plant, because why the fuck not, right? Life's terrible sometimes.
"Possible cancer in 20 years or certain death now? Boy, that's a hard one."
Well, there must have been some magic in that toxic waste, because it filled Ryan with the superpower of not dying for just a little bit longer. He was almost dead when he came to the border fence; every joint in his body hurt, his feet were covered in sores and most of his friends had been killed as a result of dick-faced goat herders. He still had enough strength to climb over the barbed wire fence with his bare hands, which we imagine had to add at least a little more pain into the mix, but he made it over the border and into Syria, where a local family that had absolutely nothing to do with goats gave him food and water.
A year later, he was still making regular hospital visits for kidney failure and malnutrition due to his journey. He wasn't declared fit for duty for two years, although we're guessing he was declared fit for loads of sympathy sex much sooner than that.
Here he is, secreting military equipment instead of sweat.