5 Things People Have Insisted on Doing on All 7 Continents
Travel: a great way to expand your horizons, or to cover for a lack of hobbies while subtly implying wealth on a dating site. If you’re lucky enough to have the disposable income and a job that doesn’t fire you for missing shifts, it’s a valuable use of your time. You get new experiences, a new perspective on how people across the world live and probably diarrhea.
Unfortunately, because nothing in this world can be allowed peace, travel has also naturally turned into a competition, with “all seven continents” being one of the premier badges for a jet-setter. If that’s not good enough for you, you can tack on some sort of activity to do on each, presenting yourself as a well-salted ancient explorer, despite the fact you’d get your skull shattered by a kudu if you went on any expedition that wasn’t to an Airbnb.
Here are five things someone has done on all seven continents, despite no one requesting it…
Talk about a combination that was engineered in a lab to impress… someone? It is indeed almost impressive, the idea of combining two of the most inescapable conversation dominators into one fearful creature. A horrifying, Dr. Moreau-approved chimera that leaves your interest levels in shreds and then growls into the corpse, “It was amazing, you absolutely have to try it.” This is, of course, the idea of running a marathon on every continent.
It’s common enough to have its own unique (if a little straightforward) nickname, “The World Marathon Challenge.” SFGate documented one man’s completion of the challenge, with a look at the pain and suffering included. Is it dismissive and overcritical to cheapen an incredibly difficult achievement when I probably haven’t hit a walking speed over a medium canter in the last five years? Probably. Maybe I should walk 183 miles in his shoes.
If you think, due to personal biases, I’m going to go in on somebody doing something that betters their health and then give stand-up a break, you’d be wrong. The fact that stand-up is something I’ve stupidly devoted much of my life to has only emphasized in my mind how much a huge amount of it sucks. What it has done is give me insight into the diseased brain of a stand-up comedian, most of whom are willing to do anything for recognition outside of doing better on stage.
So you’ll have to excuse my fatigue about the idea of someone doing stand-up on all seven continents for anything more than a section on a self-written Wikipedia page. Especially given the fact that there’s no qualifiers for any of these shows to be demanded or requested by anyone, it’s more of a testament to the financial solidity of your day job and your bank of airline miles than anything else. It’s also something most world-famous comedians could probably knock out, more genuinely, by setting up a single show in Antarctica.
Metallica was the first band to play a show on all seven continents. Of the entries on the list, this is one I find the hardest, even as a seasoned grump, to be annoyed by. Metallica has undeniably conquered the world musically, become a touchstone in heavy music and a band T-shirt colossus on the scale of Led Zeppelin. So, if they realized that all they had to do was source a couple amps in the Antarctic to get their names in the Guinness Book of World Records, it’s not like I could in good faith call it a technicality. It’s a relatively small achievement scale-wise, but one that rounds out a complete and total victory, like finally infecting Madagascar at the end of a game of Pandemic.
Exploring Them Via Wheelchair
Okay, let’s soften the negativity a little here with an achievement you’d have to be a true bastard to deny. That’s the fact that Cory Lee, a wheelchair user with a love for travel, achieved his goal of visiting all seven continents. Obviously, especially in locations with less infrastructure and lax ADA guidelines, a wheelchair makes travel of any kind exponentially more difficult. The modern convenience of air travel makes a feat like this more possible, obviously, but is far from an excusing factor.
Airports, in fact, can be a nightmare for disabled travelers, filled with decisions made by people for whom the availability of convenient slopes are no concern. Airports and airlines are notorious for breaking and damaging wheelchairs, which can cost up to $30,000 for powered and custom (out of necessity, not to add bitchin’ flame decals) varieties. Bodily safety isn’t guaranteed either, and I personally know someone who required surgery for a broken leg as the result of a mishandled wheelchair in the airport. With all that in mind, it’s something that takes genuine courage to attempt, knowing the amount of variables that could go horribly wrong, so nothing but kudos from me.
Annnnnnnd back to the darkness. Murder on the other six continents was a record achieved probably within a month of an ex-monkey capable of processing right and wrong evolved or arrived there. Antarctica, however, eluded the charges for a remarkably long time on account of, you know, no one living there. When the continent’s temperature is trying to murder anyone who stands on it, you tend to set aside petty squabbles.
However, as research of the continent expanded, with it came, obviously, researchers. Researchers being human (not to mention trapped in less-than-ideal circumstances in both climate and personal space), it’s only natural that eventually, one would end up trying to, well, end another. The Smithsonian, after an attempted murder in Antarctica in 2018 made the news, reviewed a history of both attempted and rumored murders from the icy expanse. The idea of being murdered in Antarctica by anything but cold seems like a joke: “My uncle died in Antarctica.” “Hypothermia?” “No, decapitation.”
And yet, here we are. Aren’t humans grand?
Eli Yudin is a stand-up comedian in Brooklyn. You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @eliyudin and listen to his podcast, What A Time to Be Alive, about the five weirdest news stories of the week, on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever else you get your podcasts.