Colin O'Brady

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Colin O'Brady
Personal information
Birth nameColin Timothy O'Brady
Born (1985-03-16) March 16, 1985 (age 35)
Olympia, Washington, U.S.
Alma materYale University
OccupationPro Endurance Athlete
Years active2009–present
Spouse(s)Jenna Besaw
WebsiteOfficial website Edit this at Wikidata
SportMountaineer, professional triathlete
Achievements and titles
Highest world ranking4x world record speed holder; Explorers Grand Slam (Last Degree), Seven Summits, Three Poles Challenge, 50 Highest Points
Updated on April 23, 2016.

Colin Timothy O'Brady (born March 16, 1985) is an American professional endurance athlete, motivational speaker and adventurer. He is a former professional triathlete, representing the United States on the ITU Triathlon World Cup circuit, racing in 25 countries on six continents from 2009–2015.[1][2]

O'Brady is a four-time world record holder. In 2016 he set the Explorers Grand Slam (Last Degree) and Seven Summits speed records.[3][4][5][6][7][8] He became the fastest person to complete the adventurers challenges in 139 days and 131 days respectively. In the summer of 2018, O'Brady set the speed record for the 50 US High Points in 21 days.

On December 26, 2018, he completed a solo crossing of the land mass of Antarctica, excluding the ice shelves, using the South Pole Traverse (SPoT) vehicle road during the last 366 miles (589 km) of the journey.[9]

Early life and education[edit]

Colin Timothy O'Brady was born on March 16, 1985 in Olympia, Washington,[citation needed] but was raised in Portland, Oregon. He attended the Franciscan Montessori Earth School and Mt. Tabor Middle School, and graduated from Lincoln High School in 2002.[10]

O'Brady was a youth soccer star and Oregon State Swimming Champion.[11] He was recruited for both collegiate swimming and soccer in high school. He accepted a recruitment to swim for the Yale Bulldogs swimming and diving team where he competed on the NCAA Division I varsity team in the 100 and 200 meter Breaststroke.[12] He graduated from Yale University in 2006 and received a Bachelor of Arts in Economics.[11]

In 2007, O'Brady began what was planned as a year-long backpacking trip around the world. In January 2008, on the island of Koh Tao, he suffered a devastating burn injury. Though he was warned he might never walk normally, he took his first step the following month and was determined to make a full recovery.[13][14][15]


Early career and professional triathlete[edit]

O'Brady moved to Chicago where he took a job as a commodities trader following the accident. He learned how to walk again, and for a year focused on physical rehabilitation. He began to train for triathlon: swimming, cycling, and running.[16]

In May 2009 he won a sprint-distance triathlon in Racine, Wisconsin, and in August 2009 he placed 1st overall amateur in the Olympic-distance Chicago Triathlon.[17] He then placed in the age-group nationals in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, which earned him a position on Team USA at the 2010 World Triathlon Championships in Budapest, Hungary. In late 2009, encouraged by his mentor, financier Brian Gelber, O'Brady quit his job to pursue a career as a professional athlete. With Gelber as a sponsor, he moved to Australia to train in a more temperate climate. O'Brady has since completed more than 50 triathlons, ranging from sprint distance to Ironman competitions.[14][18]

O'Brady completed Ironman Japan in August 2015, his final triathlon race and placed 6th in the Pro division.[19]

Endurance and adventurer[edit]

Following his retirement from triathlon, O'Brady and his then-fiancée Jenna Besaw created Beyond 7/2, a not-for-profit world record journey to inspire kids and communities to live active, healthy lives.[2] O'Brady aimed to conquer the Explorers Grand Slam (Last Degree), an adventurer's challenge to climb the highest mountain on each of the seven continents and complete expeditions to both the North and South Poles in world record time. O'Brady and Besaw financed the Grand Slam attempt through sponsorships from Gelber Group, Nike, Columbia Sportswear, and Mountain Hardwear, among others.[2] The project raised funds and awareness to benefit the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, a non-profit organization that aims to combat childhood obesity.[20] O'Brady proposed to fiancée Jenna Besaw on the summit of Cayambe, Ecuador's third tallest mountain, on October 27, 2014.[citation needed]

O'Brady left Portland on December 25, 2015, flying to Chile and then Union Glacier in Antarctica. In January 2016, O'Brady began the Explorers Grand Slam.[citation needed] O'Brady was joined on parts of his Beyond 7/2 journey by various climbing partners and as a paying client with guides including polar explorer Eric Larsen, Vern Tejas and fellow mountaineer Maria (Masha) Gordon.[citation needed]

O'Brady became the fastest person (male) to complete the Explorers Grand Slam (Last Degree) when he reached the summit of Denali in Alaska on May 27, 2016, and set a new speed record of 139 days.[21] He bested the previous male record of 197 days set by Richard Parks in 2011. O'Brady is the 36th person to complete the Explorers Grand Slam (Last Degree) and the current record holder. O'Brady completed 10 expeditions in total to fulfill both the Bass and Messner lists.[citation needed]

O'Brady completed both the Bass and Messner lists for the Seven Summits speed record,[22] climbing Everest, Aconcagua, Denali, Kilimanjaro, Elbrus, Puncak Jaya, Vinson (the "Messner version").

O'Brady is the fastest[3][5] to complete the Three Poles Challenge, an adventurer’s challenge to reach the North Pole, the South Pole and the summit of Mount Everest. He began the challenge in Antarctica on January 10, 2016, reached the North Pole on April 19, and summited Mount Everest on May 19, 2016.[23]

In the summer of 2018, aided by a small support team, O'Brady shattered the speed record for the 50 US High Points Challenge when he climbed the highest point in each of the 50 states of the United States in just 21 days, 9 hours, and 48 minutes. While reaching each high point, he invited local residents of all ages and backgrounds to come out to join him in setting a new world record; this piece of the project was coined "The Forrest Gump Effect".[24][25][26][27]

On December 26, 2018, O’Brady completed a solo and unsupported crossing of parts of Antarctica from the Messner start to the beginning of the Ross Ice Shelf by following the South Pole Overland Traverse ice highway.[28][29] He completed the 932 mile journey in 54 days,[30] finishing ahead of explorer Louis Rudd who was also attempting the feat.[31] Because the route partially followed an ice highway, Peter Winsor has disputed the claim that the trek was "unassisted."[31] Others in the adventure and polar communities have also disputed the claim.[32] In December 2019, he acted as the first mate in a six-man team on the first man-powered crossing of Drake Passage, the body of water between South America and Antarctica. It took 13 days and 700+ miles in a boat that was 29 feet long.[33][34][35][36][37]


He is the son of Eileen Brady, businesswoman and politician who ran unsuccessfully for mayor of Portland, Oregon.[38]

World records[edit]

Explorers Grand Slam (Last Degree)[edit]

Mountain Elevation Continent Country Date Summited
South Pole 9,301 ft

(2,835 m)

Antarctica January 10, 2016[citation needed]
Mount Vinson 16,050 ft

(4,892 m)

Antarctica January 17, 2016[citation needed]
Aconcagua 22,838 ft

(6,961 m)

South America Argentina January 31, 2016[citation needed]
Mount Kilimanjaro 19,341 ft

(5,895 m)

Africa Tanzania February 9, 2016[citation needed]
Mount Kosciuszko

(Bass List)

7,310 ft

(2,228 m)

Australia Australia February 17, 2016[citation needed]
Carstensz Pyramid

Puncak Jaya

(Messner List)

16,024 ft

(4,884 m)

Oceania Indonesia March 4, 2016[citation needed]
Mount Elbrus 18,510 ft

(5,642 m)

Europe Russia March 10, 2016[citation needed]
North Pole 0 ft April 19, 2016[citation needed]
Mount Everest 29,029 ft

(8,848 m)

Asia Nepal May 19, 2016[citation needed]
Denali 20,322 ft

(6,194 m)

North America United States May 27, 2016[citation needed]


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  2. ^ a b c Maise, Rick (January 11, 2015). "Sports Six months, seven mountains, two poles — and the pursuit of one record". Washington Post. Retrieved April 24, 2016.
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  31. ^ a b Housman, Justin (January 3, 2019). "Wait, Were the Recent Antarctic Crossings Really "Unassisted"?". Adventure Journal. Retrieved June 17, 2019.
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  38. ^ Californian, About Matthew Singer A. native Southern; Arts; Portl, Culture Editor Matthew Singer gentrified; Fishbone, in 2008 He is an advocate for the canonization of the; discographies, Oingo Boingo; Form, Believes Pro-Wrestling Is a Serious Art; Unfortunately, has no interest in Game of Thrones He is also a Lakers fan; Soon, He Doesn't Plan on Leaving Anytime. "National Geographic Alleges Portland Endurance Athlete Colin O'Brady Exaggerated His "Impossible" Journey Across Antarctica". Willamette Week. Retrieved February 7, 2020.
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