A month ago today I stood there. Ninety degrees south, the top of the bottom of the world, the Geographic South Pole. And I stood there beside two very good friends of mine, Richard Weber and Kevin Vallely. Together we had just broken the world speed record for a trek to the South Pole.
Our journey, in fact, did not begin at Hercules Inlet, where frozen ocean meets the land of Antarctica. It began a little less than two years ago. A couple of buddies of mine and I had finished a 111 day run across the entire Sahara Desert. And while we were there we learned the seriousness of the water crisis in Northern Africa. We also learned that many of the issues facing the people in Northern Africa affected young people the most.
Around that time I met an extraordinary human being, 1)Peter Thum, who inspired me with his actions. He's trying to find and solve water issues, the crisis around the world. His 2)dedication inspired me to come up with this expedition. A run to the South Pole, where, with an interactive website, I will be able to bring young people, students and teachers from around the world on board the expedition with me, as active members. So we would have a live website. We would be blogging, telling stories of 3)depleted 4)ozone, forcing us to cover our faces, or we will burn.
We were blogging to this live website daily to these students that were tracking us as well, about 10 hour trekking days, 15 hour trekking days, sometimes 20 hours of trekking daily to meet our goal. In turn, students, people from around the world, would ask us questions. Young people would ask the most amazing questions.
One of my favorite: “It's 40 below, you've got to go to the bathroom, where are you going to go and how are you going to do it?” I'm not going to answer that. But I will answer some of the more popular questions.
“Where do you sleep?” We slept in a tent that was very low to the ground, because the winds on Antarctica were so extreme, it would blow anything else away.
“What do you eat?” One of my favorite dishes on expedition, butter and bacon. It's about a million calories. We were burning about 8,500 a day. So we needed it.
“How many batteries do you carry for all the equipment that you have?” Virtually none. All of our equipment, including film equipment, was charged by the sun.
“And do you get along?” Seriously, seriously, we did get along. Because we had a common goal of wanting to inspire these young people. They were our teammates! They were inspiring us. The stories we were hearing got us to the South Pole. The website worked brilliantly as a two-way street of communication. Young people in northern Canada, kids in an elementary school, dragging 5)sleds across the school yard, pretending they were Richard, Ray and Kevin. Amazing.
We arrived at the South Pole. We huddled into that tent, 45 below that day, I'll never forget it. We looked at each other with these looks of disbelief of what we had just completed.
As I stand here today talking to you guys, I've been running for the grand sum of five years. And a [few] years before that, I was a pack-a-day smoker, living a very 6)sedentary lifestyle. What I take from this journey, from my journeys, is that, in fact, within every fiber of my belief standing here, I know that we can make the impossible possible. I'm learning this at 40. Can you imagine? Seriously, can you imagine? I'm learning this at 40 years of age. Imagine being 13 years old, hearing those words, and believing it. Thank you very much. Thank you.