Tales of Human Endurance

If you’re like me, the thought of extended cardiovascular exercise is exhausting before you even get started. Nonetheless, there are many people around the world that love extensive cardio exercise. Some push themselves to the limit with triathlons and other amazing sports. Throughout history, there have been countless examples of people pushing themselves to the limit and completing incredible acts of endurance. Sometimes for sport, sometimes for fame, and sometimes out of life saving necessity. Here are some memorable examples of people pushing themselves to the limit. 

World Record Breakers

Great examples of human endurance can be seen in the record books. In the pursuit of breaking a world record, many people have pushed themselves as hard as they can to set records of the “world’s longest” type. One man named Phil Laak has achieved a similar feat. In 2010, Laak set a new official Guinness World record for the world’s longest poker game, a stunning accomplishment totaling 115 hours. He was allowed to take a five-minute break every hour, but can you imagine sitting at a table playing a stressful game like poker for hours on end? I wonder what would have happened if he busted? 

11 Days With No Sleep

Going without sleep is absolutely excruciating. I don’t think there’s anyone that will deny the necessity of sleep every night to recharge your brain and body. In 1965, one high school student named Randy Gardner took up the challenge and managed to go an alarming 11 full days without any sleep at all. As you can imagine, the results were scary. Just 3 days in, Randy was having immense trouble speaking. His motor skills were impaired, and he needed to be coaxed to do anything at all. This continued for days on end. The Guinness Book of World Records eventually removed his record entirely, to discourage anyone from attempting this dangerous feat. 

 22 Minutes Underwater

Some people have a tremendous drive to prove themselves, and famous diver Stig Severinsen is one of those people. He has dedicated his life to yoga, breathing meditation, and diving sports. A multiple world record holder, he has set the bar for unassisted diving depth, distance swam under ice, and most impressively, staying a full 22 minutes underwater on one breath. It’s unlikely that this record will be broken anytime soon. 

Longest Boxing Match Ever

Boxing has a long and sordid history that goes back generations. Long before the days of big money prize fights, world broadcasts, boxing commissions and judges, boxing was an underground sport put on by spectators and gamblers. Naturally, these lawless fights could get particularly macabre. One such fight went on to become the longest boxing match in history, lasting for a staggering 111 three minute rounds, a total of seven hours and nineteen minutes. Somehow, both combatants refused to go down, trading blows until the referee eventually had to call a stop to it. Both men were terribly wounded. Jack Burke broke every bone in his hands, retiring after. His opponent Andy Bowen was killed in his following fight.  

Swimming the Atlantic 

Even among cardio-intensive sports, swimming is known to be particularly challenging. Benoit Lecomte is considered to be one of the greatest long-distance swimmers of all time, and in 1986 became the first man to do the unthinkable and swim across the Atlantic ocean. For over 73 days, Lecomte covered over 3,700 miles of open ocean. He chose to swim up to eight hours a day, in two hour long shifts. Lecomte was tailed the entire time by a boat that sent out electromagnetic waves, warding off any predators in the waters around him. 

The 11 Hour Wimbledon Match

Tennis can be a much more aggressive and competitive sport than people give it credit for. In 2010, John Isner defeated Nicolas Mahut in what will be remembered as the longest tennis match of all time. Over the course of three exhausting days, the two battled and demonstrated their lightning fast reflexes. The match had to be called at the end of every day because of nightfall. Eventually, on the third day and with some luck behind him, Isner pulled ahead to claim victory in an impressive feat of human endurance.

Written by Austin Crane

Austin is the principle web director for Untamed Science and Stone Age Man. He is also the web-director of the series for the High School biology, Middle Grades Science and Elementary Science content. When Austin isn't making amazing content for the web, he's out on his mountain bike or in a canoe.

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