What's not possible?

I read a quotation today that grabbed me. That’s what great quotations are meant to do, sure, but some just don’t crack it. For me, this one did:

“Unless a man undertakes more than he possibly can do, he will never do all that he can.”

It got me thinking about the barriers we build, and the limitations that we all set ourselves. So many things are said to be not just out of reach but not humanly possible. And yet so often these are merely boundaries we set ourselves. The breaking of the four-minute mile was a classic example – for years it was thought to be an impossible feat... until 1954 when Roger Bannister achieved it with his 3:59.40. Since then his record has been shattered time and time again – it’s now almost 17 seconds quicker than Bannister’s time, on 3:43.13. How fast can the mile really be run?

So really, what is impossible? Or rather, what isn’t possible?

Well, how’s this for mind-boggling: Kilian Jornet, a young Spaniard from Catalonia, is a running freak – he’s proving that the impossible can be shattered, and that there should be no such word. This week he’s achieving something that’s never been attempted before – simply because no one ever thought it possible. He’s running the length of the Pyrenees mountain range, from the Altantic to the Mediterranean. That’s 700km of distance, some 40 000m of climbing, and his challenge is to achieve this in just 7 days.

The fastest this has ever been done before has been 12 days. Impossible? He’ll prove not.

Who is this guy? Kilian’s a Spanish ski mountaineer, an ultra-distance trail runner (no, dah..), a mountain biker and duathlete. He’s a three-time champion of the Skyrunner World Series (2007-09) and twice winner of the Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc (2008/09).

And he’s just 23 years old.

So if you’re not already following Kilian on his quest across the Pyrenees, best you hop on quick to http://kilianjornet.blogspot.com/2009/04/kilians-quest.html before he beats you to it. He'll be finishing on June 6th.

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