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Feature

Meet the superhumans of extreme sports

Forging their own path. Marching to the beat of their own drum. Pushing the limits. Jumping from space, running marathons across the Sahara, or freediving to the depths of the Atlantic, There’s a superhuman for everything. Introducing: the champions of extreme sports. To prove to you that, with enough passion and determination, anything is possible. 

The ultra-runner

Let’s talk about ultra-running. Forget that casual 26-mile marathon. Because what’s that when you can stretch it to a mere 350? With no sleep. For days at a time. Often in tricky conditions like, oh, you know, the Sahara Desert.  One famed runner tested the limits of the human body completed 50 marathons, in 50 states, on 50 consecutive days. Makes us sweat just reading that. The land is the limit, or rather, there isn’t one. Just keep running.

Ever heard of freediving?

It’s the act of diving, underwater into a great watery abyss, all the while holding your breath with no oxygen tank allowed. And then, just keep on going until you reach outlandish depths. Now that’s the human body pushing the limits! 700 feet (214 metres) is one freediving champion’s record – in a single, nine-minute long breath. And...exhale.

Was that the sound of your ears popping?

Remember when that legendary base-jumping guy jumped out of a balloon in space? We do. On 14 October 2012, he took a giant helium balloon 39 kilometers (24 miles) up into the stratosphere. And then, like a super human, he jumped. His 4 minute 19 second descent broke the sound barrier, not to mention all previous records, including the one for fastest speed without the aid of a vehicle.

11 hours in action

Sometimes, it’s not just about any one person lasting the distance. Take the world’s longest ever tennis match in 2010. On any regular match day, you’re lucky to get 3 hours of action on court. These guys went beyond the limits with a match that took 11 hours and lasted over 3 days. There was a staggering total of 183 games played. That’s some serious endurance. For the crowd as well as the players! 

 

Mind games!

Are these incredible physical feats just the product of insanely superhuman genes, or is there more to it? Spoiler alert – it’s all in the mind. That saying: ‘Fake it until you make it’? Turns out you will, eventually, make it as long as you think you can. Study after study shows that athletes who train the mind as well as the human body can improve endurance and the limits of the human body as a result. Expanding what you believe you can physically endure makes a huge difference – as much as 120% more. In other words, to be a real ninja, you just have to believe you really are one.

There’s a superhuman in all of us

It’s not just the ultra-runners, sound barrier blasters, and freedivers with superhuman skills. Everyone has a uniquely magical spark. Did you know, our brains use a whopping 25% of our inhaled oxygen? Just our brain! So, even if you’re wondering about tomorrow’s class, meeting or which Lynx antiperspirant to buy in the grooming aisle, you’re using your superhuman skills, too.