First Things Next

Back when there was a wealth of obvious “firsts” to pursue, explorational achievement was simple—all you had to do was beat the rest of mankind to the North Pole or the moon. That time has passed, however, and today new firsts are harder to score. This has led to the creation of some inventive and often complicated goals. Though climbing Everest while hula-hooping has yet to be attempted—as far as we know—just about every other combination of skill and derring-do has. We’ve provided a closer look at five of our favorites.

Charlie Engle, Kevin Lin, Ray Zahab

Goal: To be the first people to run across the Sahara, a distance of 4,300 miles

From November 2, 2006 to February 20, 2007, they ran for 111 days straight, through a total of six countries.

Lewis Gordon Pugh

Goal: To be the first to complete long-distance swims in the Atlantic, Pacific, Indian, Arctic, and Southern oceans

As part of this feat, Pugh swam a mile in the Southern Ocean and a kilometer in the below-freezing waters of the North Pole.

Eric Larsen

Goal: To be the first person to travel to both poles and climb Mount Everest in a single year

Larsen will try to reach “the top, bottom, and roof of the world” in 2009, with the aim of raising awareness about global warming.

Valery Rozov

Goal: To make the first BASE (building, antenna, span, or earth) jump from the Alps’ Grandes Jorasses

Rozov jumped 12,467 feet in July 2006, after a four-day climb up the Croz Spur, a classic trail on the mountain’s north side.

Roz Savage

Goal: To be the first woman to row across the Pacific, from California to Australia

Forced by severe weather conditions to cut short her original August 2007 trip, she rescheduled her launch date for spring 2008.