On January 14, 2008, Colin O’Brady was in Koh Tao, Thailand, celebrating completion of his scuba dive open-water certification, when a frightful moment reformed his revelry to recovery: A fire left him burned over 23% of his body, with bandages up to his thighs and the prognosis that he may never walk again. Rather than accept the projection, Colin took it as a challenge to not only recuperate but to excel. He became a professional triathlete whose weekly fitness regime includes 50 to 70 miles of running, 200-plus miles of cycling and 15-plus miles of swimming.
Over the past year, Colin has also integrated mountain-specific strength work and plyometrics, which will serve him starting December 25, when he departs to conquer the Explorers Grand Slam Tour: a world-record mountaineering attempt to climb the Seven Summits, the tallest mountain on each continent and trek to the North and South Poles in six months. This goal will fuel his quest to raise one million dollars for the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, a mission he has coined Beyond 7/2, in reference to the seven summits and two poles he’ll traverse in the effort.
Nike is proud to support Colin in his undertaking and spoke to him on the eve of his departure about the journey that inspired this attempt and the challenges that lie ahead, including his added effort to become both the youngest and fastest athlete to complete the grand slam. Stay tuned for updates from Colin as he climbs the globe.
“It certainly hasn’t been an entirely easy path — I’ve had my fair share of setbacks, for sure. I think all athletes, in some regard, have their own summits to climb. My biggest setback was in 2008. I was severely burned in a fire in Thailand [and] told that I may never walk again. I spent months in a hospital fighting against that fear. I decided: I can either be complacent, sit here and be sad or I can set a goal and work, day by day, to recover fully — and go beyond that. My goal was to complete a triathlon. And 18 months after my burn accident, I completed (and won) the Chicago Triathlon. It was a huge day for me and it really moved my life into a completely new direction. I became a professional athlete, which has been just a fantastic journey. I’ve been able to compete on the world stage in 25 different countries on six continents. This endurance challenge, BEYOND 7/2, is bound to have many peaks and valleys and I hope that the lessons that I’ve learned in my life will help me get through the darker moments, but more importantly allow me to share this story — my ups and downs — and inspire others to do the same.
The real goal and purpose of BEYOND 7/2 is not only to push my own endurance level, but also to create an inspirational campaign around getting kids happier and healthier, excited — living healthy, full and active lives. I was fortunate to have great role models in my parents; my dad is an organic farmer and my mom is a co-founder of great natural foods grocery chain. Health was a huge part of our lives. They took me out into the wilderness and to play outside for so much of my childhood. I realize that not everyone has that type of access or those types of role models in their own lives, so hopefully, through the project and platform we’re building we can really show what it means to set a big goal and push yourself to go beyond — and people can apply that in their own lives as they face the daily ups and downs. It’s the perfect alignment with Nike. The company is doing such great work in the community doing the same thing: inspiring healthy, happy and active kids nationwide and around the world, and we’re so grateful to have their support.
So I’m flying off to Antarctica, to go to the South Pole, on December 25. Then it’s onward for six months of pushing myself in the harshest and most extreme conditions, and storytelling throughout, sending back my daily journals and entries to really keep people excited, engaged and motivated. I hope many others in the BEYOND 7/2 mission will join me in spirit throughout the journey and afterwards. That doesn’t have to mean setting some huge world record; it can be anything. What can you do to go beyond your daily norms? Is that training to run a local 5K? Is that eating more fruits and vegetables? Is that being a better person in your community — volunteering, helping out, being active? All of these things lead to a happy, healthy, successful life.”
Nike Community Impact
Nike believes in the power of sport to move the world and unleash human potential. However, the world is moving less and less, and today's generation of children is the least physically active ever. That’s why Nike works to get kids (ages 7-12) active early and for life, because active kids are happier, healthier and more successful. Together with its employees, partners, consumers and athletes, Nike also supports important causes that strengthen communities across the globe. Learn more.