Human Endurance

On May 19, 2012, Tamae Watanabe managed to summit Mount Everest. She was all of seventy three years and one hundred and eighty days. At the other end, making my country proud was young Malavath Purna who was thirteen years and eleven months when she climbed the summit. Yes, days matter because despite the challenges, there is competition for who is the youngest, oldest and who has done it most often. Twenty one times in case you are curious, the record not surprisingly held by Apa Sherpa and Phurba Tashi Sherpa jointly from Nepal.

At least in my opinion there is no doubt that prior to recorded history human beings were performing extra-ordinary feats of running, climbing and lifting. In fact if mythology is to believed people in ancient times played a game similar to chess with seven feet tall chess pieces. In modern times, there seem to be limits to human capacity. For example, a javelin cannot be thrown at faster than the escape velocity of the earth at 11.9 KM/Second. Similarly the 100 Meter race will probably peak at 9 seconds. The marathon record has settled at two hours and it seems  improbable that some one will beat that. People have run the marathon in space, crossed the English channel, run on the treadmill for twenty-four hours, and dived 102 meters to set a free diving record in New Zealand.

It takes amazing will, training, mental strength and persistence to achieve anything close to the records that we are talking about. However, not everyone has to break world records, often just participating is sufficient. If you do, who knows you could be the next Betty Lindberg who at ninety one was surprised to learn that she has just won the world record for running 800 meters in her age category. All it takes is for you to explore what your endurance is. Perhaps, your mind will set you free of your limits.


Ritesh is a born again health enthusiast and holds a Certificate in Physiology from Harvard Medical School and a Certificate in Nutrition from Tufts University.