Adventurers of the Year: Alastair Humphreys
For seven years, National Geographic has combed the globe to find Adventurers of the Year, each selected for his or her extraordinary achievement in exploration, conservation, and adventure sports. This year, our Adventure editors, in partnership with Glenfiddich, selected men and women who are pioneering innovation in the world of adventure.
Here on Intelligent Travel we will be profiling the 2012 Adventurers of the Year. Check them out, then vote (through January 18) for your favorite to win the People’s Choice Award.
Meet Adventurer Alastair Humphreys
By Fitz Cahall
“Break down the elitism in adventure—that was my goal,” says Alastair Humphreys. The 34-year-old Brit has ridden his bike 46,000 miles around the world, crossed Iceland’s rugged glacial highlands on foot, and set his sights on the longest unsupported journey to the South Pole. But in 2011, Humphreys never left his native U.K. He barely even left the county.
Instead he embarked on a year of microadventures—small, local trips that began and ended at his doorstep. He hiked Britain’s most reviled stretch of road, the M25, a clogged transit artery that circles London through the swelling suburbs. He swam the Thames, used public transport to get out of the city and sleep out underneath the stars, and spent four days living off the land. Advanced Base Camp was his home in London’s suburbs.
“Each trip ticked all the boxes of adventure. It was cold. It was physically challenging. I talked to people I wouldn’t have otherwise met,” says Humphreys. What he learned was clear—we find adventure by stepping outside of our day-to-day norms.
To share his idea and inspire others, Humphreys devised a series of ten challenges in the form of four-minute video trip reports (watch one above) encouraging would-be adventurers to sign up for a race, to take advantage of the hours before and after work, and to pick a random point on a map and visit it. The idea caught on through Twitter. Word spread and people began sending in trip reports and homemade videos via Twitter. They came in from as far away as Japan. This year the idea traveled farther than the adventurer.
“My hope is that come December, I will have other microadventurers who have taken this journey with me from that first challenge all the way to our final challenge, which will end up being quite a worthy adventure,” says Humphreys, who plans on revealing his final challenge at the end of the year. “In life it doesn’t matter what you do, just that you get off your backside and do something.”
- Nat Geo Expeditions