Chapter 5

The Excellence in Endurance

Excerpted from One Step Beyond:
Rediscovering the Adventure Attitude


Profile of Laurie Dexter — Member of the Soviet/Canadian Polar Bridge Expedition which skied from the USSR to the North Pole and on to Canada across 1,800 kilometres of arctic ice. He is also an "ultra-marathoner", having completed dozens of races of more than 80 kilometres (50 miles). Let Laurie show you the kind of tenacity you need to succeed...

...The first two weeks of Laurie's Polar Bridge trek were agonizing. He was struck by a debilitating series of painful injuries. Before long, he was in serious trouble.

Within 48 hours of leaving Siberia, he had frostbite on all his fingertips. They blistered badly, then broke open, exposing super-sensitive bare flesh. In no time, his fingers began to ooze pus. The pain was excruciating. Every movement hurt, including grasping ski poles.

Shortly after, he got major foot blisters, one of which covered almost half of the bottom of his left foot. After that, he pulled a muscle in his right shin during a fall.

All of this, combined with the extreme cold, made it impossible for him to sleep properly. His feet, legs and hands throbbed. His groin produced periodic, stabbing pain. While the rest of the team members experienced most of these ailments at various times, for some reason Laurie was struck by them all at once. Accustomed, as a runner, to being one of the leaders, he was suddenly relegated to the rear of the line of skiers...

and remember that in triumph, you don’t remember the agony...

..."I run 83 kilometres so I can enjoy the 84th," Laurie says. "I don't enjoy the first 83, but I'm willing to run them because the 84th is the important one. The reward is in finishing. Finishing is what's important."

Laurie strode triumphantly across the finish line just three minutes under eight hours. My heart went into my mouth. I felt a tingle go up and down my spine. It was not the finish that moved me. It was all that had gone before.

At last, he stopped and looked at his watch. For the longest time, he just stood there staring at it, silent and swaying. For the first time in hours, he was alone not in pain, but in victory. He had won. He had overcome himself...









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