Today is the day! After years of dreaming, months of planning and days of packing, it’s time to begin. By the time you read this, I’ll be 30,000 feet in the air, flying from my hometown of Durham, North Carolina more than 7,300 miles around the world to a small country in eastern Africa called Djibouti where I’ll kick-off the first leg of my latest adventure, the 5.8 Global Adventure Series.
The 5.8 Global Adventure Series is the world’s first trek from the lowest point to the highest summit on every continent. Fewer than 500 people have made it to the top of the seven highest points on each continent. I’ll be the first to attempt going from the lowest to the highest point on all seven continents. To connect these low and high points I will swim, dive, bike, run, hike and climb. . . traversing and scaling some of our planet’s most diverse and dramatic landscapes.
Over the next two years, the series will take me from Africa to South America, Europe, Australia, North America, Antarctica and Asia. While the trip itself will cover thousands of miles across dozens of countries on every continent, the distance between the lowest point on Earth (the Dead Sea) and the highest point (Mount Everest) is only 5.8 vertical miles. Crazy, huh? Think about that for a minute. Every person on the planet lives within this tiny sliver of space. Because of that, we all have a shared responsibility to take care of this sacred space together. I want to explore and share the beauty of this amazing world we inhabit with everyone who follows me on this journey.
It’s also important to point out that I could never make this trip without the support of my wife, Astacianna Hatcher, and some amazing partners, including: Dick’s Sporting Goods, GoBundance, Gundry MD, PTTOW!, T-Mobile, Spartan, and WORLDZ. I’m also grateful to all of my product sponsors, nonprofit partners and affiliates and logistics and outfitters support. You can find the complete list here.
(And if you’re reading this and you’d like to learn more about sponsoring the 5.8 Global Adventure Series, don’t be shy . . . Contact us here).
For this first leg of the journey, I’ll start at Lake Assal, the lowest point in Africa, and swim 10 kilometers (approximately 6.2 miles) across one of the saltiest bodies of water in the world. Interestingly, Lake Assal has a higher salinity than the Dead Sea! That salty water will make me extrabuoyant and add a fun challenge to the freedive that I’ll do at the lake’s center. After that, I’ll run and bike past volcanic craters and salt flats in Djibouti into Ethiopia, where I’ll see some of the world’s oldest heritage sites and lush “coffee country.” From there, I’ll trek dusty trading routes along the shores of Lake Turkana into Kenya, then gain elevation winding through the Cherangany Hills into what is known as “marathoners Mecca,” in Iten, Kenya - the most dominant running town in the world. I’ll be joined by world-class marathoners to run some long miles, bike 800 kilometers (nearly 500 miles) through the Rift Valley, one of the wildest places on the planet, and camp with some of my friends from the famous Maasai tribe on their ancestral lands, towering over the iconic Maasai Mara. I’ll then cross the border into Tanzania. Whew! Tired yet? Tanzania is the final stop of the 4-country 5.8 Africa route, and here, I’ll hike and bike for three days through the incomparable Serengeti National Park and across the Ngorongoro Crater to make my way to basecamp at Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest point on the continent. I’ll be joined by a group of friends and supporters for this final stretch of the journey. Our goal is to start the 7-day summit in mid-to-late September and reach the peak of the mountain on September 25, but we are prepared for surprises along the way and will be ready to adjust our course and refocus our plans to meet our goal on this trip.
Many of you who have followed my journey for some time have probably seen me attempt some pretty crazy things – running across the Sahara, biking through Death Valley, running for 27 continuous hours last month to mark my 27th year of recovery or swimming with crocodiles. For this expedition series, I’ll be harnessing all of forms of human power (my legs, lungs, heart and mind. . .no motors or jetpacks), doing whatever it takes to get from the world’s lowest to highest points.
In Africa, I’ll average about 100 miles a day (running and cycling), and my longest stretch will be about 161 miles, in Ethiopia. Of course, I always know that the unexpected WILL happen. Health, weather and any number of unforeseen events may alter my plans, and that’s when this journey becomes all about adaptation. Just like in real life, when things go awry, it’s always about how I react to the circumstances that will determine the outcome. My distance per day or my expected arrival dates may change, but constant forward motion will remain my motto.
No doubt this will be an epic trip. But I want you to know there’s a bigger reason why I do this, and it’s not just for the adrenaline rush or the glory of a global adventure series. My motivation to tackle extreme, purpose-driven pursuits like this stems from my own personal battle with drugs and alcohol. In fact, I credit a large part of my sobriety to the purposeful devotion and emotional release I experience when I run or face other extreme endurance challenges. Channeling my inner addict toward positive actions makes another opportunity - cultural exploration - possible. What better way to meet the diverse people on this planet than by moving through small villages and urban meccas at a slow pace, instead of zipping by in a car or zooming over in an airplane. And I get to see it all through clean and sober eyes!
While the 5.8 Global Adventure Series is about taking on huge physical challenges, it is also about so much more than that. It’s about going through a journey of self-exploration while inviting you to look into your own heart, recognizing your personal highs and lows and examining your motivations to see the impact each of us can have on the world we inhabit together.
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Stay up-to-date with Charlie on the 5.8 Global Adventure Series by visiting 5Point8Project.com or following him on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter . You can also check out a video of Charlie describing his personal story and the start of this adventure series on Vimeo here.