Charlie Wittmack is attempting what is most likely the most extreme test of physical endurance ever attempted by a human. The 36-year-old Iowa man plans to swim down the River Thames and across the English Channel, then bike 9,000 miles to Calcutta, then run 950 miles, starting from sea level, and ending at the summit of Mount Everest, Aol News reports. And he’s on a clock.
Wittmack has to get to the Channel by Aug. 2, or he loses his permit, and he must reach the border of China and Kyrgystan by the end of October. If he manages that, he should summit Everest on May 25, 2011, when the weather is most hospitable. He’s already started down the Thames, swimming 10 miles a day. It’s been an ordeal. “Sometimes I’m not swimming, I’m walking because the water is so shallow,” he says. “My feet are banged up on rocks. I lost a toenail. I threw up after one swim and woke up with night sweats.” (Read more triathlon stories.)