Kevin Vallely is a 47-year-old Canadian who, a bit like Superman, is by day a mild-mannered architect, but in his spare time has taken on an impressive roster of epic and varied adventures.

Kevin was introduced to The Adventure Podcast by Ray Zahab, with whom he broke the world record for the fastest unsupported trek from Hercules inlet to the South Pole 3 years ago. We also have a mutual friend in Paul Gleeson, who rowed the Atlantic the same year that I did, and who was one of the four-man team with whom Kevin rowed the Northwest Passage earlier this year.

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But Is It Possible?

Kevin Vallely in the Northwest Passage
Kevin Vallely in the Northwest Passage

“That’s kind of fun. It proved to me that you can do these things if you’re willing to look at it a little differently and say, no, no, we can do it….. a lot of people just don’t believe you can do it.” (Kevin Vallely)

Kevin was speaking about running the West Coast Trail. People thought they were lying when his team announced they’d run the 46 miles in 10 hours, as it had previously only been hiked in 4-5 days.

This seems to be a recurring theme in Kevin’s groundbreaking adventures – overcoming people’s preconceptions about what is possible. As another example, he didn’t know if he could run the inaugural Iditasport Impossible race (“where cowards won’t show and the weak will die”) – until he did it.

It reminded me of a question that haunted me for much of my Atlantic crossing, my first ocean. I kept asking myself, on a daily basis, “Can I do this? Do I have what it takes?” You’ll see my eventual response in the blog I wrote after my inspiring conversation with Milko Van Gool.

So be careful – before you begin to doubt that you can do something, remind yourself that there is only one way to find out – and that is to try.

Even if you don’t have the confidence when you set out, you may well develop it along the way.

“You can do so much more than you think you can, if you just have confidence in yourself.” (Kevin Vallely)

“It always seems impossible until it’s done.” (Nelson Mandela) (Now THAT’s what I wish I’d said to Prince William!!)


Show Notes

2:45 Delving into the past – has Kevin always had this urge for adventure?

6:45 Kevin the architect, and the return to adventure

9:00 Running the West Coast Trail

10:00 Top kit

11:15 Kevin’s favourite adventure so far

13:50 Indonesia and 9/11/2001

15:00 Story of incredible tenacity – skiiing the Iditarod Trail – “never say die”

18:15 Rowing the Northwest Passage – cold, ice, and 24 hour daylight

23:15 Chickens of the Sea – really?! Keyboard warriors strike again

27:55 Climate change and the Northwest Passage – strange changes afoot – the first commercial crossing of the Northwest Passage –

33:10 What next for Kevin – and the kids?

36:15 Staying in touch with Kevin


Kevin on Twitter

List of expeditions

News report of the Northwest Passage (with video)

kevin vallely northwest passage







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