Friday 13 April 2012

First, youngest, oldest... records that diminish feats and inspire achievements

An article came out in the Irish Times on Tuesday about an eight-year old girl who is now the youngest person to stand at the North Pole. The headline reads, "Irish girl 'youngest ever' at North Pole".

In short, she flew there in a helicopter with her dad, got out and stood at the pole. No hauling of sleds or even trekking the last degree. The previous record holder was the eight-year old daughter of polar adventurer David Hempleman-Adams, who also flew to the pole (to meet her father).

The sentence in this news report that really got me fired up is the following: "The Donovan family will have to apply to Guinness World Records to have the feat verified."

Feat? You've got to be kidding! It is hardly a feat to fly to the North Pole and stand there for a photograph.

I'm really not into all of these firsts. Even when there have been many people before, it seems that a 'first' needs to be sucked into any adventure. The first person/man/woman (there are 196 countries so that makes for lots of nationality firsts). The first person with (insert illness/disability). The youngest (overall and nationality). The oldest (overall and nationality). The fastest.

And, considering some 'firsts' do they diminish previous achievements or inspire others to attempt them? As in... "Even a 13 year old can climb Mt Everest" or is it, "If a 13-year old can summit Mt Everest, I can too?"


Stijn said...

Totally with you... I recently saw an article about an SA school doing a trip to Everest Base Camp. They are raising money as well and could have just left it at that - a trek to Everest Base Camp.

But no, they are also claiming an attempt at the record for the youngest ever sister pair to reach Everest Base Camp... ugh.

adventurelisa said...

Totally. The idea of a school trip to Base Camp - how cool! But then the record thing - spoils the whole story.

I don't put any of this type on thing on FEAT because I don't consider it to be a feat.

seanverret said...

Damn and I thought I was gonna be the FIRST to respond....

Great article Lisa!

adventurelisa said...

Sean - well, you are the FIRST Canadian to respond...