Cyclist. Swimmer. Runner. Adventurer.
“If I hadn’t cocked up life so badly in my twenties, then I wouldn’t have this drive, urge and passion to actually fill my days. I have seen how not to live life.”
I love when people tell me about why they grew their first (or current) beard. As you can imagine, the answers vary from self improvement to wanting a complete makeover. Even the Beardsmen whose answer is something as simple as ‘because I can grow a beard’ will get my nod of approval. The best one though, that is an easy one to choose. Sean Conway grew his beard to prevent jellyfish from stinging his face while he swam in the Irish Sea. “A beard physically stops the tentacles from touching your face and that is what I needed. It kind of gave me my superpowers and I said, ‘O.K. I am going to grow this bloody beard massive, so up yours, jellyfish’.” See what I mean? That cannot be topped.
Four thousand (plus) miles. That is the distance our favorite, bearded, Extreme Endurance Adventurer is currently traveling. Of course, this was not always the lifestyle he lived. There was a decade where he was our favorite, bearded, school and baby photographer. “Instead of going off and following my dream of shooting for amazing wildlife and travel magazines, I ended up photographing kids at school. Do you remember school portrait day? Yeah, that was me and I did it throughout my twenties until I turned thirty.” After coming to the realization that life does not revolve around money, Sean sold his photography business for one British pound (or roughly a dollar and forty seven cents to us Yanks). “My problem was that I was just in a rush to be something by thirty. I believed that if I worked hard and earned more money, then I would be successful. That was my benchmark for success, but I was miserable.”
Shortly after his escape from the world of school photography, Sean knew he had to find something to fill that need for something more. “I didn’t have any formal education, so I was kind of unemployable. I figured that if I went traveling, I might find myself. Unfortunately I couldn’t afford to go, so I thought that maybe if there is some world record that is travel based, I could possibly get a sponsor to fund it. I researched a few things and came across the first ever around the world bicycle race. I entered that and managed to get a sponsor and that was my first real adventure.” Five years later and his search for excitement has not slowed down at all.
Since 2011, Sean has trekked all over the world in his adventures through walking, running, swimming, cycling and kayaking, which gave the motivation for his newest adventure. “Well, I had done a long swim, a long bicycle ride and a long run all independently of each other and the natural progression for me was to do a multi-discipline adventure. I like the traditional things and I thought that I could just combine the three of them and do an epic-ally long Iron Man triathlon.” Sean’s definition of epic is what separates this from his normal adventure. The first leg involves him cycling (on a bamboo bike) 3,350 miles, followed by a run of 1.5 million steps and concluding with swim that totals 390,000 strokes.
In order to fully capture this incredible, fourteen week journey, Sean has once again teamed with Discovery Channel for a documentary. “Having Discovery on board is a great partnership. My last show with them went to thirty-nine different countries around the world and I was able to share my message to get out there and bloody push yourself. We are a hell of a lot more physically and mentally stronger than we think we are. If you go out and push yourself, you will be surprised. Don’t let the opinions of other people affect your decisions in life. I have done quite a few things that people said could not be done. Had I listened to those people, I would not have accomplished any of those things.” You can follow Sean every step of the way at GoSeanGo on the Discovery UK website, as well as keeping up with him on Twitter. His current adventure should conclude in mid- July, with the Discovery UK documentary airing later this summer.
Do you know what type of beardsman you are? Take the quiz to find out if you’re the rarest type, and get ongoing beard advice sent to your inbox weekly.