Fifteen-year-old adventurer, Benjamin Harris, returned home on Tuesday 10th July 2012 after becoming the youngest known person at fifteen years old to walk across the Simpson Desert. He commenced the walk with his father Richard Harris (age 46) by his side on 25th June, the day after his fifteenth birthday. Richard unfortunately had to withdraw from the walk on the fifth day after some high tech blister first aid went horribly wrong and created a large blister on each of Richard’s heels. Ben walked on alone, with his father assisting the support team, which comprised of Ben’s mother, Cheryl Harris, and Ben’s Uncle, Graeme Smith, in two four-wheel drive vehicles.
In a display of unprecedented endurance for someone of his age, Ben conquered the distance of 432 kilometres from Dalhousie Springs to Birdsville without a single rest day. He had anticipated having to walk over 440 kilometres due to a ten kilometre diversion around the flooded lake at Big Red (the last sand dune). However, upon arrival, he discovered that the water only covered about 150 metres of the road and was only a few feet (60 centre metres) deep. His father removed the conduit flagpole from the front of one of the support vehicles, and snapped it in half, allowing Ben to wade through the water with the aid of two walking poles. This saved him ten kilometres and saw him walk a grand total of 432.5 kilometres in an overall walking time of 85.75 hours over a total of 13 days, the first day being a warm up of just 12 kilometres. Ben’s average speed for the whole 432.5 kilometres was just over 5 kilometres per hour, with an impressive last day of 47 kilometres that he covered in just 9.5 hours.
After his incredible success, Ben now has his sights set on walking to the South Pole and becoming the youngest person to do so.
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