Adrian Crane: A Big Life of Adventure Starts in Modesto
In the modern age, adventuring doesn't exactly seem like something that would top anyone's resume. But don't tell that to Adrian Crane. For Crane, extreme challenges, globe trotting adventure and world records are just part of life.
Crane has spent more than 30 years chasing adventures that others only dream of, from climbing mountains to competing in multi-day adventure races all over the world. After a long and illustrious career, Crane has recently begun to share the many life lessons he has earned in three decades of taking on the most difficult challenges the planet has to offer.
Adrian, who grew up in Northern England, equates adventuring to just another day in the office. "In many ways, climbing was a national sport in England when I grew up," says Crane, referring to the mountain climbing fervor that accompanied the first ascension of Everest back in 1953. "My father and his brother were in their prime when Everest was scaled by an English expedition. They'd already been pretty keen hill walkers and climbers, but that put them into high gear. So when I grew up, they were constantly taking my brothers, my cousins and myself out on the hills and immersing us in this history of Everest climbing and high adventure. The same way an American might have World Series games ingrained in them, we had Everest."
Crane was the middle child of three boys in his family, and as they aged, the Crane boys went from climbing hills to tackling larger challenges. But the media didn't take notice of the nascent adventurers until Adrian and his older brother ran the Himalayas in 1983. "We were using up all our time thinking up the next expedition, so we decided one way to solve the logjam was to try something that was basically impossible. Much to our surprise, we actually completed it." The impossible task was to run the entire length of the mountain range, a distance of more than 2,000 miles over rugged terrain.
The feat set a new standard for long distance mountain trips, raised over $100,000 for charity and, according to Adrian, taught him a lesson that has enabled the rest of his adventuring career. "That trip proved to us that if you really set your mind to something it has a good chance of working. Ever since then, I have felt quite able to attempt some things that by all rights shouldn't be doable. It's just amazing what human beings can do if they put their minds to it. The excuse that you can't do it is a pretty poor excuse. You really can, it's just whether you want to and if you're willing to put in the mental effort to tell yourself to do it. Sure, it's gotten tougher as I've gotten older. But I keep going, or at least I give it a shot."
Over the 30 years since then, this lesson has driven Crane to a litany of legendary accomplishments. From his 1990 record of scaling the highest points of every U.S. state in 101 days (including the 20,320 ft. Mt McKinley), to completing over 100 marathons and ultramarathons—Crane says he's finished at least one ultramarathon each year for the last 30—to attempting an unassisted ascent of Mt. Everest for the third time this May, Crane has never let an enormous challenge intimidate him or daily struggles get him down.
"I think [taking on these challenges] has really given me a realistic view of day to day life," said Crane. "I've learned to focus on the important things and ignore the little pittances that should be ignored. The lesson you come home with is that the miniutiae of life can only stress you out if you let it. It's sad to see people putting so much energy into annoying little things when if they'd just look outside the door or take a walk in an orchard, all that stress would probably disappear."
According to Crane, constantly looking forward to the next expedition has not only helped him shake off daily stress, it's also kept him in fighting shape through the years. "Even if I'm training for a big excursion like Everest, my training regimen doesn't change much. I've been training for 30 years now, endlessly. Always having the entry in my next race keeps the pressure on. And in a sense that's why I [kept this schedule], because it would give me the motivation to keep training."
At Home in Modesto
When Crane isn't off traveling the world, he and his wife have made their home in Modesto for the last few decades. Crane became a city resident after meeting his wife—a local—while on an assignment in Saudi Arabia. The two have raised two sons here in the city and Crane holds an IT position with Modesto City Schools, which he says has been very understanding with his schedule over the years. "I've benefited from their very generous vacation package!" laughed Crane.
"Modesto has treated us well," he added. "It's been a great place to raise kids and I've got a lot of really good friends here. You might ask why someone with my career would live here, but I've really come to think Modesto—and the Central Valley—has to stop making jokes about itself and start pushing our many assets.We're in reach of some of the best mountains in the world and I'm certainly not going to feel hard done if I'm coming from the same place as the likes of Royal Robbins and George Lucas!"
Crane added that he hopes his career can inspire other Modestans and Stanislaus County residents to get up and get moving. Over the years, Crane has built strong connections with local groups including Shadowchase Running Club, the Dry Creek Trail Riders and Red Hill Runners, that help people of a variety of fitness levels to pursue their fitness goals. With new opportunities including the annual Modesto Marathon, Crane said that Modesto is on track for everything people want to see here. "Healthy lifestyles, civic pride, get people out in the community, out on the streets on foot instead of cars. Everything that Modesto stands for is what like minded people are trying to do here."
According to Crane, "if you want to channel your efforts into a physical activity, just look around and you'll find other people like you." Whether you want to jog or pursue high adventure activities like Crane, Stanislaus County is certain to contain a group or a community that can help you get started doing the activity you want to do.
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