Ray Zahab on Andes expedition
Credit: Ray Zahab
explore magazine is always reporting on Canadians who are pushing limits and 2011 was no different. But because of the nature of magazines, we often can only tell you what's being planned and not what actually went down. Here's what the news-makers accomplished in 2011 and 2012 (so far).

From the May 2011 issue

May the best kayaker win

The first Whitewater Grand Prix was held in Quebec and Ontario in May 2011. American Dane Jackson claimed the overall title of the 14-day, six-event competition featuring 28 of the world's best paddlers. Canadian big water specialist Ben Marr was leading after five stages and claimed the Big Wave Challenge, but ended up eighth in the 18-gate extreme slalom event, bumping him down to second overall. Canadian freestyle champ Nick Troutman pulled off a respectable fourth. On the women's side, Kiwi Lou Urwin won. Canadian women Marie-Pier Cote and Kartina Van Wijk, came third and fifth respectively. Find full results and exciting highlight videos on the Whitewater Grand Prix website.

Ray Zahab's busy 2011

In February 2011, endurance athlete Ray Zahab ran the length of the driest desert on earth solo. The 1,200 kilometre trek across the Atacama in Chile took him 30 days, and that was just the start of a very busy year. He followed that expedition up with the Impossible2Possible Youth Ambassador trips to Bolivia and India. In an effort to inspire kids to exercise more, Impossible2Possible is a charity that recruits Canadian youth to tackle extremely difficult tasks while schools follow along. In Bolivia, Zahab ran with five youth ambassadors across the world's largest salt flats. In India, four Canadian kids travelled with Zahab to the Thar Desert where they ran 270 kilometres in seven days. In between these two trips, at the height of summer heat, Zahab traversed California's Death Valley, north to south—a distance of 250 kilometres. Next up for superman, a 1,700 kilometre run across the South America with his fellow ultra athlete Kevin Vallely.

From the June 2011 issue

RAAM denies Caroline van den Bulk

The endurance-cycling powerhouse's quest to avenge a DNF in 2007 and a disqualification in 2008 at the Race Across America was not to be: Two days in heat stroke forced her off the bike.

From the August 2011 issue

Wild families

"Kids Gone Wild" focused on two families, those of Colin Angus and Bruce Kirkby. These seasoned adventurers shared how and why they explore with young children. When they penned the piece they were getting ready for another summer of adventure: the Angus' were to sail across the Mediterranean and the Kirkbys' travel by horseback in the Georgian Caucasus.

The Angus clan used a sailboat for their expedition called the Olive Odyssey. A film and a book are planned.

Bruce wrote about his adventures with two kids and a horse for The Globe and Mail.

From the October 2011 issue

Jason Kruk compresses a controversy

The Squamish climber topped out on his effort to scale Cerro Torre in Argentina's Patagonia without using a notorious bolt ladder. While the climb was noteworthy enough, what he and climbing partner Haydon Kennedy did on the descent stirred up a frenzied debate. Read more about it in the Spring 2012 issue of explore.

From our Top 30 under 30 feature

Will Stanhope's Prophet

In November 2011, rock-climbing titan Will Stanhope and his climbing partner—and fellow Canuck—Sonnie Trotter made an impressive second ascent of the Prophet, a 13-pitch, 5.13d test piece in the Yosemite Valley. The ascent took 25 days of work over five weeks.

Three records for Eric McNair-Landry - Read more

Double gold for Mark McMorris

The high-flying snowboarder from the flatlands of Saskatchewan won two golds at the 2012 Winter X Games in Aspen, winning the world championship for snowboarding. McMorris won gold in the Big Air competition and Slopestyle events by pulling off tricks in competition that no one else has ever landed.

TransCaneauda just in time

The team of eight Ottawa-based friends completed their 7,000 kilometre canoe trip from their homes to Inuvik on the Arctic Ocean on October 14, just as winter descended on the tundra.

Emily Batty looks to London

Working to make the Canadian Olympic team for the London Games, Batty had a stellar 2011 with several top 10 finishes. In her first full season racing at the elite World Cup level, she finished eighth at the World Championships and then returned home to win the Canadian Cyclo-Cross National Championships.