Ash Dykes battled the odds to walk the 6,437-km Yangtze River for a year and end up with a Guinness record

The first step is always the hardest to take. The same is true for explorer Ash Dykes, who, in 2014, walked the 1,500-mile, 78-day journey over the Altai Mountains and across the Gobi Desert in Mongolia. The following year, he completed a 1,600-mile trek across Madagascar’s eight highest peaks at age 24.

You’d think those two unofficial “world’s first” adventures are astounding enough to last any extreme athlete a lifetime.

In 2018, however, Ash’s fantastic feats and flights of derring-do had pushed the Welsh adventurer, described by FHM as “one of the world’s most fearless outdoor men,” to the limit, following his decision to embark on a Guinness Book of Records-breaching challenge.

His mission: To become the first person ever to walk the entire length of the Yangtze River in China, all 6,437 kilometers (4,000 miles) of it—in 352 days! That’s an estimated 8 million steps, all in all.