Amazing Nomads: Timmy Garrett – A Man With No Limits

Timmy Garrett is an extreme athlete, constantly pushing himself mentally and physically, not just as a test of courage, strength and endurance but as a motivation for travel.


Man running in the desert Photo © Supplied Timmy running across the Kalahari Desert

Listen Now

Amazing Nomads: Timmy Garrett

Timmy Garrett is constantly searching the world for places and events that test him mentally, physically and spiritually. His philosophy is, “…life is short so enjoy it, explore the world and challenge yourself”.

What’s in the episode

00:49 Pushing boundaries

02:24 Rescuing a wayward sailor

03:50 Timmy’s crappy encounter with two whales

05:03 When you can’t find a doctor

07:27 Meeting likeminded people

09:34 Chasing adrenalin

13:32 More to life than 9 to 5

15:18 Plans for 2020

17:08 Get in touch

Quotes from the episode

 "I've been on a circuit where I've met the same people, but we've all gone to different races around the world, whether it's India, Africa, Canada, Norway." - Timmy

"You've got limited time to see this planet in its true light right now. The opportunity to travel is going to be less in the future." - Timmy

"People are made up of chemicals and you have dopamine and serotonin and I'm one of those guys that don't get super excited ... I look for adventure and I look for excitement." - Timmy

Who is in the episode

Timmy Garrett is a British ex-pat living in Sydney. Timmy is an extreme athlete who uses travel to challenge himself.

In 2015, Timmy cycled across Canada, covering 4,832 mi (7,777 km) and another 1,553 mi (2,500 km) in the US as a warm-up. This helped raise money for the 100-Mile Club a USA/Canada charity promoting health and fitness awareness for kids.

Among other challenges, Timmy swam 28 mi (45 km) around the island of Manhattan, cycled 521 mi (840 km) through six states to Albany, NY, then ran 145 mi (234 km) along the Hudson River to Times Square in New York City.

To check all the events Timmy has competed in, click here.

In August 2020, Timmy plans to swim Molokai Channel in Hawaii then run across the Koʻolau Range of mountains on Oahu Island, before cycling a sea bike 85 mi (136 km) from Oahu to Kauai island.

For more on what Timmy is up to and to join him, click here or follow him on Instagram @timmygarrett888.

Disgusting feet photo
Timmy's feet after running across the Kalahari Desert

Want to republish this episode?

<iframe src="" height="190" width="100%" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" allow="autoplay"></iframe>Resources & links

Resources and Links

Learn how to capture meaningful travel stories and go on global scholarship assignments for World Nomads.

Want to make money while you travel? Check out World Nomads Partner Program.

Next Episode: The World Nomads Podcast – Ethiopia

About World Nomads & the Podcast

Explore your boundaries and discover your next adventure with The World Nomads Podcast. Each episode will take you around the world with insights into destinations from travelers and experts. They’ll share the latest in travel news, answer your travel questions and fill you in on what World Nomads is up to, including the latest scholarships and guides.

World Nomads is a fast-growing online travel company that provides inspiration, advice, safety tips and specialized travel insurance for independent, volunteer and student travelers traveling and studying most anywhere in the world. Our online global travel insurance covers travelers from more than 135 countries and allows you to buy and claim online, 24/7, even while already traveling.

The World Nomads Podcast is not your usual travel Podcast. It’s everything for the adventurous, independent traveler. Don’t miss out. Subscribe today.

You can get in touch with us by emailing

We use the Rodecaster Pro to record our episodes and interviews when in the studio, made possible with the kind support of Rode.

Speaker 1: The World Nomads podcast bonus episode, hear amazing nomads sharing their knowledge, stories, and experience of world travel.

Kim: Hi, it's Kim and Phil with another Amazing Nomads episode and a big thanks for tuning in from wherever you get your favorite podcasts. In this episode, we feature Timmy Garrett, an extreme athlete, and traveler.

Phil: Thanks for emphasizing extreme because Tim sums up his philosophy perfectly. He says, "Life is short. Enjoy it. Explore the world and challenge yourself," and the challenges he's chosen are physically and mentally enduring and truly extreme.

Kim: Yep and his challenges are a great catalyst for travel, as we discovered when Timmy came into the World Nomads headquarters in Sydney. He's constantly pushing boundaries.

Timmy Garrett: I am. I definitely push boundaries and I do things that no one else is currently doing in the world, involving swimming the Ocean Sevens, which are the seven hardest channel swims in the world, followed up with a long bike ride and a very long run, which may be ... I make it more difficult by introducing either extreme temperatures, hot and cold, or extreme altitudes, or just extreme distances.

Phil: Where are the seven channels?

Timmy Garrett: The seven channels, number one is the hardest, is the North channel. That's between Scotland and Ireland. The next one is Cook Strait, North Island, and South Island.

Phil: Yeah.

Timmy Garrett: The third one is Tsugaru Strait, Japan. The fourth one is Molokai, which is Hawaii. The fifth one is the English Channel, the sixth one is Catalina in California, and the seventh one is Gibraltar Strait between Spain and Africa.

Phil: When we were just warming up, you were telling us about the Catalina swim. Go on.

Timmy Garrett: So, after doing the Arch 2 Arc, which is a race in England, which is from London to Dover, swim the English channel, hop on your bike, and then ride a bike from Calais to Paris, I got invited to a race in California called UberMan, so I trained up for it and did it. The swim is from Catalina Island to the mainland. The adventure started even before getting to the Island to start the swim because one man out to sea, we get a notification from the coast guard saying, "Hey, there's a guy in the water. We're not sure if this is kosher, but he needs to be rescued." Lo and behold, one mile offshore in pitch dark, there's a guy with his new iPhone 7, holding it up in the air and using the torch, the strobe torch, to get attention. Luckily the skipper saw the flash, off we go to go and do the rescue with the coastguard coming in.

Kim: What was he doing out there?

Phil: How do you get a mile offshore and not get your phone wet?

Kim: Yeah, that's true.

Timmy Garrett: Well, it's absurd because he actually said, he had ... his boat was following behind him. He said he had sat on the side of his boat to have a pee and he fell in. Now, luckily he fell in with his buoyancy life jacket and his iPhone. But what was bizarre was that he didn't realize that his boat had been following him, and was just behind him. He'd been in the water for a good couple of hours.

Phil: Yeah.

Timmy Garrett: He did smell of a little bit of alcohol, and he did have hypothermia, so he did need rescuing. Yeah.

Kim: So have you collected lots of these stories?

Timmy Garrett: Oh absolutely. Swimming Catalina is a fantastic swim because you see all the bioluminescence in the water because it's a night swim. You start at midnight. But the marine life is just everywhere, dolphins, seals. And for my swim I had two whales come up and ... which might sound fantastic, but when they've pooped everywhere in the ocean and you're swimming through the ocean, I got sick. So ...

Kim: So, how much is a lot ... into ... for a whale? How much?

Timmy Garrett: Do you know what, this is not a thing that I am actually familiar with.

Phil: Are you imagining a couple of whale-sized turds?

Kim: Absolutely. Yes. I mean, huge mammals, seriously.

Timmy Garrett: You would have to talk to a cetacean biologist or something.

Kim: Okay, you can put it into context because before we started recording you said you were swimming through it for a few hours. That is one mighty crap. No doubt about it.

Phil: No, we love a good crap story.

Kim: Absolutely. So you got sick and there was a story behind that?

Timmy Garrett: Got sick, had brown stuff coming out of my sinuses for a good few days until it eventually turned to blood. And because I was going through the desert on my bike through California, a 400-mile bike ride through the mountains and the desert in California, aiming for Badwater, Death Valley, it was hard to find a doctor. So I went to a vet, a pet shop, and picked up some fish antibiotics to find a solution.

Kim: That is a good story.

Phil: I'm going to ask you to take your shirt off. I reckon you've got gills.

Kim: I do know an old guy from the country who needed his tooth ... he had a toothache, needed it pulled out, and couldn't wait until the dentist opened during the week, so he went to a horse vet, and got the horse vet to pull his tooth out.

Phil: And a new pair of shoes at the same time.

Kim: Where have you been in the world and what have you done to challenge yourself?

Timmy Garrett: I think, well no, I don't think, I've been on every continent. I've been in Antarctica and done a full expedition to the South Pole, and really that was a game-changer for me. And the reason I got that in my head and to do it in the first place was that I started doing running, and became an ultra runner in 2010.

Kim: As you do.

Timmy Garrett: Yeah, as you do. And to do ultrarunning, it's a little bit more ... You work out what do you want to achieve and why you're doing ultra running. And when I started running I went ... I was in Africa running across the Kalahari Desert as you do, and you get to meet like-minded people. And I was asking about what's the hardest race to do in the world. And lo and behold, it was the 6633, which was in Canada, in the Arctic Circle. And it's basically running along the ice road up to Tuktoyaktuk, which is top of Canada mainland.

Timmy Garrett: And so I trained up to do that. And when I got to the end of that race, I just sat down and I was just smashed in the face with how difficult it was, how cold it was, and how the wind affected every piece of equipment. It just completely set me back and I went, "You know what, that was so hard. What's it like to do the Poles?" And I went, "You know what? I want a piece of that. I'm going to train up to do that." And so that's what I did. I set myself that target, and started training in the Arctic all the time, and in the mountains so that I could do the South Pole. The North Pole is on my agenda.

Phil: Couldn't just run around the block, could you?

Kim: So you said in the Kalahari Desert, you come across like-minded people, are there a lot of people, athletes, that use travel to challenge themselves?

Timmy Garrett: Ultrarunners, yes. There are only a few races that you can do in Australia. And likewise, there are only a few races that you can do in America, and after you've done a few if you're comfortable with being in that niche and then that same environment, you don't get to just rediscover things and rediscover yourself. You don't get to challenge yourself, because you can become familiar. And so I guess, I've been on a circuit where I've met the same people, but we've all gone to different races around the world, whether it's India, Africa, Canada, Norway. And that's the great thing about it. You get to meet interesting people.

Kim: And do you suck up the culture?

Timmy Garrett: Oh, absolutely. Yeah, it's fantastic.

Kim: Can you give us an example?

Timmy Garrett: Meeting the Inuit people in Northern Canada is just fantastic, and how they live and seeing how they live or seeing how the Inuit live in Greenland, and you can understand when you come in off the sea ice, and you get into a small town, which is roughly about 20 or 30 people living in that town, they live together as a community. They don't live separately and alienate us as we do in a city. They're supporting, and they're a self-supporting community, and for instance, they have an allocated amount of kill that they can do for polar bears or whales or whatever. And as soon as there's a sighting, the whole group of people, women, men, children, they're all out there, and they're chasing. And when you come into an Inuit village, and you see two great big polar bear skins drying in minus 20 degrees and you just go, "Oh my," and the polar bears are absolutely massive and you just go, "Ah, that ... how terrible."

Timmy Garrett: But you realize, they don't have the luxury of a 7-Eleven, a Coles or a Safeways or a Walmart. They live off the land and that's true ... experience in that culture and how they live, we take too many things for granted.

Kim: There's a lot of adrenaline that you chase, by the sounds of things.

Timmy Garrett: Ah, yeah. Look, people are made up of chemicals and you have dopamine and serotonin and I'm one of those guys that don't get super excited and has you know, dopamine, and I look for adventure and I look for excitement, but some people, they'll do a half marathon or a marathon or a triathlon, and they'll be jumping up and down in the air and super excited. Those are the ones with the high serotonin levels. I'm the one with the, "Okay, what am I going to do now?" You know, "Where am I going to go?" Yes. So, it's different.

Kim: So, you're constantly on the lookout.

Timmy Garrett: Yeah, different mentality.

Phil: And look, how does your body cope with these extreme pursuits as well? I mean, it's got to hurt, right?

Timmy Garrett: Look, I've gone past that, way past that element because I've been doing it for so long now. I started ultra running in 2010, then ultra-cycling, and I cycled across Canada, took 56 days, and when you do those types of things, they're just fantastic, and swimming channels, you know, swimming in California across the channel, swimming to Africa and swimming ... I've done all the ... and swimming Cook Strait last year and swimming Ramen and none. They're all different adventures. They sound fantastic and great achievements, but I'm looking for something with a bit more excitement. I did a thing last year, which was I swim around Manhattan Island, 48 kilometers. Then after that, I cycled about 800 kilometers through six states along the East Coast, up to Boston, up to Concord and then to Albany, and then followed up with a 145 mile run down the Hudson River back to Times Square.

Timmy Garrett: Now this is a world first, and I'm inventing these things to carry on from a big swim. The Hurt Locker was horrible for that, just because I was on ... On the first day of the bike ride, I got hit by a car, T-boned, and they just drove off, but I just carried on, and it slowed me down, but it didn't stop me and I was in pain. But you don't think about ... When you do endurance, you tend to become very stoic and very tenacious, and you kind of let go, chop my leg off and I'll still carry on. That's the sort of mentality.

Phil: It's only a flesh wound?

Timmy Garrett: It's only flesh ... I've had hypothermia running down from Everest and I've gone, you know, "I've got to get to Namche Bazaar". I'm by myself. I've made a stupid mistake. I thought I was going to be okay. And I wasn't. And I got to Namche Bazaar, it was off climbing season, so no one was in Namche Bazaar, which is where all the people accrue for getting ready to climb, going up to Everest. I got into a hotel and there were only two hotels there, and they're not luxurious.

Phil: Tea houses, basically.

Timmy Garrett: Yeah. And I got in, opened the door up, left the door open, took my clothes off, jumped into my sleeping bag, passed out and woke up four hours later.

Kim: Alive.

Timmy Garrett: Alive.

Kim: Alive. Well, there seems to be ... Can we just backtrack?

Phil: I was running down from Everest. What?

Kim: It doesn't surprise me anymore.

Phil: I was pretty chuffed with my 84 Ks in Sydney to Wollongong. That's only a warm-up.

Kim: Well, there does seem to be this club of you, and we've had quite a few amazing nomads from Felix Weber who uses running to make connections around the world. There's been Mike Dawson who is our string kayaker, but again, he uses travel to extend himself. Dan Pierson, another amazing nomad that cycled or walked across Cuba.

Phil: He walked across Cuba, and it was Tenny and Claire who walked the length of the US border with ... in the South.

Kim: In the South, and then there's an Australian girl, Lucy, who's currently walking from the bottom of South America to the top of Alaska.

Timmy Garrett: No, you suddenly realize that there's a bit more to life than the nine to five, living in a box, going to work in the box, coming home, looking at a box. Our time on this planet is very limited. The horizon that we see right now, it would have to be less than 200 years. Our ... not our children, but our children's children, they'll probably be living underground. Australia is just way too hot. If you don't think about or recognize that we do have a global climate problem, we have a global pollution problem, and what are we doing to change it? We're doing some things, but it's a bit too little and it's too late and the planet that we live in right now is one ... it's an organic system. It's got a limited time. You've got limited time to see this planet in its true light right now. The opportunity to travel is going to be less in the future.

Timmy Garrett: Got to think about what defines us as a human being. What makes us, and the things that make us are ... it's our environment. The people who influence our relationships are immediately around us. They influence us, but it's also the environment that we're in, and this planet is changing. Travel is an opportunity to see other cultures, it's an opportunity to reset your hard drive, and more importantly, it's an opportunity for you to reinvent yourself. You see other people and how they live and what they're doing, and you look and reflect on where you are and what you have done. I've met so many people around the world that have never even gone out of the town that they live in. Yeah.

Phil: Hey, what's next? What did ... what and can I come with you? No, I'm kidding.

Timmy Garrett: So this year I have Hawaii, which is the third, fourth hardest channel swim. It's 48 kilometers between Molokai and Oahu Island. Then after that, I'm going to traverse Oahu Island on the volcanic ridge, seriously, seriously dangerous. Like I'd put it up there with ... I've done a lot of dangerous stuff and I put it up there next to the one that I'm just about to talk about. And then after I've traversed Oahu Island, I'm going to get on a sea bike, and depending on conditions, I'm going to try and peddle over on a sea bike to the next island. That hasn't been done before. Also, I'm going to attempt a world record involving ice swimming in Australia, and then I've got my own race, which I've opened up, I've called Hard Bastard, but no one ... I've had it open for a year, no ones...

Phil: [inaudible] The Hard Bastard ...

Timmy Garrett: The Hard Bastard is another ultra-endurance thing. Anyone can do it. Just contact me if you're interested. It's a 40-kilometer swim from Palm Beach to North Bondi. It's a sharky swim, so there is that element. You're not allowed a wetsuit, so you need to be a marathon swimmer to do it. Then followed by a 700-kilometer bike ride along the east coast of Australia, and then a hundred-mile run, 162 kilometers around the mountains.

Kim: It's been open for a year and you've got no one that's signed up.

Timmy Garrett: Yeah, yeah.

Kim: So it could just be you.

Timmy Garrett: It's just me, which is okay. I'm happy to lead the way.

Kim: I'm sure you will Timmy, I'm sure you will. Now details on that race and more about Timmy, including how to find him on Instagram, in-show notes and thanks to our very first amazing nomad, Sarah Davis, who was aiming to become the first woman to kayak the entire length of the Nile, for suggesting Timmy, get in touch with us.

Timmy Garrett: Look and if you'd like to contact us and suggest an amazing nomad or even appear in one of our destination episodes, email us As Timmy says, "Life is short. Go and enjoy it."

Kim: Bye.

Speaker 1: Amazing Nomads. Be inspired.

No Comments

Add a Comment

Latest articles