Alan Lock, MBA 11, the first visually impaired person to trek from the Antarctic coast to the South Pole and to row across the Atlantic Ocean, is a featured “Supersurvivor” in a new book that tracks tales of human resilience from around the world.
Lock’s 2011 polar trek is among a growing list of his inspiring yet grueling adventures. He’s completed 10 marathons, including the 151 mile Marathon Des Sables in the Sahara Desert. In 2008, he set a Guinness World Record and raised over $80,000 for charity when he became the first visually impaired person to row across the Atlantic Ocean.
“Supersurvivors: The Surprising Link Between Suffering & Success,” (HarperWave 2014), by Santa Clara University Associate Psychology Professor David B. Feldman and journalist Lee Daniel Kravetz, examines inspiring tales, such as Lock’s, of growth through survival and trauma.
After losing most of his sight in 2004 to macular degeneration, Lock was forced to walk away from his dream career as a submarine officer in the British Royal Navy. Instead of giving up, he moved forward, planning the near-600 mile Antarctic trip during his time in the Berkeley MBA program.
“It was an ambition I had since before I lost my eyesight,” he says. “But after I went through my sight loss, I kept hearing stories about people who had done things that didn’t seem possible. It was inspiring.”
At Haas, Lock met Andrew Jensen, MBA 11, a fellow veteran and athlete, and recruited two more to the team, as he began preparations to take on one of the harshest environments on the planet.
Part of the two-year planning included traversing the ice pack near the Arctic Circle in Iqalui, Canada, training that was backed by a $3,000 donation from Haas.
“Dean Lyons supported us at a time when we didn’t have any other funding,” Lock says. “Without that training and support, we couldn’t have gone on.”
Lock then decided to launch a project to support the venture, Polar Vision, using his MBA training as he marketed the idea and pursued additional funding. Polar Vision since has raised funds and awareness for the charities Guide Dogs for the Blind and Sightsavers, which educates and advocates for the sight-impaired.
When Lock set out with his team, including Jensen, Richard Smith, and veteran guide Hannah McKeand, in November 2011, he faced many challenges, including skiing for nine hours a day in howling winds and white-outs while pulling a 130-pound sled harnessed to his waist. He also endured temperatures that dipped as low as -31 degrees and struggled in thick gloves to put up a tent relying only on his sense of touch. When he reached the South Pole on January, 3, 2012, he became the first visually impaired person to make the expedition.
Now 34, Lock, the head of logistics at British Telecom, isn’t slowing down. A second attempt at swimming the English Channel is in the works; his first try ended due to weather conditions.
“It’s much easier to get off the floor if life pushes you down when you have something to aspire to,” he says.
Check out a Polar Vision documentary here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LTQWqpn2QHM