“I love the quote ‘The journey is the reward’ and for me it is all about the journey and not about the end result. There are a few records associated with the rows but they’re not a driver for doing it. Yes the whole route is new but I don’t like the often rather petty attention on records – I think journeys should be enjoyed and respected for their own merits and importance to the journeyer. “
So said Sarah Outen in an interview with Adventure Travel Magazine in 2012.
28-year old Sarah arrived in Adak in the Aleutian Islands in Alaska on Monday after rowing 3,750 miles in 150 days in her boat Happy Socks. She might sniff at records, but it doesn’t hide the fact that she is the first woman to row solo from Japan to Alaska. She left Choshi, in Japan, on 27 April on the second leg of her London2London via the world adventure using human powered vehicles: an ocean rowing boat, a kayak and a bike.
“I love the perspective of human-powered journeys and all the encounters with wildlife and, on land, people. I am sure that I will end this expedition having grown, having learned, having satisfied some of my adventurous streak and hopefully having inspired others to take on their own dreams too and just have a go,” she says.
Japan to Alaska in a rowing boat
Speaking about her journey she said: “I have had some of the most intense and memorable months of my life out on the Pacific. It has been brilliant and brutal at the same time. And it has been a privilege. But I have pushed myself to my absolute limits both physically and mentally to make land here in Alaska, and body and mind are now exhausted.”
The sight of land would be pleasant at any time after a voyage like she had just undertaken, but she was bowled over by the friendliness of the Islanders and the beauty of the Aleutians which remind her of the mountains of Scotland and Wales. “The island is beautiful. Absolutely stunning,” she says as she spends a bit of time there while her wobbly legs and aching ears re-acclimatise to dry land.
“Emotionally and psychologically I am relieved to be ashore safely and so happy to be in Alaska,” she writes in her blog. “A few people have asked if I am disappointed that I didn’t make it to Canada as originally intended. I just grin. Not a bit of it. Adventures are all about the journey and being open to what’s happening. To me it feels even better than the original plan. Alaska…. Next year’s onward journey will be fantastic and I am looking forwards to coming back to this wonderful place and learning more of its interesting past and present.”
Happy at the journey that’s been, looking forward to the one ahead
In April next year she will return to Adak with a teammate, Justin Curgenven, to continue the kayak trip to mainland Alaska. She will then cycle across Canada and North America before attempting a solo row across the Atlantic to Britain.
Asked what tips she would give to someone who’s passionate about a sport but would like to take it on in the form of an adventure? “Just do it,” she says. “We always invent excuses and reasons not to do things – you just have to make a bit of a plan and take action on it.”
She hopes to have raised £100,000 for charity by the time she completes the journey. The 4 charities she supports are: breast cancer charity CoppaFeel!; The Jubilee Sailing Trust; motor neurone disease charity MND Association and WaterAid. You too can donate if this story has inspired you. Just follow the link and thank you.