Last week, we wrote about Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman, who chose to travel around the world on their motorbikes. We’ve watched the DVDs from their trip several times and it seems like an amazing adventure with some amazing challenges as well
Rosie Swale's way to travel around the world
Well, now our friend Gabi (who by the way is an avid traveler herself as well as a fantastic photographer: www.5reicherts.com
) just told me about this book she’s reading. It’s about Rosie Swan-Pope who made the same trip as Ewan and Charlie, but not on a motorbike though. Rosies way to take herself around the world was by running!
I had to check this out and got really fascinated by this woman, who, on her 57th Birthday 2003, started off on a 20 000 miles / over 30 000 km long trip. After Rosies husband had died in cancer she wanted to do something to raise awareness of a couple of very small charities; a prostate cancer charity, a charity for orphan children in Russia and the Nepal Trust, and the way she chose to do this was by running around the world.
The initial plan was to use two years to run the whole way from Wales, UK, through Holland, Germany, Poland and Moscow, and the Trans Siberian Railway route. Then go on to the Bering Straits, Alaska, America, Canada, Greenland, Iceland, Ireland, Scotland and England, before returning to the start and finishing line at Tenby, Wales. As we all can imagine, a trip like this can provide many different surprises along the way, as did Rosies.
With no back-up team and little funding, she ran through some of the planet’s most remote and rugged areas, pulling a cart containing provisions and camping gear. On most nights, she camped at the side of the road, sometimes in the snow, using up to 4 sleeping bags at the same time!
She had to overcome things like frostbite and broken ribs, pneumonia as well as being hit by a bus and knocked unconscious as she tried to cross a river. And when she got back home, 45 pairs of shoes later, the trip had actually taken her almost 5 years.
When asked why she wanted to do this, she says:
“What else would I be doing? Sit around thinking about what I did in the past?”
I love that, and I also love what she says when she gets questions about getting “older” and taking it easy:
“People think like: Oh now I’m 40, I better take things easy. It’s usually taking things easy that kills you! It’s the doing things that keeps you going”
This is something I have noticed so many times with people I have around me as well as people I’ve met. The more you “sit around thinking about what you did in the past” the less you usually do and the more limited and lifeless your life gets. And also the opposite, the more you interest yourself in others and in the world, the more you “do” the more alive you feel and the more you can do and see and be…
I just thought about my own mother here in Sweden, who recently, in her seventies went on a tour to Canada with her band (the kids loved telling people that “grandma’s on a tour with her band”). Not a rock band though
Anyway, there are so many interesting angles with Rosie and the way she takes herself around the world I think. Like the contact with people you get when you do it her way. We have often talked about traveling really slow, but haven’t done it so far. Like when we have been driving around Europe. Oftentimes we have felt that driving is a too fast way to travel to have the time to really experience people and the landscape. We have some friends though, a Swedish family, who walked all the way from Sweden to England and this has always fascinated me.
I just want to finish by quoting Rosie again regarding this:
“Running can take you to places that do not exist if you travel in any other way. Maybe even more than walking, because you can get so exhausted, almost fail so every often, and are vulnerable and shaky. Sometimes when you are weakest, you can feel things the most strongly. This is when those you meet in the midst of their own difficult lives and situations, are not fearful of you. You’re treading gently through someone else’s land, part of the life going on all around you. Part of the people, places, sunrises, storms, terrors and joys; seeing, feeling, laughing, crying, in happiness or despair.”
How about that!
There is a short BBC film about her fantastic trip that you can watch here