The 25,000-mile human-powered journey of Sarah Outen ended November 3, 2015 when Outen, 30, led her kayak back under London’s Tower Bridge, where her journey began four and half years ago, to roaring cheers of celebration.
The British adventurer relied on kayaks, rowboats and bicycles on a journey that led her eastward around the globe in an effort to meet her goal of over £100,000 for charity. She also joined up with hundreds of schools and thousands of school children, including schools in the remote Aleutian Islands.
Amongst the champagne and celebration were her family, friends, teammates and sponsors.
“It was quite a thrill feeling and felt like the bridge had suddenly crept up on me,” said Outen. “I couldn’t believe it had happened.”
As Outen paddled under the bridge she was joined in the water by many of her supporters, some of who met up with her at various points in her journey. It had been years since Outen had seen some of her closest friends and family with the exception of her partner, Lucy Allen, a full-time supporter of the London2London journey.
“Definitely, the number one goal was always to come home safely so it’s nice to have a big tick in the box off for that one— and I’ve had lots of adventures along the way,” says Outen.
Danger on the water
Among Outen’s adventures she counts a run-in with a grizzly bear in Alaska, nearly being run over by a container ship in her rowboat and—the trip highlight—proposing to Lucy in the mid-Pacific in 2013. While Outen left London a soloist, she returns a fiancée, eager to plan the next chapter of her life.
Despite growing up in the landlocked county of Rutland, England, with a genuine fear of deep water, Outen, a member of the Royal Geographical Society, is no newcomer to ocean crossings. At 24, she was the first woman, and at the time the youngest person, to row solo across the Indian Ocean, raising £30,000 for arthritis charities in memory of her father.
This journey though, wasn’t without struggle. In May 2012 after having spent 26 days rowing across the Pacific Ocean from Japan, Outen was hit by Typhoon Mawar, which damaged and capsized her rowboat several times prompting a rescue.
Almost a year later Outen attempted the trip again and, over the course of five months, made it 1,500 miles to the Aleutian Islands, the first person to ever row from Japan to Alaska. She kayaked along the Aleutian Islands chain with UK kayaking guru and filmmaker Justine Curgenven, prompting a documentary about the trip.
Then, after cycling 5,000 miles through Alaska, Canada and the U.S. (much of the journey through one of the worst winters in memory), Outen took to another ocean and this time spent 143 on the Atlantic before being picked up by a ship after warnings that Hurricane Joaquin was due to cross her route.
Now, Outen says she’s happy to relax and spend time in one place.
“It’s quite a relief to not be thinking about and carrying stress about how to make the next bit happen,” she says. “I realize I feel very happy and content to just be taking it quite slow at the moment and catching up with friends and family.”
Taking it slow might be a stretch. As her media blitz winds down Outen is already planning out her book, Dare to Do, based on London2London, which will be sent for publication in May.
Find Outen online at www.sarahouten.com.