Rutland adventurer Sarah Outen has kayaked under Tower Bridge in London to bring an end to her attempt to circumnavigate the globe using manpower alone.
Sarah, a former Stamford High School pupil from Oakham, reached to her finishing point just after midday today (Tuesday, November 3). She set off on her London2London: Via The World challenge from the same point four-and-a-half years ago and has pedalled, paddled and rowed more than 25,000 miles since then.
From Putney to Tower Bridge, Sarah was escorted by an organised group from various London kayak clubs, friends, her original club Rutland Canoe Club, and of course, her kayaking partner Justine Curgenven.
People lined the route to cheer Sarah over the finish line, holding banners on the various Thames bridges.
She has survived a perilous mid-ocean rescue after being hit by a tropical storm on the Pacific, has cycled in temperatures ranging from 40C in the Gobi Desert to -40C during the North American winter and had a near death experience when she was sucked under the bows of a container ship in her rowing boat. She was even forced to cut short her Atlantic row in October when Hurricane Joaquin swept in. She was picked up by a nearby ship but unfortunately her boat, Happy Socks, was lost. Days later she announced that she would not restart the row.
But none of these deterred her from finishing the epic journey. Instead Sarah got back on her bike, Hercules, and cycled 228 miles from Falmouth to Oxford. She then kayaked from Oxford to London.
Speaking after she finished today, Sarah said: “This expedition has pushed and challenged me to my limits and beyond. There have been quite a few moments when I wasn’t sure if I would make it out alive. But I was determined to see this through to the end and to now be back home is really special. I have been humbled and inspired by the places I’ve been and the people I’ve met, which has made for an amazing few years.”
Sarah has been raising money over the course of her challenge for CoppaFeel!, The Jubilee Sailing Trust, MND Association and WaterAid. Her aim has also bee to inspire children to get the most out of life. She has spoken at hundreds of schools around the world.
Sarah said: “For me this expedition has always been about the adventure, the challenge and importantly about the learning. But I also wanted to share this experience with others, to show people, especially young people, that you can do whatever you put your mind to. This is a belief inspired by my late father and is one I carry with me always.
“So many people, strangers and friends alike have also helped me along the way. And so while I spent much of the time out there on my own, this has by no means been a solo expedition. I could not have done it without them.”
Sarah’s journey started in April 2011 when she kayaked from London to France. From there she jumped on her bike and cycled a punishing 11,000 miles across Europe, Russia and Asia before kayaking to Japan. In 2012 she made her first attempt to row solo across the Pacific but this was cut short when she was hit by a tropical storm and had to be rescued. But she went back a year later and rowed solo from Japan to Alaska. Midway across the Pacific she also asked her girlfriend Lucy to marry her - and happily Lucy said yes.
She then kayaked one of the toughest routes in the world with kayaking partner, Justine Curgenven - the 1,500 miles through the Aleutian Islands, off the coast of Alaska - and the pair are believed to be the first people to do this. Sarah then cycled across North America through one of the toughest winters on record to Cape Cod, before embarking on her Atlantic row.
Her second book, Dare to Do, is due out in Summer 2016 and will tell the whole story of her London2London adventure and inner journey.
Legendary explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes said: “I am very impressed by Sarah’s incredible fortitude and endurance against great odds. This has been a seriously tough expedition but she has done it. My thoughts and admiration are with her as she now completes her brilliant and highly successful London2London journey.”
You can follow Sarah on Twitter at @sarahouten.
Read more about Sarah’s incredible achievements: