A female British adventurer is finally home after spending more than four years circumnavigating the world using just – her own BODY.
Sarah Outen MBE, 30, finally finished her mammoth task today (Tues) just after midday when she kayaked to Tower Bridge – after covering an astonishing 25,000 miles since she set off from the same spot on April 1, 2011.
The Oxford graduate paddled from Britain to France and cycled 11,000 miles across Europe before jumping back in her kayak to travel from Russia to Japan.
She then set off to row across the Pacific Ocean to Alaska but had to be rescued after her boat was battered by 80mph winds in a three-day tropical storm.
She returned to Japan in April 2013 and completed the five-month journey which made her the first and youngest person to row solo from Japan to the Aleutian Islands.
Incredibly, she then kayaked 1,500 miles along the Aleutian Islands with pal Justine Curgenven before cycling 4,500 miles through Alaska, Canada and the United States.
Since then she has battled plunging -40C temperatures and narrowly avoided being attacked by grizzly bears.
Sarah, from Oakham, Rutland, eventually arrived in New York in March, where she had a much-needed two-week break before setting off on another 400-mile cycle to Cape Cod.
Her final journey rowing across the Atlantic, in boat Happy Socks, almost ended in disaster – after she was rescued by a cargo ship while she was being battered by a hurricane.
She said the most testing part of her incredible trip has been camping in plunging temperatures and tackling wild bears along her route.
Speaking earlier this year, she said: “It was difficult because overnight the temperature dropped below -40C several times which made breathing in the tent very difficult.
“There were ice particles in the air when I was up in Alaska and northern Canada between August and October last year.
“Some kind people invited me in to their homes but I mostly camped and I knew bears were around so at night my mind would play tricks on me.
“There was no-one around and the sound of bears in the forest would keep me awake at night.
“I only saw one bear on the bike when a brown grizzly ran across the path I was cycling on and disappeared.
“But during the kayaking along the Aleutian Islands we saw lots of grizzly bears on the banks of the shore.
“One evening I was in a stream having a wash and I suddenly saw this big grizzly bear walking towards me downstream.
“All I could do was get out as quick as I could and luckily my clothes were on the shore so he had a good sniff of them and that slowed him down.
“We were able to make a fuss and throw some stones in the water and luckily that scared him off but he was only a few feet away from us.”
Adventurer Sarah is now thrilled to have completed her ‘London2London:Via the World’ expedition – which involved a complete loop of the globe using just human power.
Plucky Sarah also managed to dodge tropical storms in the Pacific Ocean while she crossed the largest Ocean in the world – and had to strap herself to the bunk of her rowing boat for three days while she awaited rescue.
She added: “That was really scary, it was a really intense few days being in those conditions and being alone.
“The water was coming in and there was nothing I could do but wait so I lay on my bunk strapped in and floated for three days.
“I zoned out as much as I could and there was just one occasion when I lost it and started crying.
“The Japanese coastguard plane was flying overhead and I had to go out to let off a flare so they could find my position.
“I wasn’t strapped in and a wave hit and I got thrown around the cabin and I was exhausted and scared so just burst into tears.
“But I told myself to pull it together and luckily got rescued. And when I went back a year later I had some of the most intense and memorable months of my life out on the Pacific.”
Sarah has currently raised £45,000 for her four charities but hopes to raise that figure to £100,000 when she gets back home by doing various talks and fundraising events.
Sarah Outen MBE finished her mammoth journey today (Tues) as she kayaked under Tower Bridge on the River Thames where she started her journey in 2011.
During her huge journey the Oxford graduate proposed to her fiancé Lucy Allen via satellite phone from middle of Pacific Ocean in 2013.
There were emotional scenes as she arrived on the dock of HMS President and hugged her friends and family.
Dozens of supporters lined the riverbank to cheer her as she finished and the adventurer was joined by a small flotilla of other kayaks as she travelled under the bridge.
When asked how she felt, she said: “I’m not usually lost for words. This feels like one of those moments when I don’t quite know what to say.
“It feels really really special. And a bit surreal. It’s all happened and now we’re here.
“I’m just really grateful and really humbled by the support that everyone has shown me to make this happen, to get me away and got me back home.”
Asked about what she planned to do next, she added: “Well I really stink like the Thames at the moment so I think I need a shower. I’m going to catch up with my friends and family.
“I’ve been away for a long time and I’ve missed a lot of big events.
“I’ve got a new baby nephew in the family so I will be catching up with friends and family.
“I’ve got to write my book as well, which had to be done by January.
“I think I’m under house arrest for the next couple of months.”
However after a few moments of silence, she said: “I’m getting married. I forgot about that. So that’s what I’m doing. It’s in the diary.”
She told the group of press on the dockside one of her favourite moments was when she was joined by a Chinese man called Goa, who cycled with her across the Gobi desert in China for five weeks.
She said him joining her for that part of the journey “defined the spirit of the whole journey”.
Sarah added: “That’s the biggest adventure I have ever had. But now I’m going to get married and having a life together, that’s the next great adventure.
“It’s very emotional to be back where it all started.
“Especially when you’ve be chasing a goal for four and half years and then all of a sudden it’s over. To be with all these people it’s really special.
“I’m proud of myself and my team and so many people made it happen. Without their belief I wouldn’t have be able to do it.
“I’ve spent a long time crying this morning. But they were tears of gratitude, happiness
Asked if she would continue with her adventures she said: “I’m don’t think I’m ever going away for four years at a time. I want my adventures to be with Lucy.”
The couple will be getting married in June next year.
SARAH‘S WORLD TOUR:
April 2011 – Sets off from Tower Bridge in London. Kayaks from London to France, then cycles 11,000 miles across Europe and Asia before kayaking from Russia to Japan.
May 2012 – Sets rows across the Pacific Ocean to Alaska but is rescued by Japanese coastguards a month into the five month journey. She goes home to recover for nine months where she meets her fiancee Lucy.
April 2013 – Returns to Japan and rows across the Pacific Ocean to Alaska, arriving in September 2013. Proposes to Lucy via satellite phone from middle of Pacific Ocean. Returns home because of Alaskan winter.
May 2014 – Returns to Alaska and kayaks 1,500 miles along the Aleutian Islands. Has just a two week break before cycling 4,500 miles through Alaska, Canada and the United States in one of the harshest winters the country has seen.
March 2015 – Arrives in New York. Stayed for two weeks before cycling 400 miles to Cape Cod and then setting off on her solo row across the Atlantic Ocean.
October 2015 – Had to abandon her rowing attempt across the Atlantic due to bad weather, and leave behind her beloved rowing boat.
November 3, 2015 – Rowed the last little bit up the Thames from Hampton Wick – to return to Tower Bridge where her epic trip began.