When asked why he wanted to climb Mount Everest, George Mallory famously replied, “Because it’s there.”
That question, and those three words in response represent both awe and arrogance – the awe Man has in the face of nature’s immensity and fathomlessness, and the arrogance to conquer it.
And perhaps there was a bit of awe and arrogance in the Row2Rio team, who left dry land in Portugal on January 9 and stepped into a rowboat that could barely fit the four of them uncomfortably, and embarked on a nearly 2-month journey, rowing southwest across the Atlantic Ocean to get to Brazil.
On April 23rd, after 56 days alone in the vastness of the ocean, Jake Heath, Mel Parker, Luke Richmond and Susannah Cass, completed the second leg of their epic human-powered Odyssey from London to Rio de Janeiro. The first leg was by bicycle nearly 1,500 miles, from London to the Portuguese port city of Lagos. The third leg, which will commence next week, will also require them to cycle for about a month south to Rio de Janeiro, and their final destination.
Rowing and cycling their way across continents and oceans is clearly not a walk in the park. So why are these four doing it?
- Olympic Pride: “The Atlantic was in the way but we thought that crossing it might be a way of linking the two host cities,” Jake Heath told BT News. Adding that he had also been inspired by the “fantastic feelings and sense of pride” felt when London hosted the Olympics and Paralympics four years ago.
- Fight Cancer: The Row2Rio team is raising funds for the non-profit organization, Macmillan Cancer Support. In this Daily Mail article, Ms Parker said: “For me, the best day on the boat was finding out that a very close relative of mine had been given the 12-month all clear from cancer. “There were definitely tears on the boat. It has been a tough year, not made any easier by me rowing the Atlantic. The support we have received from Macmillan has been incredible. We all realized in our own ways that we need to give something back – it’s time to payback the kindness we received, with this challenge of a lifetime.”
- Inspire: Heath again explained in the same Daily Mail article why this journey has been important to him. Mr Heath, who has four nephews under the age of four, added: “I wanted to do something that would inspire my nephews. I would quite like to be the cool uncle Jake. I think it is better to have youngsters who are interested in exploring and seeing the world, rather than just looking at it on the internet.”
Here is a news clip from Brazilian TV, showcasing the team’s arrival in Brazil: