I spotted this one at the library and being in the mood for a biography as well as some running encouragement, I picked it up.
It is an incredible story. At 52, Rosie Swale Pope set out to run around the world after losing her beloved husband to cancer in the hope to raise cancer support and early screening awareness as well as raising money for a Russian orphanage. What followed was a 33,000 kms trek taking 5 years over some of the most inhospitable terrain on earth including Siberia, Alaska and Iceland. She did it solo, with no official support crew, but much loving care from various running companies, shoe manufacturers and extreme adventure equipment suppliers. She met bears, wolves and the occasional snake, battled frostbite and rib fractures, and faced the real risk to survival that persistent sub-zero temperatures (up to -60°C) brings.
It’s a fascinating read. She has a real love for the world, enjoying everything she sees and the people she meets along the way. Of all the hundreds of people she meets along the way and the majority of time she spent camped in the wild, she had only a handful of unpleasant experiences with people. Overwhelmingly, people gave her incredible support and protection despite sometimes their own need and poverty (eg. in Siberia).
This is not a woman who does things by half! She has also circumnavigated the world by boat with her first husband and young children, sailed the Atlantic solo, trekked through Chile on horseback and run numerous ultramarathons and long distances.
There is a hint throughout that she may have some faith, at least a theistic faith, recognising that “There are no atheists on an adventure or in battle, I reckon it’s time to say thank you to God”.
All in all, it’s a great read about people, the beauty of the earth and one woman’s determination to keep going.
And it makes it much harder to complain when I struggle to run 5km!