Belated Friday Hoyden: Rosie Swale-Pope runs around the world

Rosie Swale-Pope, 61, will soon arrive back in Wales after running around the world to raise money for charity. This week she arrived in Scotland from Iceland.

Jezebel (in a category Fleet-footed Femmes): British Grandma Is Literally Running Around The World

Despite frostbite, double pneumonia, a breast cancer scare, and nearly 30 marriage proposals from miscellaneous strangers, Rosie Swale-Pope, 61, is only a few hundred miles from completing her 20,000 mile around the world journey. She started out in 2003 at her home in Wales after the death of her husband from prostate cancer, reports the Times of London, and has subsequently run across the continents, and sailed the intervening oceans. Of her 29 marriage proposals, the self-effacing Rosie says, “I think most of them were simply because I looked strong and handy for hauling logs and things. I had nine in Poland alone.”

This isn’t Swale’s first time in the press for her death-defying feats. In the ’70s, she made headlines for yachting around the world — and sailing through the Caribbean in her birthday suit. Her more recent round-the-world trip will land her in the Guinness Book of World Records, and included two filling-cracking winters in Siberia.

On Rosie’s own website there are lots of photos (from which I created the montage above), a journal of her trip of and a moving biography page. Having sailed the world’s oceans when younger, Rosie decided she wanted to get up close to the world’s landmass in the same way, and that she should do it now because her husband’s death showed her that putting plans off can mean missing out altogether.

On 2nd October 2003 my 57th birthday, I’m going to set off to run around the world. Making my dream come true and practical necessity, go together. I shall be solo, self supporting and on a very low budget. I couldn’t afford back up teams, luxury, or flights to different continent and stages across wide oceans.

My dearest wish anyway, is just to do a complete circle of the earth, planned to keep me on as much land mass as possible, This is also the coldest, hardest, most fascinating way, and includes almost 7,000 miles of Russia and Siberia. I shall go across Europe through Holland, Germany, Poland and Moscow, before hitting the Trans Siberian Railway route. Then go on to the Bering Straits, Alaska, America, Canada, Greenland, Iceland, Ireland, Scotland and England, before returning to the start and finishing line at Tenby, my home in Wales. It will be my world voyage on two feet.

The charities Rosie was raising awareness and money for during her trip are these:

The Prostate Cancer Charity, The Siberian Railway Cancer Hospital at Omsk. The Kitezh Community for Orphan Children Orphanage, the hope of the future of European Russia through its children. The Nepal Trust that achieves so much with almost no money, in the Hidden Himalayas.

Her son has been keeping her website updated with her reports of her trip. I’ve only dipped in to the latest entries, but I’ll be back to read more of how she went at the beginning and what adventures she had along the way. Hooray for Rosie!

Hat tip to Stephan.

Categories: health

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2 replies

  1. That’s fantastic! What an incredible journey.
    But I have a pedantic little quibble: why did Jezebel need to use “Grandma” in the title? It might make a little sense (although still not very much) if they mentioned something like “her children and grandchildren are waiting for her at the end of her last leg”, but they don’t, and even then it wouldn’t be all that relevant.
    Even The Times article at least uses “Adventurer” in the headline (although I think it would be better if they said Hoyden 😉 ), although they do mention the grandmother fact in the article. Still not relevant, but at least not headline.
    But perhaps it is just me that gets annoyed by this. I do know many parents and grandparents who honestly feel their children and grandchildren are their greatest achievements, no matter what else they’ve done, so perhaps it is a more appropriate description than I believe.

  2. The use of Grandma by Jezebel strikes me as just a bit ageist, in that they’re so impressed by her age that they have to communicate that first? Although her family is very important to her: back in the 70s she sailed with them and even gave birth on one of her voyages, so perhaps they wanted to emphasise that she wasn’t some teak spinster (oh noes) doing all these hard yards?
    There’s a bio here from a corporate speaker’s agency that fills in a few more of her achievements:

    In 1983 Rosie sailed the Atlantic single-handed, having spent many years at sea learning the art of handling a craft. During her voyages she cared for a family on board and even gave birth to her son James on a family round the world voyage!
    Next on the agenda came a 3,000 mile jaunt on horseback across Chile and in 1997 Rosie ran 200km across the Sahara and 1200 km across Romania.
    Always pursuing new adventures, Rosie completed a 1000 mile solo run across Iceland in 1999. To mark the millennium she achieved a long standing ambition and successfully completed the gruelling 54 mile Comrades Race in South Africa across the Zulu homeland of Natal.
    For this achievement she picked up a much coveted medal in a race which has been dubbed the roadrunners equivalent to climbing Mount Everest…..and mountains were the backdrop for Rosie’s next adventure, when she completed the Davos Marathon in the Swiss Alps in July 2000 and her challenges go on and on, and on!

    My husband remembers her quite well from the 70s and 80s as Rosie Swale the sailor, although he was surprised to learn that she was Welsh (as is he). Back then she was just British as far as the press were concerned. There’s a lot more emphasis paid to regional origin now with the devolved regional parliaments in Wales and Scotland.

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