Running After Routledge: Retracing an English Expedition

XTERRA runner Susie Stephen was merely out on a long training run when she placed fifth in her age group (35-39) and ran 1:51:56 at the World Championship, she even continued after she passed the finish line and ran another six miles to “get some miles in”.

Susie StephenIt is understandable as to “why” when you hear of Stephen’s upcoming schedule.

On January 18 she will be participating in the HURT 100 mile race on Oahu, on one of the toughest courses known to trail runners. Right after that race it is off to her native England for a totally different race, running the length of England, and then on a boat to Rapa Nui.

This spring, Stephen plans to begin a journey of epic proportions, by traveling from her hometown of Darlington in the UK, all the way to Rapa Nui, Easter Island – on foot, by bike, and by boat.

The trip is both a celebration of the 100th historic voyage, the 1914 Mana Expedition to Easter Island and an environmental awareness campaign.

The environmental message is one of clean water. As Susie runs, bikes and ‘boats’ to Rapa Nui she will be fundraising towards the purchase of a special sewage-digesting unit for the island – a BioMax. The BioMax has been designed to process sewage and produce grey-water that can then be used in gardens and outdoors – lowering the demand on tapped water supplies. Rapa Nui has a burgeoning population and pressure on its freshwater aquifer is leading to renewed calls for waste management improvements. The BioMax unit will be an example of how small steps can be taken by households and businesses to lower their draw on the water supply.

In 2005, as a volunteer with a youth outreach organisation on Rapa Nui (‘A Po), Susie discovered that she shared a birthplace (Darlington) with the only woman onboard the 1914 Mana Expedtion: Katherine Routledge. Since then Susie has planned to return to Rapa Nui and pay tribute to the work of the 1914 Mana Expedition and Katherine Routledge.

Fast-forward to 2012 and Susie started planning an expedition to retrace the voyage of the Mana. But as an avid runner, it made most sense for Susie to attempt an overland expedition, on foot, and hence ‘Running after Routledge’ was born.

Susie plans to leave her hometown of Darlington in February 2014, and run the 300+ miles to Southampton over a period of three weeks. From there Susie will jump onboard a boat to South America and travel to Buenos Aires, Argentina. The planned route from Argentina will take Susie across the Pampas region, and then over the Andes to Santiago, Chile. From there, Susie will then sail from Valparaiso out to Rapa Nui.

The 2014 expedition aims to not only inspire and promote environmentally sustainable practices, but will also create educational experiences for a wide range of people en route, and post-expedition. Susie will be traceable online as she travels, and will be logging ‘phone-ins’ via iPadio where you can catch up on news from the road. Additionally Susie will be documenting the expedition in numerous formats: digitally via video & photography; and on paper with pencil & ink. On return Susie will be publishing a full a post-expedition report in paper back format.

Currently Susie has an active Indiegogo Campaign online that will help ‘Running after Routledge’ to set sail. For more information about the expedition email rapanuiuk@gmail.com.

For more information on the Indiego campaign: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/running-after-routledge-retracing-an-english-expedition-to-easter-island/x/5763842