Rosie Swale-Pope, MBE, born 2nd of October, 1946, is an author, adventurer and marathon runner, who was the first woman to single-handedly sail across the Atlantic in a small boat, trekked 3,000 miles alone through Chile on horseback, and successfully completed a five-year around-the-world run.
Rosie Swale Pope raised £250,000 for a charity that supports orphaned children in Russia and highlights the importance of early diagnosis of prostate cancer. Starting on 2 October 2003, her 57th birthday, Swale-Pope survived nearly freezing to death and being run down by a bus before returning to Tenby in Wales on crutches because of stress fractures on 25 August 2008, having worn out 53 pairs of running shoes.
Beginning in December 1971, Rosie sailed around the world from Gibraltar via Australia with her first husband Colin Swale and daughter Eve on their 30-foot catamaran, the Anneliese. The trip was part sponsored by the Daily Mail newspaper and also by Independent Television News (ITN) who provided them with a camera to record their own news reports of the journey. Sailing 30,000 miles across the Atlantic, through the Panama Canal and across the Pacific, stopping at the Galapagos Islands, the Marquesas, Tahiti and Tonga before reaching Australia in 1973. They were the first catamaran to round Cape Horn.
Although both Swale and her husband were able to sail and had prepared as well as they could, the trip had its risks and nearly ended in disaster when Rosie fell overboard in the Caribbean 900 miles from the closest land – again when she needed emergency medical treatment in hospital and a third time when the whole family suffered arsenic poisoning from a meal of unsoaked beans. The hardships were survived, however, and the voyage was a significant navigational achievement using only an old Spitfire compass, nautical charts and a sextant in the days before GPS. By the time the family finally returned to Plymouth Rosie had not only completed her first book Rosie Darling (often working below decks on her typewriter for up to six hours at a time) but had also written her second book, Children of Cape Horn.
When her second husband, Clive, 73, died of prostate cancer in 2002, Rosie decided to run around the world to raise money for the Prostate Cancer Charity and an orphanage in Kitezh, Russia which provides children with education and care..
Her aim was to run around the northern hemisphere taking in as much land mass as possible, with no support crew and just minimal supplies and sponsorship. Rosie started from her home town of Tenby in Wales on her 57th birthday, 2 October 2003, where her first footfall is engraved in a flagstone on her front step. Equipped with just a small specially designed cart of food and basic camping equipment, the trip was funded by renting out her cottage. By 5 April 2004, she reached Moscow, Russia, and on 15 September 2005, she reached Magadan in far eastern Russia. After facing extreme conditions in the Alaskan Winter, she reached the road again in 17 April 2006, and in October 2006 she was in Edmonton, Canada. Four years after the departure, on 2 October 2007, she reached New York City, USA.
She ran harnessed to her cart, which was designed for sleeping, shelter and storage. Her son James maintained a website that was followed closely by her supporters and provided regular updates and messages about her progress. Her supporter Geoff Hall organised supplies and equipment to reach her around the world. In the Faroes, she took part in an organised midnight hike to take in the scenery. She also gave cultural talks while on the road, and described how she met a naked man with a gun, how Siberian wolves ran with her for a week and completing the Chicago marathon on the way.
Surviving on minimal rations, Rosie fell ill near Lake Baikal in Russia possibly from a tick bite, and wandered into the path of a bus. She was knocked unconscious and taken in the bus to hospital. In Alaska, she had to cope with temperatures of minus 60 degrees Fahrenheit and nearly froze in her sleeping bag at night. She was stuck in a blizzard by the Yukon River and got severe frostbite of her foot. She had no alternative but to call friends in Wales for help, who then called the Alaskan National Guard, who helped her get the frostbite treated so she could continue on her run.
She left Canada by air from St John’s (Newfoundland) on 24 January 2008 to make a short visit to Greenland before flying to Iceland on 9 February 2008 and continued running to eastern Iceland. While running, she slipped on the ice, breaking several ribs and cracking her hip. She was over a hundred miles from the nearest house from where she fell and had to walk two miles with her injuries before she was found and got medical attention.
On 18 June 2008, she arrived at Scrabster, in Scotland’s far north, by ferry from Iceland, and ran from Scrabster back home to Tenby. Rosie successfully completed the journey, and despite stress fractures in both legs that turned the final few miles back to Tenby a hobble on crutches, returned to her home on 25 August 2008 at 14:18 local time. A large crowd of Tenby residents and Bank Holiday visitors turned out to witness her return and welcome her home.
Swale wrote a book about her experiences entitled Just a Little Run Around the World: 5 Years, 3 Packs of Wolves and 53 Pairs of Shoes, which was released on the 28 May, 2009.