Katharine Lowrie and her husband, David, faced hurricane-force winds, near 100% humidity, swarms of viscous insects and some of the world’s most crime-ridden places on their incredible 6,500-mile-plus running trek from one end of South America to the other. The 15-month journey from Chile to Venezuela nearly cost them their marriage, health, sanity and lives.
Despite all this, on the 20th October 2013, the resilient pair reached their finish point on the Caribbean Sea coastline and became the first couple to successfully run the continent unsupported. Katharine also became the first woman to achieve the feat. They wore inov-8 running shoes for a lot of the adventure. Katharine and David also drew attention to the incredible biodiversity of the region, raising both awareness and funds for environmental conservation.
Running South America – The Stats
* 6,504 miles
* 15 months
* 10 pairs of shoes each
* 1/3 of the run on rough tracks
* 20 miles a day average
* 36 miles a day maximum
* 9 marathons in 9 days in a final burst to the finishing line
* 4,000 calories per person a day consumed
* 140kg trailer full of belongings pulled, with each taking five-mile stints at its helm
* 400 miles of remote Amazon environment over which they pulled a second trailer with additional food in
* 1,500+ students presented too along they way, talking about running, wildlife and environmental conservation.
In this next part of the blog post, Katharine gives us a sneak peek inside the new book she has written about the run. Check out these extracts from Running South America With My Husband And Other Animals.
We both adore running. It’s what we do to relax, re-charge, go wild and ignite ideas. I think the lure is the freedom. Every vista holds something new; a peregrine free-falling through the sky; a hare dashing over the hilltop. Thoughts flow and ebb through your mind, sometimes conscious, sometimes lurking beyond. They move in time with the rhythm of your footfall and the exhalation of your breath. It’s as if your senses are freshly-tuned, tingling and raw..
Why Run South America?
Like no other form of passage, running would allow us to penetrate the moods of the land and its creatures. With only a couple of millimetres of shoe-soles separating us from the earth’s heartbeat, often only our unshod skin, we would move silently, stealthily, creeping up on wildlife, a whisper away from discovery, a step from the unknown and unexpected.
Running into an oven
We began our date with the ‘oven’ just after the town of San Rafael, with eight days of food and three days of water strapped to the trailer. We had been given plenty of warning of what lay ahead. ‘No one lives on the road between San Rafael and San Luis,’ they said, eyes narrowing. ‘It’s full of enormous bichos (animals), with devilish pampa and thorny bush stretching as far as the eye can see.’ In hushed voices they went on, ‘It’s a furnace; you’ll never survive.’ We had no choice. The trailer was groaning; we were armed and ready for war….
Encounters with snakes
I pulled my head torch on. Something was moving under the groundsheet. It was long and thin. ‘A snake!’ I screamed. David sat bolt upright, ‘Where is it?’ We made a barrier out of the bird book, some shoes and a cooking pot, but it pushed under them. We were now squished into a small corner, with a fine layer of material between it and us….
Venezuela, mafia land
It took us four-and-a-half hours to descend into the pit of Kilometre 88. It was grim, worse than we could have ever have imagined. It was like walking into the set of Dusk-’till Dawn, only we weren’t part of the show and all the characters were eyeballing us like lambs to the slaughter. I looked down, determined not to catch anyone’s eye as Alfredo’s words rang in my ears, ‘They will kill you and violate her.’
* Katharine and David ran in our TERRAFLY shoes, which have since been discontinued. They are currently wear our TRAILTALON 250 running shoes.
* Running South America With My Husband And Other Animals is out now. Copies, including those to be signed and dedicated, can be bought HERE. Now based in Devon, England, Katharine and David have had two children, Theo, 3, and Beth, 1.