Rosie Swale-Pope: Wikis


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  • in 2008 61-year-old Rosie Swale-Pope completed a five-year 20,000-mile around the world run to highlight the importance of early diagnosis of prostate cancer?

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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Rosie Swale-Pope
Born 2 October 1946 (1946-10-02) (age 63)
Davos, Switzerland
Residence Tenby, Wales
Nationality British
Occupation Writer and adventurer
Title MBE
Children Eve and James

Rosie Swale-Pope, MBE, born 2 October 1946(1946-10-02), is an author, adventurer and marathon runner, who was the first woman to sail single-handed 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, raising £250,000 for a charity that supports orphaned children in Russia[1] and to highlight the importance of early diagnosis of prostate cancer.[2] 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.[3]


Early life

Born Rosie Griffin in Davos, Switzerland, Rosie's Swiss mother was suffering from Tuberculosis and her Irish father Ronnie Griffin was serving in the British Army so she was brought up by the wife of the local postman. She was two when her mother died so she went to live with her Grandmother, called Carlie, who was bedridden with osteoarthritis, in Askeaton in County Limerick, Ireland. When she was five her father remarried and moved to Ireland, with his Swiss wife Marriane. They had four children, Maude, Greald, Nicholas and Ronnie. Although they were only in the next cottage Rosie stayed with her Grandmother[3] and looked after four orphaned donkeys, seven goats, and a pet cow called Cleopatra[4]. Rosie learnt to ride, often going out on her black horse Columbine all day exploring the countryside.[5] Her grandmother was very religious and worried that school would be a bad influence, so Rosie was schooled at home, which although it mostly consisted of simply writing about what she had done each day proved to be useful training for her later writing about her travels and adventures. Her father died in 1957 and when she was a thirteen Rosie was sent to a strict boarding school for girls in Cork.[3]

At 18 her first job was as a reporter for a local newspaper, the Surrey Advertiser[6]. It didn't last long however and she hitch hiked to Delhi, Nepal and Russia, with almost no money or luggage.[7]

Rosie married Colin Swale in her early twenties.[8] They originally lived in a small flat in London but when their daughter Eve was born they bought a catamaran, (named the Anneliese in memory of Rosie's sister she only knew from a photo) and sailed to Italy where Rosie's son James was born on board the boat.[9]

Sailing round the world

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.[9] 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.[10]

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'.[9]

Modelling work

Rosie Swale only worked briefly in 1981 as a model with the pseudonym Shana Grey for a number of editions of the magazine Fiesta and a S&M magazine Kane bit it has given her a notoriety that is still referred to today.[11]

Atlantic Crossing

In 1983 Rosie Swale sailed solo across the Atlantic in a small 17 foot cutter, which she had found in a cow shed in Wales and named Fiesta Girl. Aiming to be the first woman to sail alone to America in a small boat from England, she also wanted to raise funds for a CAT Scanner for the Royal Marsden Hospital in London.[12] Divorced from Colin Swale, Rosie also found her second husband, sailor and photographer Clive Pope during the preparations for the trip when he rigged the boat for her.[10]

Departing from Pembroke in Wales on the 13th of July, 1983, she sailed to the Azores and Caribbean Islands.[12] Simply equipped, Rosie navigated by the stars and was nearly run over down by an oil tanker.[4] When she was 100 miles north of Puerto Rico she was becalmed for so long she was without food and water for five days and nearly drowned when she was swept overboard in storms. She arrived at Staten Island, New York, after completing her record-breaking 4,800 miles in 70 days - navigating by the stars with the aid of her Timex watch.[12]

Chile on horseback

A year after returning from her Atlantic crossing Rosie decided that she really wanted to see Cape Horn again and decided to plan a trek 3,000 miles through Chile on horseback. The journey took her from the northern port of Antofagasta to Cape Horn and she rode two Chilean Aculeos horses named 'Hornero' and 'Jolgorio'.[13] From the Hacienda Los Lingues, the horses of the Aculeo Stables were originally brought to Chile by the Spanish Conquistadors in 1492.[14]

Leaving Antofagasta on 22nd of July 1984, Rosie had secured the protection of General César Mendoza who was the head of Chile's Military Police (and leter leader of the military Junta). An Olympic horseman[15], Mendoza provided her with an armed escort for the first stage. The whole trip was planned to take four months but actually took fourteen[10]. In the first week of her journey Rosie was caught in a desert sand storm which scattered the horses and all her equipment. Later she fell from one of the horses and broke two ribs. She also faced starvation when she became lost in the southern rain forests and ran out of food. Delayed by bad weather Rosie arrived at Cape Horn on the 2nd September 1985, 409 days after she had set out. Rosie wrote of her experiences in Chile in her book Back to Cape Horn in 1986.[5]

Walk around Wales

On the 25th September 1987 Rosie set off from the beach near her home in Tenby to walk around Wales in winter. She was carrying everything she needed, including a small tent to sleep in, and was supported by her husband Clive, who also walked with her when other commitments permitted. Rosie completed 1,375 miles on foot and wrote about her experiences in her book 'Winter Wales'.[6]

London Marathon

In 1995 Rosie ran her first London Marathon in a time of six hours and described it as her most memorable sporting moment.[4]

Sahara run

In 1997 Rosie ran 243 km (151 miles) across the Sahara desert in the Sahara marathon. Describes as 'the toughest footrace on earth, the 'Marathon des Sables' is run over six days and is the equivalent of five and a half normal marathons.[16] Like all the other competitors, Rosie had to carry everything she needed on her back in a rucksack. She ran across the Sahara a second time in 2000[4]

Romania run

In 1997 Rosie ran through Romania to the Hungarian border.[4]

Iceland run

In 1999 Rosie ran 1,000 miles solo across Iceland.[4] The run took her from the Arctic Circle to the capital Reykjavik.[17]

South Africa Ultramarathons

To mark the millennium Rosie Swale achieved a long standing ambition and successfully completed the challenging 'Comrades Marathon', one of the world's oldest and largest ultramarathon run over a distance of approximately 90 km (55.9 mi) between the capital of the Kwazulu-Natal Province of South Africa, Pietermaritzburg, and the coastal city of Durban. The direction of the race alternates each year between the up run starting from Durban and the down run starting from Pietermaritzburg. Equivalent to running two marathons, Rosie Swale Pope completed it in one weekend.[4] She was awarded a medal for completing the race, which has been described as the roadrunners equivalent to climbing Mount Everest.[18]

Albania run

In 2000 Rosie ran through the Balkans from Macedonia. It was a dangerous run and she was held up at gunpoint but managed to escape to reach the border.[4] She flew into Skopje on the 11th April 2001 and ran across the then closed border into Kosovo then across a closed border through Montenegro, where she ran for twenty four hours through deserted villages and deep snow until she reached northern Albania.[19]

Cuba run

On the 8th November 2001 Rosie set off to run 1,360 miles across Cuba. It took 46 days and she was running the marathon distance every day (and several nights) with a 12 kg rucksack on her back and camping in a lightweight bivouac. She lived on rice and sugar cane and had to avoid the Cuban Police who were concerned for her safety. She also entered and completed the Havana Marathon, finishing in 4 hours and 52 minutes.[4] Crossing from West to East and running alone to raise money for the charity Age Concern the straight line distance was 750 miles but Rosie covered over 1000, camping by the side of the road and in the jungle, and the run took almost seven weeks. She reached the Punta de Maisi lighthouse, her finish point, on Christmas Day.[17]

Cardiff Marathon

Rosie completing Cardiff Marathon

Rosie ran the Marathon in Cardiff in 2002 in aid of her local Hospital in West Wales where her husband Clive had died of Prostate cancer ten weeks before.[20] Finishing in 4.15.35 despite a nasty fall six miles from the finishing line and she received the award for the fastest 55 year old competitor.[21]

Nepal run

In April 2003 Rosie ran across Nepal to raise money for the Nepal Trust, a small charity which carries out development work in the remote rural areas of North-West Nepal in a region referred to as the 'Hidden Himalayas'. The journey from one end of Nepal to the other was 1700 km and established a new world record time of 68 days. Rosie also raised over $8000 US which was used to help sponsor a health camp at the district headquarters of Simikot, Humla.[22]

Running around the world

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..[3]

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.[3]

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.[3]

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.[8]

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.[10]

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.[3]

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.[3]

Chicago Marathon

While running around the world, she took a break from it during a week after having reached Edmonton, Canada. She took part in the 2006 Chicago Marathon, to which she was invited in order to support charity work. The marathon race took 4:40. After the race she flew back to Edmonton and continued running around the world.

Ireland Run

In September 2009 Rosie Swale Pope ran 236 miles along the east coast of Ireland from Rosslare to the Giant's Causeway pulling her cart which she named 'Icebird' to highlight the importance of cancer awareness.[2] She completed the run on her birthday, the 2nd of October and the anniversary of setting out on her round the world run in 2003[23], and said that the Wicklow Mountains were one of her toughest challenges.[1]


Swale-Pope was awarded an MBE for her charity work in the 2008/9 new year honours list[24]. Her Majesty the Queen presented the MBE.[25]

TV Presenting

In 1990 Swale presented Channel 4’s Revenge of the Rain Gods, directed by Simon Normanton[26], about her journey around the Maya World.[17] In the documentary Swale explores Mayan ruins and meets surviving Mayan communities, which cameraman Desmond Seal described as 'a very wet trip around the edge of the Caribbean, Guatemala, Belize and Mexico.[27]

Published works

Title Publisher Published ISBN 10 ISBN 13
Rosie Darling Macmillan 1973 0330240005 9780330240000
Children of Cape Horn HarperCollins 1974 0236177133 978-0236177134
Libras Don't Say No Elek (Paul) (Scientific Books) Ltd 1980 0236401726 9780583134651
Back to Cape Horn HarperCollins Publishers Ltd 1986 0002174154 978-0002174152
Winter Wales Golden Grove 1989 1870876164 9781870876162
Just a Little Run Around the World HarperTrue 2009 0007306202 9780007306206


  1. ^ a b "Naked men with guns and wild wolves -- this global running gran has seen it all". Independent. Retrieved 2009-10-24. 
  2. ^ a b "Rosie's Web Site". Retrieved 2009-07-05. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Swale-Pope, Rosie (28 May, 2009). Just a Little Run Around the World. HarperTrue. pp. 324. ISBN 10: 0007306202. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i Davies, Gareth (14 Jan 2003). "My Sport: Rosie Swale-Pope". Telegraph. Retrieved 2009-07-05. 
  5. ^ a b Swale, Rosie (November 17, 1986). Back to Cape Horn. HarperCollins Publishers Ltd. pp. 224. ISBN 978-0002174152. 
  6. ^ a b Swale, Rosie (1989). Winter Wales. Golden Grove Book Company Limited. ISBN 1870876164. 
  7. ^ Swale, Rosie (1974). Rosie Darling. Pan Books Ltd. 
  8. ^ a b Cable, Amanda (21st May 2009). "The woman who ran the world". Mail Online. Retrieved 2009-07-05. 
  9. ^ a b c Swale, Rosie (1974). Children of Cape Horn. Elek Books. ISBN 0 236 17713 3. 
  10. ^ a b c d Gornall, Jonathan (September 30, 2003). "Rose sets off on a 20,000-mile global run". Tomes Online. Retrieved 2009-07-05. 
  11. ^ Dagnell, Andrew (2008-10-26). "Intrepid gran has treks-rated past!". Wales On Sunday. Retrieved 2009-07-05. 
  12. ^ a b c Petersen, Philip. "Lady Mariner". Retrieved 2009-07-07. 
  13. ^ "Long Rider's Guild". Retrieved 2009-07-05. 
  14. ^ "Aculeo Creole Horse". Retrieved 2009-07-05. 
  15. ^ "Equestrianism at the 1952 Helsinki Summer Games". Retrieved 2009-10-17. 
  16. ^ "The Marathon Des Sables". Retrieved 2009-07-05. 
  17. ^ a b c Swale-Pope, Rosie. "Rosie Swale Pope on who’s really running Cuba". Retrieved 2009-07-05. 
  18. ^ "Aventurers and Explorers - Rosie Swale". Retrieved 2009-10-24. 
  19. ^ Young, Antonia. "Central and Eastern European Review". Retrieved 2009-07-05. 
  20. ^ "Rosie's marathon is £1000 pledge". The Western Mail. 2002-08-29. 
  21. ^ "Rosie's on the run for hospital ward". Western Telegraph. 30-10-2202. 
  22. ^ "Nepal Trust". Retrieved 2009-07-05. 
  23. ^ "Rosie ends her 'Just a little run around the world'". Retrieved 2009-10-24. 
  24. ^ "Supplement". The London Gazette. 2008-12-31. Retrieved 2009-07-07. 
  25. ^ "Tenby's Rosie Swale Pope picks up her MBE". Western telegraph. 23rd March 2009. Retrieved 2009-07-05. 
  26. ^ "Adventiures: revenge of the rain gods". Retrieved 2009-07-05. 
  27. ^ Seal, Desmond. "In Search of the Rain Gods". Retrieved 2009-07-05. 

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