If you’re a Craft Gin Club member, than chances are that January’s South American Gin of the Month whet your appetite for adventure. Let’s hear from Katherine Lowrie (get her book!), who was the first woman to run the length of South America – 6,504 miles and the equivalent of 250 marathons! This ecologist from Devon tells us about her life-changing journey and the continent that captured her heart.
What inspired your extraordinary journey through South America?
My husband and I love running!
Beyond that, we wanted to do something for the natural world, for wildlife and wildernesses. It’s what we’re both passionate about. My partner David’s a sailor, so he decided he was going to work in nature conservation, while I’m an ecologist. We set sail for South America. Then we thought, well we’re 34, we’re getting long in the teeth. We decided to run the length of South America, which had never been run before, and talk about the things we care about.
What kept you going?
Our goal when running was to prove that with small steps you can tackle seemingly insurmountable barriers – it’s not too late to save the world, though time is running out.
I think the most important thing to remember is that each one of us matters. Sometimes people feel overwhelmed by these enormous issues and feel that they can’t do anything. I firmly believe that every one of us – acting together – can have a big impact, which I think is happening more and more as people are being more efficient.
What South American food did you enjoy?
You go back to the bare elements. We had incredible grapefruits, guavas, mangoes and oranges, which were tiny and green. We especially enjoyed the papaya which grew by the side of the road. We’d cook it over our fire when it was green.
How about drinks?
In the Bolivian mountains there were some interesting drinks – lovely smoothies with avocados and a hot drink with linseed and lemon.
What are some of the most gorgeous sites you saw?
I always think it’s a continent of superlatives – the highest waterfall, the biggest rainforest and the longest mountain chain.
We saw enormous skies. Argentina for us was the land of the skies, because a lot of the territories we were running through were very flat, so the horizons were gigantic. And the stars… what amazing stars!
When we were in Southern Chile we didn’t see people, often for days on end. We were running in the winter in this snow paradise – it was this incredible scene. We were alone, just with nature.
Finally, before we descended down from one of the plateaus of Venezuela, you could see layer upon layer of rainforest, undulating out beneath you. It was so extraordinary.
What adventures are in your future?
We had two babies! We went back with them in January 2018, on our bikes. We cycled through the rainforest – we went from camp to camp.
Our next ambition now is setting up an adventure holiday out on the moors, and I’ll be doing wildlife education. We’re definitely going to be doing more expeditions later.