5 Questions with Elsa Hammond

Next week, Elsa Hammond will embark on a row across the Pacific Ocean – 2,400 miles from California to Hawaii, solo and unsupported. When we found out about this bold and adventurous woman, we made sure her boat would be stocked with plenty of LÄRABAR for the journey – and as we got to know her more, we knew we wanted to share her story with our community.

2,400 miles is a long, long way! What makes this challenge appealing to you?

It is a long, long way, and in a very foreign environment. I think part of appeal is learning to accept and even embrace the difficult parts, and slowly to learn to thrive somewhere that I will initially find incredibly difficult. I’m also really drawn to spending a long time completely on my own, taking the time to appreciate subtle changes in the world around me.

You row out tomorrow. What has the training process looked like in order to prepare you for this moment?

I think of the training in three main areas: physical, practical and mental.

Physical: I’ve tried to keep this as varied as possible, to make my body ready for anything out there. I’ve been doing a lot of weights, building up my upper body strength, and have been out on the water as much as possible in the boat.

Practical: I’ve been doing courses as wide ranging as sea survival, first aid, navigation, and meteorology, so that I’m as prepared as possible for any eventuality.

Mental: In many ways this is the most important aspect, particularly as I’m by myself and will have to rely on myself for everything. I have spoken to as many people as possible who have experience of similar expeditions, and have read as much as possible too. I also have the support of Briony Nicholls, a sports psychotherapist who has extensive experience of working with solo adventurers.

Beyond completing the course, what are your goals for this endeavor?

This is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, and I’m mainly aiming to challenge myself and learn to live in a difficult environment. It would be nice to be the first solo woman to ever complete this race. More importantly, however, I will be using this row to raise awareness of plastic pollution and to celebrate inspirational women. I’m collecting samples for a microplastics study as I row, and will be speaking about the issue of plastic pollution in schools on my return. I’m also hoping to see each mile of the row dedicated to an inspirational woman, whether that’s someone’s mum, someone famous, or even someone fictional. 2400 miles is 2400 inspirational women – see below for how you can choose a mile to dedicate!

You’ll be alone at sea for roughly three months. What’s it like to strip away the noise of this world and experience true solitude for such an extended period of time?

I’ll have to tell you when I come back!

I think I’ll learn a lot about myself, about my strengths and weaknesses, and about where my limits lie. Previous experiences of stripping away the noise of this world (none quite as much as this), include two ten-day Vipassana meditation courses, two months with a small team in the remote jungles of Borneo, and various shorter term camping trips. From these, I know I’ll miss fresh food an awful lot, and will revisit every memory I have in minute detail.

How can our community support you in this adventure?

Go to www.2400women.com and dedicate a mile of the row to a woman who has inspired you! Her name will be on the website, and will be written on the boat when I get back, and she will also receive a certificate of dedication.

Let all your friends know about what I’m doing and about the opportunity to dedicate a mile.

Follow the adventure on Facebook and Twitter, and sign up for my blog.

Thank you so much.

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