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Running after Routledge

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Running after Routledge

Running after Routledge: Retracing an English Expedition to Easter Island

Help save Rapa Nui’s (Easter Island) freshwater aquifer!

Running after Routledge is a collaborative and multidimensional expedition with a mission to do three things:

  1. Retrace sections of the 1914 Mana Expedition to Easter Island.
  2. Study environmental change.
  3. Raise funds to purchase a BioMax digester unit for the island of Rapa Nui.

The expedition will follow parts of the route that the 1914 Mana Expedition took to Rapa Nui (Easter Island). Starting in Darlington, England, ‘Running after Routledge’ (RAR) will visit three countries and cross two oceans to arrive at Rapa Nui, the most isolated island in the world. But as with all journeys, the true experience will be found en route. RAR will connect the dots between human communities, examine the environmental changes that have taken place since the Mana Expedition sailed one hundred years ago, and raise awareness about environmental issues.

Departing from the UK in February 2014 the expedition plans to arrive on Rapa Nui in time for the June 1st marathon.


In 2005, as a volunteer with the youth outreach organisation on Rapa Nui – ‘A Po, Susie discovered that she shared a birthplace (Darlington, England) with one of the first anthropologists to visit and document the island’s culture: Katherine Routledge. Since then Susie has planned to return to Rapa Nui and pay tribute to the 1914 Mana Expedition team, of which Katherine was the only woman.


‘A Po’s work with students on Rapa Nui

Fast-forward to 2012 and Susie started planning an expedition to retrace the voyage of the Mana. But as an avid runner, it made most sense for Susie to follow her passion and attempt an expedition with sections on foot, hence ‘Running after Routledge’ was born.

Susie plans to leave her hometown of Darlington and run to Southampton, the departure point of the 1914 Mana Expedition. From there Susie will travel to Buenos Aires, Argentina. The next section of the route will be on bike from Argentina, across the Pampas region, and over the Andes to Santiago, Chile. From there, the journey will involve sailing from Valparaiso out to Rapa Nui.

As Susie travels she will be documenting the environmental changes that have occurred since the 1914 Mana Expedition, by comparing notes with the book ‘The Mystery of Easter Island’ written by Katherine Routledge. The main focus of the 2014 trip is to highlight the increasing difficulty of supplying fresh and clean drinking water to ever growing human populations. On Rapa Nui drinking water is in short supply as the population increases and demands on the island’s source of fresh water aquifer amass.

To assist with relieving pressure on Rapa Nui’s freshwater aquifer, Pacific Aid Australia, an Australian NGO, which supports the ecologically sustainable development of Pacific islands, have partnered with BioMax to recycle wastewater. Easter Island’s aquifer is being contaminated by raw sewerage because the island does not have a sewerage treatment facility and only a few septic tanks have been installed on newer developments. The BioMax can be scaled up or down and can be retrofitted to whole neighbourhoods and hotels. It treats water to above World Health Organisation standards and can be used for restricted irrigations purposes like landscaping and a wide variety of other applications, which will help relieve pressure on Easter Island’s limited water supply. Running after Routledge will be raising funds for the BioMax as Susie travels from Darlington to the Pacific: 80,000 Australian dollars will secure the shipping and installation of the unit to the island – where it can be put to work and act as an example for other Pacific islands in similar situations. To read a recent report by Katherine Rosa about Rapa Nui’s hydrogeology and issues facing the island’s aquifer please see the attached document: Rosa_RNJ2013


One of the small fresh water lakes on Rapa Nui

Recent Press: The expedition has featured in the pages of Darlington’s  The Northern Echo who are publishing regular updates, Living North Magazine in the UK and The Irish Independent. Thanks to excellent guidance from World Reach PR you can also listen to a March 1st interview about the project on the The BBC World Service Sports Hour (at roughly 13mins in!). Additionally the project was discussed on Hawaii Public Radio in the morning show, The Conversation’ with Beth-Ann Kozlovich and Chris Vandercook.


The Travelling Moai

BioMax Fundraising News: With the ‘run’ stage of Running after Routledge now complete we have really started fundraising! The JustGiving page for Pacific Aid Australia is now active and our total for the BioMax so far is looking fairly healthy but we still have a long way to go! A huge thank you to everyone who has already donated!

Facebook: Further news about the progress of the expedition can be found on the Facebook Page: Retracing Routledge.

What’s next? Right now preparations are being finalised for the bike leg, Buenos Aires to Santiago – in April. In the mean time why not read a few of the blog posts about the run, or watch this short recap of the run:

Running after Routledge: A Visual Diary from Susie Stephen on Vimeo.

Post-expedition: Once the running and the riding is all over and the dust has settled on all the endurance gear, the real work will begin. Working with funding from Creative Darlington and project sponsor Emerald BioGas the story of Retracing Routledge will be told in the form of a free public exhibition, which will first open in Darlington in September 2014. Further details to follow.