Running after Routledge: Retracing an English Expedition to Easter Island
Welcome to the project page for ‘Running after Routledge’, which has now been updated to the title: ‘Retracing Routledge’. The new page name more aptly reflects the next stage of the work, the post-expedition phase, which is where you could probably say the real work begins! And there is an announcement to make – please keep reading…
As with many projects that take place across oceans and continents, time zones and date lines, things are bound to change. And the news is that we have been informed of extensive surveying being carried out across the island by the Chilean Government, with the view to installing a water treatment plant. Given the very elevated cost of the BioMax, all partners have jointly decided that it would be best to wait for the outcome of the survey and to see what plans the Chilean government now has for water treatment on the island. The hard work, effort and commitment of funds and energy will not be wasted – at all. Pacific Aid Australia and myself are determined to see the funds we raised go to an environmentally focused project on Rapa Nui. To ensure this we have chosen to work with the Easter Island Foundation, and the funds will now be directed to the educational scholarship program that the Foundation manages for Rapa Nui students enrolled in undergraduate degrees.
I would like to take this opportunity to say a huge thank you to everyone who has supported this project thus far. Whenever I spoke to people on Rapa Nui about the anniversary of the Mana Expedition, Katherine Routledge and the fact that people from Darlington, England and elsewhere in the world had contributed to fundraising for an environmental project on the island – reactions were extremely enthusiastic! The retracing of the Mana Expedition, Katherine Routledge and the creation of links between distinctly different places continues. This September there will be an opportunity in Darlington to see photographs from both 1914 and 2014, attend workshops and listen to speakers who have visited Rapa Nui. And maybe soon you’ll start planning a trip to Rapa Nui to make footsteps of your own.
The mission of the project remains mostly the same but has been updated to reflect the new direction of the environmental work:
- Retrace sections of the 1914 Mana Expedition to Easter Island.
- Study environmental change.
- Raise funds to support Rapa Nui students continuing higher education.
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.
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 left her hometown of Darlington in February 2014 and over 13 days completed an ultra-run to Southampton, the departure point of the 1914 Mana Expedition. The next section of the route was on bike, and Susie cycled across Argentina and over the Andes to Santiago, Chile with support from Jesse her husband. Also joining Susie on sections of the road were Simon, her brother and two hardcore bicycle tourers: Erica & Andy. The final stage of the expedition took Susie to Rapa Nui, where she completed a circumnavigation of the rugged island on foot – 40miles in 9 hours.
As Susie travelled she documented changes that have occurred in the world since the 1914 Mana Expedition, by comparing notes with the book ‘The Mystery of Easter Island’ written by Katherine Routledge.
Recent Press: The project is very grateful to local and national press for covering the story and progress of the expedition:
1. “Darlington woman’s 9,000-mile journey re-tracing historic voyage is complete.” June 21st , 2014. The Northern Echo.
2. Project ends on Rapa Nui but doesn’t finish there! July 15th, 2014.
3. And in the Living North Magazine.
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.
What’s next? Susie is currently in post-expedition mode – settling back to a life less transient, whilst preparing for an exhibition about the project. Working with 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. In the mean time why not read a few of the blog posts about the run, or watch this short recap of the run and keep an eye open for a video diary of the bike ride and the final run around Rapa Nui – coming soon!