Fifteen months ago, Dave and Katharine Lowrie started a journey that would seem crazy to most.
Their goal? Run the entire length of South America while raising money to help save the continent’s unique wildlife.
“South America is the continent of superlatives! Host to the biggest river system, the most biodiverse ecosystems, longest mountain chains. It is incredible. The whole world’s weather systems depend on the natural function of her rainforests,” they said to Business Insider.
“Unfortunately, man’s appetite for progress threatens much of what is wonderful about South America. In many areas, ecosystems which ensure the future health of the land are being degraded, either through lack of will or lack of resources.”
The couple received grants from several organisations like Sir Ranulph Fiennes’ Transglobe Expedition Trust and the John Muir Trust, and were sponsored by a number of companies, including Patagonia and Swarovski.
They met with thousands of South American students along the way, hoping to spread a message of conservation that would stick with the people who impact the area.
“We are desperate to show that with small steps we can overcome the seemingly insurmountable, that it is not too late to protect the remaining wild places and wildlife, but that time is running out,” they said.
They crushed several world records in the meantime. They are the first to run the continent as a couple, while Katharine is the first woman to run South America with what is likely the second longest run in history for a woman. To put that feat in perspective, the 6,500 miles they completed is equal to more than 250 marathons, all run while carrying a large trailer filled with their belongings.
“Running is a perfect way to travel in these incredible places,” they said. “[It’s] the right speed to catch glimpses of nature in action, and it’s accessible to the people we pass so we can talk and learn about how they use natural resources and interact with the natural world around them.”
They faced inclement weather, encountered dangerous animals and insects, and even survived an unexpected knee injury just before finishing in Carupano, Venezuela on Oct. 20. From the snowy landscapes of Patagonia to the humidity of the Amazon rainforest, David and Katharine truly conquered all the continent had to offer.
“We learned a lot about South American culture that we hope to share at home,” they said. “There is still time for us all to use our voice, and our wallets, to vote to protect these vital remaining gems upon which we all depend.”
Watch a video documenting their journey below, or click here to see photos from their run.
Dave and Katharine started their journey on July 28th, 2012 in Cape Froward, Chile, the southernmost tip of South America.
The couple stored all of their belongings in these trailers, made out of recycled materials they found on the roadside.
From Cape Froward, they headed north to El Chalten, Argentina, a top destination for South American trekkers.
They stayed in contact and updated their blog constantly with the help of a satellite phone and a mobile broadband connection.
They spoke with more than a thousand South American students, like these kids in Chile, and educated them on the importance of keeping their home's wildlife population safe.
Their route took them through a huge variety of environments. Katharine is pictured here in the cloud forest above Catamarca, Argentina.
Katharine points to their route, which took them from Cape Froward in the south all the way to the Caribbean Sea in the north.
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