Monday, 20 June 2011

Interview: Dave Cornthwaite SUPing the Mississippi

As many of you will know British Adventurer Dave Cornthwaite is embarking on the 4th part of his Expedition: 1000, a life long ambition involving 25 different modes of transport of 1,000 miles each. Today is the day that Dave starts this 4th journey, and to mark it we have an Interview with the man himself. Enjoy!


Tell us about trip number 4, the Mississippi by SUP.

There is an unrivalled beauty to travelling by SUP. Life at its simplest is enjoyed most, and when all you have is a board and paddle (with bags strapped on top) there are no working parts to give you bother. The view is great, too, so the first time I stood on a SUP in 2009 it took about 30 seconds to decide that this was a viable way to travel. The Mississippi is possibly the biggest challenge I've ever faced. I've paddled rivers before but there's something mythical and mystical about the Mighty Miss. It'll be the longest journey ever by SUP, but the true challenge has been laid down by beaurocracy; I have to finish my journey within 90 days. That's 2400 miles, at 4mph, almost 7 hours of paddling every day. And on top of that, I'll be making videos, blogging and photographing the river all the way down. I'll sleep well in October.

What are you least looking forward to on your trip down the River?

Rivers are beasts in themselves, and travelling on water, like on land, has its own inherent risks. The landscape beneath the water is constantly changing so there are things a paddler just can't prepare for, and these along with the fact that I've never seen the Mississippi let alone paddled on it, well...let's just say I'm suffering from some pretty healthy nerves right now. Thing is, you have a choice in these situations. Yes the journey ahead is completely unknown to me, yes that makes me a little uncomfortable, but for me that's a reason to do it, not pull out. I'm looking forward to everything, even the bits I shouldn't be looking forward to.

Which charities are you raising money for and why?

I've worked with the AV Foundation for years, they improve the infrastructure and drinking water systems in East African schools and communities and use their money wisely. I'm also supporting CoppaFeel, which was founded by my friend Kris Hallenga after she was diagnosed with breast cancer in her early twenties. Problem is, she was misdiagnosed twice before they caught it, so she set up CoppaFeel to encourage everyone to literally cop a feel, to get to know their breasts, bodies, and ensure that any abnormalities are dealt with early. It's all very well busting a gut on a river, but when you're faced with a life-threatening disease everything else is put in perspective - Kris is inspiring, the charity is inspiring, I had to help.

At the same time, I have plenty of reasons to do what I do without the charities, so I'm never going to force people to donate. I'd rather they took a look and if they're inspired donate to the cause that sits best with them. Donations can be made to CoppaFeel via www.justgiving.com/expedition1000coppafeel and the AV Foundation through www.justgiving.com/expedition1000.

How can people get involved and help you out?

In so many ways! First of all, spread the word about my journeys through Facebook and Twitter and in real life! The more people who get on the sites the more people donate, the more people are inspired to get up off their butts and do their own events, which means more people donate. It's a perfect vicious circle! I had an email from a guy last month who said he spent two solid days watching all of my videos and reading my stuff, then he quit his job the next day and decided to be happy. That sums it up for me, how cool is that?!

If you're on the Mississippi this Summer come and paddle a Blue Mile (a mile travelled on water) with me, and get sponsored for our charities. If you're not in the States go and have a sympathy paddle! Clock up some Blue Miles, get fit, get healthy, get to know your local waterway a bit and support some good causes.

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