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ISAAC KENYON

Isaac Kenyon
@isaac_kenyon

 

 

I have been out in the outdoors since as long as I can remember but it was always with my parents and never alone or with friends.

At a young age, I was lucky enough to leave the urban town of Luton on some weekends to go salmon fly fishing with my father down in Devon on the East Lyn River. Luton wasn't the safest of places to go and explore the woods or parks growing up, as there is a lot of crime. So instead, I was kept safe at home by my parents who would take me out into wild spaces for holidays and weekends. This was part of my growing up.

I loved science at school and had a real fascination with the film Jurassic Park which inspired me to want to become a palaeontologist, so I studied Geology at university which was all about the Earth’s processes and resources. There were many fieldtrips to wild spaces to look at rocks and my love of the outdoors continued to grow.

After a mental health issue, I developed a panic anxiety disorder during my time at university, due to a lot of screen time and other issues in my life. I found my only escape and healing was through nature and since then I have spent more and more time outside.

"When I am outdoors I get a moment to relax, unwind and unplug from digital technology. Having time to disconnect from technology has really helped me to discover what I truly want in life."

I could see through the noise and it has improved my physical and more importantly my mental health. It allowed me to have my own imagination and thoughts, and it was quite empowering. -Your best companion is your own imagination.

I really enjoy challenging myself as well, pushing my physical and mental limits. I like extreme sports, endurance sports and anything outdoors which is new and immerses you in a new environment.

From ocean rowing, to ice climbing in mountains, to bikepacking on gravel tracks and wild open water freediving. I do a lot of outdoor sports and they make me feel great.

"Across multiple studies, researchers have found a fascinating link between access to green space, such as fields, forests, parks and gardens, and a reduced risk of mental health problems, improved mood, and increased life satisfaction along with other benefits including reduced stress, increased physical activity, and better physical health. This is exactly what I feel and why I do outdoor adventures."

In 2018/19 I rowed the Atlantic Ocean in 40 days with 3 other friends. It was an incredibly challenging and rewarding experience for personal development especially because I had never rowed before in my life before taking this challenge on.

The first hurdle is getting funding for a boat, equipment, knowledge, and experience to even attempt an ocean row. It costs around £120,000 which is a big chunk of money so naturally the cost was very elitist and required a lot of sponsorship which was very challenging. It required building a brand from scratch, making sure there was a good story and offerings for sponsors.

The second hurdle was being fit and knowledgeable enough to do this adventure both physically and mentally. We spent hours of our life rowing training, weightlifting, having mental health talks with each other and constantly communicating to be ready for any scenario that we could come across on the adventure. We needed RYA qualifications, sea survival first aid, navigation training and 200+ hours on an ocean rowing boat along the coast of the UK testing and experimenting with equipment.

The third challenge was balancing all this with full-time jobs, relationships, friends and family. It required an enormous amount of time and most of our spare time was spent on this project.

"The hardest part of the expedition was spending two days rowing in a storm going in the opposite direction. We rowed 0 nautical miles for two days when our average was 75 nautical miles a day. This was physically and mentally the most taxing moment of the expedition and happened right in the middle of our trip."

The issue with ocean rowing is being constantly wet, getting very salty and lots of heat from the sun. You are constantly gripping onto two oars, so each stroke you are chaffing your hands and without cream they can get very very dry especially with seawater spray on your hands.

The hot sun exposure and constant sweating was not great for our skin either getting salt on your body can be very dangerous for moving on a rowing seat especially on the bum as it can cause salt sores very quickly which can be excruciatingly painful.

Without sunscreen you can get sunstroke, burning of the skin which can be extremely dangerous out at sea and develop even skin cancer.

I rowed for two hours at a time with only two hours rest which meant I didn’t get a lot of time to recover and boy did my muscles ache because of it! I did a lot of yoga inside the boat cabin to try and stretch out. We had some joint supplement tablets. We also used massage to help with our aching muscles, but had to be careful not to do too much massage on this expedition as high intensity rowing straight after a massage can cause tears.