Big5Kayak Paddle Past 500 Mile Half-Way Point

Posted on July 7th, 2009

As of Wednesday 8th July 2009, the Big5Kayak Team have made excellent progress in what is the 5th and final stage of this challenge – the half-way point has been passed. Despite storm force 7 winds, waves of almost 4 metres, the team’s first ‘swimmer’ who was pitched into the icy cold Alaskan waters, and a close encounter with a pod of killer whales, over 500 miles of unsupported expedition kayaking up The Inside Passage have been completed. Just over £5,385 has been raised for MHF’s Muscle Dreams™ programme.

“This kayaking expedition will be the most challenging of the 5 with the team covering over 30 miles a day unsupported, paddling alongside orcas and camping rough in bear country”, said Aisling Ni Chuinn, Joint Expedition Leader.

Ahead of the three main paddlers lies a further 530 miles to the finishing point at Muir Glacier in Alaska. The long days of paddling have brought their fair share of trials and tribulations. To give visitors an insight, the excerpt below is taken from the teams 3rd Expedition Update:

The posting was titled: ‘A Baptism of Rain and Tides’
[Since departing Bella Bella on Saturday morning, tides and currents have hampered progress. With average speed now down to 3 miles per hour, paddling time has increased to an average of 10 hours per day] – one of the paddlers who is a member of Irelands National Canoe Polo Team, Aisling Ni Quinn commented, “It is heartbreaking when you are paddling maybe 5 miles an hour but losing 2 to 3 miles an hour to the tide. Unfortunately, the demanding schedule means we don’t always have the time to wait for tides to turn, paddling against the tide has become a daily event”.

The three members paddling the entire distance from Port Hardy to Muir Glacier are:

Richard Harpham (Level 3 kayak coach & general outdoors man)
Aisling Ni Quinn (Ireland canoe polo representative, level 3 kayak coach)
Geoff Tilford (Former Team GB kayak sprinter)

Other members who have joined the expedition along the way are:

Ollie Jay (Sea kayak guide)
Dave Gordon (Ex pole-vaulter, now kayaker, incredibly took up the sport 10 months ago)
Rob Bates (Viking kayak Club Chairman, level 3 kayak coach)
As you might expect, the team prepared thoroughly – prior to leaving the UK, their programme included attending a Wilderness Medical Training and a Far From Help medical crash course, culminating in a personal skills and drills Survival Weekend on the Farne Islands with Ollie Jay of Active4Seasons.


Pictured above, Michael McGrath with all members of the Big5Kayak Challenge Team as well as supporters at the Outdoor Show held this year at the NEC in Birmingham.

The team is hoping to raise £10,000 for The Muscular Help Foundation, specifically for the charities Muscle Dreams™ programme.


Lydia Drukarz, Director
Wavelength Public Relations
M. 07977 454180
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