For immediate release on 29 June 2015 at 8am Rebecca@uniqueprandmarketing.co.uk / 07971 939644
Brighton based former Royal Marines face grizzly bears, wolves and real-life rescues during world’s toughest kayak race
Two Brighton based former Royal Marines and Falkland veterans preparing to kayak around the Falkland Islands in 2016 for charity took on their hardest training challenge to date this weekend – competing in the world’s toughest kayak race, the Yukon River Quest.
Starting on 24th June, the Cockleshell Endeavour team, Mick Dawson and Steve Grenham, joined teams from around the globe to paddle day and night for 444 miles. The route took them from Whitehorse in Canada along the Yukon River to Dawson City, taking the pair just under 60 hours to complete. With the exception of one enforced rest break the event was completed virtually non-stop.
This race would have been a real challenge for anyone competing, but neither Mick nor Steve had kayaked before they embarked on the Cockleshell Endeavour project at the beginning of the year.
While the Cockleshell Endeavour pair were prepared for the tough conditions facing them, Mick Dawson did find himself caught up in some unplanned drama –rescuing another competitor who had capsized and was trapped in fast moving freezing water in the middle of the night. Mick has been presented with The Spirit of the Yukon Award for this selfless act.
The route took in some stunning scenery as it cut through the Canadian landscape, but Mick and Steve also had to keep a close eye out for some of the local wildlife during their very brief breaks – wolves, grizzly bears and moose are often seen at the river’s edge.
This event took place just a few weeks after the Cockleshell Endeavour duo kayaked the length of the Caledonian Canal and back again (120miles). The pair have completed these events, along with competing in the Devizes to Westminster canoe race, to prepare them for the conditions they lay ahead for them in spring 2016 when they take on a circumnavigation of the 650 miles of unforgiving coastline of the Falkland Islands in kayaks. This challenge is set to take about 30 days, will see the Falkland veterans tackle freezing conditions, wildlife including sharks and whales, and unexploded mines left over from the conflict
These two former Royal Marines have two more training challenges to complete before their Falkland Islands kayak in 2016 – a circumnavigation of the Isle of Man and a circumnavigation of Ireland.
The Cockleshell Endeavour is not just designed to test the pair physically. Mick and Steve will be using the next 12 months to highlight and explore the issues of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Steve Grenham has been fighting a long battle with the condition and has struggled to find an effective treatment. It is hoped that the Cockleshell Endeavour will create a structure and purpose that will help him on the road to recovery as he meets the incredible demands of this challenge, whilst also putting a spotlight on the hugely relevant subject of PTSD as a whole in the service community.
The Cockleshell Endeavour will also be raising funds Care After Combat, a new charity set up to support service leavers and their families. To donate to the charity, visit www.justgiving.com/cockleshellendeavour Mick Dawson has twice rowed the Atlantic Ocean and, five years ago, was one half of the only crew to have ever successfully rowed the Pacific Ocean. He says:
“The Yukon River Quest is touted as the World’s toughest kayak race and now I understand why! While the route and scenery were simply stunning and really impressive, the race pushed us both to our limits physically and mentally. It was great preparation for the challenges that will face us on our circumnavigation of the Falkland Islands, and being involved in the rescue of another competitor really brought home the risks we will face during this project.
“However none of the challenges we have faced to date, or that lies ahead, are as hard as those faced by those former service personnel struggling with the effects of PTSD, and we hope to use this project to shine a light on this condition within the armed forces.”
Notes to editors
About the Team
Mick Dawson, aged 50
Former Royal Marine. Professional Yacht Captain and film maker, Mick has rowed across the Atlantic Ocean twice and is in the Guinness book of records as the skipper of the first and only rowing boat to cross the North Pacific, from Japan to San Francisco. He completed this 7,000 mile row with his friend Chris Martin in November 2009.
The story of their epic six and a half month adventure was told in the Discovery Channel’s production, ‘Rowing the Pacific,’ first broadcast in 2011. Mick has project managed and executed five ocean rowing projects and is vastly experienced in all aspects of planning, preparation and execution for Extreme Ocean based expeditions.
Mick is available for motivational talks, corporate speaking opportunities and presentations to schools and colleges.
Steve Grenham, aged 51
Former Royal Marine. Currently employed as a builder, Steve has finally come to terms with the fact that over a number of years he has increasingly been affected by the symptoms of PTSD, a situation he feels may be relate back to his experiences both in the Falkland war and tours of Northern Ireland. He is currently undergoing full diagnosis and treatment for this condition.
Mick and Steve have been friends since their time serving together in the Royal Marines. They returned to the islands together for the first time since 1982 in November of last year 2013.
About Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
The number of service personnel diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder rose by a fifth last year according to Ministry of Defence figures, while there was also a 12 per cent increase in the rate of mental disorders as a whole, including depression and anxiety. However it is believed this figure is actually much higher, with many current service men and women and former members of the armed forces suffering in silence.