Caspian Challenge: Early Retirement

Today’s blog post comes from the UK. I flew back home this afternoon after finally deciding to call an end to the Caspian Challenge.


As many of you reading this might be aware, the Caspian Challenge went unexpectedly viral in Russia — reaching an audience of well over 20,000 in the first few days via social media alone! Before I had taken a single paddle stroke, I had been inundated with well over 1000 messages and they continued to flood in throughout the trip — it is to the credit of Russia that most of these were offers of hospitality and assistance! There has undoubtedly been some fantastic publicity and wonderful messages of support (I’m very sorry I couldn’t respond to you all!), but unfortunately the high profile also brought some really unpleasant attention with it.

For the past 2 weeks I’ve been struggling to come to some sort of compromise about the situation I found myself in. A significant amount of the messages (both sent directly to me and those we happened to see on Russian sites) expressed very sinister intent and the attention didn’t ever back off. It all added up to a level of risk and vulnerability that is too high to justify and we have been unable to mitigate it sufficiently. All things considered, I made the incredibly tough, but ultimately right, decision to end the expedition and come home.


With most of the summer still ahead of me, I’m now looking forward to planning some new adventures!

Thanks again to everyone in Russia who showed such warmth and kindness.

Me with the lovely Elvira (right), the superstar who kindly drove me to the start of the lake. She also provided endless cups of tea and fabulous company on my first night. She runs a travel agency — please do check it out!


It has been brought to our attention that some individuals in Russia misrepresented themselves as part of the official team. Please note that all enquires go through the team here in the UK only. There is not now, nor has there ever been, any other official representative in Russia or otherwise.