Adventure, Interviews, Rowing

Interview with Alex Mackenzie – Row2Recovery

1.What a story you guys have to tell. How did you decide to finally go out and start telling it to the world?

We always had 2 priories for the campaign, 1. To raise money to support the wounded and their families, and 2. To send out a positive message that inspired those who had been wounded and galvanised the general public to challenge what is possible in life whether wounded or not.

2.How have your war wounds changed your life – the way you think/see the world?

I am not wounded, but my friends have been wounded and killed and I think for all of the crew the one word which summarises our post-conflict view of the world is PERSPECTIVE. There is always someone worse off than you and that is something that motivated us in the difficult days of the row.

3.I don’t know if you’ll answer this question but Il ask it anyway, after all that has happened to your crew and what you have seen, are you all still pro-war?

Courtesy of Row 2 Recovery

We are a campaign that is focused on fundraising and inspiration. We are focused on the positives of human endeavour and inspiring the wounded and are not involved or engaged in politics or any view on the conflicts themselves.

4.Why did you pick rowing as the expedition sport?

It was the hardest thing that we could find that had the infrastructure for us to build the campaign around without having to go it alone (as a volunteer effort we did not have the time or resources for something like a polar expedition)

5.You’ve raised £721,195.00 so far for injured soldiers. What does that money actually go towards…equipment etc?

3 key areas:

Battleback – this funds wounded soldiers return to support.

Army Recovery Capability – this funds the whole lifecycle of recovery from rehabilitation to professional retraining.

Quick Reaction Fund – this supports the families with short notice funding to cater for the particular challenges that they face when their family member has been wounded. This covers anything from short notice visit expenses to adapting the family home.

6.”More than 4,000 people have climbed Everest. More than 500 people have been into space. Only 473 people have ever rowed an ocean.” – How does it feel to be a part of an elite group?

The elite group in our view are invisible, they are the wounded and their families who go through incredible challenges every day and are so rarely in the public eye.

7.The route was Canaries to Barbados, – How did you choose and plan the route?

The route is planned around 1. The best weather and currents, and 2. As part of a wider race organisation. Look at

How long have you being thinking and planning this?

The campaign is 2 years in the making.

Courtesy of Row 2 Recovery

8.Is Row2recovery affiliated at all with the Row4freedom women or was that just pure coincidence you  were going at the same time?

We entered the same race, we are good friends with the girls but our mission and objectives are different.

9.Whats next – more challenges or back to life before the row?

Most of us will be back to our day jobs, but there will no doubt be some more challenges on the horizon. I am doing the Haute Route bike race from Geneva to Nice in the summer.

10.Did you get to go swimming? If so, what was that like?

All of us swam and when it was going well it was a really great moment, an amazing feeling to have 2 miles of ocean underneath you.

11. – Best moment at sea?

The end!

-Worst moment at sea?

It was the watermaker  breaking, but then that was overtaken by the rudder breaking! With only 500 miles to go we thought this might be the end.

12. What sports did you do before this?

Ultra running, Kalahari desert marathon, Devizes to Westminster canoe race, Ironman and similar.

13.What was the daily routine like – how many hours of rowing, hours of sleep…?

12 hours of rowing, 12 hours of resting.

14.On the expedition, you had to live very simply, back to the basics. I bet you learned a lot from that? But now, back in reality, how do you hold on to those lessons, changes of perspective…?

I think that most of the lessons we learnt reinforced our military experiences rather than dramatically changed our outlook.  We all felt that it was very powerful to have a cause and a sense of purpose beyond the individual and that is something that many of us will continue to live by.

Courtesy of Row 2 Recovery

15.What is the most important thing you took out of this experience?

Think big and go for it, even when people tell you that something is not possible. …


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