A technical consultant with graduate degrees in engineering and an MBA, at the age of 41, Erden Eruc changed cubicle life for adventure.
It took a tragedy to get him on the road.
Erden was rock climbing with Swedish bicycle/climber Goran Kropp in Seattle when Kropp slipped, fell and lost his life.
The accident became Erden’s turning point. He decided to go "Around-n-Over" - that is to circumnavigate the world using only human power, and climb six summits en route.
Persistance and captivating stories
Over the years, Erden has been a staple in ExWeb awards. The persistence, self reliance and courage he displayed time and again traveling by rowing boat, kayak, bicycle and boots around the planet was unusual even for explorers.
He'd do a stretch, go home, make money, some research, and head back to the exact spot where he'd left off for yet another stretch.
His sea voyages were nail biters. We watched Erden's rowing boat slowly transform into a Noah's Ark in the middle of nowhere on the Pacific Ocean. Birds hung out in the crammed spaces, a faithful flock of fish trailed the boat. It was like a castaway tale. No rower had ever spent so long time at sea and in Erden's live pictures ancient stories of the shipwrecked came alive.
Like many great explorers in history Erden was an avid storyteller. Propelled equally by physical endurance, curiosity and an agile mind his dispatches were engaging, spellbinding and honest. He captivated crowds of kids around the world - Turkish (Erden's place of birth) and American (Erden's place of residence).
Erden bagged a number of world records while he always lived up to the ideals of sportsmanship. When he initially found that his circumnavigation wouldn't stand up to the rules, he started over again.
Where other rowers called victory on Madagascar; Erden returned to the island and continued to mainland Africa to really row the Indian Ocean.
The quest took a toll on everything: Money, career, relations. Hardship, failures and disappointments dotted the route. Over and over Erden had to remind himself:
"My priorities are: A. To stay alive, B. To save my boat, and C. To continue the circumnavigation."
And to his wife: "My promises to Nancy are: A. I will not die, B. I will not lose her, C. We will not go bankrupt."
End of the road
His story ended in a quiet fishing harbor surrounded by treeless hills in a foggy bay made famous by Alfred Hitchcock. There were hugs, champagne, some media, and remarkable people brought together by Erden's adventure, many with their own, unique tale.
Erden Eruc's human powered circumnavigation started from Bodega Bay in California July 10th, 2007. He arrived to the finish line, his starting point, July 21st, 2012. 5 years had passed, he had survived, they were not bankrupt, and Nancy bicycled the last bit by his side.
They were strong, brave and broke new frontiers. More importantly, they showed heart and sportsmanship. In 2012 six expeditions made waves at ExplorersWeb. This countdown serves to remember them.
Best of ExplorersWeb Awards 2004-2011
Mazeno Ridge, Nanga Parbat the Hard Way
Best of ExplorersWeb 2012 Awards: Felix Baumgartner, the Man who Fell from Space
Best of ExplorersWeb 2012 Awards: Aleks Gamme, To the Pole and Back
The last of a million steps: Erden Eruc finishes in Bodega Bay - PICTURES
Best of ExplorersWeb 2008 Awards: The longest row, Erden Eruc
Best of ExplorersWeb 2011 Awards - Special mention
ExWeb 2005 interview - Erden Eruç: "My message to all is that life is short"
Teen sails ExWeb Circumnavigation special: What is around the world?
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