Just Try It | A Q&A with Laura Try

14 October 2019

Her motto is ‘Just Try It’, and she certainly sticks to it.

Shopaholic turned endurance athlete; Laura has conquered some incredible feats. From rowing 1,800 miles around Great Britain, to becoming a part of the first female team to cross the finish line of a 3,000 mile row across the Atlantic.

We sat down with Laura to learn about her record-breaking row, why she hates rowing, and what it takes to ‘just try it’.

Leading up to your life-changing 3000-mile ocean row, can you tell us a bit about your journey and how you went from a shopaholic to an endurance athlete and speaker?

Wow! What a rollercoaster of unexpected events that has been!

Back in my 20s, I was the owner a beauty salon. I wore fancy dresses and high heels to work. My nails were always painted and my makeup perfect. But as I approached 30, something didn’t feel right and I felt as though life was passing me by.

I had this desire to get outside and dreamt of being able to run up mountains and though the countryside, so I bought a pair of trainers and started doing some short runs.

At first, I couldn’t even run one mile, but I practised each day and within a few weeks I could run around the block. I loved the feeling of being outdoors in the fresh air and I also loved seeing a small improvement each week. The run around the block turned into 5km runs and then within a few years I was able to run a marathon.

Those runs lead me to be invited onto an adventure race and from there the journey hasn’t stopped! Through a series of events, I was then invited to row across the Atlantic Ocean with a team of people I didn’t know.

I now love telling the story of beauty salon owner to ocean rower, demonstrating that our goals can be achieved with making that first step. I also enjoy talking about team dynamics and performing under pressure. The adventures I have done have all been with strangers and the experience has taught me things I never could have imagined. It’s been a true social experience!

What are the key events that led you to become a part of the first female team to row across the Atlantic and cross the finish line?

When I was a runner, I had always dreamt about being able to do big adventure races but knew I wasn’t capable. Then one day, at 32, I was invited to join a team of people I didn’t know, to do a 24-hour endurance event with only 6 weeks’ notice. Despite not having any of the right kit, not knowing anyone and not having done the right training, I turned up to see what I could do.

After 25 hours of being on the move, I completed the event and my team won the race! That was when my love for endurance events and adventure began!

I then took part in a 48-hour event and thought I had hit my limit. I was awake for 56 hours and it was brutal! But…. I had caught the bug by then.

As a result of that event, I then signed up to row 1,800 miles around Great Britain…. even though I had never rowed before. That experience was incredible and as a result of that, I was invited to row 3,000 miles across the Atlantic.

Each adventure always leads to another……. I am amazed at how the journey has unravelled!

Your story is really inspiring in the fact that you never did endurance sports and are now crushing it! What's one thing people can do right now to change their life and chase their next adventure.

Like me all those years ago, I brought a pair of trainers and ran to the end of my road. It was horrendous because I couldn’t do it and it was uncomfortable, but I had grown fed up on wanting to be ’that kind of person.’

My advice would be to make a small step each day towards your goal - whether that be taking part in an adventure to making the next career move - it doesn’t have to be perfect, it doesn’t have to be fast, but it does require action. You need to show up and make it happen.

One of my favourite sayings in life, from rowing an ocean to putting the bins out is: “Just get on with it!” Stop the self-talk and start the action.

Environmental impact, sustainability, and minimalism play a big part in what you do. What do you feel are the biggest problems we are facing, and how was this evident during your rows?

Crikey! That’s a big question!

It scares me how much damage humans are doing to the world - draining her dry of resources; oil and animals, and in return filling her full of rubbish; fumes, plastic and landfill.

We are conditioned to want more of everything - a bigger home, a better car, more money, the latest iPad, the list goes on. We buy so much and throw away so much. One day the planet will say “I’ve had enough of being mistreated.”

When my team and I were rowing across the Atlantic Ocean, it was full of beauty and wonder. We were visited by dolphins, whales and even a turtle. It was magnificent. But we saw more rubbish than we did wildlife. Old fishing nets, buckets, polystyrene floating on the surface and plastic bottles.  We were one thousand miles away from land and yet we still saw evidence of the human race. It was really upsetting.

I now do what I can to make a small, positive impact on the world. When I was a beauty salon owner, I’d say I was a shopaholic! Always wanting the latest, greatest and best version of something, but it never made me happy. It just filled me full of dopamine for a few hours and then I’d be looking for the next thing.

I now consider myself a minimalist-in-training, carefully considering what I purchase and what impact it has on the world.  It's a small thing but I hope it makes a difference.

How does it feel to have accomplished 1,800 miles around Great Britain and 3,000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean, and what adventures lie ahead for you?

Even reading that question, it's sometimes hard to believe that’s me that did those challenges.

As you can imagine, I feel proud of myself for achieving them, especially as I don’t even like rowing.

Yes, you read that right…. Let me explain.

My passion is running - that’s where my adventure-life began. I love the simplicity of putting on a pair of trainers and heading out the door and just running. With ocean rowing, one needs a boat which costs thousands of pounds. With 3 people rowing you can reach an average speed of about 4mph and you’re travelling backwards. It seems very inefficient if you ask me.

So what keeps me going back to ocean rowing? I love being out in the middle of the ocean - it is one of the most beautiful and relaxing places I know. Having only been introduced to it aged 34, I feel as though I have an affinity with it. There are not many people that have experienced what it’s like to be out there and it’s a real privilege to be there.

Ocean rowing is so incredibly challenging, both physically and mentally, but it makes me feel so full, and whole and human. It's a place away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

So what’s next?

As a result of rowing across the Atlantic Ocean, I have now been invited to row across the Pacific Ocean - 2,400 miles from San Francisco to Hawaii.

It amazes me that things keep unravelling and the journey continues. I am putting together a team of 4 women to do it with and I think it’s going to be my toughest challenge to date. But I am going to use all of my previous experiences to make this the best challenge yet.

What's a message or a piece of advice you hope people can take away from your story?

I hope that people see that a huge life changing event can happen to anyone. It just takes a little curiosity and courage to move towards what's calling you.

I was once a shopaholic beauty salon owner. As a child I never climbed trees, never went camping and wasn’t interested or experienced in ‘uncomfortable’ environments.

Through a bit of curiosity and trying new things, my world opened up and changed so much. Something I never would have thought possible before. If someone would have described my life now, I would have told them ’No way! Not a chance!”

I now live for my next adventure - to get outside, be peaceful and live more like a human being was designed to live.

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