Rod Wellington

Rod Wellington

A man who has set himself a 15-year challenge to travel each of the seven continents’ longest river systems has received backing from an outdoor brand.

London-based waterproof bag specialists Aquapac have chosen adventurer Rod Wellington as their 2016 outdoor champion.

Wellington is driven by his personal quest to descend the longest river system on each continent from source to sea, using only human-powered transportation – on foot, by kayak and by raft.

In 2013 he became the first Canadian to kayak the Missouri-Mississippi river system, a total distance of 6,100km (3,800 miles) solo, taking 256 days to complete.

In 2016 he will embark on a ‘summit-to-source-to-sea’ expedition in Australia. First he will climb Mt Kosciuszko, the continent’s highest mountain at 2,228m (7,310 ft). The adventurer then plans to bicycle 1,400km (870 miles) to the source of the Darling-Murray, Australia’s longest river system.

From there he will descend, on foot and in a kayak, the Condamine River, 610km (410 miles); the Balonne River, 480km (300 miles, the Culgoa River, 490km (305 miles); the Darling River, 1,470km (915 miles), and the final 850km (525 miles) of the Murray River to reach the Southern Ocean.

A summit-to-source-to-sea journey along this route has never been attempted. The expedition will begin next month and is expected to take five months to complete. If water levels are low he may have to walk the first 1,000km (620 miles) of the waterway.

Wellington estimates it may take him 15 years to complete his Magnificent Seven Expedition, and plans to write a book about each of his seven journeys.

Now in its eighth year, the Aquapac outdoor champion award recognises individuals from all over the world who devote their lives to making the world a better place for others. These champions are all active in the outdoors in one way or other.

Rod Wellington will receive a $1500 cash award plus a ‘raft’ of Aquapac products which will be put to the test during his journey.

Aquapac chief executive Tim Turnbull said: “Rod is a very worthy recipient of our award and we’re delighted to have him as our 2016 champion.

“His determination to successfully complete his expedition whilst educating and encouraging people to pursue their dreams and push the limits of human power is truly inspirational and epitomises what our initiative stands for – celebrating people who strive to help others to connect with the great outdoors.”

Along the way the adventurer expects to experience mental, physical and logistical challenges. Using satellite communications equipment powered by solar panels he will showcase his expedition’s primary mission: to share with the public the educational and inspirational benefits of low-impact, long-distance, human-powered, eco-responsible exploration.

Past recipients of the Aquapac outdoor champion award have included UK-based adventurer Sarah Outen and world-record holder Dave Cornthwaite, along with 2015’s champion Deena Hoagland for her outstanding contribution to helping children with special needs, with the help of dolphins.