Leg 2, Day 53 – The Middle

Lizanne Van Vuuren By

Day 53 – The Middle

My best friend got married today… And though I’ve thrown myself passionately head first into the row, for the first time since starting this adventure I’ve wanted to be elsewhere. Unfortunately due to the delays caused in Leg 1 and our difficulty with currents, my bridesmaid dress remained in the closet. Overcoming adversity… it comes in all shapes and sizes.
Ocean Rowing… Absolutely unpredictable.

So I’d like to raise a cyber toast and say a huge congratulations to the gorgeous couple, Anna and Phil.

Needless to say the emotion on Doris has quivered over the past few days as I missed the wedding and we’re teetering on the edge of the Equator about 3 weeks later than originally thought; it’s a mental milestone for all of us. So you can expect a pensive blog today.

Everything happens for a reason?.. I’ve been thinking a lot about how I came to be out here, and not at the wedding, or not anywhere else for that matter. It’s one thing reading about an intrepid adventure, but when it comes down to the crux of it all; how do you make the decision that “yes please, I’d love to go and row an ocean”? Where does the seed that was planted as an idea flourish into an answer? How do you muster up the courage to take a leap of faith knowing full well that the leap will propel you far beyond your comfort zone?

The answer will be different for everyone, and there isn’t a right or a wrong. Having something in your life that allows you to believe that the decisions you make are the right ones will ultimately be the difference between “yes” and “maybe”, “excellence” and “average” and eventually “possible” and “impossible”

I sat on the edge of my answer for a while. I had recently bought a practice which increased my responsibility and kept me incredibly busy and I found myself at a crossroad; my head telling me what the sensible thing would be, but my heart (as usual) fighting to be heard and eventually get it’s own way. The back and forth/pros and cons lists consumed me, until my answer came one day, loud and clear in the form of a sermon by a lady called Charlotte Gambill, her insight and faith completely contagious. She was over from the UK for the Cape Town Women’s Colour Conference and I made it to one of her talks. About 7mins into her talk she said “imagine you’re on a little rowing boat, in the middle of the ocean, with no one around you”. With thousands of women in the arena, it felt like she was there speaking only to me. I went home and emailed Laura, I was doing the row. To be honest, my faith has been integral in my rowing experience, and for me is the thing that puts a smile on my face.

So I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be in “the Middle” of somewhere… Hear me out.

The beginning of something is always new and exciting with endless possibilities. It’s where your motivation is highest, procrastination lowest, inspired by a new beginning. At the beginning of the race you’ve got that nervous energy, ready to put into practice the months of training you’ve been doing. In short, the beginning is always great.

The end of something is usually an accomplishment, a milestone reached, an end of an era, or cause for celebration. Yes, it’s sometimes a sad occasion, but mostly the end of something always brings change, and change is as good as a holiday, right? In the race it’s the feeling of joy, satisfaction and blissful relief as you reach the finish line.

….and then you get ‘the middle’. It’s the bit no one really talks about. It’s not exciting, it’s not inspirational, it’s the boring bit that everyone wants to skip to ‘get rich quick’ and it’s the part of the relationship where you lose each other, only to realise years later that something needs to be done. It’s where all the hard work happens and is the easiest place for us to lose focus as procrastination sets in. It’s the middle that sets you apart from 1st and 2nd place, and it’s where possible is bridged with impossible. If we’re not careful, it’s the space that was only supposed to occupy your life for a short while, and instead it becomes your life; mediocrity.

Right now, in the MIDDLE of the ocean it’s where we’re overlooking our niggles, fighting with the ocean, ignoring the refreshing call of an ocean dip to make it to our destination. It’s the hard work that pays off in the end, and like Charlotte says, it’s in the middle where you find out what’s in the middle of you…

I wasn’t at Anna’s wedding, but I’ll be in her middle.

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Our sunset today, in the middle of the Pacific


On a personal note: it’s wedding season, and a huge congrats to Karla and Jeff, and Lydia and Dereck who got married last month. Looking forward to catch up and hearing all about it.

UPDATE: Gobbledygook moment of the week- as I narrated The Lion King to Laura on our night shift a few days ago, from me there was the occasional addition of snack packs to the storyline, but best of all, when I got to the section where Simba was in trouble in the Elephants graveyard LP leaned back and offered me her ore to give to Simba to help him out. Cute.



  1. SimonTY says:

    Well, I hope your friend shouted from the Top Table your achievement and I hope you have a few more Miles bought today. What a wonderful chance to tell a couple of hundred people what an amazing voyage you are on. They will probably call their first kid Doris.

    I can see the Equator so close now. I am not sure how often the pink dots update……..I assume they are a few hours old…..come on, come on.


  2. Jim Andrews says:

    I think I feel your sadness/regret at missing the wedding. You have all made huge sacrifices to be where you are “in the middle”. Where you are going is the prize, I don’t mean your arrival in Cairn but your arrival in history, in the record books and in the hearts of all who have followed your journey. I think we all know who the most missed person was at the wedding, the most talked about absentee and I imagine a glass or three was raised in your honour. Stay happy and safe. XX

  3. Judith says:

    The Middle is where you are but recently a Middle that has seen you pushed backwards not forwards! Can’t imagine how hard the last weeks have been sometimes having to repeat part of the Middle.
    From where I am sitting your Middle has been truly inspirational as you row on knowing at times that you are getting nowhere but still you all keep going, never losing sight of your goal, supporting and caring for each other and still sending amazing thoughtful and thought provoking blogs.
    Pass the equator, pick up the better currents and the Middle will seem a lot better. Stay strong and safe and with all of these weddings I suggest a “you got married whilst I was away” party to catch up. Meanwhile Oreos all round! xx

  4. SimonTY says:

    Murray brothers heroic win in Davis Cup semi final, So need just one more win tomorrow. 2-1 up aganist the Australians.

  5. What a thought provoking and inspiring blog, thank you Lizanne. Wont be long now girls before you get a richly deserved break x

  6. Things happen for a reason.

  7. tashels says:

    Wow lizzle this blog really pulled at my heart strings – what a beautiful post. All of us are so proud of u and backing you every step of the way. Love you lots!

  8. Lorraine says:

    You are all doing such an amazing thing and your blogs are inspirational.

  9. Simon TY says:

    Your pink dot has not moved forward…..was 0.64 last night, and still there now. How often does it update ? Building up for big event ?

    Lizanne, sorry to bring sad tidings. South Africa beaten by Japan 34-32 first really big upset of the World Cup


  10. Nicolette says:

    It is truly sad when there are two once in a lifetime moments that happen to be at the same time – an ocean row and a wedding – you couldn’t be at both, it was a risk and I am sure that Anna knows you rowed your little heart out to try and make it! Don’t be discouraged in 20years time you can be there when they renew their vows and tell everyone and the Ceremony how you missed the first one because you were rowing the Pacific!
    Keep your head up!
    Jy is my hero, lief jou! Mis jou baie Nics xx

  11. Simon TY says:

    Hey, hey hey, looked and it says 0.02 degrees. I pray pray pray that, as I write, you are penning THE EQUATOR BLOG……..come on, pleeeeease……..come on Neptune, give them one of their best days yet !!!!! Come on !!!!!


  12. And the day you cross you will go from Pollywogs (sailors who have not crossed the Equator) to Shellbacks (sailors who have)!

    And Laura, you will be joining us and your Mum and Dad in the Shellback club……..bet you didn’t know that!!!

  13. JG says:

    Three cheers – the equator is crossed. Now lets see what’s in store for the crew!

  14. What a lovely inspirational blog. It is about making a decision in life and go for it and not always ask what if. ‘What if’ has endless permutations. I surely think there was a little sad moment for Anna because you were not at the wedding but I am also sure she was proud of you being out there in the middle. I can remember the day when you did the gig at the pub in London and Anna was so excited about it.
    I think you should be over the equator by now. Well done and may the currents and the wind help you all the way into Apia.
    Love XXX

  15. Erika says:

    Sho julle is al bitter ver Lizanne! WELL DONE!! Jy is n YSTER!!!! Sien sooo uit al die stories te hoor jys my hero dude!!!! Xxx

  16. Beautiful words, incredible inspiration. What an amazing middle you are going through!

  17. well done Doots. impressive stuff, and wise words. love that the Lion King narrative made an appearance…
    “you follow Rafiki, he knows the way!”

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