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Eliza Dawson
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UW grad will row across ocean in Great Pacific Race

LISTEN: How and why this UW grad will row across Pacific Ocean

Eliza Dawson has always been into sports, especially on the water. She is nearly as passionate about athletics as she is the environment. This summer, she will combine the two in an unlikely, and courageous, journey.

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“I am going to row across the Pacific Ocean, from California to Hawaii,” Dawson told KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson. “It is a distance of 2,400 miles. I will begin the journey in the beginning of June. I’m doing the row in the name of climate change. I’m rowing with three other women from around the world. They are coming from the UK and Brazil.”

“Growing up a Washington native I loved the outdoors; loved doing sports,” she said. “I always loved pushing myself to the extreme and taking on adventures. I have sailed and rowed all my life … now that I am graduating from UW with a major in atmospheric science, this row is a special opportunity for me to combine my passion for the environment and promoting sustainability with my love of athletics.”

Dawson has never met the other women on her row team in person. They have been talking via Skype in the weeks leading up to the event. They have all signed on to take part in the Great Pacific Race. The first race was held in 2014. This will be the third time the event has sent people rowing across the ocean. There will be up to eight teams taking on the journey, each made up of 2-4 members.

Eliza Dawson vs the Pacific Ocean

Dawson’s team will be using a 24-foot-long ocean rowing boat. It has space for two people to row at a time. It has cabins in the front and back. They will have to pack all their supplies — freeze dried food, energy bars, etc. They will desalinate ocean water for drinking. The team will also have a satellite phone on the trip. Dawson plans to update her website — www.row4climate.com — along the way. The team hopes to set a new record for the trip. The current record to row from California to Hawaii is 50 days.

The plan is to row in 2-hour shifts, off-and-on. That means they will each be rowing 12 hours a day.

And to answer that question everybody has: there is a bucket for bathroom needs. And there is an emergency vehicle along the route.

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“I am preparing to experience a lot of fatigue,” Dawson said. “I am working really hard, mentally, to prepare for that and cope with that. A lot of that is going to be new experiences on the water and part of taking on this journey.”

“It is going to be very intense,” she said. “I am going to get to know these people really well by the end of the journey.”

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