Four intrepid adventurers will be testing their limits in an extraordinary challenge that sees them rowing the entire navigable length of the Amazon to raise funds for Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity.

The ‘Endurance Limits’ team, made up of four experienced athletes; civil servant Darren Clawson, business owner Matthew Wright, tech executive Simon Evans and personal trainer Josh Tills, commence their challenge on September 1, 2024 to row the world’s second longest river — a distance that stretches nearly 4,000 miles, and crosses three countries.

The team: Simon Evans, Darren Clawson, Matthew Wright and Josh Tills (left to right).

As they journey through Peru, the tip of Colombia and across Brazil to the Atlantic Ocean, the team will have to navigate everything from treacherous currents and extreme humidity, to encounters with exotic wildlife, indigenous tribes and local authorities.

“As far as we know, only two teams have ever successfully managed to row the Amazon,” Simon tells ITN Business. And some of the failed attempts didn’t end well; with one resulting in an ambush and near-death experience for two former Royal Marines. It’s fair to say, this challenge is not just physically punishing; it’s fraught with danger.

“If the climate and the caiman don’t get you, the Cartels might,” says one of the team in a social post. “Some of the route is the equivalent of a modern day Wild West.”

Left to right: Darren Clawson, Josh Tills, Simon Evans and Matthew Wright.

But while the risks are high, so are the rewards. The team is hoping to raise £50,000 for Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) children’s charity, to support the treatment of children with rare and complex health conditions.

Watch Darren’s video

Darren’s own son, Hadley, was treated at GOSH at 18 months old when he became seriously ill. Thanks to the hospital’s exceptional medical staff and access to innovative drugs, Hadley survived — despite doctors warning he might not make it. Read Darren’s heart-wrenching story here

The team have been raising money for children’s charities through a series of international ultra marathons and endurance events — including a Pacific Ocean row in 2021, which saw them row from California to Hawaii in 43 days. 

Left: The team rowing the Pacific in 2021. Right: Preparing for the Amazon row; their toughest challenge yet.

Their Amazon adventure, however, brings extra levels of challenge; not just with the area being so remote (which creates complex logistics in getting the boat there); they’ll also be striving for a new Guinness World Record — for the fastest team to row the length of the Amazon.

The current record stands at 35 days, and the team hope to complete the row in 28. This means they need to be constantly on the move.

“While completing the challenge is the most important thing, we want to do it to the best of our ability. If we can pick up a gong from Guinness along the way, well that’s going to give us something to think about while we’re sitting there rowing, day in and day out,” says Simon, a lifelong rower and cyclist.

“We’ll be living in very close quarters, and taking it in shifts. So, while two of us row, two will rest, and we’ll tag team like that, 24 hours a day, without stopping.”

Tight teamwork is everything in this, but the friends come from diverse backgrounds, and bring their own unique set of skills to the group. 

They’ve also drawn on their wide networks to enlist support for different elements of the challenge, particularly on the logistics side.

Enter Trans Global Logistics UK

As the team say on one of their posts, “How do you get a 27ft long boat to a town in the middle of the jungle that doesn’t have any roads leading to it? The answer: via three different countries, two ships, a truck, three ports, a riverboat and a network of in-country experts and contacts.”

Trans Global Logistics UK is the Endurance Limits logistics partner (for the second time; they also assisted on the team’s Pacific Row), managing the shipping of the boat to Peru and the development of a specially-designed cradle for the boat to be transported in once it’s out of its container — the cradle needs to be easily dismantled by hand when the boat arrives at the river.  

“It takes longer to take the boat to the Amazon, and bring it back, than it does to do the row,” jokes Mike Harrison, Managing Director of Trans Global Logistics UK. “You’re looking at around 80 to 100 days that it’ll take to get it there and bring it back.”

The boat, which leaves on June 5 to head to Yurimagas in Peru, has to be rowed into the heart of the Amazon basin to get to the start position. The four members of the rowing team will be heading out on August 15 to pick up the boat, and move it to where it needs to be.

“Getting a boat to the middle of the Amazon is extremely difficult, and we actually have a 500 kilometre row just to get to the start line,” Simon explains, highlighting the layers of challenge within the expedition.  

To keep track of progress and stay connected with the outside world, the team will be relying on the Star Link satellite to feed them daily updates. 

Starlink, a satellite internet constellation project developed by SpaceX which offers internet services worldwide, focuses on rural and remote regions where traditional internet infrastructure is lacking. 

Live streaming will enable them to keep in touch with supporters and on social media, so anyone can follow the team throughout the course of their journey (and in the lead-up!) via their LinkedIn, Instagram, TikTok, Facebook and X social accounts.

Visit the Amazon Row website to find all the details of their upcoming mission.

How to support the Amazon Row

If you’d like to support the team through a donation that goes directly to Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity — head to the Amazon Row Just Giving page here

You can also support them in preparing for the big row at London’s Pancras station on June 28, where you can more personally involved in the fundraising efforts by helping the team in a sponsored row of 10,000 kilometres.

READ MORE: DARREN’S STORY