Anton Wright (left) and Mark de Rond with their boatAnton Wright and Mark de Rond

Cambridge academic Mark de Rond and Cambridge rower Anton Wright are coming to the end of a month-long adventure down the Amazon River as they prepare to reach the Brazilian coast. Having been rowing approximately 100km per day, the daredevil travellers are now two days away from completing their 2,077 mile journey along the Amazon River.

Although they were due to complete the trip on 13th October, a storm stalled them for a few extra days.

de Rond, a researcher and academic in organisational behaviour at Cambridge Judge Business School, describes himself as a “carnal sociologist” – he uses his own body and mind as a one-man laboratory to test theories in extreme or unusual situations. He then brings what he learns back into the classroom, providing his students with real-world insight into how teams and individuals react in different situations. Previous ‘live’ experiments have included observing combat surgeons in Afghanistan and elite rowers, and working with stand-up comedians.

Wright, Head Coach and boatman at Clare College, Cambridge, is an experienced adventure challenge oarsman with a row across the Irish Sea, The Great River Amazon Raft Race and an Atlantic sailing crossing under his belt.

The pair aims not only to conduct research, but also to raise funds for the Leonard Cheshire Disability charity, setting a Guinness World Record for long-distance rowing unaided as they do so.

Their adventure so far has by no means proved plain sailing. Challenges along the way included negotiating Pirate Alley (a section of the river notorious for hostage taking) and combatting a three-hour storm that destroyed the rudder and carried off their bucket-toilet.

Although rowing a boat with two holes in two-hour stints of rowing and resting has proved arduous, de Rond spoke positively of his adventure: “It’s been tough and we’re really looking forward to finishing. You learn a lot about yourself and a lot that you can’t learn from just observing others. That can be hard but you experience the subtleties more powerfully if you go through something like this yourself.”

Director of the Judge Business School, Christoph Loch, speaking on behalf of the School said: “We’re delighted and relieved that Mark and Anton have made it safely to the end and are looking forward to welcoming them home... Mark wanted to go beyond watching other people as part of ethnography and put himself into a team under challenging circumstances and that is what he has done!

“It will be fascinating to see what insights he brings back into our classrooms to share with the business leaders of the future.”

On their Guinness World Record, Anton said: “I cannot imagine anyone will do it again. I hope they do. If they do they will have to work really hard.”

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