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Tori Murden - An Unprecedented Achievement

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Bouchet also had failed in her attempted crossing, so the elusive record was still to be claimed. On September 13, 1999, a year after she eluded death in the North Atlantic, Murden set out again. This time, however, she would travel the safer east-to-west route from the Canary Islands to the West Indies. For two months, her odyssey went smoothly. By mid-November, she was 430 miles from Guadeloupe, on pace to beat the record time for a solo crossing—just over seventy-three days—set by Sidney Genders of Great Britain in 1970. Then came tropical storm Lenny. "It passed directly over her, capsizing the boat once and sending it on a violent, nauseating roller-coaster ride that lasted for hours," said Women's Sports & Fitness. "The thunder was constant and cacophonous, and Murden spent the night with her fingers in her ears, singing hymns at the top of her lungs to distract herself. By dawn, the worst was over, and within a couple of days, favorable winds returned."

On December 3, after rowing 3,333 miles in eighty-two days, Murden arrived at Bas-du-Fort, Guadeloupe. "There are times (alone at sea) that are incredibly sublime, and you feel like you're at once that puny speck of nothing and part of a grand universe," she told CNN upon her arrival. "There are other times when it's frightening and just lonely. And so along the roller coaster there are grand moments and sad moments, but I would-n't trade them for anything."


1963 Born March 6 in Brooksville, Florida
1981 Graduates from the Louisville Collegiate School (high school)
1985 Earns Bachelor's degree from Smith College, where she majored in psychology and minored in education
1986 Serves as chaplain at Boston City Hospital
1987 Works at Cambridge Department of Human Services' Multi-Service Center for the Homeless
1988 Becomes first woman and first American to reach Lewis Nunatuk Summit in the Antarctic
1989 Earns Master of Divinity degree from Harvard University
1989 Serves as director of the Volunteers of America Women's Center, a residential center for homeless women
1989 Becomes first woman and first American to ski to the geographic South Pole
1992 Goes to work as a project coordinator for public policy in the Louisville mayor's office
1994 Begins five-year stint as a project administrator for the Louisville Development Authority's Empowerment Zone Project
1995 Earns law degree from the University of Louisville; admitted to the Kentucky Bar Association
1997 Teams with Louise Graff in Port St. Charles Atlantic Rowing Race; they drop out due to illness and problems with their boat's electrical system
1998 Unsuccessfully attempts to row across the Atlantic alone from North Carolina to France; in the process, sets world records for most days at sea by a woman (85) and most miles rowed solo continuously by an American (3,043)
1999 Becomes first woman and first American to row across the Atlantic, traveling 3,333 miles from the Canary Islands to Guadeloupe in the West Indies in 81 days, seven hours, and 31 minutes
1999 Works as development director for Louisville's Muhammad Ali Center
2000 Marries Charles "Mac" McClure on January 7

Awards and Accomplishments

1988 First woman and first American to reach the summit of Lewis Nunatuk in the Antarctic
1989 First woman and first American to ski to the geographic South Pole
1989 Named a Hopkin's Scholar at Harvard University
1999 First woman and first American to row across the Atlantic
1999 Receives Kentucky Derby Festival's Silver Horse Shoe Award for courage, determination, and community service
2000 Receives Victor Award, given annually to outstanding athletes
2000 Honored by European Academy of Sport

Following her historic journey, Murden returned to Louisville and married Charles "Mac" McClure, a retired forester to whom she proposed during a satellite phone call from the middle of the Atlantic. She went on to become active in civic affairs, first as development director for the Muhammad Ali Center, an arts and education complex, and later as a Spalding University trustee and a member of the task force facilitating the merger of the Louisville and Jefferson County governments.

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