Marathon runner from Darlington aims to retrace the steps of Easter Island pioneer

Darlington and Stockton Times: FAMOUS FOOTSTEPS: Susie Stephen is on her way to Easter Island FAMOUS FOOTSTEPS: Susie Stephen is on her way to Easter Island

A MARATHON runner is preparing to retrace the gruelling journey made by one of the regions archaeologists during a landmark expedition to initiate the first proper survey of Easter Island's giant statues.

To mark 100 years since Darlington-born archaeologist Katherine Routledge made her expedition to document Easter Island - also known as Rapa Nui - Susie Stephen will embark on a mission of her own, retracing the route.

Setting off in February the 34-year-old, also from Darlington, will run from Darlington to Southampton by completing at least a marathon a day before taking a ferry to La Havre, in France.

Once there she will board a container ship to Buenos Aires, in South America, before cycling across the continent to Valparaiso, on Chiles coast, where she will take a boat to Easter Island - one of the most isolated inhabited islands in the world.

As well as reconnecting the islands links with Darlington, Mrs Stephen hopes to raise enough money to buy a filter to recycle water for its residents and raise awareness of environmental issues.

The former Hummersknott Academy student, who now lives in Hawaii, will also study the environmental changes that have taken place on the island since the expedition in 1914, in which Mrs Routeldge became the first archaeologist to work on the islands iconic stone statues.

Mrs Routeldge was the granddaughter of Joseph Pease and obtained a degree in history at Oxford University and taught at Darlington College before making the expedition to Easter Island, which also saw her become the first woman archaeologist to work in Polynesia.

"I was inspired by and fascinated that a lady from my home town had the vision, drive and belief to undertake such an expedition to this place, half a world away studying culture so alien to her own," said Mrs Stephen.

"When I was at school we learned about the Quakers, and the industrial side of Darlington, but didnt hear anything about her. She is the inspiration for the trip."

During the expedition, dubbed Running after Routledge, Mrs Stephen hopes to raise enough money to buy a BioMax filter for the island, which can turn sewage into recycled water.

Mrs Stephen said: "There are now around 6,000 people living on the island, with around 10,000 visitors a year, so there is a strain on their facilities."

To find out more about the expedition, or to sponsor Mrs Stephen visit longrunergy.com.

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