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"We shall not cease from exploration And the end of all our exploring
|Sector No Limits® Team Athlete Victoria Murden:
The first question everyone asks is "Why?"
"As I said to Gerard dAboville (a Sector No Limits Team legend who rowed solo across two oceans) I am the acorn that hopes to become the oak. I am a caterpillar who wants to fly. In other attempts to reach beyond my perceived limitations, whether intellectual or physical, I have never failed to be enriched. If I succeed in rowing solo, the wrong way across the Atlantic, imagine how much more Ill be able to accomplish when I return to my desk."
Victoria E. Tori, known to friends as Tori, embodies the pure spirit of "No Limits" with unlikely ease. In Tori Murden, we uncover a rare athlete who combines a natural sense of humility with an unending desire for personal challenge. Just as unusual is Toris aspiration to transform her singular triumphs into tools, perhaps opening doors so that others in need might benefit and expand their own horizons.
Meet American rower and Sector No Limits® Team member Tori Murden. Born on Mar. 6, 1963, Tori has been active in sports all her life as an athlete and coach. Her family moved often when Tori was young, and sports helped her feel at ease and fit in. She played college basketball and began rowing competitively at age 19.
Besides organized sports, Tori has long been drawn to Mother Natures playing field. "I have this need to balance my urban adventure with rural adventure," says Tori. She is an accomplished climber, having summited Alaskas Mount Silverthrone, Mount Kenya in Africa and Antarcticas Lewis Nunatuk the first-ever summit by a woman. Tori has also completed numerous ice climbing and kayaking expeditions.
And in 1988, during her senior year at Harvard, Tori took three months off between semesters to join the International South Pole Overland Expedition. As part of a nine-member team, Tori skied cross-country 750 miles across Antarctica to the geographic South Pole and became the first American to accomplish the feat.
In 1991, Tori dedicated herself to intensive training, vying for a spot in single sculls on the 1992 Olympic Rowing Team. On her drive to Camden, N.J. for the trials, Tori was injured in a car accident. Despite being shaken and scrambling to replace her damaged boat, Tori competed in the trials.
Tori admitted to herself that with each race, the effects of the car accident were taking a toll on her performance (following the tryout, Tori discovered she had suffered two broken ribs and a chipped left tibia). At the same time, Tori learned that fellow rower Michelle Knox had broken the riggers (riggers hold the sculls oars in place) on her scull and would be forced to drop out.
Tori chose to forfeit her own chance to compete in the Olympics and donate her equipment to Knox. "[Knox] is one of the finest single scullers in the country," Tori said at the time. "The instant I handed [Knox] my riggers, I thought, This is how it is supposed to be. This is why I am here. This is why I trained all that time, so that I could actually be here to do something good for somebody else," said Tori. Knox placed second in the final race that day and went on to compete in the 1992 Summer Games in Barcelona.
Toris thirst for competitive rowing had not yet been quenched. Last year, she teamed up with high school friend and experienced kayaker Louise Graff to compete in the Atlantic Rowing Race a 3,000 mile, East to West trans-Atlantic crossing from the Canary Islands to Barbados.
The Murden-Graff team was one of 33 teams entered the sole American entry, and the only all-female crew.
Tori assembled a team of volunteers to build the American Pearl, and another friend created the American Pearl Web site. The multi-purpose Web site allowed rowing enthusiasts and all of Louisville to follow the teams progress. The site also served as a fundraising mechanism for the non-profit Community Foundation of Louisville, and an educational tool for Louisville-area high school students.
Illness and technical problems prevented Tori and Louise from finishing the Atlantic Rowing Race. At the time, Tori already had thoughts of attempting another Atlantic row this time solo, and from West to East, continent to continent. The West to East route is known as the "wrong way" because of rough seas, contrary winds and prevailing weather in the North Atlantic. Only five rowers all men have completed the West to East crossing. If Tori succeeds, shell become the first American and first woman to row across an ocean solo and unsupported.
Tori at Work
Tori dedicates her life experience, skills and talents to working in areas that are challenging and close to her heart and personal philosophy. The rewards have proved equal to the tasks.
Following high school in Louisville, Tori received a bachelors degree from Smith College and a masters degree in divinity from Harvard University. While attending Harvard in Boston, Tori served as a counselor and chaplain at Boston City Hospital, and also worked on staff at a homeless services center. Tori counts the field work as one of the most difficult yet rewarding experiences she has had.
Tori returned to Louisville and continued working in areas of community service and development. "This will not be a great community for any of us if its not a reasonably good community for all of us," Tori says, and local government plays a pivotal role.
From 1992 to 1994, Tori worked as a project coordinator for public policy in the Louisville Mayors office. And since November 1994, she has served as project administrator for the Louisville Development Authoritys Empowerment Zone Project. Tori is responsible for planning and implementing multimillion dollar programs designed to revitalize poor and distressed neighborhoods. Tori is on leave from her job with the Louisville Development Authority to attempt her trans-Atlantic row.
Somehow, Tori has tapped into personal reserves and makes time to volunteer for several organizations, make public speeches and coach competitive rowing. She also earned a Law degree from the University of Louisville, and was admitted to the Kentucky bar in October 1995.
A Sea of Solitude
Toris thoughts on facing three to four months alone at sea:
"I am not sure I will ever be alone too many statesmen, poets and scholars running around in my head, not to mention friends who will be with me in spirit. I am looking forward to the solitude, because it brings with it a sense of freedom. While I am rowing under the expanse of the sky, I can explore the equally vast expanse of ideas."
"In thinking of solitude, I consider Platos parable of the cave. The escape from the cave is a solitary act. It is difficult if not impossible to step out of society with another person at your side.
But in leaving society leaving the cave ones vision improves. It is in solitude that I remember the difference between the shadows on the wall (make money, drive a nice car) and flesh and bone reality (the sum of what we are is more than what we own and what we earn). It is not enough to leave the cave one must return to make a difference. Otherwise, whats the point? I could run wild, leaping the fences that limit me living the No Limits philosophy, but if I do not return to open a few gates in the fences for others, I will have missed the meaning of solitude."
"Apart from the times I will be terrified out of my wits, I imagine I will find the solitude reviving. I once wrote about the rebirth of compassion that comes from solitude. It is solitude that reminds me of the importance of fellowship."
Ready to Take On the Atlantic
Over the last several months, Tori has spent much of her time in Louisville working out, training on the Louisville banks of the Ohio River and preparing the SECTOR NO LIMITS American Pearl for her 3,600-mile endeavor.
"While I subscribe to the notion that limits are for the faint-hearted, the feeble-minded or those lacking in spirit, Sector Athletes form the pinnacle of those who push heart, mind and soul to the far edges of the possible. Whether I will find my own place on this summit remains to be seen," says Tori.