After more than four centuries, Sir Francis Drake returns to run in the Newport Marathon to prove he was here first in 1579!
A 49-year-old man is traveling from London, England, to Oregon to compete in the Newport Marathon on May 30th dressed as Sir Francis Drake. Bob Ward Junior will be running in the costume of the 16th century explorer to raise support for his father’s charity, the Drake in Oregon Society. Bob Ward Senior set up the Society in to uncover evidence that Sir Francis Drake landed at Whale Cove, Lincoln County, in 1579 during his voyage around the world.
Controversy has surrounded the site of Drake’s anchorage because the official log of his voyage was never made public, and there are conflicting accounts of whether he landed in California or Oregon.
Bob Senior has been carrying out research for 30 years after realizing that Whale Cove was the most likely location of Drake’s one-month stay before he and his crew set sail across the Pacific on the way back to England. Drake claimed the landing site for Queen Elizabeth the First, effectively establishing it as the first outpost of the British Empire.
The Drake in Oregon Society is currently funding an investigation in the Salmon River where one of Drake’s ships may have sunk. The Society’s activities have also been highlighted in an exhibition at the North Lincoln County Historical Museum. It will be Bob Junior’s first marathon. He lives in London where he is employed at the London School of Economics and Political Science. Bob Junior decided to run in this year’s Newport Marathon after being challenged by some of his brothers during a family reunion in London last Christmas. Two of his brothers, Alex, 48, and Murphy, 37, will also be taking part in the marathon.
Bob Junior has been training since January, and hopes to complete the marathon in less than five hours. His running outfit is based on the clothes worn by English noblemen during the reign of Queen Elizabeth the First. He said: “I decided to run as Sir Francis Drake to generate support for my father’s non-profit organization, which is carrying out very important research to try to ensure Whale Cove is recognized as a site of outstanding historical significance. “It will be 436 years since Sir Francis Drake stepped ashore in Lincoln County and I hope to capture some of his spirit of adventure when I try to complete my first marathon in Newport.
“The race director for the marathon has told me that I might be the first runner who has competed in fancy dress. I have been wearing the costume and hat during some of my training runs to make sure it is not uncomfortable. I am also growing a beard to try to match Drake’s appearance. “I am expecting the marathon to be very challenging, but it will be worth it if I stimulate the curiosity of spectators about the connection between Sir Francis Drake and Lincoln County. It is more than four centuries since Drake set foot here during his epic voyage around the world, and so recognition of the historical importance of this place as the Lost Harbor is long overdue. “I hope some spectators may even be inspired to read about my father’s work on Drake in Oregon Society website, and perhaps persuaded to donate to it support efforts to discover more evidence about the Lost Harbor.”
“People can sponsor Bob’s run via the www.drakeinoregon.com web site (click here) See the intro at the bottom of the home page and follow the links to make a donation.”
Bob Ward Senior said: “I am really pleased that Bob wants to make this effort to help us complete our quest for hard evidence of Drake’s visit to Lincoln County, but I am a little worried that the costume may make the difficult task of completing his first marathon even harder. Hopefully people will take the opportunity of sponsoring his run and so help us to re-write this internationally important piece of local history.”