Online Exclusives Forward to a Friend

IN MANY WAYS, TORI MURDEN McCLURE IS A TYPICAL SUBARU OWNER: ADVENTUROUS, ATHLETIC AND FOND OF THE OUTDOORS. PLUS, SHE BOUGHT HER SUBARU IN LARGE PART BECAUSE OF THE VEHICLE’S SAFETY FEATURES.

Tori, however, is best known for her achievements in places a Subaru couldn’t take her. In December 1988, she became the first woman to climb Lewis Nunatuk, a mountain in the Antarctic. The following month, she became the first woman and the first American to ski to the geographic South Pole.

Then, on Dec. 3, 1999, Tori became the first woman to row solo across the Atlantic Ocean. Her rowboat, the American Pearl, is 23' long, made of plywood and fiberglass and weighs about 1,700 pounds fully loaded. She left the Canary Islands Sept. 13, 1999, and arrived in Guadeloupe 81 days and 3,333 miles later.

In 1998, Tori had attempted to row across the Atlantic, but Hurricane Danielle forced an end to that journey after 85 days. Why did she try the crossing again? “I have spent a lot of time with groups of young people telling them to chase their dreams,” she explained. “It wouldn’t be quite right if I didn’t do the same.”

Tori’s husband, Charles “Mac” McClure, believed she had been safer in a rowboat during a hurricane than in her previous car. After she returned from Guadeloupe, they bought a 2000 Subaru Forester S. “It has been the ideal vehicle with good fuel mileage and great safety features and usable space,” Mac says. “I can put a couple of racing shells and a bicycle on top of it and still haul my ocean boat,” Tori adds. The McClures use the Forester to take the American Pearl to a variety of public events and on trips to visit schoolchildren.

Tori has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Smith College, a master of divinity from Harvard University and a law degree from the University of Louisville. She has worked in homeless shelters and hospitals and for local government development agencies. For her master’s thesis, Tori wrote about the theology of adventure.

“For me the back-country adventure balances the far more important and challenging urban adventure,” she says. “The woods and ocean teach endurance, patience, fortitude and resourcefulness. These same traits are required to accomplish anything of merit in the “civilized’’ world.”

What advice would Tori offer someone contemplating a grueling physical and mental undertaking? “Do your homework,” she advises. ““There is no substitute for preparation. And when the going gets really tough, it helps to have a bunch of friends that you want to come home to in one piece.”