After her failed trip, she went to work for Muhammad Ali, assisting him with efforts to create the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville. She felt knocked down, and she took Ali’s advice when he encouraged her to get back up and try again.
“I still get letters from people who are furious. ‘How could you go back?!’” she said. “‘Well, I just did.’”
The second time, McClure decided to opt for the “kinder, gentler” area of the Atlantic. She left the coast of Africa the same day as another woman wanting to set the same record, Dianna Hoff. Both were headed to the Caribbean with the current working with them.
“If you leave the coast of Africa in a barrel, you will get to the Caribbean,” McClure said.
For three months and 3,000 miles she rowed through rising mists, chased rainbows and followed the paths of shooting stars. She had visits from whales and dolphins and sea turtles, which would pass her, she said.
“It’s annoying being passed by a turtle,” she said.
And despite a warning she received of yet another hurricane in the Caribbean, McClure arrived safely and ahead of Hoff on Dec. 3, 1999. Her fiance was waiting, which perhaps made the loneliness of the past several months even more visceral.
“Probably half of you could (physically) row a boat across the ocean,” she said. “It’s the solitude that’s hard. … If you can spend three months alone in a rowboat, you are an introvert.”
McClure has a master’s in divinity from Harvard University, a juris doctorate from the University of Louisville Brandeis School of Law, and a master of fine arts in writing from Spalding.
“I’m a rower, so I do everything backwards,” McClure said. “I went to divinity school first and then I went to law school. Most people do it the other way around to atone for their sins.”