Plastic Bottle SUP Marathon

Carlos and Carolyn paddled 12 marathons in 12 countries in Europe on a Plastic Bottle SUP

to raise awareness of plastic pollution in the ocean

Taking ACTION to bring about CHANGE

On World Ocean’s Day – 8th June 2017 Carlos and Carolyn became the first people in the world to paddle a marathon on a SUP (stand up paddle board) made of PLASTIC BOTTLES… to raise awareness of the issue of plastic pollution in the ocean – a global threat that has reached alarming proportions – by 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish (World Economic Forum) the equivalent of one rubbish-truck load every minute!

Carolyn, the founder of The Whale Company and her Brazilian partner, Carlos are passionate about sport and protecting the environment.  This summer they built their own paddle boards out of plastic bottles and paddled their way across Europe, completing 12 marathons in 12 different countries.

They completed their first marathon on 8th June, on La Dordogne River in France from Saint Julien de Lampon to Saint Cyprien. It was a spectacular route in stunning weather conditions and they completed the 26.2 mile/ 42.2 km course in 6 hours 45minutes (paddle-time) taking it in turns on their bottle board and the Explorace 12’6 SUP board kindly donated by Itiwit by Decathlon.  They went on to complete a total of 12 marathons in challenging conditions on rivers, reservoirs, lakes, the Atlantic, Mediterranean and Aegean Seas – in Spain, Portugal, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Greece, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Serbia, Bosnia & Herzegovia and Montenegro.  They averaged approximately 4km an hour on the bottle board (the bottles create drag which make the board significantly slower than an ordinary board).  The longest paddle-time was 12 1/2  hours through the Drina Canyon in Bosnia & Herzegovina (where they actually completed 60km) and the shortest was 6 hours 35 minutes on the Danube in Bulgaria.

Interactive map created by Wanda Bodnar






As teachers, environmentalists and sports lovers, both Carlos and Carolyn want to inspire children and adults to participate in SUP, a beautiful sport that allows people to experience the joy of walking on water, whilst connecting to nature. They believe SUP should be accessible to everyone, no matter what their background.

They want to bring people together to look after the environment. Sadly, when you paddle, it won’t be too long before you see plastic and other pollution floating in the water. The impact has a lasting effect and will make you want to do something about it.

Carlos De Sousa

Carlos is a qualified P.E teacher who specialises in working with children with Special Educational Needs (SEN). Born and bred in São Paulo, Brazil he has spent the last eleven years working in the UK.  It was in London, where Carlos first experienced paddle boarding and completed his first marathon on the Thames, after only four sessions. Creative and resourceful, he loves building things from recycled materials; after building his first paddle board out of plastic bottles, he came up with the idea to complete the SUP marathon expedition.

Carolyn Newton

Carolyn is a primary school teacher who set up The Whale Company in 2007 after learning that whales and other marine life were dying from plastic pollution in the ocean. She makes ‘Whalebags’ as alternatives to plastic bags and runs education art programs to teach children about plastic pollution. Carolyn is British but was born in South Africa and has lived all over the world; her adventurous spirit and passion for the ocean lead her to become a dive master and, most recently, a SUP adventurer.


We have developed an educational program running BOTTLE BOARDS workshops in schools and communities all over the world.

ITIWIT by Decathlon kindly donated one of the new 12’6 Explorace SUP boards to accompany the plastic bottle board on the marathon as a support board.  Carlos and Carolyn took it in turns to paddle the bottle board and the Itiwit board.