Outsiders: Leah Magowan

Posted: Sunday, March 19, 2006

Age: 37

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Background: Magowan was born in the suburbs of London, just 15 minutes on the tube train from Buckingham Palace. She left home at 15 and spent time on a kibbutz in Israel, where she got the bug for adventure.

Favorite outdoor activity: Kayaking. "It's a way to get into the wilderness on your own powers and pack a lot, and a silent mode of transportation," Magowan said.

Work: A kayak wilderness guide and the operations manager for JRC The Alaska Club in downtown Juneau.

Training Program: Total body. "You must work and train your upper body for kayaking," Magowan said. "But you must also work your cardiovascular endurance and lower body strength because they do nothing during the kayaking season and consequently become weak."

Inspiration: Her parents.

Accomplishments: Magowan has solo-paddled more than 500 miles and paddled a few thousand miles with others. "Just three years ago I took myself on a solo paddle the entire perimeter of Admiralty Island," Magowan said. "I guess I would say that was an accomplishment, but it didn't seem that hard, other than those few days of 10- 15-foot seas."

Challenges: Bears. Magowan has spent time with polar bears, black bears and brown bears. "The challenge comes from trying to stay out of their way, to allow them to do what bears do, which usually involves food and eating, Magowan said.

Near-death experiences: Magowan says she has had many, but "having been face-to-face with bears at night in my tent, it is hard to know what the right thing to do is sometimes," she said.

• Outsiders is a weekly profile in the Juneau Empire's Outdoors section.

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