'Supergranny' Runs Around the World

Rosie Swale Pope, a 61-year-old grandmother from Tenby, Wales, has almost completed her round-the-world run.

Nearly five years and 45 pairs of shoes after she began, Pope has reached the last stretch of her 20,000-mile, record-breaking journey, which she is using to promote cancer awareness.

At 5 a.m. on June 18, Pope arrived by ferry at Scrabster, Scotland.

Back on home shores, she is commencing the final part of her run. She will finish in her hometown Tenby on August 25.

"I cannot believe I'm back in Great Britain," Pope told ABC News. "It's a dream come true."

Pope's Route

In a worldwide loop starting and finishing in Wales, Pope covered the maximum possible distance on land.

Her trip took her to Holland, Germany, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Russia, the United States, Canada, Greenland, Iceland and the Faroe Islands in the North Atlantic Ocean.

She was completely self-sufficient, carried all her possessions in a cart attached to her waist, and camped almost every night in a tiny tent by the side of the road.

Of the nations she visited, Pope was most emphatic about her love of Americans.

"I think Americans are wonderful," she said. "I have the greatest respect for them; they are very friendly, extremely hard-working and treated me as their own."

She shared a tale of American generosity: "The minus-65 degree Siberian temperatures had cracked all my fillings, but when I reached America a dentist fixed my teeth free of charge," she said. "I was extremely touched. I'm far too vain to arrive home toothless."

Trials and Tribulations

Freezing temperatures proved to be the toughest obstacle for Pope. She suffered from frostbite and contracted double pneumonia.

She said said she had "at least six near-death experiences," including being hit by a bus in Russia because she was disorientated as a result of the pneumonia.

Other ordeals included being accosted by an axe-wielding Siberian and being followed by a pack of wolves.

But the incident that stands out above all was in Alaska, where Pope endured temperatures of minus 62 degrees when traveling between the Berlin Sea and the Yukon River.

"I was afraid to go to sleep in case I didn't wake up," she said.

Amid the highs and lows of the past five years, her jovial nature has been put to the test. She talked about the difficulty of controlling her fear, and of the many times when she questioned herself.

"Being by myself has been very, very lonely," she said.

But her determination to succeed overrode all barriers. "You stay alive for the ones you love," she said.

And, perhaps, for the ones who loved Pope, who turned down no less than 29 marriage proposals during the adventure.

"I didn't take the proposals seriously; they were passing compliments," the grandmother from Wales said with a laugh, before adding that her suitors were probably after her cart.

As for the hullabaloo over her age, Pope shrugged it off, saying, "age is not a barrier, unless you're 90."

"I think I deserve credit for running much more than for my age," she said. "I am not a very good runner."

Nevertheless, she has run for more than 240 weeks, and is about to become the first person to sail and run around the world, although she has done both separately.

What's Next?

Pope began her trip on Oct. 2, 2003, shortly after losing her husband, Clive, to prostate cancer.

She said her husband's death inspired her to seize life and give something back.

Her worldwide run is in aid of the Prostate Cancer Charity, as well as the Siberian Railway Cancer Hospital at Omsk, the Kitezh Children's Community orphanage and the Nepal Trust.

"Rosie's aim is not just to raise money, but to increase the profile of cancer awareness, especially of the importance of early screening for cancer," her press agent, Sallyanne Sweeney, told ABC News.

Pope sees this trip as one of many.

The seasoned traveler sailed solo across the Atlantic in 1983, and even gave birth to her son, James, on a round-the-world sailing trip. James is now 37, two years younger than sister Eve. Pope has two grandchildren.

Undeterred by her lengthy time away — the trip took more than twice her prediction of two years — Pope evidently thrives on adventure. "Everyone says I look better than ever after my trip," she said.

In the coming months, Pope will spend some time in Wales with her family, while giving talks and writing a book about an adventure she deems as serious as going to Mount Everest.

In the meantime, she is happy to discuss her round-the-world run with anyone curious enough to ask. "It is interest and publicity that helps to save lives," she said.