Tough Girl Podcast

The Tough Girl Podcast is all about inspiring and motivating YOU! I will be interviewing inspirational women from around the world, who’ve faced and overcome difficult challenges and situations, they will share their story, their knowledge and provide advice and essential tips for you to overcome your own personal challenges. Please check out the Tough Girl Challenges website - and follow on twitter @_TOUGH_GIRL
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Now displaying: March, 2020
Mar 31, 2020
Catherine Wallis is a 43 year old, mother of 3 who is a plus-size adventurer. 
In her later 30s after realising she leads a very boring life, Cathy wanted to make some changes. She signed up for her first 100k ultra and has been doing challenges and adventures ever since. 
Along the way Cathy has shared more of her journey via instagram (@plus_size_adventurer) and in the process has been inspiring other women to get out and see the world – regardless of their body type.
In March 2019 Cath took part in the Rat Race Adventure Sports Mongol 100, a 100 mile long, four-day challenge across a frozen lake in northern Mongolia, in which temperatures plunged to minus -25 degrees celsius. 
Cathy has also completed numerous other adventures from the; The Canberra 100, The Big Red Run, The Oman Desert MarathonHellespont Race (swimming from Europe to Asia) and Race to the Wreck in Nambia! 
During this episode Cathy shares more about her life and the different challenges she has undertaken, she shares what she has learned and gives you advice and top tips on how you can get more adventure in your life. 
Show notes
  • Leading a boring life and wanting to make a change
  • Growing up in the 1980s
  • Realising that she needed to make a change
  • The first step to making a change
  • 100km hike in a loop
  • Starting off by making some little changes
  • Being completely underprepared for the 100K walk
  • The key lesson from this experience 
  • Starting to do 1 big event per year
  • Doing The Big Red Run
  • “How hard could it be?”
  • Training for endurance walking 
  • Noticing improvements in your life
  • The first multi stage endurance race
  • Meeting the supportive ultra running community
  • Finding day 3 to be the hardest
  • Changing her mental mindset during a race
  • “How lucky I am I to be here on my own two feet”
  • Starting to share more of her journey on social media
  • Training to run across a frozen lake in Mongolia!
  • Dealing with extreme cold
  • Being able to adapt to different challenges
  • Confidence 
  • Deciding to swim from Europe to Asia!
  • Challenges in 2019 and plans for 2020
  • Rest and recovery and dealing with post adventure blues
  • Doing a multi stage running event with her 12 year old daughter in Kenya
  • Testing out a new challenge in Russia
  • Final words of advice 
Social Media
Website - 
Instagram @plus_size_adventurer  
Facebook @plussizeadventurer 
Mar 26, 2020
We first spoke with Wendy for the Tough Girl Podcast in August 2019, when she shared more about her life and dreams of skiing to the South Pole. 
In January 2020, Wendy completed that goal! 
Wendy became the 7th woman in the world to ski solo and unsupported, she was the 4th fastest and completed the challenge in 42 days, 16hrs, and 23mins, she took no rest days, had no showers, and skied 720 miles in total. 
The condition were brutal and hard, with temperatures dropping to -35. This was a journey 5 years in the making and shows what hard work, commitment and focus can achieve. 
Listen to Wendy on the Tough Girl Podcast Extra as she shares more about this extraordinary challenge. 
Show notes
  • Wendy introduces herself
  • 5 years of her life
  • Paying the final bill in USD
  • The final 2 weeks before the trip
  • Getting Christmas all sorted in October
  • Getting the plane over to Antarctica 
  • Getting to the start line
  • Going after the speed record
  • Women supporting women
  • 86kg of sled weight
  • The focus you need to have every single day
  • The routines and the consistent while out on the ice
  • Dealing with a snowstorm on day 3
  • Meeting Mollie Hughes on the ice!
  • The mental challenge of the expedition
  • Not wanting to get out of the tent in the morning
  • Dealing with the isolation in such an extreme environment
  • Feeling all the support from home
  • Missing her children
  • Counting down the days
  • Doing a power pose to the sun every morning
  • Realising that the record wouldn’t be broken
  • Giving everything, every single day
  • Seeing the South Pole for the first time
  • Listening to audio books
  • Skiing into the South Pole 
  • Getting home
  • knowing that she has changed from the experience
  • Overcoming self doubt
  • The joy of sitting in a chair
  • Working on the legacy of the expedition
  • Not being a big completed finisher
  • Quick Fire Questions
Social Media
Website - 
Instagram @betweensnowandsky
Twitter  @betweensnowsky
Mar 24, 2020
Melanie Vogel - Explorer, thru-hiking Canada’s Great Trail, 24,000km from the Atlantic Ocean, to the Arctic Ocean and then on to the Pacific Ocean.
Melanie, ‘Mel’ is coming up to her 3rd Year on The Great Trail in Canada.  
Mel 44, started her journey on June 2, 2017. She began in Cape Spear on the Avalon Peninsula near St. John’s, Newfoundland, the most Eastern point of the country, and will finish at Mile Zero in Victoria, on Vancouver Island in British Columbia—after going via the Arctic Ocean. Initially she started walking with a backpack, but she has now changed over to a cart which she pulls behind her. Mel has also gained a new furry companion on the trail, Malo her dog. 
Mel spent 11 months preparing for the trail; researching, saving money, getting her gear figured out and sorting out logistics. 
During this podcast Mel shares more about her early years, her passion for travel and why doing this journey was so important. She shares more about the challenges and frustrations as well as the joy and kindness of strangers. Mel will be the first women to complete the trail when she finishes. 
Show notes
  • Living and growing up in Germany
  • Deciding to move to Vancouver in Canada
  • Taking 2.5 years to go low budget travelling around South East Asia
  • Not wanting to come home
  • How her live had changed after travelling
  • Embracing a minimalist lifestyle
  • Feeling stuck and depressed
  • When she started to think about the Great Trail
  • Deciding to move to Toronto
  • Feeling fragile and lonely 
  • Making the decision in July 2016
  • Planning and preparing for the trip
  • Doing it all alone
  • Failing to get sponsorship at the start
  • How everything just fell into place
  • Being told she was crazy
  • Feeling insecure about the trip
  • Gaining new knowledge to take on this challenge
  • Having to constantly defend her decision to walk The Great Trail
  • Dealing with her own fears and doubts
  • Gaining new skills and gaining confidence
  • Human interactions on the trail
  • Funding the challenge
  • The physicality of the challenge
  • Carrying a pack or pulling a cart
  • Dealing with the extreme cold temperatures
  • Going for more comfort
  • Having a dog and the new challenges that came along
  • Needing a hug on the trail
  • Planning on going to the Arctic Ocean
  • Having many end dates on this journey 
  • Blogging while on the trail
  • Advice for other women on how to take on their own personal challenge
  • Learning patience 

Social Media

Website -

Twitter - @BetweenSunsets 

Instagram - @betweensunsets 

Mar 19, 2020

Sarah decided to tackle the Murray River in her home country of Australia, less than eight months after completing the Nile expedition.  

While there weren’t any hippos and crocs to deal, it wasn’t without its risks. There were snakes (and of course being Australian they were deadly), extreme weather conditions, sections with little water thanks to the drought and plenty more challenges to deal with. 

In 60 days Sarah covered 2,500km. 

The first four days were trekking to the source with a small team and then sticking within a stone’s throw until it was time to get in her kayak. 

For the next 56 days Sarah was solo. 

On 13th February 2020 Sarah reached the Southern Ocean and the end of the Murray River. It was another expedition that tested her mentally as much as physically. 

Listen to Sarah as she shares more about this challenge on the Tough Girl Podcast EXTRA!

Show notes

  • Sarah introduces herself
  • The Murray River Expedition
  • Source to Sea on each continent?
  • Wanting to do an adventure in Australia
  • The start of the River in the Snowy mountains 
  • How long to plan, train and prepare…
  • Trying to write a book
  • Starting the challenge on the 16th December 2019
  • Having to get a different type of kayak
  • Figuring out how to get to the source of the Murray River!
  • Dealing with low water levels
  • Reaching the start!
  • The physical side of the challenge
  • The challenge of not making progress
  • Dealing with frustration
  • Resupply via towns every 4 days or so
  • The highlights from the river
  • Getting the time to do some deep thinking 
  • Doing the challenge solo
  • Going back to uni?
  • Update on the book….fun?!
  • Having a bit of a break…
  • Thinking about an ocean row….
  • Time and money!
  • Heading to Nepal for the Annapurna base Camp Trek
  • Adventure blues?
  • Quick Fire Questions

Social Media

Website - 

Twitter - @Sarah_paddles  

Youtube @SarahDavis - 

For more info on Paddling the Nile -

Mar 17, 2020
Tiffany Coates has explored six continents by motorcycle, riding many hundreds of thousands of miles through countless countries during more than twenty years of adventurous journeys. Tiffany’s travels continue, both solo and through her work as a motorcycle tour guide, and her talks and presentations are always in demand at adventure travel events around the world.
Tiffany began her very first motorcycle trip with her best friend, riding two-up, reaching the ground on tip-toe on a quarter-tonne BMW called ‘Thelma’. 
Having recently passed their tests they had just two months of riding experience between them when they set off. Breaking bones, doing bad Abba impressions, and reading maps upside down, they wobbled out of the UK and across Europe all the way to India.
That first journey was supposed to last nine months, but once they reached Delhi, they found they couldn’t stop and so they ended up crossing four continents and staying on the road (or trail!) for two and a half years. Tiffany was well and truly bitten by the motorcycle travelling bug.
Show notes
  • Her passion for travel and her desire to see the world
  • How it all started
  • Deciding to go overland to India via motorbike
  • Learning to ride a motorbike in London 
  • Filtering through traffic
  • Crossing Europe
  • Crossing into Iran and what it was like
  • Crossing through Pakistan 
  • Reaching India
  • Deciding to carry on the adventure 
  • Heading down to South East Asia
  • Ending up in Sydney and running out of money
  • Working 3 jobs to save money for the trip home
  • Deciding to go home via Africa!
  • Being able to pick the bike up while on her own
  • Wanting to share the experiences with someone else
  • Reaching out to her friend Maggie
  • The challenges of riding through Africa
  • Making a career of giving up jobs
  • Being a frugal traveller and making money last a long time
  • The reason why behind the motorcycle journey’s
  • Solitude or loneliness 
  • Borneo!
  • What happens when something goes wrong
  • Dealing with sexism 
  • Handling stress
  • Ride with Tiffany 
  • Being a free lance tour guide 
  • A book?
  • WRWR - Women Riders World Relay 
  • Final words of advice 
Social Media
Facebook @TiffanyCoates 
Mar 12, 2020

Kate has cycled a distance greater than twice around the world at the Equator. On August 16th 2010 she became the first person to cycle an unbroken line from Africa’s most westerly to its most easterly points; from Pointe des Almadies, Senegal to Cape Hafun, Puntland, Somalia.

Cycling 22,040 km over ten months, Kate’s Breaking the Cycle in Africa Expedition was not only a physical quest but an odyssey to highlight the development needs and activities of war-torn and poverty-stricken nations.

Cycling through twenty countries, Kate aimed to find out what is being done to give a ‘leg up’ rather than a ‘hand out’ – to shine a positive light on the issues, cultures and geography of Africa.

Kate has two earlier world firsts under her belt – the Trans-Siberian Cycle Expedition (1993) when she became the first woman to cycle across the new Russia unsupported (aiding the children of Chernobyl), and the 25,000km Great Australian Cycle Expedition (2004/05) which included the first bicycle crossing of the Canning Stock Route by a woman.

In June 2019, Kate completed another original expedition when she became the first person to cycle the entire Namibian coastline, a 1621km sand cycling expedition from the mouth of the Kunene River on the Angolan border to the Orange River mouth on the South African border.

Kate’s latest challenge, Breaking the Cycle South Pole, will result in the first bicycle crossing of the Antarctic continent via the South Pole (2020).

The Breaking the Cycle education programme aims to help prepare our future leaders to make informed decisions to create a better world. Students across the globe can follow her preparatory activities and Antarctic expedition and partake in the Breaking the Cycle Education learning modules and lessons with the end goals of creating their own projects.

Show notes

  • A brief introduction to Kate and some of her previous challenges
  • Developing new bike technology
  • Setting up an education program
  • Doing too many expeditions in 2018
  • 2019 expeditions down the Namibian coastline
  • The current 2020 expedition - The Andes, the Altiplano & the Atacama (South America).
  • Being in Cusco ready to start the next expedition 
  • 2017 spending time in Canada
  • Experiencing the cold
  • Trying to fit everything in 
  • The planning for the expeditions
  • Paying for expeditions 
  • How the education piece was developed
  • When the logistics of the trip get really complicated
  • Training and maintaining fitness
  • Dealing with stress and mental health 
  • Plans for 2020
  • Getting an Honorary Doctorate Degree
  • Final words of advice


Social Media

Visit - and sign up to the newsletter! 

Twitter: @Leeming_Kate

Mar 10, 2020

In 2016 Sophie Rooney set off with the bold intention of becoming the first woman to run the length of Scandinavia. From Nordkapp (the northernmost point of mainland Europe) to the German border with Denmark (3000 km south) carrying everything she needed on her back.

Initially accompanied by a fellow trail runner, Sophie finds herself thrown into a solo adventure running through some of the most rugged scenery Europe has to offer.

Heading out to Norway, bears are top of Sophie’s worries. However, she is soon to find that these big grizzly creatures would be the least of her concerns. 

In the first month alone having to battle extreme fatigue, dehydration, relentless bog, hunger and eventually illness, the odds are quickly stacked against her. 

However, not willing to give in Sophie pushes on, often against the advice she has received from people back home. In doing so she finds herself on a journey of self-discovery which creates memories that will last a lifetime. 

Listen to Sophie on the Tough Girl Podcast as she shares more about this incredible journey. 

Show notes

  • Her olympic dream
  • Growing up with 6 siblings
  • Starting swimming from a young age
  • Wanting to do everything properly
  • How her swimming evolved into kayaking
  • Being inspired to do a big running challenge!
  • How the run challenge evolved 
  • Having 5 months to plan and prepare
  • Flying off on the 1st August
  • Having a good level of base fitness
  • What training looked like
  • Building up a kit list
  • Funding the trip 
  • Deciding how to share her story
  • Getting into blogging 
  • Struggling at the start
  • Being scared of being left on her own
  • Knowing that she could do it solo, but needing to be brave enough to make that decision
  • Deciding to switch to the road
  • Not feeling ready when starting the run
  • Dealing with the fears and how they never went away
  • Starting to get really really tired
  • Having to call a doctor 
  • Carry on or go home?
  • Building her own self confidence
  • Daily routines while out running
  • Turning her blog posts into a book in 2019
  • Don’t over think things
  • Supporting Mimi Andersons’s run across the USA
  • Dealing with the disappointment of failure 
  • Doing a relay race from Lands End to John O’Groats
  • Moving to the Lake District and plans for 2020

Social Media

Blog -  DaringMightyThings.Blog  

Facebook @thesophierooney 

Instagram @rooneysophi  

Twitter  @thesophierooney 

Book: Rundinavia: Running 3000km through Scandinavia 

Mar 5, 2020

Jacki Hill-Murphy MA, FRGS is an explorer, teacher, film maker and speaker and has spent the past few years exploring and filming some of the most inhospitable and remote places on earth. There are many reasons why she loves  being an explorer including gathering memorable experiences that last forever recorded on film and in writing, pushing herself to the limit and being loosed from her cultural moorings.

Recreating the Journeys of the Early Women Explorers Project 

Jacki has recreated the journeys of:

Isabella Godin, the first women down the Amazon in 1769. This was done by travelling down the River Bobonaza in Ecuador and onto the River Pastaza in Peru in a dugout canoe and investigating the real truth behind her story at each landmark.

Mary Kingsley, who climbed Mount Cameroon in Africa in 1894 by a new route and nearly perished from the shear enormity of the the undertaking.

Isabela Brookes, who died in the Llanganates in Ecuador in 1912. This was part of the ‘Search for Gold’ expedition that she organised with Ken Hames of BBC Beyond Boundaries as survival leader.

Isabella Bird, who crossed the Digar-La Pass in Ladakh on a yak in 1889. Jacki relived every aspect of Isabella’s book during her 150 mile trek which included finding the house she stayed in and having tea with the King of Ladakh.

Kate Marsden who undertook a gruelling journey by horse, sledge and cart thousands of miles across Siberia to take relief to the lepers in 1892. Jacki replicated her journey as closely as possible on buses, trains and boats.

Show notes

  • Where her passion for adventure comes from 
  • The different adventures she’s done since we last spoke
  • The Amazon expedition
  • Why you should announce your plans and share it with the world
  • Figuring out how to make the journey happen
  • Finding the one person who could get her down the river safely
  • Funding the adventure 
  • Liking to create opportunities for others
  • The safety challenges of going to such remote places
  • The impact of oil and logging on local tribes in the jungle
  • The risks and dealing with fear
  • Meeting the other members of the team
  • Day to day life
  • Figuring out the food
  • The anti climax at the end of the journey
  • Reflecting back on 2017
  • Moving house from the city to the countryside
  • 2018 - The Lost Inca Trail
  • The challenges of the jungle
  • Following a 500 year old map…
  • Leading a team of all women
  • Walking the length of the River Thames
  • Under the Sky Events
  • Quick Fire Questions
  • Heading to Nigeria
  • The next dream - Sir Samuel and Lady Florence Baker Historical Trail (Sudan-Uganda) 
  • Final words of advice to encourage you to explore the world!

Social Media

Website - 

Twitter:  @jackihillmurphy  

Director of Under The Sky CIC 


Mar 3, 2020

Sonya is a 42 year old Canadian who is currently hiking across Canada on the longest multi-use recreational trail in the world with her partner Sean. 

The 24,000 km long Great Trail stretches from Cape Spear, Newfoundland to Victoria, British Columbia, and from Edmonton, Alberta to Tuktoyaktuk, Northwest Territories. 

They began their journey in Cape Spear, Newfoundland on 1 June 2019 and hiked just over 3,000 km to Riviere-du-Loup, Quebec before the winter arrived.  They will head back to the trail in spring, and estimate they will complete their journey in fall of 2022.

Sonya's love of hiking, camping, and the outdoors began as child during multiple school trips into the wilderness.  She built on these experiences in university, where she studied Conservation Biology and Forestry, and spent as much time as possible outside, doing field research on forest songbirds. 

Her love of long-distance hiking began with Ontario's 900 km long Bruce Trail, and grew when she hiked the 800 km Camino Frances in Spain with Sean in 2016. 

Together Sonya and Sean hiked across France on the Via Podiensis (GR 65) in 2017, and along Newfoundland's East Coast Trail in 2018.  After that they decided to make hiking a more central part of their lives, and after selling the house, donating most of their possessions, and leaving behind Sonya's desk job, they did a warm-up hike along the Camino Portuguese in early 2019 and then began their adventure on the Great Trail.

As they hike, their goal is to share positive images and stories of their travels across Canada to showcase the amazing and diverse people, places, history, and landscapes that make up this country. 

By sharing their passion for birds, hiking, and nature in person, on their blog, and through social media they hope to inspire people of all ages and backgrounds, but especially youth, to get outside, explore, and connect to nature through birding and Citizen Science.

Show notes

  • Who is Sonya
  • Growing up in Canada
  • Getting into hiking and nature
  • The Bruce Trail, Canada
  • Accommodation on the Bruce Trail
  • Walking the Camino’s in Europe
  • GR65
  • Her love of hiking
  • The Great Trail in Canada - 24,000 km
  • Their reasons for walking the Great Trail
  • Planning to hike the trail
  • How long would it take?
  • Starting in the East
  • Breaking it down into sections
  • Time and money
  • Walking for a cause
  • Having a passion for birds
  • Selling their home
  • Being ready for a change
  • The reactions of friends and family
  • Concerns before the start
  • Dealing with Hurricane Dorian
  • Problem solving while on the trail
  • Day to day life on the trail
  • The highlights so far
  • Bird watching on the trail
  • Getting fit for the trail
  • Taking it slower at the start
  • Budgets and accommodation
  • Stating section 2 in March 2020
  • What happens during the winter months
  • Advice and tips for you to undertake your own challenges
  • Why you need to try things out first

Social Media

Website: (has links to blogs for our hikes across Canada, the Camino Frances, Via Podiensis, and East Coast Trail) 

Facebook: @WalkWithUsAcrossCanada

Twitter: @TransCanadaWalk