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: 2022
Dec 27, 2022
Adventure & endurance enthusiast, with a fondness for Type 2 Fun. Ski instructor and mountain leader. 
Happiest when outside, particularly in the mountains! 
Challenges include cycling LEJOG, NC500 and Tour du Mont Blanc, both ski-touring and running the Haute Route from Chamonix to Zermatt, and climbing Mont Blanc.
In 2018 Emily completed Project 282: a 4-month self-propelled round of Scotland's 282 Munros (mountains above 3000ft) which involved cycling 2,600km, walking 2,200km on foot and crossing 3 waterways in a kayak. The total elevation gain was over 150,000m – all of this was self-supported.
New episodes of the Tough Girl Podcast go live every Tuesday at 7am UK time - Subscribe so you don’t miss out. 
Support the mission to increase the amount of female role models in the media especially in relation to adventure and physical challenges. Visit .Thank you.
Show notes
  • Who is Emily 
  • Being an adventure endurance junkie
  • Her 2 buzz words for happiness are ‘Outdoors and Active”
  • Being on the support crew - Climate Relay from Scotland to Egypt 
  • What Emily was like as a little girl
  • Breaking her arm and getting into running
  • Doing her first marathon at 17 years old
  • Running the Athens Marathon 2004 
  • Transitioning from marathons to ultra running
  • Preferring to run the longer distances
  • Running the Dublin Marathon 2008 
  • Going through a phase of running marathons
  • Working in London and making some big changes
  • Not feeling fulfilled and wanting to take some time off
  • Becoming a ski instructor and doing a ski season in the Alps
  • Project 282 Munro Challenge - where the idea came from and what was involved
  • A 4-month self-propelled, continuous trip from North to South Scotland
  • Being unsupported and the challenges 
  • The logistics of the challenge and putting a plan in place
  • Being fully committed to the challenge
  • The final few Munros 
  • Fuelling and nutrition while climbing big mountains 
  • Training programs?
  • Feeling rested and getting a PB in the marathon distance
  • Post adventure blues after the challenge
  • Struggling with a lack of direction 
  • Spending approx £4k on Project 282
  • Plans for 2023
  • Connect with Emily 
  • Final words of advice
  • Making yourself commit and taking the first step
  • Cycling from Lands End to John O’Groats 
Social Media
Dec 20, 2022
Shilpa in her own words:
“I'm a British Indian gal who is about to hit 60 and feel that I am really only just starting to explore the wonderful joy of outdoor adventures. 
I am happiest when I'm on the water on my paddle board, or cycling along a canal, or walking in the beautiful English countryside, or body boarding in Cornwall. 
I leaned to swim in my late 40’s and this just opened up a whole new world of paddle sports. 
My biggest personal adventure was this summer (2022) when I paddle boarded on a SUP board from London to Nottinghamshire, some 165 miles (and 144 locks) along the vertical length of the amazing Grand Union Canal. 
This was such a joyful journey and revealed so much about myself that I had not been aware of - particularly how much I love to meet new people and how caring and kind strangers are. 
Since then I have been exploring SUP journeys where I carry my camping kit on my SUP board and I absolutely love doing this. 
I am extremely grateful to British Canoeing who accepted me as a #ShePaddles Ambassador and this really helped me to go out of my comfort zone and explore new adventures.”
New episodes of the Tough Girl Podcast go live every Tuesday at 7am UK time - Subscribe so you don’t miss out. 
To support the mission to increase the amount of female role models in the media. Sign up as a Patron - Thank you. 
Show Notes
  • Who is Shilpa
  • More about her friends and family
  • What Shilpa was like as a little girl
  • Growing up in Africa until 8 years old
  • Moving to the UK and the culture shock
  • Finding a different type of entertainment
  • Not having dreams or aspirations as a young girl
  • Leaving school to study economics and accounting at University 
  • Retraining as a town planner
  • Getting back into the outdoors and sports
  • Meeting up with friends to go for walks in the local area
  • Setting up a local walking group which has been going for over 20 years
  • Building up her walking gear and kit
  • Learning to swim in her late 40s
  • Not having the opportunities when she was younger
  • Learning how to cycle 
  • Going to adult only swimming classes to get coaching
  • Doing wild swimming for the first time 
  • Getting into kayaking and water sports
  • Her first experience on a paddle board
  • Why she prefers paddle boarding
  • Her adventure in Summer 2022
  • Becoming a British Canoeing #ShePaddles Ambassador 
  • Wanting to encourage more women to try water sports
  • Deciding to do a long distance trip on the Grand Union Canal 
  • Knowing it was the right time to do the challenge
  • Being honest with herself of what she could and couldn’t do 
  • Doing it at her pace 
  • The planning and preparation for the journey 
  • Researching the route and figuring out distances and accommodation
  • The Pirate Castle - boating and outdoor activities charity on the Regent's Canal in the heart of Camden Town, London 
  • Struggling with her back and recovering from injury
  • Being helped and supported along the way
  • The kindness of strangers and when strangers become friends 
  • Joining a gym and working out with a personal trainer
  • Focusing on getting strong
  • Dealing with injury
  • Cupping 
  • Reflecting back on the journey 
  • Feeling more confident
  • Plans for 2023
  • Learning new skills and becoming qualified as a coach
  • Becoming a She Paddles Club
  • How to connect with Shilpa
  • Final words of advice - “you'll never know if you love it or not until you try it”
Social Media
Instagram @sup.loving.shilpa 
Dec 15, 2022
Marta in her own words:
“My name is Marta and I come from a small town in Poland called Pila. Growing up I was raised by a single mum; I had a good but humble upbringing, I always loved the outdoors and hanging out with my friends.
My childhood in Poland was a happy time in my life, but after my first trip to London as a teenager it all changed. I realised very quickly that living in Poland wasn’t for me anymore; I had big dreams and ambitions that I knew I couldn’t pursue in my hometown. I spent one more year living in Poland, learning English and saving ready to finally enter the ‘big world’… then I moved to London.
Taking this chance opened up so many opportunities for me. I got a good degree, good job, I travelled the world and had some awesome adventures whilst doing so, that I’ve decided to share them here. So, here I am, writing my blog, hoping to inspire and invite you on my journey.
My love for travelling has grown immensely over the years. The more countries I saw, the more countries I wanted to see. Along the way, my style of travelling changed; I had even bigger accomplishments on my agenda. So I set myself two goals: to climb to the highest peak on each continent, the challenge known as 7 Summits; and to reach the highest peak of each European country, which I call The Crown of Europe.
Out of the 7 Summits, I’ve already completed 5 (the highest peak in Europe, Africa, North and South America, Antarctica) and I am getting ready to attempt another one later this year… Everest. I am extremely excited about it as this is also the last continent I still haven’t seen.
The second goal is to reach the highest peak of each European country, which I call The Crown of Europe  There are 50 countries but 48 peaks and I have already completed 17 of them. However, this leaves plenty of adventure still ahead…”
*This episode was recorded in 20th January 2022 - Marta summited Everest 6.25am on May 15th, 2022.
New episodes of the Tough Girl Podcast go live every Tuesday at 7am UK time - Subscribe so you don’t miss out. 
Support the mission to increase the amount of female role models in the media especially in relation to adventure and physical challenges. Visit Thank you.
Show notes
  • Who is Marta
  • Moving to the UK from Poland 17 years ago
  • Her goal to climb the 7 summits 
  • Wanting to climb the highest peak in each European Country 
  • Growing up in Poland and what her early years were like
  • Not being close to the mountains as a child
  • Being inspired by her father who was very outdoorsy
  • Getting use to the cold weather 
  • Her passion for travel
  • Wanting more from travel and wanting to combine it with adventure 
  • Setting herself 2 BIG goals 
  • The Crown of Europe of Challenge
  • Climbing Kilimanjaro first 
  • Climbing Mt. Blanc and then Elbrus.
  • Climbing Aconcagua in South America
  • Climbing Denali in North America which was the toughest climb she’s done.
  • Go to Antarctica to climb Vincent and why it was her favourite climb so far
  • Taking on Everest in April 2022
  • Leaving Carstensz Pyramid until the end due to the political situation and the costs involved. 
  • Costs of climbing mountains and how she’s paying for the adventures 
  • Going to Everest in 2021 and having her trip cancelled
  • Funding her challenges
  • Her fear of dying while in the mountains
  • Dealing with the downtime and how she handled the waiting. 
  • Handling her period while in the mountains
  • Using wet wipes to shower
  • Stop taking the pill when you are at high altitude as it thickens your blood
  • Wearing a nappy on the summit push?
  • Trying things out in advance
  • Dealing with stress diarrhea while climbing 
  • The mental side of the challenge 
  • Dealing with stress and anxiety 
  • How you can change your thinking 
  • Focusing on what she can control 
  • Visiting the Altitude Centre in London 
  • Getting physically strong and what training looks like this year
  • Developing her own training plan and being flexible with what it looks like
  • Stretching for recovery and eating well
  • Being anaemic and feeling tired
  • Feeling more relaxed and knowing what to expect this time around
  • Being guided by Nirmal Purja team 
  • Elite Expeditions 
  • Being inspired by Martyna Wojciechowska 
  • How you can follow Marta
  • Final words of advice and wisdom 
  • Being a normal person and making the decision to go for it. 
Social Media
Instagram: @tolivetotravel 
Facebook: @tolivetotravel 
Twitter: @tolivetotravel 
Dec 13, 2022
Tara in her own words:
“I don’t really think of myself as tough. I’ve always loved adventures. I did my first expedition when I was 18 and it ignited a passion. I am now a firefighter. I’ve represented Australia in my slightly crazy sport of surf boat rowing at the age of 47 and I cycled 5000 km’s unsupported across Australia in 2021, yet I often think that the toughest challenges of my life have not been physical. 
Rather it has been the journey to heal the relationship with myself after a traumatic childhood that has been the toughest challenge I have undertaken.
Writing my book ‘Standing on my Brothers Shoulders – making peace with grief and suicide’ was a huge part of that journey. It challenged me in every way possible but was also one of my greatest teachers and proudest achievements. 
Although I am a physiotherapist and firefighter, my book led me to work in the field of mental health and wellbeing. I am now nearing the end of a PhD exploring the impact of suicide on firefighters.
In 2017, I was a finalist in the Rotary Inspirational woman of the year awards and in January 2022, as part of the Australia Day Honours, I was awarded the Australian Fire Service Medal (AFSM), which recognises distinguished service by an Australian Fire Service member for my work supporting suicide prevention and mental health of firefighters.
I think life is an adventure and it can take many forms!”
New episodes of the Tough Girl Podcast go live every Tuesday at 7am UK time - Subscribe so you don’t miss out. 
Support the mission to increase the amount of female role models in the media especially in relation to adventure and physical challenges. Visit and pledge your support. Thank you.
Show notes
  • Who is Tara
  • Her different jobs and interests
  • Moving to Sydney in the mid 1990s
  • Having a thirst for adventures
  • Deciding to join Fire & Rescue in 2005
  • Going on her own healing journey 
  • Losing her mother to cancer at 13
  • Losing her brother to suicide at 17
  • Struggling to deal with the loss
  • Writing her life story down 
  • Moving into the mental health space
  • In 2018 starting her PHD looking at the impact of suicide on firefighters
  • Making the decision to move to Australia 
  • What it was like joining the fire service 17 years ago
  • Having mixed memories and feeling the need to prove herself to the men
  • Starting her healing journey in her early 30s and what it looked like
  • Starting to have compassion for herself
  • How the outdoors have helped with her recovery
  • Going on an expedition to Zimbabwe in 1989 and how everything changed
  • Realising that she could be happy again
  • Deciding to cycle across Australia 
  • Cycling with Sarah Davis
  • Cycling from the most Western point of Australia over to Byron Bay the most easterly point. 
  • Being head of communication for the expedition
  • The challenges of cycling on the roads with the road-trains
  • Fears and concerns before the challenge
  • How her perceptions of risk and adventure have changed
  • Is the risk too much?
  • Why it was such a rewarding experience 
  • Raising money for Lifeline in Australia 
  • Adjusting back to normal life
  • Raising awareness about mental health and suicide prevention
  • Finding the right people who can hear you
  • The power of writing and journaling and getting your feelings out of your body
  • Doing her PHD and how it came about
  • Applying for a Churchill Fellowship 
  • Making a contribution to the world and making it a better place
  • Wanting to write another book - with a focus on the underlying concepts of her PHD
  • How we can use our experiences in live to grow and become better versions of ourself.
  • Dealing with injury and not being able to any sports that she loves
  • Letting go of the identify of being an athlete and a firefighter
  • Needing to reflect inwards and spending time on meditation
  • How you can connect with Tara
  • Final words of advice - Stay curious, with compassion for yourself.
  • “Be driven by your passions and not your fears” 
Social Media
Instagram: @tarajlal
Facebook: Tara J Lal 
Twitter: @tarajlal 
YouTube: Tara J Lal 
Support Resources
Australia: LifeLine 
You are not alone. We're here to listen. Every 30 seconds, a person in Australia reaches out to Lifeline for help.
We are a national charity providing all Australians experiencing emotional distress with access to 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention services. We exist so that no person in Australia has to face their darkest moments alone.
Website - 
Call 13 11 14 
UK:  Samaritans
Whatever you're going through, a Samaritan will face it with you. We're here 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Call Free - 116 123 
America: 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline 
The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline is a national network of local crisis centers that provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in the United States. We're committed to improving crisis services and advancing suicide prevention by empowering individuals, advancing professional best practices, and building awareness.
Call 988 - Please note, the previous 1-800-273-TALK (8255) number will continue to function indefinitely.
Website -
Dec 8, 2022
Lucy is attempting to become the first woman to walk the length of the world. She began at the bottom of Argentina in February 2017 and will cross 15 countries to reach the highest point of Northern America. She will travel only by foot, or when the terrain is impassable by kayak or swimming.
In 2019, Lucy became the first woman to have hiked the length of South America (from Argentina to Colombia). 
Due to the pandemic, Lucy needed to pause her expedition and returned home to Australia in 2020 where she has been waiting for the travel bans and restrictions to lift. 
In December 2022 Lucy will be flying back out to Columbia to meet up with her beloved dog Wombat - she will then continue on her way. 
During this episode we catch up with Lucy to see what life has been like since we last spoke to her. Lucy shares more about the heartbreak of leaving Wombat behind when she needed to return to Australia. She fills us in on what she's been up to while her journey has been on hold.  She shares more about the planning and preparation required to get back to Columbia to start walking again.
We first spoke with Lucy on Jun 25, 2019 - Her Goal to be the first women to walk the length of the Earth! 


Lucy's career started with a science degree and specialisation in communications. She has been the chair of National Science Week NT, and worked extensively in aboriginal health research until moving to Geoscience Australia in 1016. She is passionate about culture and storytelling and aspires to become an ethnographic writer.
Lucy has been awarded competitive grants for her work from the Australian Geographic society and The North Face, and has been nominated for an OAM from the Australian Government in recognition of her contribution to the outdoor industry.
New episodes of the Tough Girl Podcast go live every Tuesday at 7am UK time - Subscribe so you don’t miss out. 
To support the mission to increase the amount of female role models in the media. Sign up as a Patron - Thank you. 
Show Notes
  • Who is Lucy
  • Her goal to be the first woman to walk the length of the world
  • Returning back to Australia in 2020
  • Speaking to Lucy in Year 2 of her journey when she had just crossed into Peru
  • Being water poisoned 
  • Was she still enjoying the journey 
  • Meeting her family in Peru
  • Having a shift in her attitude
  • Leaving behind the desert and the heat and transitioning into the mountains
  • The challenges of the desert and her strategy for getting through it
  • Finding joy again
  • Being followed by the police while walking on the highway
  • How 2020 unfolded while walking through Ecuador
  • Living the life she was meant to be living
  • Crossing the border into Columbia 
  • Leaving Wombat with a friend 
  • Feeling adrift for the past 2 years 
  • Not wanting to talk about Wombat
  • Transitioning back to life in Australia 
  • Being away for 3 years and connecting with old friends and family
  • Losing a friend to suicide
  • The emotional journey
  • Running out of money and needing to get a job 
  • Going back to work
  • Getting ready to head back out to Columbia 
  • The planning and preparation before heading back
  • Her dream of wanting to become an ethnographic writer in the future
  • Wanting to produce more content in YouTube
  • Saying goodbye to friends and family 
  • The plans for the first few weeks
  • Being able to get a 2 year visa for Columbia
  • Making a decision about the route through Columbia 
  • How can you support Lucy while out on the road
  • Buy audio books for Lucy 
  • Having a library membership with Borrow Box Library App 
  • Book recommendations: A Gentleman in Moscow 
  • What Lucy is reading
  • How you can connect with Lucy
  • Final words of advice
Social Media
Instagram: @tanglesandtail 
Twitter: @tanglesandtail 
Dec 6, 2022
Annijke (she/her) is a new adaptive mountain biker and athlete. 
In 2021, Annijke sustained a spinal cord injury in a horrible downhill mountain biking accident. 
In 2022, Annijke is back to sport and is learning how to live as a full time wheelchair user. 
Outside of loving mountain biking and being outdoors, Annijke also is passionate about making the outdoors and mountain biking a safe space for all.
New episodes of the Tough Girl Podcast go live every Tuesday at 7am UK time - Subscribe so you don’t miss out. 
To support the mission to increase the amount of female role models in the media. Sign up as a Patron - Thank you. 
Show Notes
  • Who is Annijke
  • Starting mountain biking in 2019
  • Learning how to live as a full time wheelchair user
  • Returning to sport and mountain biking
  • What Annijke was like as little girl 
  • Starting ballet at 3 years old
  • Having a keen interest for the arts
  • Starting to interact with the natural world
  • Being exposed to the outdoors through her Girl Scouts Troop 
  • Being adopted at 2 months old 
  • Going to college and taking a step back from dance 
  • Wanting to try new things in the outdoors
  • Studying environmental studies with a concentration on political science 
  • Getting into mountain biking 
  • Moving to Santa Fe, New Mexico
  • Buying her first bike - DiamondBack HardTail 
  • Being intimidated by other mountain bikers
  • Falling in love with the sport and why she loves it
  • Enjoying the community and being supported
  • Riding a BowHead Reach Bike - full suspension, all-electric off-road adaptive trike that has two wheels in front, and one in back
  • 2022 - Getting back to sport and why it’s been so fulfilling 
  • The incredible amount of support through her community
  • Being a sponsored Athlete - with PEARL iZUMi 
  • High Fives Foundation
  • Kootenay Adaptive Sport Association  Adaptive Mountain Biking advocacy, trails, programming and rentals in British Columbia and beyond. 
  • Bike Instructor Certification Program (BICP) 
  • What does advocacy look like in this space
  • Being intentional about what she does 
  • “I want to be on an adaptive mountain bike and this is what I want my life to look like”
  • Going after a Para FKT on the White Rim Trail in Oct 2022 
  • Josie Fouts - Mad scientist on a mission to single-handedly save the world with cycling! IG: @ms.stubbornness 
  • National Abilities Centre
  • Outride Foundation 
  • 100 mile desert ride in Canyonlands, National Park, Moab, Utah.
  • Trying not to get too attached to the outcome
  • Dealing with mechanical issues 
  • Broadening the conversation about access and opportunity in the outdoors
  • Tread Setters is a film project that highlights 5 para-cyclists riding the White Rim Trail while balancing the mental, emotional and social aspects of advocacy.
  • Is the White Rim Trail Accessible? Why it’s yes and no.
  • Needing people to support her due to the nature of the trail and the remoteness 
  • Why being outdoors might look a little bit different
  • Wanting to become an Adaptive Mountain Biking Coach - (BICP)
  • Adaptive Level 1 Fundamental Skills Instructor
  • Wanting to share mountain biking with others and create a welcoming environment
  • Plans for 2023
  • Sea Otter Classic Mountain Biking Race, Monterey, California, USA
  • Connect with Annijke 
  • Where does her Instagram handle come from
  • What is a Geospatial Professional?
  • Final words of advice and wisdom
Social Media
Instagram @geodesicdome 
Dec 1, 2022
In late summer 2021 Abbie Barnes cycled from Dunnet Head and John O Groats to The Lizard Point and Lands End, via each of the UK's 15 National Parks and their highest peaks.
This epic 55 day expedition saw Abbie and her partner Anna (who drove the support van) travel over 2,000 miles and battle mental ill health, chronic pain, and a number of unanticipated life-challenges along the way. Yet the duo completed this life-changing venture and now have a 3-part film series on YouTube following the highs and lows of their journey. 
New episodes of the Tough Girl Podcast go live every Tuesday at 7am UK time - Make sure to subscribe so you don’t miss out. 
To support the mission to increase the amount of female role models in the media. Sign up as a Patron - Thank you. 
Show Notes
  • Who is Abbie and what she does
  • We first spoke with Abbie Aug 26, 2021 - Founder and director of Spend More Time In The WILD, an organisation that seeks to inspire and empower individuals to get outside.
  • What is Abbie Bikes Britain?
  • Expectations verses reality 
  • Having 3 months to plan 
  • The logistical nightmare 
  • Figuring out things as they went
  • Developing a mindset of curiosity 
  • Learning the lessons when things don’t go to plan
  • Dealing with chronic pain during the cycle ride
  • What being an advocate for mental health and chronic pain
  • Not being willing to sit still and suffer 
  • Being crushed by the pain 
  • Why pushing your body can be a fun experiment
  • Day to day life on the road
  • Mental health while on the road
  • Being in love with life and feeling so happy
  • Finishing the journey
  • Not having the time to digest what she’d achieved
  • Finishing on the 22nd October 2021 
  • What the remainder of the year looked like
  • Having an on season (March - Oct) and an off season (Nov - Feb)
  • Having the time to think and reflect
  • Implementing changes in 2022
  • Being a public figure and feeling burnt out 
  • Spending time in the panic zone and wanting to get back to the comfort zone
  • Getting her Mountain Leader Qualification 
  • Doing her Hill and Moorland Qualification
  • Doing her ML assessment in Snowdonia in April 2022
  • Plans for 2023
  • How to connect with Abbie
  • Watch me & Abbie while climbing Snowdon 
  • Abbie meeting me in Rhosneigr while I was on the Wales Coast Path - vlog 11/50 
  • Final words of advice to encourage you to get outdoors
Social Media
Instagram: @abbiebarneswild 
Facebook:  @spendmoretimeinthewild  
Nov 29, 2022
Adriana in her own words:
“My aim is to become the youngest person to complete all 14 8000m peaks. The current record is 30 years 166 days, held by Mingma "David" Gyabu Sherpa, an absolute legend with whom I got to climb on both K2 and Everest. My plan would be to summit all 14 in 3-4 years meaning I would be 23 years old when I complete my mission.
In 2021 I summited three of them, Mt. Everest, Mt. Dhaulagiri and Mt. Manaslu all within 6 months.
This is a challenge of both mental and physical resilience, power and grit.
High altitude mountaineering is one of the deadliest sports in the world, this doesn't scare me. It ignites a fire of passion inside me.”
“Be the trailblazer of your own life”
New episodes of the Tough Girl Podcast go live every Tuesday at 7am UK time - Subscribe so you don’t miss out. 
Support the mission to increase the amount of female role models in the media especially in relation to adventure and physical challenges. Visit Thank you.
Show notes
  • Who is Adrianna 
  • Being a full time mountaineer
  • Living between London and Nepal
  • Starting to climb at 9 years old
  • Doing the 3 peaks challenge in 24hrs and becoming the youngest person to complete the challenge (this record has since been broken)
  • Getting into endurance events with her dad
  • Role models in the adventure/mountaineering world 
  • The why behind climbing Everest
  • Wanting to be unique and different
  • Feeling under pressure to go to University 
  • Why university wasn’t for her and quitting after 3 months
  • Trying to make a living from mountaineering
  • Having Nimsdai Purja as her guide
  • Paying for expeditions
  • Being supported by her parents
  • Reaching out for sponsorship
  • The work that goes on behind the scenes
  • Connecting with the North Face
  • Taking on the Welsh 3000ers in 24hrs  at 16 years old 
  • Starting at 3am on Crib Goch a grade 1 scramble
  • Climbing Aconcagua - her first taste of altitude and why it was a boring climb
  • The hardest part of the climb
  • Coping with the down time, dull days 
  • The mental side of mountaineering 
  • Learning the art of patience
  • Facing and dealing with fear in the mountains
  • Letting the negative thoughts in and not being able to think straight
  • How things can change in minutes 
  • Trying to stay calm
  • Magical moments in the the mountains 
  • Being inspired to take on the 14,000 project
  • Training and fitness to take on the 8,000m peaks
  • Plans for 2022 and the next few years
  • March - May 2022 - Kangchenjunga (Summited May 17th 2022), Lhotse (Summited May 22nd 2022), Makalu, (Summited May 28th 2022)
  • Flying to Pakistan for K2 and BroadPeak (Both Submitted July 2022)
  • How climbing with her guide works - Gelje Sherpa IG @gelje_sherpa_ 
  • The current record for climbing the 14, 8K peaks is 36 for a woman - Adrianna would be 23 (she has 4 more mountains to climb)
  • Connect with Adrianna (see below)
  • Final words of advice 
Social Media
Instagram: @adri.brownlee 
Facebook: @adriana.brownlee 
Nov 22, 2022
Carla is a Clinical Psychologist, queer vegan and a lover of all things outdoors; adventurer, runner, endurance cyclist and lapsed climber based near the Peak District in the UK. She is an advocate for the LGBTQIA+ and BIPOC communities taking up space in the outdoors and is a committee member with the awesome Peak Queer Adventures (PQA) based in Sheffield and member of the Women of Colour Cycling Collective (WCCC). 
Carla’s love of the outdoors started from an early age, however gender roles and expectations sadly stopped her from fully embracing that love as a teenager. She reconnected with the outdoors and solo adventures after moving to North Wales to undertake her Doctorate in Clinical Psychology in her mid-twenties, and hasn’t looked back. 
She was awarded the Ultra Distance Scholarship in 2021, which is aimed at increasing representation of BAME cyclists in ultra distance cycling and getting them to the start line of an ultra distance race, a typically overwhelmingly white and male niche of cycling. 
This amazing opportunity has been life-changing and she’s gone from not being confident at all in her cycling abilities, to cycling 500km off road from Edinburgh to Manchester, her longest, hardest ride to date. She’s met the most amazing people, grown in confidence and felt like she’s found her people. 
She started an Instagram account after winning the Scholarship, to document her journey from (almost couch) to 2000km with the hope of inspiring queer people and people of colour, particularly black womxn, to get on their bikes and enjoy nature. 
You can find her at @acurlyoutdoors; check out Peak Queer Adventures at @peakqueeradventures and the Women of Colour Cycling Collective at @wccc_uk. 
New episodes of the Tough Girl Podcast go live every Tuesday at 7am UK time - Hit the subscribe button so you don’t miss out. 
Support the mission to increase the amount of female role models in the media especially in relation to adventure and physical challenges. Visit and support.  Thank you.
Show notes
  • Who is Carla
  • What she loves
  • Being based in the Peak District, UK
  • Wanting to encourage others to take up space in the outdoors
  • Her early years and growing up with a passion for the outdoors
  • Getting to explore in the woods
  • Her love of nature and wanting to protect the environment
  • Not feeling comfortable in secondary school with her body and spending time in the outdoors
  • Training to be a Clinical Psychologist in North Wales
  • Going out early in the morning to avoid people
  • Spending time in the mountains
  • Feeling the fear and doing it anyway
  • The Devils Kitchen - located behind Llyn Idwal nestled within Cwm Idwal in the Ogwen Valley, Snowdonia National Park.
  • Gaining new skills and knowledge 
  • Feeling brave 
  • Thinking about becoming a Mountain Leader (ML) but not seeing herself represented and not feeling comfortable
  • Recording good quality mountain days and keeping a track of what she was doing
  • Getting new gear
  • Looking for opportunities in the mountains 
  • Getting into wild camping, trail running and climbing
  • Finding community and connecting with other people who are interested in the outdoors
  • Enjoying spending time on her own
  • Meditation through movement
  • Getting into cycling and connecting with the cycling community
  • The Ultra Distance Scholarship  An initiative increasing diversity and representation within ultra distance cycling and racing 
  • Being inspired by Vera Ngosi-Sambrook 
  • The power of taking action
  • The reality of taking on an ultra cycling challenge
  • Focused training from November 2021 - August 2022
  • Dealing with injuries and saddle sores
  • Wanting to do long rides with other people
  • Using instagram to reach out and connect with people 
  • Learning how to cycle off road
  • The Pennine Rally - 100 riders, 500 kilometres and five days of testing off-road riding from Edinburgh to Manchester down Britain’s backbone.
  • Fuelling as a vegan
  • Outdoor Provisions make Natural Energy Bars & Nut Butters - Use code TRYOP for 25% off Starter Packs 
  • Accidental vegan food
  • Being on the start line and what the rally was like
  • Cycling approx 100k per day 
  • The impact on her confidence after completing the rally
  • Dealing with the low points and self doubt
  • Mental resilience and the mental challenge of taking on a challenge
  • Drawing on her skills and knowledge from working as a Clinical Psychologist 
  • Using the grounding technique 
  • The power of music to change your mood
  • Dealing with her nerves 
  • Being optimistic and calm
  • Giving herself permission to get off and push if she needed to
  • Taking the pressure off 
  • Plans for 2023 and wanting to do an ultra cycling race
  • How to connect with Carla
  • Her beautiful bike - “Betty”
  • Frame bag by Wizard Works
  • Final words of advice
  • The power of finding your people, your tribe and your community
  • Sharing your passion with other people
  • Getting into climbing via taster days 
Social Media
Nov 17, 2022
Shona's most herself when she's moving outdoors - paying attention to and connecting with beauty. She works as a counsellor and a life coach. She lives a simple and contented life in the highlands of Scotland, sprinkled with adventures.
Shona has shared her passion for the outdoors on previous episodes of the tough girl podcast. 
You can listen to those episodes here. 
New episodes of the Tough Girl Podcast go live every Tuesday at 7am UK time - Make sure to subscribe so you don’t miss out. 
To support the mission to increase the amount of female role models in the media. Sign up as a Patron - Thank you. 
Show Notes
  • Who is Shona
  • Living in Inverness
  • Woking as a counsellor and a life coach
  • Her passion for connecting with other people and the natural world
  • First speaking with Shona on Jul 9, 2019 - Taking on new challenges at 40 & her preparation for thru hiking the Pacific Crest Trail
  • Catching up with Shona after completing the PCT - Dec 26, 2019 - Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail - 2,650 miles SOBO from Canada to Mexico!
  • Catch up - what’s been going on
  • Reflecting back on 2020
  • Making a commitment to herself to work as a counsellor again
  • Getting out of her own way
  • 2020/2021 - deciding to take on a new challenge
  • Deciding to climb all 282 munros across Scotland in 282 days
  • Climbing Suilven with Shona - watch the vlog   
  • The challenges of mountaineering in the winter
  • Not knowing if she could do it
  • Starting to think what’s possible
  • When things don’t work out how you planned
  • Dealing with the difficult days
  • Why it’s about the journey
  • Planning the adventure 
  • Embracing flexibility 
  • Doing the Highland Wilderness Journeys - with Anna Danby 
  • Anna Danby Wild Roots Highland Guiding
  • Walking the Te Araroa Trail in New Zealand 
  • Winding down life in Scotland
  • Renting out her house while she’s away
  • Getting the right gear - new rucksack and sleeping bag 
  • RAB Mythic 400 
  • Road walking and hitchhiking
  • Wanting to enjoy photography and wiring while in nature 
  • Giving herself permission 
  • Living a life of adventure and living a life of freedom
  • Connecting to people through her work
  • Saying no to things
  • Documenting the journey while on the TA 
  • How to connect with Shona
  • Inviting people to get curious - what do they want? How do they want to live?
  • Being inspired by Mary Oliver - “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”
Social Media
Life Coaching - 
Instagram - @walkwildcoach
Nov 15, 2022
Purusha Gordon - mum of two, aged 43 is no longer a stranger to wild challenges after a change of mindset 6 years ago transformed her life. 
Having battled with depression and weight gain after the arrival of her children, Purusha realised something had to change. Approaching her 40’s in the worst shape and health she’d ever been in, Purusha’s mission became to create a healthy lifestyle, to rebuild confidence and self belief, living life for each day.
After completing 40 challenges in her 40th year, the love and passion for living life healthy and well opened up an opportunity to take on the challenge to build a team and row unsupported across the Pacific Ocean in 2021. 
Purusha believes it is never too late to make a positive change to your physical and mental health and with a bucket load of determination and hard work, 6 years later she has set a new World Record, rowing across the Pacific Ocean as part of the Ocean Sheroes team. 
Pulling together a challenge of this enormity in a global pandemic took a big dose resilience and positivity to overcome hurdle after hurdle. 
Purusha now spends her time speaking about her journey to health and works under the umbrella of The Health and Wellbeing Expert. 
Using her experience in this field Purusha is passionate about helping individuals and organisations create healthier, happier and more balanced lives. 
New episodes of the Tough Girl Podcast go live every Tuesday at 7am UK time - Hit the subscribe button so you don’t miss out. 
You can support the mission to increase the amount of female role models in the media. Visit and subscribe - super quick and easy to do and it makes a massive difference. Thank you.
Show Notes
  • Purusha, in her own words
  • Purusha's journey to the Pacific Ocean
  • Growing up as a sporty child
  • Her fondness for water
  • Having children in her mid-30s
  • Smoking, drinking coffee, and weight gain
  • What it’s like to go on a five-day detox
  • Experiencing postnatal depression
  • Why did Purusha decide to go on a detox
  • What she did to get back into fitness
  • Losing weight and feeling better
  • Signing up for Tough Mudder
  • Completing 40 challenges in her 40th year
  • Challenges in preparation for the Pacific race
  • 18 months of preparation during the pandemic
  • Finding a team to complete the race
  • How the team came together during the global pandemic
  • What motivates Purusha
  • Feeling empowered and stronger
  • Rowing the Pacific Ocean in 35 days, 14 hours and 32 minutes
  • Everyone having a role to play on the boat
  • Putting friendship at the top of priorities
  • Living life in the present and in the moment
  • Disengaging from technology and its beauty
  • The magical moments she had while rowing the Pacific Ocean
  • Some of Purusha's future plans and challenges
  • Moving into the health and well-being space
  • "It's never too late to do anything."
  • The story behind her first name
  • Final words of advice
Social Media
Instagram: @purusha.gordon 
Health & Wellbeing @thehealthandwellbeingexpert 
Twitter: @purushagordon
In June 2021, Ocean Sheroes set off in The Great Pacific Rowing Race, a 2,700 mile row from San Francisco, California to Waikiki, Hawaii.
Aiming to break the current female-four World Record of 50 days, 8 hours and 14 minutes, set in 2014, Bella Collins, Purusha Gordon, Lily Lower and Mary Sutherland set a NEW WORLD RECORD of 35 Days, 14 Hours and 32 Minutes
Instagram: @oceansheroes 
Nov 8, 2022
Rue founded Outdoor Afro as a social enterprise in 2009. 
The now national not-for-profit celebrates and inspires Black connections and leadership in nature. Headquartered in Oakland, California, Outdoor Afro incorporated as a 501(c)(3) in 2015. Today, the staffed organization includes more than 100 trained volunteer leaders, led and designed by Rue to innovate not-for-profit as movements of change. 
International cruise line Hurtigruten Expeditions made cruise industry history with the creation of its Black Traveler Advisory Board. Hurtigruten invited Rue to become one of its founding members. Rue took an 18-day Antarctica voyage in February 2022 to help drive change and new opportunities for Black people in the adventure cruise industry, increasing visibility and inclusivity of Black travellers.
When Rue shares stories from the land, people of all walks of life listen. She’s served on national platforms with congresspeople, outdoor professionals, corporate partners, and global leaders.
“Nature Swagger” is Rue’s first book by American publisher Chronicle Books. This project is a beautiful combination of breathtaking photos and compelling stories of Black joy in nature. The book releases to the public Nov. 1, 2022. 
New episodes of the Tough Girl Podcast go live every Tuesday at 7am UK time - Subscribe so you don’t miss out. 
You can support the mission to increase the amount of female role models in the media. Sign up as a Patron - Thank you. 
Show Notes
  • Who is Rue and what she does
  • Living in Northern California 
  • Growing up between the city and a ranch
  • Early childhood memories from spending time in nature
  • The importance of hospitality
  • Learning more about her family
  • Having a natural curiosity for the environment 
  • The stories that weren’t being told
  • Sharing a new narrative of the Black experience
  • The origin story of Outdoor Afro in 2009
  • Asking herself the question - what does she really want to do?
  • Growing through outdoor experiences
  • Being an early adopter of technology 
  • Growing a team of 120 Outdoor Afro Volunteer Leaders 
  • The joy of nature and the joy of being outside
  • The importance of remaining a practitioner 
  • Her love of the water
  • Spending time in Antarctica 
  • The importance of having the right gear
  • Designing a new clothing collaboration with REI
  • REI X Outdoor Afro
  • Wanting to solve problems especially with fit and function
  • Wanting to wear bright colours 
  • 2022 and what a year it’s been 
  • Why Outdoor Afro has been a 13 year overnight success story 
  • Writing her book over the past 2 years 
  • Book: Nature Swagger Stories and Visions of Black Joy in the Outdoors 
  • How to connect with Rue on the Socials
  • Her plans/visions for 2023
  • Thinking about succession planning for Outdoor Afro
  • Final words of advice 
Social Media
Instagram @ruemapp 
Facebook @RueMapp 
Twitter @RueMapp 
Book: Nature Swagger Stories and Visions of Black Joy in the Outdoors. 
An exquisite combination of beautiful photography and compelling stories, this book from Outdoor Afro founder, Rue Mapp, celebrates Black joy in nature. 
Filled with breathtaking photography, inspiring stories, profiles, and spotlights from Outdoor Afro group members, prominent Black leaders in outdoor spaces, and other organizations, this book inspires Black communities to reclaim their place in the natural world. Interspersed throughout are essays from Mapp on the rich history of Black involvement in the outdoors, activism, and conservation, as well as resources for readers who want to deepen their own connection with the elements. A perfect blend of gorgeous photographs, awe-inspiring stories, and Black history, this collection is the perfect gift for anyone looking to heal in these sacred natural spaces.
Nov 1, 2022
Gill in her own words:
“My name is Gill Castle, and in October 2011 I gave birth to my son, Sam, at 34 weeks gestation, a traumatic birth which resulted in a permanent stoma (colostomy). Over the following years I have set out to prove to myself, and others, what is achievable with a stoma, as initially I was presented with a lot of “no, you can’t do that with one of those”. I also wanted to overcome the trauma of the birth, which resulted in the loss of my job as a police officer, and which forced me to create a new identity for myself. 
On my website I signpost people to all the amazing organisations out there who can help, like the Birth Trauma Association, the Masic Foundation, Purple Wings, Samaritans, Colostomy UK to name but a few. 
Am I superwoman? Absolutely 110% not. Lots of women suffer like me and come out the other side ok. But when you are experiencing such a load of shite there is often no one who has made it out onto the other side who is shouting about the good life that is possible. 
I want to be that person. I want to show that girl who was living through hell that it can turn out ok in the end. 
How will I do it? Simply by my actions. I will gladly, happily, discuss people’s trauma with them, and discuss my own, in PM, I understand that talking and discussing helps. But I want to just SHOW you by everything I do, every smile I have, that you can be happy, you can do things. The same for people with stomas.
But, this is also true for ANYONE. I want to sweep people along with my enthusiasm for life and encourage you all to just get OUT THERE and TRY something. Anything! We all have our own desires and goals. So many people say to me that they would “love” to do something “but I’m too scared” . 
WAIT UP! Have you actually tried it? How do you know then? 
I understand trauma, I understand pain, I understand fear. But right now I understand HOPE and JOY. 
That’s it really, just me, doing my thing, being happy, being active and encouraging people to do to the same.” 
  • During this episode there is a lot of poo chat and very open and honest conversations about child birth injury and recovering from trauma.  If you are not sure if you should listen to this episode- for what ever reason - I would encourage you to ask a friend to listen to it first to make sure it is suitable for where you are in your journey. The episode will always be here, so there is no pressure for you to listen to it now.
New episodes of the Tough Girl Podcast go live every Tuesday at 7am UK time - Subscribe so you don’t miss out. 
To support the mission to increase the amount of female role models in the media especially in relation to adventure and physical challenges. Sign up as a Patron - Thank you. 
Show Notes
  • Who is Gill?
  • How animals and the outdoors are important parts of her life 
  • Starting to have sailing lessons at eight
  • Enjoying sailing with her brother until seeing the film Jaws
  • Not going back to the sea for about 30 years 
  • Her next big challenge in 2023 - swimming the English Channel
  • Reasons for taking up the challenge 
  • What is a stoma and how it is formed
  • Dealing with mental health issues 
  • How a stoma impacts Gill's life
  • Feeling lucky and starting to embrace her life
  • Saying YES to everything 
  • Doing her first sprint triathlon
  • Doing Olympic distance and half Ironman
  • Sharing her journey for the first time in public to raise awareness 
  • Raising over £5000 for the Birth Trauma Association
  • Training and nutrition 
  • Biggest challenges and lessons that changed her life
  • Gill's experience at a swim camp 
  • Why she doesn't want to watch Jaws again
  • Overcoming her fear of open water 
  • Getting her slot in Dover to swim the English Channel
  • Getting full sponsorship from Hollister Incorporated
  • Planning and preparation for the event 
  • Getting a shoulder injury
  • How she’s getting back into training
  • "The more miles, the better" 
  • Working on the mental side of the channel swim 
  • Struggling with relaxation


Social Media
Instagram @stoma_chameleon 
Oct 27, 2022
Vedangi Kulkarni was born and raised in India and currently lives in the UK. 
She’s an adventurer, endurance athlete, writer, expedition/project manager and a business owner. She loves organising mountain biking and bike-packing events, managing a million projects simultaneously and talking to a ton of new people. 
In 2018, she rode 29,000km around the world in 160 days, mostly solo and unsupported, at the age of 19/20, becoming the youngest woman to circumnavigate the globe on bike. 
She’s always keen for an adventure, be it cold water swimming, long distance hiking or cycling, climbing, mountain biking, skiing or travelling through remote places. 
On her most recent expedition, she skied across Svalbard. 
Her happy place is anywhere outside, in the wild, and on the move. She tells stories from her adventures both digitally (through her social media channels) and through in-person events. 
When she isn't out and about, you can find her reading non-fiction books or writing something in one of her million Moleskine notebooks.
You can listen to Vedangi on the Tough Girl Podcast, new episodes go live every Tuesday at 7am UK time - Subscribe so you don’t miss out. 
Support the mission to increase the amount of female role models in the media especially in relation to adventure and physical challenges. Visit Thank you.
Show notes
  • Who is Vedangi
  • Moving to Inverness in 2022
  • Cycling daily and taking up mountain biking
  • Mountain biking and how it’s helped with her confidence
  • Imposter syndrome 
  • Blog post - “I shouldn’t be here” 
  • Becoming more ambition especially in the world of adventure
  • New book coming soon - why people need adventure 
  • Feeling selfish while doing adventures 
  • Book: SOLO: What running across mountains taught me about life By Jenny Tough 
  • Starting to organise adaptive mountain biking races in the UK
  • Mountain Biking Race 12th - 13th November 2022 - “MTB4ALL” is a downhill race series where our aim is to make racing fun. Whether you're a first time racer or a pro, we've got something for you! 
  • Wanting to get more women racing mountain bikes
  • Arranging a series of events in 2023 for women in mountain biking 
  • Wanting to help build women’s self esteem in mountain biking
  • Working on improving her mountain biking skills
  • Heading to Svalbard in April 2022
  • The Trans Arctic Expedition
  • Speaking with Antarctic Logistics & Expeditions
  • Helen Turton - Newland Expeditions 
  • Visa challenges 
  • Sponsorship for Svalbard 
  • Sharing a tent with Helen & Ellen Piercy 
  • Reflections from the experience 
  • Dealing with the cold and learning patience
  • Tent life
  • The plan for the Trans Arctic Expedition
  • Just Around The Corner — exploring the best of the South West by bike 
  • How to connect with Vedangi
  • Final words of advice 
Social Media
Instagram @wheelsandwords 
Facebook @wheelsandwords 
Twitter @wheelsandwords 
Oct 25, 2022
Ellen started to get into adventure in her late 30s. By day she work as an engineering, by night, she dream of adventure. 
In 2017 she wanted a new, big, scary challenge and decided on an arctic expedition - crossing Svalbard. 
Ellen has never been anywhere that cold before and she didn’t’ know how to ski! She didn’t know if the challenge that she had decided on would even be achievable.
The Svalbard Expedition was meant to go ahead in 2020, when Ellen was 42. It was postponed from 2020 to 2021 and again to 2022. 
To keep herself motivated, during the delays and wanting to focus on building her endurance, she set herself a more local project – the Cheshire Challenge to walk all 25 long distance paths in Cheshire totalling 1,500km.
In January 2022, Ellen had her sabbatical booked, and found out the Svalbard crossing would be going ahead in April. 
During this podcast Ellen shares more about the challenge, the lessons learned and provides top tips and advice to help you with your next adventure. 
New episodes of the Tough Girl Podcast go live every Tuesday at 7am UK time - Hit the subscribe button so you don’t miss out. 
Support the mission to increase the amount of female role models in the media especially in relation to adventure and physical challenges. Visit and subscribe - super quick and easy to do and it makes a massive difference. Thank you.
Show notes
  • Who is Ellen?
  • Age 45….
  • The concept of identity 
  • Describing herself pre and post Svalbard 
  • Calling herself a cold adventurer!
  • Who is Ellen pre-expedition?
  • Dealing with imposter syndrome
  • How adventure has changed her life
  • Not knowing if she would be able to do the challenge
  • “Maybe I can do this sort of stuff”  
  • The mindset shift that has happened
  • Dealing with setback after setback
  • 42 the second, 42 the third etc
  • Doing a polar training course in Norway
  • Covid Times and being able to work from home
  • What’s your plan B…..
  • The Svalbard Expedition April 2022
  • A 10 day crossing across the main island from the East to the most northerly town in the world
  • The route - 130km/100 miles
  • Being part of a team of 5, plus the guide
  • The pulks and the kit
  • Polar Bears, glaciers, mountain passes and an enormous ice cave
  • Structure of the day and the daily routine (melting water, packing up, ski and break time, tent life)
  • Thinking about doing her Mountain Leader Qualification 
  • Working towards her Chartered Engineer Qualification 
  • Tent mates, group dynamics and roles
  • Peeing and pooping outdoors
  • Fitness and training
  • Costs
  • Completing the challenge and what happened afterwards
  • Reflecting on the challenge and having time to process 
  • Getting Covid and being knocked for 2 months
  • Plans for 2023
  • Newland Expeditions Guided polar ski expeditions to North/South Poles, Greenland, Svalbard and Norway. 
  • How to connect with Ellen
  • Final words of advice for working women who want to have more adventures
Social Media
Instagram @randogirl42 
Facebook @EllenRandoGirl 
Twitter @RandoGirl42 
Oct 18, 2022
After a lengthy battle with a rare brain disease, Crystal Gail Welcome came to recognize the healing power of nature. 
She now uses her intersecting identities; Black, disabled, lesbian to break down barriers so more people can access the outdoors. 
Crystal is an experiential educator, author, storyteller, activist, backpacker, and Black outdoor leader. She chooses to speak out against racial injustice in the United States by hiking and giving voice to her experiences.
New episodes of the Tough Girl Podcast go live every Tuesday at 7am UK time - Subscribe so you don’t miss out. 
You can support the mission to increase the amount of female role models in the media especially in relation to adventure and physical challenges. Visit  Thank you.
Show notes
  • Who is Crystal Gail
  • Living in Minnesota 
  • Turtle racing!
  • Growing up in Florida 
  • Where Minnesota is located in the States
  • Not being exposed to the outdoors 
  • Not thinking the outdoors was for her
  • Her first visit to a National Park
  • Visiting the birth home of Martin Luther King Junior in Atlanta, Georgia 
  • Learning about the National Parks 
  • Feeling connected to Nature
  • Feeling a sense of belonging and wanting to spend more time in nature
  • Continuing her journey and connecting with nature 
  • Going out to live life and getting back into running
  • Her desire to go backpacking and wanting to hike the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT)
  • Hiking 600 miles on the PCT 
  • Learning about her capabilities
  • Her love of the outdoors and the power of connecting with nature
  • How hiking improved her health 
  • Why nature is a wonderful place to be
  • Her experience on the PCT 
  • Trail culture and trail families
  • Needed to recharge her batteries every 7-10 days  for 1.5 days
  • Connecting with new people and the kindness of strangers
  • Her trail name “The Giver” 
  • Book: “The Giver” by Lois Lowry 
  • After the death of George Floyd
  • Protesting in the way that she knows
  • Her reason for hiking the Superior Hiking Trail 
  • The Great Western Loop - is a 6,875-mile footpath that links together five existing long-distance trails — including the Pacific Crest Trail, Pacific Northwest Trail, Continental Divide Trail, Grand Enchantment Trail, and Arizona Trail — and a trail-less segment through the Sonoran and Mojave Deserts. 
  • Hiking until her body tells her body it’s time to stop
  • How her disability effects her hiking and how she adapts her hiking to suit her
  • Needing to keep her base weight at 10lbs /4.5kg and having to forgo luxury items (apart from her tent!)
  • Structuring her day while hiking 
  • Listening to podcasts and music while being on the trail
  • Listening to true crime while being out in nature
  • The music to power her up the hills - Eminem - fight song
  • Being inspired by Harriet Tubman
  • Learning about adventure therapy and going on to study it at Prescott College 
  • Sharing more about restorative narratives
  • The power in the stories we tell ourselves 
  • Plans for 2023
  • How Crystal Gail afford to backpack
  • Writing a book of poetry when she was first diagnosed with a rare brain disease
  • Being published in an anthology “Crossing Paths”
  • How to connect with Crystal Gail (see links below)
Social Media
Instagram: @footprintsforchange 
Facebook: @crystalgailwelcome 
Twitter: @awesomewelcome 
TikTok: @footprintsforchange
Oct 11, 2022
Jennifer Strong McConachie is a life-long outdoor adventure athlete.
She has traveled the globe, raced an ultramarathon on five of the seven continents, swam the Hellespont from Europe to Asia, escaped Alcatraz, climbed several of the Seven Summits, and conquered an American epic by running across the Grand Canyon and then back again.
For more than 30 years, Jennifer has competed in running, swimming, triathloning, and adventure racing as part of her global endurance sporting lifestyle. She also trains for various kinds of paddling sports and mountain ascents around the world.
When not tackling tough adventures, Jennifer is an award-winning marketing executive based in the US, with more than 15 years of experience working with local, regional, national, and global firms. 
Jennifer most recently became a Fellow in the Royal Geographical Society after writing her first book, Go Far: How Endurance Sports Help You Win At Life. 
New episodes of the Tough Girl Podcast go live every Tuesday at 7am UK time - Hit the subscribe button so you don’t miss out. 
You can support the mission to increase the amount of female role models in the media especially in relation to adventure and physical challenges. Visit and subscribe - super quick and easy to do and it makes a massive difference. Thank you.
Show Notes
  • Who is Jennifer
  • Being able to do all kinds of endurance sports 
  • Running at a young age 
  • Getting into mountaineering, climbing, and wild swimming 
  • Putting all of her endurance sports experience into her book: Go Far: How Endurance Sports Help You Win At Life
  • Getting into new adventures with kids
  • Dedication to endurance challenges and writing a book
  • Growing up in a sporty, outdoorsy family 
  • Having fun as a child triathlete in the 90s 
  • Being on a rowing team back in college 
  • Getting into ultra running and marathons in her 20s 
  • Travelling the world with her family
  • Choosing her own unique life path
  • Having a female role model
  • Going on adventures with her dad 
  • What does adventure mean to Jennifer
  • Her secret to exploring the adventure mindset 
  • Making the most of what you have to be the best you can be 
  • Reading books about places and feeling energized 
  • Magical moments from her adventures and challenges 
  • Motherhood and how her adventure has changed over the years 
  • Creating physical and mental space for her recovery 
  • Having her team as her recovery tools 
  • Getting into more details about therapy and recovery 
  • Running the length of the Grand Canyon and back
  • What inspired Jennifer to write the book
  • Final words of advice
Social Media
Instagram: @jenstrongmccon 
Facebook Author Page: @JenniferStrongMcConachieAuthorPage 
Twitter: @jenstrongmccon 
Oct 4, 2022
Julie Bradley was born with adventure genes and shares her passions in her books “Escape from the Ordinary” and “Crossing Pirate Waters”. Both are true stories about an 8 year adventure of sailing around the world with her husband, Glen. 
After twenty years in the Army as a Military Intelligence Officer she traded her uniform and worldly possessions to pursue the dream that had inspired her to keep going through the long separations of military deployments. 
During those years her stack of Cruising World, Sail and Latitude 38 magazines grew to hoarder proportions until the big purge of all belongings to buy their new home: a French built Amel blue-water sailboat.
Julie shares more about her passion for adventure and sailing and what it was like selling everything she owned to sail around the world.
New episodes of the Tough Girl Podcast go live every Tuesday at 7am UK time - Make sure to subscribe so you don’t miss out. 
To support the mission to increase the amount of female role models in the media. Sign up as a Patron - Thank you. 
*Content Warning - during this episode - addiction to alcohol is talked about. 
Show Notes
  • Julie in her own words
  • Living out on the water with her husband 
  • Joining the army after high school 
  • Getting hooked on an adventure 
  • Julie's decision to leave the army after 20 years 
  • Sailing around the world with her husband for eight years
  • Not worrying about the money 
  • Julie and her husband's background in sailing 
  • Delivering a friend's boat
  • Being a company commander and sailing at the same time 
  • Selling everything and buying a sailboat 
  • Sailing in the South Pacific 
  • What it was like to sail through the storm 
  • How did they spend their days on the boat
  • Writing her books Escape from the Ordinary (Escape Series Book 1)  and Crossing Pirate Waters (Escape Series Book 2)
  • How she lost control of her addiction to alcohol
  • Keeping a close relationship with her husband 
  • Deciding to stop sailing 
  • Final words of advice
Social Media
Facebook: @julie.bradley.798 
Twitter: @redjuliebradley 
Books: Escape from the Ordinary (Escape Series Book 1)
Meet Glen and Julie, sailors who follow their dream and discover that reality can be even bigger than imagined. From Force 10 storms in the North Atlantic to the crystal blue waters and native dancers of French Polynesia, Escape from the Ordinary (book 1 of the Escape Series) opens a window to adventures in extraordinary places not found in travel brochures.
Told with keen observations and sparkling with wry humor, Julie describes the terrors and pleasures of living a life of total independence on a sailboat where even simple decisions can have big consequences.  This exhilarating, true story will thrill those planning to sail off into the sunset as well as armchair adventurers. Escape from the Ordinary reminds you of the unlimited possibilities in life and offers inspiration to go “all in” on your own dreams.
Crossing Pirate Waters (Escape Series Book 2)
You don’t have to know a spinnaker from a mainsail to enjoy this adventure book. Join Glen and Julie as they continue around the world through less traveled, dangerous areas on the far side of the world.
Turmoil in the Mideast convinces Glen and Julie to linger in the South Pacific visiting primitive villages on remote islands. But hang on tight, because to finish their voyage they must leave friendly shores and navigate through trouble in the Indian Ocean, Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea before arriving in Europe.
Full of dry wit and compelling descriptions, Julie takes the reader along for the ride of a lifetime in this sequel (book 2 of the Escape Series) to her previous bestseller, Escape from the Ordinary.
Sep 27, 2022
Molly Huddle is an American long-distance runner who competes in track and cross country running events. 
Molly has won 28 USA titles, held six American records, looked down the start line of two Olympic finals and four major marathons. 
Molly set the American record in the 5000 m at the 2014 Herculis Diamond League meet in Fontvieille, Monaco (14:42.64). She also set the American record in the 10,000 m at the 2016 Olympics, with a time of 30:13.17. Molly lives and trains in Providence, Rhode Island.
Molly has recently co-authored “How She Did It”, with college coach Sara Slattery.The book is the ultimate roadmap for female distance runners—featuring 50 candid interviews with women who’ve made it
The book begins with key information from the professionals who help make athletic excellence possible: trainers, physicians, nutritionists, and sports psychologists. Then, you’ll hear the first-person accounts of fifty women who’ve done it themselves. From the pioneers who fought tirelessly for women’s inclusion in the sport to the names splashed across headlines today, featured athletes include: 
Joan Benoit Samuelson • Patti Catalano Dillon • Madeline Manning Mims • Paula Radcliffe • Deena Kastor • Brenda Martinez • Shalane Flanagan • Emma Coburn • Raevyn Rogers • Molly Seidel • and more
With Molly and Sara guiding the way, these athletes share their empowering stories, biggest regrets, funniest moments, and hard-won advice. 
Collectively, these voices are the embodiment of strength, meant to educate, inspire, and motivate you to see how far—and how fast—you can go.
Learn more about the book and Molly on the Tough Girl Podcast. 
New episodes go live every Tuesday at 7am UK time - Subscribe so you don’t miss out. 
You ca support the mission to increase the amount of female role models in the media. Visit
Show notes
  • Who is Molly
  • Her job as a professional distance runner
  • Having her first baby and entering her 3rd trimester 
  • Running while pregnant
  • Reducing her average weekly miles down from 90 miles to 40 miles.
  • Learning more about her childhood and her younger years
  • Her journey into running
  • Not thinking about becoming a professional athlete
  • Her senior year of high school and wanting to qualify for the National Cross Country Championships
  • Quitting basketball and focusing on running all year
  • Setting a new national record in high school for the 2 mile distance
  • Running with professional runners
  • Dealing with big failures and figuring out how to bounce back
  • Tools and strategies for mindset
  • The power of writing down goals and journaling
  • Having a mantra and using powerful words - STRONG
  • Loving the 5k distance and finding it fun
  • Running the London Marathon in 2019 and getting a Personal Best
  • Wanting to run a sub 2.25 marathon
  • Figuring out her race strategy for a marathon
  • Having faith in how you are feeling and going with your own plan
  • Releasing her new book: How she dit it - A high performance guide for female distance runners with stories of women who’ve made it. By Sara Slattery and Molly Huddle.
  • Wanting to write a resource for young female runners
  • Writing the book and speaking to 50 women about their running experiences
  • Speaking with Dr. Stacy Sims (Author of ROAR) and working with the female body 
  • The new developments with maternity cover for professional athletes since The Dream Maternity Campaign organised by Alysia Montaño 
  • The NY Times Article - Nike Told Me to Dream Crazy, Until I Wanted a Baby - Alysia Montaño 
  • Contracts and being away from the track and the impact on the financials
  • The running woman emoji 
  • Creating the Keeping Track Podcast
  • Wanting to share athletes stories who don’t get exposure via the main stream media
  • Particular highlights from the podcast - Racing for Representation
  • Reflecting back on finishing her first marathon in 2016 
  • Advice for women who want to get into running
  • How to connect and follow along with Molly
  • Final words of advice for women who have lost their running mojo
Social Media
Personal Instagram @mollyhuddle 
Keeping Track Podcast - A podcast built to elevate. Inspiring athletes & figures in sports, lesser known stories, & complex topics of Women’s sports ALL IN ONE PLACE!
Podcast: Instagram @keeptrackmedia 
Book: How she dit it - A high performance guide for female distance runners with stories of women who’ve made it. By Sara Slattery and Molly Huddle.
A book of interviews with elite female distance runners on what they’ve learned along the way & words from experts in the endurance sports world. 
Instagram: @howshediditbook
Sep 20, 2022
Anyika 37, is a retired British sprint track and field athlete who competed in the 100 metres200 metres and 400 metres, and also the 4×100 metres relay and 4x400 metres relay.
Anyika is one of the few GB athletes of the past 20 years to achieve a full set of major medals.She has won medals at the Olympic Games, the world championships, Commonwealth Games and European championships.
Anyika has published a book about her life called - My Hidden Race.  
My Hidden Race is the story of Olympic medallist Anyika Onuora, who stood on the podium at every major championship in athletics.
This book won't go into detail about the technicalities of her sport or the beauty of the Olympic spirit however.
In the era of the Black Lives Matter and Me Too, this is an unflinching testimony of what it takes to pursue your dreams as a Black British woman against all odds.
This three-time Olympian will lift the lid on the reality of life as a black female athlete in Britain in a way that nobody else has done before her.
Nothing is off the record. She is revealing her life for the first time in this book with complete fearlessness.
There have been far too many years of silence caught in a system. Now Anyika is determined to make up for lost time and use her story to inspire and heal others.
My Hidden Race will take you into a world that often takes place far from the spotlight of the Olympic torch and shines an intense light on the brutal reality of professional sport for many black females.”
Listen to Anyika on the Tough Girl Podcast, new episodes go live every Tuesday at 7am UK time - Subscribe so you don’t miss out. 
To support the mission to increase the amount of female role models in the media. Sign up as a Patron - Thank you. 
Show Notes
  • Who is Anyika and what she’s achieved
  • Working as a consultant and sharing more about her new book
  • Living between Liverpool and London
  • Her childhood and early years
  • Growing up in a sporty, competitive family 
  • Being inspired by her older brother 
  • Realising that she was good at running
  • Her dreams and ambitions as a little girl
  • The dream of becoming a professional athlete
  • Being shy and ambitious 
  • How you progress to the professional level in athletics 
  • Getting a degree while also competing as a full time athlete
  • Any regrets over missing out 
  • Working hard for everything she has
  • Getting to the senior level and being consistent in performance
  • Competing at her first senior championships in Melbourne, Australia
  • Learning from her peers 
  • The lessons learned from failure 
  • Mental health and support and how it’s changed over the past 17/20 years
  • The lack of support to help with changes and transitions 
  • Feeling disposable as an athlete 
  • The pressure to perform and to be consistent
  • How expectations can weigh you down
  • Blocking out the pressure and working with a psychologist 
  • Smiling and laughing to release the pressure 
  • Getting into flow and what it’s like
  • The struggles 10 months before the Olympic games in Rio
  • Contracting malaria and ending up in hospital
  • Getting back to full fitness and getting ready for the Olympics
  • Focusing on getting the job done
  • What it was like winning a Bronze Medal in the 4x400m 
  • Fitness and sport now
  • Making the transition to the next stage of her career
  • Figuring out what’s next 
  • Getting qualified in Corporate Governance 
  • Role models and the women who have inspired Anyika
  • Advice for women and girls who want to get into running
  • Figuring out your why
  • Remembering to have fun
  • Looking after her Olympic Medal
  • The shrine!
  • Book: My Hidden Race
Social Media
Instagram @anyika
Twitter @annyonuora 
Book: My Hidden Race 
Sep 13, 2022
Siobhan is 62 years old. She retired from the BBC two years ago, after 30 years working as a Reporter, Presenter and Producer in News. During that time she juggled being a single mother with working full-time. When she was nearly fifty and her daughter went off to university, she took a gap year from work and backpacked solo around the world. It was then she hatched a plan to one day travel around in a motorhome when she retired.
By her mid-fifties she felt burnt out after dealing with symptoms of the menopause, ageism and bullying. She realised she needed to find her escape plan.
So it was in 2019, aged sixty, she bought a motorhome and embarked on her solo trip around Great Britain, to champion positive ageing and to challenge ageism and ageist stereotypes of what society thinks a retired woman does. She wants to change narratives around ageing from ANTI-AGEING to POSITIVE-AGEING. She has faced her fears and weathered severe storms and a pandemic along the way but she feels the highs and lows are all worth it. 
She hopes her experiences inspire women, both young and old, to embrace ageing.
New episodes of the Tough Girl Podcast go live every Tuesday at 7am UK time. Subscribe so you don’t miss out. 
You can support the mission to increase the amount of female role models in the media. 
Show notes
  • Who is Siobhan
  • Learning more about her background
  • Buying her motorhome and travelling Great Britain 
  • Her goal to promote positive ageing
  • Having a hysterectomy at 40 
  • Taking a gap year from the BBC and going solo backpacking around the world
  • Feeling ageless and alive
  • Wanting to retire and go travelling 
  • Planning her gap year with Trailfinders 
  • Going with the flow and meeting incredible people
  • Fears and concerns before the adventure
  • Magical moments which bring joy
  • Dealing with change
  • Facing each challenge and breaking it down into little bits
  • Running marathons in her 50s
  • Not being a planner - “My plan is to have no plan, to go with the flow and see where life takes me”
  • Losing family members and going through the menopause
  • Struggling with life 
  • Out of adversity comes opportunity
  • Being a stubborn Yorkshire lass
  • Finding a way to do things
  • Fitness and exercise and how it’s evolved over her life
  • Training for her first marathon and her feelings after crossing the finish line
  • Top tips and advice for new runners who want to take on a marathon
  • Why you are never too old for adventure 
  • What pro ageing looks like 
  • Changing the negative narrative
  • Retirement rebellion and why its a chance to have more adventures 
  • Working on a farm for 5 weeks in Dorset
  • Feeling liberated after selling everything
  • Confidence around driving the motorhome
  • Enjoying her own company
  • Sharing her life online and blogging 
  • Writing a book?! And signing up with a literary agent
  • Living her life by 4 values
  • Talking about bravery
  • Being an anti-agism campaigner
  • Being true to yourself and age as positively as you can 
  • Why you should enjoy and embrace ageing 
  • Plans for 2022
  • Taking the motorhome over to Europe
  • How to connect and follow Siobhan
  • Final words of advice for other women
  • What do you want to do? What would make you happy? 
  • You will work out a way to have your adventure 
Social Media
Instagram: @shuvonshuvoff 
Twitter: @siobhandaniels 
Sep 6, 2022
Abby in her own words:
“I used to be a competitive ultra-runner. I competed in 100-mile mountain races and was pretty decent at it. In 2013 I competed and won (female division) the Grand Slam of Ultra-Running. This is 4 x 100 mile races in a 10 week span.
But too much endurance + too little calories and carbs= Burnout. Anyone that doesn’t believe burnout or adrenal issues are real is a liar. It’s real and it’s debilitating to your body and mind.
I was forced to stop running and I eventually found weight-lifting. I tried my best at CrossFit but really gravitated towards heavy lifting and fell in love with Powerlifting. 
I worked with a Nutrition Coach and spent years reverse dieting to support my body and goals and un-do all the years of damage I did as an endurance athlete. My sole purpose was to lift as much as I possibly could in a weight class sport and I was pretty decent at it. In 2018 I competed in PowerLifting Nationals. At 138 pounds my best squat was 290 pounds, bench 190 pounds, and deadlift 325 pounds.
I ended up hurting my back while lifting in 2019. I eventually decided to walk away from all competitive sports and focus on living a normal life with food and fitness balance.
These days my goals include lifting weights to support health and hormones. I want to be fit and strong enough to keep up with Molly-dog and continue hiking some beautiful miles in the Colorado mountains. I enjoy eating all foods and consume over 2300 calories. I strength train for ~ 1 hour x 4-5 days per week. I walk 2.5-3.5 miles every-day with Miss Molly.
I am happier and confident with my body now than any time before. You don’t need to be extreme or restrict yourself to get results. I follow an all-foods fit approach. As a Registered Dietitian and Nutrition Coach my mission now is to prevent other athletes from making the same mistakes I made. 
My purpose in life is to serve others (women) and help them fuel their bodies, improve their relationship with food + fitness, and body image.”
New episodes of the Tough Girl Podcast go live every Tuesday at 7am UK time - Subscribe so you don’t miss a single episode. 
You can support the mission to increase the amount of female role models in the media by visiting
Show notes
  • Who is Abby
  • Living in Denver, Colorado
  • Working as a Registered Dietitian and Nutrition Coach
  • What her early years were like
  • Being 1 of 4 girls
  • Being inspired by her older sister and getting involved in running from a young age
  • Running in college and being a mid range mid pack person
  • Post college getting into longer distances and finding her calling
  • Loving the people in the running community
  • Getting into the longer distances 
  • Running her first trail ultra and building a solid foundation
  • Enjoying the mental side of the physical challenge
  • Why 2013 was her break through year 
  • Putting in the hard work everyday
  • Entering the grand slam of ultra running 4x100 mile races and winning (2013)! (the Western States 100 in California, the Vermont 100 Mile Endurance Run in Vermont, the Leadville Trail 100 in Colorado, and the Wasatch Front 100 Mile Endurance Run in Utah.
  • Post season - and trying to recover
  • Struggling with insomnia, fatigue, blood sugar levels, being anaemic, and not having a menstrual cycle for 3 years
  • Trying to run through the symptoms 
  • Getting support and starting to help herself recover
  • Adrenal Fatigue - HPA Access Disfunction
  • Why Abby started strength training 
  • Having the goal to be as strong as possible
  • Running following a low carb diet - and following keto
  • Dr Stacey Simms - ROAR 
  • Why low carb isn’t the best for women
  • Needing to step away from competitive sports
  • Having more balance in her life with regards to food and fitness
  • Starting her own business
  • Having balance in her life?!
  • What a typical week of training looks like
  • Loving and appreciating rest days
  • Her philosophy with food now - all foods fit
  • How to connect with Abby
  • Final words of advice
  • Figure out why you are making changes
Social Media
Instagram: @abbymcpabby 
Facebook: @AbbyMcQueeneyPenamonte 
Aug 30, 2022
About Sabrina
Sabrina Pace-Humphreys is a 44-year-old mother of 4 and grandmother of 3, an award-winning businesswoman, an ultrarunner, a social justice activist and a recovering alcoholic.

She is a mixed-raced woman, the daughter of a white Scottish Roman Catholic woman and a Black man. 
In July 2020 she co-founded the fast-growing community and campaigning charity, Black Trail Runners, and is also a well-known ultra-marathon runner. She finished the 'toughest footrace on earth', a 250km multi-stage marathon across the Sahara Desert known as the Marathon des Sables, as 10th UK woman and most recently she completed the Spine Race, a non-stop 268 miles race down the Pennine Way. 
Sabrina is the author of Black Sheep: A Story of Rural Racism, Identity and Hope

“In Black Sheep, Sabrina reveals how she got from there to here: about growing up in a home, a school and a town where no-one looked like her and her subsequent struggle to understand and find her identity; about her lived experience of rural racism; about becoming a teenage mother and her determination to break that stereotype; about her battle with alcoholism and her mental health; about how running saved her life; and ultimately about how someone can not only survive but thrive in spite of their past.

Sabrina's experience will chime with anyone who has felt like an outsider. Poignant and eye-opening, and exploring themes of trauma, identity, mental health and addiction, Black Sheep is a tale of triumph: of grit and determination, of hope over despair.”
New episodes of the Tough Girl Podcast go live every Tuesday 7am UK time - Subscribe button so you don’t miss out. 
To find out more about supporting your favourite podcast and becoming a patron please visit
Show Notes
  • Who is Sabrina
  • Previously chatting on the TGP - July 7th 2020
  • What was happening in late 2020
  • Launching Black Trail Runners (BTR) in July 2020
  • Black Trail Runners - writing an open letter to race organisers 
  • Taking about the issues and the lack of diversity in trail runners
  • Moving house, welcoming a new grandchild, running the Ramsey Round
  • Doing the 3 peaks challenge and seeing me at the top of Ben Nevis (Watch the vlog)
  • Building the community of Black Trail Runners and the impact 
  • Having the uncomfortable conversations
  • Collecting ethnicity data
  • Having a BTR race fund 
  • Taking real action and breaking down the barriers
  • Running the 4.5% challenge in 2021
  • Working with youth groups
  • Coping with the mental and emotional pressure
  • Running and mental health
  • Running as a form at activism
  • Understanding her why of running the Spine Race
  • The Spine Race 
  • Working with her running coach Damien Hall
  • Figuring out her race strategy and how her race goals changed over time
  • Focusing on the “B” goal - completing the race
  • Focusing on 10k stretches and reaching certain views 
  • Keeping in the moment and not thinking about the full distance
  • Struggling with sleep deprivation and figuring out a new sleep strategy
  • The power of sleep and needing 30 mins of sleep at every checkpoint
  • Dealing with food pain and having to implement a pain management strategy
  • Training for the Spine Race and what a typical week looked life
  • Doing more back to back training runs and weighted runs
  • Winning her first ultra marathon! 
  • Kissing a wall
  • The lessons learned from running the Spine Race
  • “You can do hard things - you can do this”
  • Being on the June cover of Women’s Running UK 
  • Book: Black Sheep: A Story of Rural Racism, Identity and Hope.
  • Black to the trails - 11th September 2022 - The FIRST trail running event designed, directed and run by Black Trail Runners for Black people, people of colour, and White allies who want to do their bit to diversify the UK trail running scene. 
  • The vision board and hopes for the future
  • Wanting to participate in the UTMB Race
  • Wanting to write a second book about running
Social Media
Instagram: @sabrunsmiles
Twitter: @sabrunsmiles
Black Trail Runners - A community and campaigning charity seeking to increase inclusion, participation and representation of Black people in trail running.
Community and campaigning charity. Registered in England and Wales, No. 1194094.
Black Trail Runners: 
Black to the Trails: 
Twitter: @RunnersBlack 
The Check Point Podcast 
A podcast hosted by Black Trail Runners which discusses access to, skills for and representation of Black people who want to experience, or are experienced in, trail running. Featuring tips, tricks, events, guest interviews and much more.
Aug 23, 2022
Sophie has spent the past 2 years trying to raise awareness of open water swimmers with disabilities in the hope that more people will become inclusive and accepting to people of all abilities. 
She has also spent the past year building a community of athletes with disabilities through her ADOWS Facebook group which now has over 600 people in it. 
Members include those with all sorts of disabilities from people with invisible conditions such as Fibromyalgia and brain injuries to those with visual impairments and amputees. There are also coaches, event organisers and carers in the group so that they can learn the best way to support and include those with disabilities within their work. 
Since starting the group Sophie has worked with The Henley Swim Company and The British Long Distance Swimming Association to help them improve accessibility at their events.
Sophie grew up in Hastings and was an active, fully able-bodied swimmer but in 2011 she was involved in a cycling accident, which resulted in a long diagnostic process before finally being diagnosed with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome; one of the most painful conditions in the world in late 2012. 

Suddenly finding herself struggling to walk and in constant pain was tough. She struggled with being constantly exhausted and to put the cherry on the top; due to hypersensitivity she was unable to wear trousers or leave the house if it was windy because it was too painful for her.
Triathlete to wheelchair user in under a year.
It took several years of struggling with different medications, physiotherapy appointments, hospital stays and falling into a deep depression before she was sent onto a pain management programme. The course was intensive for 3 weeks but in total lasted a year and it was as a result of this course that Sophie rediscovered her love of the water. 
It wasn’t an easy journey back into the water because anything on her legs hurt – including water! 
It was about 6 months before she could get in the local leisure centre pool and start swimming again but as soon as she did she knew it was where she was meant to be.
Since then (2016) she has gone on to not only get back into open water swimming but has taken on some huge swims including The Great East Swim 1 mile (2016) and 5km (2019), The Thames Marathon Swim (2018), 10km in lake Tallyn in Wales (2019), the Swim England Open Water National Championships (2019) and finally, in September 2021 Two Way Windermere, which she completed in 16 hours and 41 minutes!
New episodes of the Tough Girl Podcast go live every Tuesday at 7am UK time - Make sure to subscribe so you don’t miss out. 
To support the mission to increase the amount of female role models in the media. Sign up as a Patron - Thank you. 
Show Notes
  • Who is Sophie
  • Growing up in Hastings
  • How she got into swimming
  • Doing her first 5k at the age of 11
  • Being disqualified from her first swimming gala
  • Playing music in an orchestra
  • Wanting to be a sports physiotherapist
  • Choosing between music and sports or physical education
  • Being diagnosed with epilepsy as a child
  • Playing clarinet and piano as her way to relax
  • Studying music at Anglia Ruskin University Cambridge
  • Going to university and swimming at the same time
  • Joining a local triathlon club
  • Before and after the accident
  • Being diagnosed with Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS)
  • Being on her own while in the middle of her degree
  • From being active to absolutely nothing
  • Feeling all her plans are out of reach
  • Being away from her family
  • Experiencing bullying at university
  • Feeling lost for about five years
  • Being put on a pain management program at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge
  • Getting back into the water and tolerating the pain
  • Falling in love with swimming again
  • Wanting to be a swimming coach again
  • Getting her level two open water coaching qualification
  • Getting help from Straight Line Swimming run by Keri-anne Payne
  • Feeling herself again after 8 years
  • Campaigning for disabled swimmers
  • Creating the community Adaptive/Disabled Open Water Swimmers (ADOWS)
  • Magical moments for her when it comes to swimming
  • Making so many new friends through swimming
  • Doing the Aberdovey Swim in 2019
  • Her plans to do the Two-Way Windermere (2WW) in 2020
  • Using Windermere swim to raise awareness and fundraise for a disability sports charity The Arctic One
  • Having surgery before her two-way swim
  • Pushing through the challenge
  • Her whole experience while doing the Windermere swim
  • Her top tips and advice
Social Media
Instagram @sophie_adaptive_athlete 
Facebook @SEasaptiveathlete 
ADOWS (Adaptive/Disabled Open Water Swimmers) Facebook group 
Aug 16, 2022
Meaghan is a Canadian writer and ultra-endurance cyclist whose two-wheeled adventures have taken her from Haida Gwaii to Mexico’s high plateaus, across Canada and the United States, and from North Cape to Tarifa along some of Europe’s highest paved roads. 
She is a Trans Am Bike Race, NorthCape4000, and Paris-Brest-Paris brevet finisher, as well as the 2019 24-Hour World Time Trial Champion and current course record holder in the women’s division. 
In 2021, Meaghan took the overall win in the 2021 BC Epic 1000 and landed on the podium of the Alberta-Rockies 700. 
Her debut travel memoir, "South Away: The Pacific Coast on Two Wheels" (NeWest Press, 2019) was shortlisted for a two Canadian book awards. 
New episodes of the Tough Girl Podcast go live every Tuesday at 7am UK time - Subscribe so you don’t miss out. 
To support the mission to increase the amount of female role models in the media visit Thank you. 
Show Notes
  • Who is Meaghan
  • Living in British Colombia, Canada
  • Being on a journey of self discovery
  • Her love of sports and competing 
  • Being into sports from a young age
  • Her love of full contact sports 
  • Discovering more solo sports and getting into long distance cycling
  • Structuring her life around the things that she loves
  • The women who have inspired Meaghan
  • Being inspired by Lael Wilcox 
  • Taking on the Trans Am Bike Race across America 2017 
  • Having the courage to sign up for the race
  • Training and getting strong for spending long days on the bike
  • Getting her first Bivvy bag
  • Getting prepared for the race
  • Mental resilience and mental grit and the new lessons that have been learned
  • Having fears and insecurities and being worried about the race
  • Why showing up to the start line is a massive win
  • Taking the pressure off and focusing on the fun
  • Book: How bad do you want it?: Mastering the Psychology of Mind Over Muscle By Matt Fitzgerald 
  • Building up her own toolkit of resilience tips and tricks
  • Dealing with sleep deprivation
  • The balance between suffering and having fun
  • How her training has evolved over the years
  • Investing in an indoor smart trainer (Wahoo Kickr)
  • Focusing on short intense indoor rides and long rides outside
  • How many bikes?!
  • Rest and recovery and injury prevention 
  • Getting into a good routine
  • North Cape 4000 Race 
  • Setting goals and having a race strategy around sleeping for 4hrs each night
  • Food and nutrition while on the bike
  • Advice for women who want to sign up for a new challenge
  • Having people around you who support you
  • Magical moments and feelings of joy while cycling
  • Connect with Meaghan 
  • Writing her book: South Away: The Pacific Coast on Two Wheels
  • Plans for 2022
  • Her aim of being - consistently consistent 
Social Media
Instagram @meaghanhackinen 
Facebook @meaghanhackinen 
Book: South Away: The Pacific Coast on Two Wheels 
*Shortlisted for the Sixth Annual Rakuten Kobo Emerging Writer Prize - Nonfiction Category & Shortlisted for Best Trade Non-Fiction at the 2020 Book Publishing Awards!
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