Sacha is an Australian-born conservationist, adventurer and motivational speaker. She works for the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT) in the UK. Over the past 20 years, Berwick swan numbers have nearly halved with just 20,000 remaining in the wild but experts are unsure what is causing the population crash. Sacha had an idea to investigate the problem, which she though was crazy at first.
However, after 18 months of planning in the winter of 2016, Sacha decided to followed their entire 7,000 km migration route from Arctic Russia to the UK. She did this by flying with the birds on a paramotor. Essentially hanging from a paraglider with a propellor on her back!
During this podcast, we learn more about her early life, growing up in Australia, before moving over to the UK. Sacha also shares more about her life as a champion free-diver! She provides advices and top tips that you’ll be able to apply to your next challenge or adventure!
Website - http://www.sachadench.com
Instagram - @sacha_dench
Twitter - @sachadench
The Tough Girl Podcast has also been nominated for the Women’s Sport Trust #BeAGameChanger Award - which is fantastic news and really shows what an impact the podcast is having. However, I’m up against some massive organisations - Manchester City, Channel 4 and Sky Sports!!!
I would be very grateful if you could take a moment, to vote (every vote really does make a difference!) http://www.womenssporttrust.com/bagc2018/
*** Stacey Copeland is also up for individual role model of the year.***
Voting ends on the 13th May and the awards night is the 24th May.
Kiko a former teacher, now turned SUPer and adventurer, at 36, rowed 3,000 nautical miles from Gran Canaria to Barbados in 49 days! Gaining a new Guinness World Record in the process!
Solo and unsupported, she was rowing for up to 16 hours a day, sleeping in two-hour shifts. What makes this story even more incredible is that in 2009, Kiko, was diagnosed with Cushing's disease, a rare condition that made even walking up the stairs impossible.
The tumour on her pituitary gland also caused severe memory loss, psychosis, diabetes, osteoporosis, insomnia and muscle wastage.
In order to give back Kiko stated fundraising for Kings College Hospital Charity, who helped save her life. Whilst in the middle of her training to row the Atlantic, she was diagnosed with a second tumour which was successfully removed in August 2017.
In March 2018, she smashed the previous record or 56 days and in the process motivated and inspired others to challenge themselves to do the unthinkable.
During this podcast we learn more about Kiko; her life, the decisions she’s made and the challenges she’s overcome, what she has learnt on the way and why she wants to continue to inspire and motivate others. She also give a few hints about her next challenge!
Personal Website - http://www.kikomatthews.co.uk
Twitter - @Kikomatthews
Donate here to help raise funds for Kings College Hospital Charity - https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/kikomatthews
I'm excited to be up for an award at this year’s @womensporttrust #BeAGameChanger Awards! Please vote for me here - http://www.womenssporttrust.com/bagc2018/
Fiona Oakes is a British marathon runner, who holds three world records for marathon running. In 2013, she won both the Antarctic Ice Marathon and the North Pole Marathon. She runs despite losing a knee cap from an illness when she was 17.
At 48, she holds three world records, including becoming the fastest woman to run seven marathons in seven continents, plus the north pole, with an aggregate time of 31 hours 11 mins and 53 secs.
Fiona Oakes Foundation -http://fionaoakesfoundation.co.uk/about/
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/fionaoakes/
Twitter - @Marathonfiend
Tower Hill Stables Animal Sanctuary - http://www.towerhillstables.com
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/towerhillstables
Twitter - @towerhillstable
Cazz has developed a liking for taking on challenges that usually involve her walking long distances, running long distances, or swimming long distance! She’s a big fan of spontaneous adventures, dancing in the rain and eating cake!
In June 2018, Cazz is pushing the boat out (pun intended) and rowing 2400 miles across the Pacific Ocean, she’s competing in the Great Pacific Race! Along with two other women she’ll row from California to Hawaii in a 26ft Ocean Rowing Boat! There aim is to be the first ever crew of three (male or female) to row the Pacific and the youngest crew of three females to row any ocean in the world!
Personal - https://www.cazzlander.com
Pacific Traffic - https://pacificterrific.com
Charlene Gibson grew up as a studious bookworm, who wasn't keen on the outdoors. She is an only child who was brought up by her Mum and Nana in a pretty rough area of Scotland, near Glasgow. Although an avid reader of Enid Blyton's Famous Five books, there was really nothing adventurous about her at all. However, in her mid 30s, following the break-up of a long-term relationship, she discovered her inner adventurer when, to avoid spending Christmas alone, she booked on a trekking holiday to Morocco. Despite the horror of having to nip behind a rock, armed with only a roll of toilet paper and some matches, she discovered that she loved the trip (albeit still not quite used to nipping behind a rock!) and decided that she wanted more. Trips to Turkey, Morocco (again), Kazakhstan, India, Peru and Nepal followed, with each trip being more strenuous and challenging than the last. That could only lead to one thing - mountaineering!
In 2013 she decided to aim high and successfully summited Mera Peak in Nepal, which is classed as a 'trekking' peak. Despite the success, it highlighted to her the limits of her mountaineering skillset and how fortunate she'd been that nothing had gone wrong. Several high-quality mountaineering courses later and rather more experience under her belt saw her looking for a worthy challenge to help celebrate (or commiserate) turning 50 in 2016. And what better challenge than attempting an 8000m peak for the first time.
On 1st October 2016, Charlene became the oldest British woman to summit Cho Oyu (8201m) and living proof that the most unlikely people can sometimes do the most surprising things - it's certainly been a surprise to her mother.
As of March 2018, her Cho Oyu record still stands, but will be under threat in Spring 2018, when two British women will be vying for it.
Charlene's next challenge is to attempt Ama Dablam in October 2018
Twitter - @MadOldCatWoman
Catching up with Anna-Marie Watson who we last spoke with a year ago. Anna-Marie constantly pushes her own mental and physical boundaries and has achieved considerable success at an elite international level in various endurance sports. Anna-Marie combines the disciplines of ultra running and long distance triathlon with the odd adventure race thrown in for good measure.
Her endurance journey spans over thirteen years with an initial gentle introduction with the London marathon (2004 and 2007), CCC race of the UTMB series (2007) and Everest Marathon (2007). Recent ultra-running career highlights include placing 7th lady in the Ultra Trail de Mont Blanc (2017), 1st lady in Half Marathon des Sables Fuerteventura (2017) and finishing 2nd lady in the Marathon des Sables (2015) .
Over the last two years Anna-Marie has achieved podium finishes in the multi day trail runs organised by XNRG Cotswolds Way, Round the Island, Devil's Challenge along the South Downs Way, then placed 1st Lady in the Brutal Events The ONER (130km) along the Jurassic Coast and Ultra Trail World Tour Future Series Cappadocia 110km Ultra in Central Turkey.
She also ventures over to the "dark side" of triathlon and has raced the Ironman 70.3 World Championships twice in Las Vegas and Mont Tremblant placing in the top third of her age group.
Website & Blog: www.rfmcoaching.com
As her day job, Katherine works as a physiotherapist for the Swedish Olympic sailing team. In her double life she is a qualified Yachtmaster Ocean, offshore racer and has won international speed sailing competitions and the women's European title in her foiling Moth. She has sailed in the far north and rounded Cape Horn. However and wherever she has travelled, her inspiration has remained the same, to share the beauty and fun of playing outdoors and inspire everyone to follow their own adventure.
After receiving the sudden news of losing her father whilst on the other side of the world backpacking, Lindsey threw herself into adventure to deal with the grief. Having not ridden a bike since at school, she decided to cycle to Paris.
She liked it. So, she cycled the length of Britain. She liked that too and then scaled the African continent. But, she didn’t just stick to adventuring on two wheels.
She ran from her home in London to Manchester, carrying a ukulele to busk on arrival. Hearing the absurdity of her latest challenge, the local radio station got her to sing and play each night live. The only problem was that she couldn’t play or sing.
She then turned to eight wheels, and roller skated to Paris, whilst learning en route. And, having been inspired by the story she read ten years earlier, she trekked for ten weeks on her own, across the Australian outback, following the Rabbit Proof Fence, retracing the amazing journey of three young sisters.
2017 - Truck Tales - circumnavigating Australia with Truck Drivers
2016 - Walking the Rabbit Proof Fence
2013 - To Bude in the Nude- 150 mile roller-skate to Bude in a nude suit, because it rhymed!
2013 - Je Parle Franglais en skates - Rollerskating to Paris whilst learning French
2013 - Running with Kenyans - Turned 30 and wanted to run a sub 3.0hr marathon. It didn't happen!
2012 - Runkule - 250 mile run to Manchester playing the ukulele
2012 - Running to Wales - Ran from London to see a friend for a cup of tea
Website & Blog - https://www.lindseycole.co.uk
Twitter - @LindseyCole
Instagram - @Stompycole
Cal is a stand up paddle boarder, surfer, ocean lover and vet. Increasingly upset by the amount of plastic waste she was finding in the ocean, she wanted to connect people to the harm that it was causing, but moreover to empower people to make positive changes to help prevent it.
So she turned to adventure in 2016 she stand up paddle boarded the entire Cornish coast in a bid to demonstrate the problems surrounding single use plastic water bottles; a 260 mile epic ocean voyage. In 2017 she circumnavigated the Isle of Skye’s 400 miles of coastline on a paddle board! Cal also shares with us, what she has got planned in 2018! It's EPIC!!!
Paddle Against Plastic
Paddle Against Plastic was set up by Cal Major in 2016 as a way to reach people and talk about the issue of plastic pollution.
Paddle Against Plastic uses epic stand up paddle boarding adventures to capture peoples’ imagination, highlight the issue of plastic pollution so close to home, and to promote positive change by proposing simple solutions that we can all be proud and excited to be a part of.
Cal was unable to stand the amount of plastic washing up on her favourite surfing beaches any more without doing something about it, and so Paddle Against Plastic: Cornwall 2016 was born as a way to reach out to people.
Katie-Jane L’Herpiniere has a passion for adventure, challenging her limits both physically and mentally, and exploring this wonderful world in which we live.
After university Katie had the opportunity to build a career as a commercial model, on fashion shows for household names such as Marks and Spencer’s, Tony & Guy and Alexander McQueen, photo shoots and a number of Film and TV projects including having body-doubled for Cameron Diaz.
Then in 2005, Katie met polar explorer Tarka L'Herpiniere, and they were quick to find they had little in common. Tarka was less than impressed with her manicured nails and face full of makeup, likewise, Katie did not see Tarka as the ‘all-action hero’ that his accolades suggest, more a really ‘odd’ Frenchman who seemed to find enjoyment in throwing himself into frozen lakes! It wasn’t long before the facades were broken and by 2006 Katie had left behind her life as a model and made the gigantic leap from exhibitionist to expeditionist.
In 2007, after 167 days and 4500km Katie & Tarka, in an incredible feat of determination, became the first recognised people to walk unsupported the entire length of the Great Wall of China, from its western most terminus to its eastern most.
From the completion of this challenge, Katie realised that any feeling of accomplishment, achievement or success is directly proportional to the effort, commitment and hardship put into achieving it.
Having discovered this newfound inner strength, she has since gone on to fill her life with many more adventures. Including; the longest crossing of the Southern Patagonian Ice Cap by a woman, cycling across Africa on a vintage African bicycle with no brakes or gears unsupported, raced in the Transcontinental unsupported single stage 4000km bike race across Europe, lived in a floating tent in -50C on the Arctic Ocean, and has nearly lost her life on many numbers of occasions.
Jane was born in Edinburgh and brought up in North Yorkshire. After reading English at Somerville College, Oxford, she became an antiquarian book dealer, and later a writer. Her ten books to date have been critically acclaimed, and have confirmed her as one of our most engaging and original social historians.
Jane lives near Oxford with her husband and - during university holidays - her two sons. She writes full time, apart from when she's happily travelling to give talks or broadcasts about her books, or working one day a week at Somerville College as an assistant archivist.
Her most recent book came out in January 2018 - Hearts And Minds: The Untold Story of the Great Pilgrimage and How Women Won the Vote. This is a story of ordinary people effecting extraordinary change. By turns dangerous, exhausting and exhilarating, the Great Pilgrimage transformed the personal and political lives of women in Britain for ever. Jane Robinson has drawn from diaries, letters and unpublished accounts to tell the inside story of the march, against the colourful background of the entire suffrage campaign.
Visit her blog and website - http://www.jane-robinson.com
Hélène has just come back to the UK after 18 months adventuring in her VW camper-van travelling with her bikes, and finding the best places to triathlon train in Europe!
In 2016 Hélène represented Great Britain at Age Group level for the European ironman and half ironman championships in Poland and Austria, in 2017, it was Ironman Austria, where she qualified for the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii!
Twitter - @WhereWheelsGo
Instagram - @WhereWheelsGo
Hope Virgo suffered with anorexia for over 4 years, before being admitted to a Mental Health Hospital in 2007. She lived in the hospital for a year, fighting one of the hardest battles of her life. Since being discharged, she has fought to stay well.
Hope has now written about her journey with anorexia, in her book, Stand Tall Little Girl. Hope uses her experiences of mental health illness to champion the rights of others, inspire them to get well, and help break the stigma of mental illness.
Hope lives and works in London. In her spare time, she volunteers for refugee charities, and charities that support young and abandoned children. She is a dedicated runner, and has a keen interest in maintaining good mental health through healthy eating and exercise.
Twitter - @SuzieImberSpace
Anna, is a British born adventurer, motivational speaker, influencer and author. She was recently named by Condé Nast Traveller as one of the 50 most influential travellers of our time, and by the the Guardian as one of the top modern female adventurers . She is also proud to be the UK Ambassador for Girl Guiding, and the co-founder of Adventure Queens; the UK’s fastest growing women’s adventure community.
Connect with Anna - Support & follow!
Website - https://annamcnuff.com
Twitter - @AnnaMcNuff
Instagram - @Annamcnuff
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/AMcNuff/
Faye found her adventure mojo in 2014, since then she’s taken on a new challenge each year; from climbing Kilimanjaro, to cycling the length of New Zealand solo and most recently coming back from spending 6 months cycling the Andes.
Twitter - @Faye_Shepherd -
Instagram - @faye_shepherd
Fiona is an adventurer, speaker and entrepreneur who loves to get outside and push her limits on expeditions big and small, meeting new people and discovering tasty cake stops en route. In 2017 she walked and cycled the length of Britain and in 2018 is due to set a new world record by becoming the first person to SUP Britain. When she's not adventuring you'll find her running Adventure Book Club and coaching entrepreneurs.
A former corporate business management specialist within the banking sector, she's now fully focused upon soul sustaining adventuring with purpose. Megan has mountaineered across the globe and has scaled some of the world’s most famous peaks such as Elbrus and Mera Peak. Megan is one half of the all-female adventure team Dare two Do. Megan is an advocate of adventures in any shape or size, is partial to an overnight bivi wild camp under the stars as well as an epic self-powered voyage, and is an avid fan of all that’s deemed a challenge.
Mina is a 36 year old Primary School teacher who discovered the beauty of long-distance running in her late 20's. She would say she’s very ordinary and just someone who has a love of long distance running and spending time outdoors.
She hopes by sharing the different challenges and adventures she has, that it might in some way inspire you to take that step to actually do the things you really want to in your life. She believes that just by telling people the things you want to do it will start to make them more of a reality.
So say out loud what you want to do with your life and see what happens!
Mina is not a sponsored athlete, she doesn’t win the races she enters, she is a normal woman who has followed her passions!
Antonia Bolingbroke-Kent is a travel writer, TV producer and director of Edge Expeditions. She’s written three books, penned numerous articles for magazines, set an unlikely Guinness World Record for driving a tuk tuk 12,500 miles from Bangkok to Brighton and filmed in remote locations from Bolivia to Borneo and beyond.
Her latest book, Land of the Dawn-lit Mountains: A Journey Across Arunachal Pradesh – India’s Forgotten Frontier.
Website - http://www.theitinerant.co.uk
Leijerstam started her expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf at the edge of the Antarctic continent. She cycled for 10hrs to 17hrs each day with no rest days, and the total distance cycled was 638 km (396 mi).
Leijerstam cycled a uniquely designed, three wheeled Polar Cycle, a modernised form of polar travel, demonstrating that cycling can be more efficient than skiing to the South Pole.
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If you have questions about me, the podcast, what I’m doing… then please check out my website
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If you have questions regarding the Marathon des Sables - Please read - Tough Girl Sahara Challenge
If you have questions regarding climbing Kilimanjaro - Please read - Kilimanjaro Tips for The Top
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Beth French, an ultra-marathon open-sea ocean swimmer who was once a Buddhist nun, a single mother who home schools her autistic son and an adventurer who suffered from a crippling illness (M.E. aka Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) in her youth.
During this podcast we speak to Beth about her journey to swim across the seven most dangerous sea-channels in the world, an official challenge called ‘Oceans Seven'. For extreme swimmers it’s the ultimate test; only a handful of people have ever completed it, but it took them many years.
In September 2016, Beth set out to become the first person ever to conquer Oceans Seven in a 12-months period.
Her motivation: to prove to her autistic son that you are not determined by your circumstances and that you can fulfill your dreams and ambitions by confronting obstacles head on.
“I'm in it to swim it and it's not over till I run out of water.”
On Thursday - hear more from Beth on Tough Girl Extra - The Quick Fire Round!!
What a journey it has been! There have been high points (a new baby!), low points (trying to raise £21K), focus, dedication, commitment, success and failure. New skills have been learned, new challenges ticked off bucket lists and fears overcome.
I would like to extend a massive thank you to all of the seven women who have been involved in this project since December 2016. It is not easy to put yourself out there, and to share your story with the world (the tough girl podcast is listened to in 172 countries).
These women, all stepped up, they have shared honestly about their experience, the good bits and the bad and I hope you have all managed to take something away from all of their collective experiences.
For the full show notes - please visit www.toughgirlchallenges.com
Please become a patron at www.patreon.com/toughgirlpodcast
2017! What a year it has been!! So much has been achieved, but where has the time gone? The weeks have disappeared and flown by! I for one am so excited to be able to look back on the year and see what I've learned on this journey! Here is to a fantastic 2018 as well!!
You can listen to my reflections on 2016 and plans for 2017 here -