I am a Wonderful Wild Woman!
Last year I got an email from Sarah at Wonderful Wild Women, asking me if I'd like to speak at their 4th birthday bash, which was taking place the following February. Now, for those of you who haven't heard of Wonderful Wild Women, they're a collective of women, doing (as you may have already guessed) wonderful things out in the wild.
They have an awesome Instragram feed, with pictures that usually make me feel very lazy indeed. I totally aspire to be like them, but often feel I'm:
a) too old
b) too unfashionable
c) spend too much time behind a keyboard rather than out in the wild.
They started out as a small group in Cumbria, but their influence has grown and they now have tens of thousands of followers, all around the world.
To be invited to speak at their birthday bash was such a shock, and also a total honour.
But what could I possibly say that would interest this group of incredible women???
However, the more I thought about it, the more I realised we all have stories to tell about the journey we've been on. I may not have been out and done some world record breaking cycle ride, or climbed an uncharted peak, or run across a continent. But I've been on my own journey, involving cycling, setting up a business and bringing my kids along for the ride. And so it was I pulled together a slide show that included many of the things we've been up to, such as our first family cycling mini adventure along the Cornish Coast to Coast path, and how we returned several years later much wiser!
I mentioned our various trips, including The Netherlands, French Alps, Canada, America and Wales as well as our more local rides in Cumbria (such as my first road sportive with the eldest Sprog). I also discussed my attempts to make Cycle Sprog into a business, along with my own more recent long distance cycling adventures, when I left the Sprogs at home (which I've not yet written up!)
I then proudly gave my little talk at Saturday's birthday bash to a lovely audience of (mainly women) who kindly laughed and nodded at all the right places as I took them on my own particular journey.
I was just one of the speakers that evening, and I thought Cycle Sprog readers would like to find out more about the other Wonderful Wild Women I shared a stage with. Feel free to follow them, read their stories, support them and generally be inspired!
First up was Angela White (aka the Runny Granny) - she started ultra distance running at the age of 53 and last September ran from John O'Groats to Lands End, setting a World Record for the oldest woman to do this.
As an NHS doctor, she had no qualms in sharing lots of tales of the stresses and strains her body went through during this epic journey, together with the highs and lows of life as a long distance runner. She also shared some great wisdom about not letting our preconceived ideas about ourselves and our worth stop us doing things. (A timely reminder for me - thank goodness I'd said "yes" to this talk, rather than feeling I wasn't worthy!) Angela was fundraising for a new social enterprise she's setting up called Going for Old - which is aiming to encourage, motivate and inspire people to make small, positive lifestyle choices to improve their physical and mental health throughout life.
I think it's incredible that Angela had only been running for five years when she set herself the JOGLE challenge and seven years when she did it. Hence her motto "You're never too old to set a new goal of dream a new dream"
Next up was Kate O'Callaghan, a Wonderful Wild Woman ambassador, who was talking about her life since remission from cancer.
Kate certainly made me realise we should take every opportunity that comes our way and live life to the full. It was wonderful to hear Kate say she realised she must stop labelling herself as a "cancer survivor" as that in itself was having certain impacts on her life view.
Julie Carter is a veteran fell running champion, climber, doctor, writer and poet, who has recently made a wonderful film about what fell running means to her:
Whilst I was watching it, all I could think of was how this absolutely captured how I feel about cycling - I found myself whispering "I am a cyclist" along with her.
Julie spoke passionately about how running has positively impacted every aspect of her life, and inspired her writing.
I already knew the final speaker, Jane Reedy (also known as Speedy Reedy) as she had taught my youngest Sprog.
Jane has always relished in outdoor challenges, and certainly hasn't let two significant cancers, both with life changing consequences, stop her. Last summer she devised a fund raising challenge called Pedal to the Peaks, which involved climbing Ben Nevis, Snowdon and Scarfell and cycling between them. It was a real family affair, with her young daughter Tess supporting her all the way, and even joining in on some of the cycling.
The event ended with a couple of short films, including Free Flow - which certainly shows climbing in Wales in a totally different light!
And finally, the evening ended with this awesome film which features my neighbour, the amazing Gilly McArthur, who swam outdoors every day in January to raise money for mental health charities.
It was incredible to be part of such an inspiring event, and I certainly learnt a lot from the other speakers about the need to just get up and do things, and don't let your mental and physical battles get in the way!
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