The Women’s Adventure Expo 2016 took place in Bristol yesterday, bringing together a huge number of like-minded women to hear inspiring stories, learn from the experts and chat about all things adventure. I went along with Aoife, a local biking buddy and future adventure ally. I thought I’d share some of things I learnt from the amazing women I met and listened to on the day.
First up, the opening address: the day was opened by none other than chief mischief-maker Anna McNuff. If you haven’t heard of Anna, go and read about her straight away, as she really is the most incredible human. She’s cycled the 50 states of America, run the length of New Zealand and has raised thousands of pounds to help get kids out adventuring too. If you ever get the opportunity to hear Anna speak, take it with both hands. She’s possibly the most naturally enthusiastic person you could ever hope to listen to and she set the tone for the rest of the day brilliantly. Oh, and she has some amazing unicorn leggings!
Anna introduced us to Lucky, one of the sisters behind Three Sisters Adventure Trekking in Nepal. Lucky spoke with passion about the social enterprise she set up back in 1994, when there were no women leading treks in Nepal. She described the organisation as “by women, for women” and explained how it empowers Nepalese women by training them to become trek leaders, enabling them to capitalise on the adventure tourism trade that is so important to the Nepalese economy. My top quote from Lucky was this: “We’re changing the world, one woman at a time”.
Next, I headed off to a session run by The Adventure Syndicate, whose strapline is ‘Inspire. Encourage. Enable’. The Adventure Syndicate is a relatively new thing – a collective of extraordinary cyclists who happen to be women and who aim to challenge what others think they are capable of. We were lucky enough to hear talks from two of those women – Sarah Outen and Kate Rawles – both of whom had amazing stories to share about some incredible long distance bike rides they’ve undertaken.
Sarah talked about her ‘London2London: Via the World’ expedition, which saw her attempt to kayak, cycle and row 25,000 miles around the Northern Hemisphere, while Kate spoke with passion about The Carbon Cycle, a 4,553 mile ride along the spine of the Rockies with the goal of combining an adventurous journey with a powerful piece of environmental communication. My favourite quote from Sarah was: “Adventure biking really is just like riding a bike”. And from Kate, this: “The bike is a magician. It’ll turn a journey that would be boring by car into something truly amazing”.
The next workshop I went to was something a little different. It was run by Freestak, a platform for connecting endurance sports influencers with brands. The platform itself looks really interesting – you can build an adventure profile and there’s potential for you to hook up with brands who want to sponsor an adventure or who are looking for someone to take part in their campaigns. Definitely worth a look. The talk was focused on how to share your adventure, and some useful insight was given, particularly by Lenka Istanova, whose running website is well worth a visit.
After a spot of lunch, it was time to head to what turned out to be my favourite workshop of the day – one run by Ali Mahoney, a Performance Psychology Coach who cycled 767 miles from Pontypridd to Chamonix after getting inspired at the Womens Adventure Expo last year. Ali’s talk was so insightful – she shared practical tips for getting yourself started on an adventure and for completing it too. Ali explained the importance of mental preparedness – it’s as important as physical preparedness and self talk is a key place to start. Super interesting. My favourite quote from Ali: “Every pedal revolution is a bit more distance traveled”.
The day rounded off with a super panel discussion on mountaineering. It was moderated by Anna McNuff and featured six women who have achieved some momentous things in the mountains. I can’t tell you how inspiring it was to watch a panel made up entirely of women, who didn’t focus on the fact that they were women but instead on the amazing things that they had done as people. It was so good!
Outside of the workshops and discussions, I was lucky enough to bump into Sarah Williams, founder of the Tough Girl Podcast. The podcast succeeds in inspiring me each week as I sit on the train on the way to work. If you haven’t listened to it yet, I can’t recommend it enough. Download it and you’ll learn so much about what it’s possible to achieve with a sprinkling of passion and a huge dollop of determination. Get listening now!
And that concludes my round-up of the Women’s Adventure Expo 2016. I can honestly say that I loved it. It was a brilliant day, organised by some super people and attended by many more. I’m already looking forward to the 2017 event!