Sophie Radcliffe (AKA Challenge Sophie) is an adventurer, endurance athlete, blogger, writer, motivational speaker. Get listening

Sophie Radcliffe

August 6, 2020

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show notes

Editor credit: A big thank you to our editor Jakub Marzec (Kuba) for his work on this!

  • Life in lock down
  • Sophie's favourite place for adventure
  • Sophie's journey into adventure
  • How to have the courage to make a change
  • The outdoors as the school of life
  • The Alpine Challenge - a world first
  • The power of social media
  • Body confidence
  • Women in adventure
  • Trail Blazers
  • Van life

FULL transcription

Sophie Radcliffe  0:00  

Just at one point we actually got helicopters into the jungle and armed with a machete and they said, Okay, you got to go make your jungle camp.


George Beesley  0:21  

Hey, it's George and welcome to the call to adventure podcast. We are on a mission to help create happier people and a healthier planet. So let's get after it. Hello and welcome to another episode of call to adventure. So we're still in lockdown, but unlimited exercise outside is allowed which is awesome. So I managed to get out and about on a couple of bike rides and wild swims. Wild camping is still a little way off but won't be too long. We've actually just added a few more lockdown beating adventures over at calltoadventure.uk one being bikeglamping up in the Peak District which is two days bikepacking, staying in a luxury belt  overnight as opposed to roughing it in your bivvy bags. So the best of both worlds. There's a fire pit, a wood burning stove, and even a loo with a view. So you still wild camping in the woods. But with a super comfy camp. The guides are there to get you set up, make sure you're happy but then it's self guided which makes it feel more of an adventure and obviously means that you can socially distance without any problems at all. So head over to calltoadventure.uk for more on that other adventures and loads of free content. But now on to today's guest Sophie is an adventure athlete, a blogger, a writer and motivational speaker. She completed a world first Alpine coast to coast challenge climbing the highest mountains in the eight Alpine countries and biking between them over 32 days. She cycled London to Paris in 24 hours nine times done multi sport races around the world bike raced across the UK spoke at TEDx completed 100 kilometer ultra marathons and is a two time Iron Man finisher. We cover a lot in this episode from the beauty of adventuring right on your doorstep Sophie's journey quitting her unfulfilling job in sales in London in search for life of adventure, her first adventure race out in Borneo, the benefits of adventure and dealing with everyday life, body confidence and the importance of functionality over aesthetics, the power of social media as a force for good, and her epic van conversion. So enjoy today's episode of culture adventure with Sophie Radcliffe. Sophie, thanks for coming on the show.


Sophie Radcliffe  2:34  

Thank you, George. I'm really excited to be here.


I'm so glad that the world has opened up for us. Have this time to have this wonderful conversation.


George Beesley  3:02  

That's one thing that locked down has been great for, I must say finally getting hold of adventurers who are normally out and about always really tricky to nail down, whereas people are actually around now, which has been really, really good. How's lockdown been for you?


Sophie Radcliffe  3:16  

You know, it's exactly as you just said, normally being so out and about, and I've absolutely loved the calm and the peace from it. Obviously, it's challenging as it is for everybody, not knowing what's coming next, loss of work, just life just changing in a heartbeat. But I've kind of adapted really quickly and just find other ways to get the energy that I normally get from going out adventuring and doing my work and you know, really loving the slow pace of life as well has been amazing. So I've been out on my bike in law and finding little rivers to go swim in and just focusing on different areas. My work, I don't know we have time to do.


George Beesley  3:49  

Yeah, I saw a couple of days ago. I think it was on Instagram, that you'd also been out for a bike ride and a wild swim and I went out with a friend yesterday doing that and like you say the weather was really good. And it was one of those moments where you couldn't really be happier in life, even though it's in my in my hometown in my home county, and we just went for Yeah, little half an hour hour or so bike ride to the river and then just got it and it was that perfect temperature where it was refreshing but not freezing cold The sun was out. And it really makes you appreciate those little things right when we may be normally used to doing bigger adventures but further afield but that was probably where I wanted to be more than anywhere else in the world right then. And it was it was great.


Sophie Radcliffe  4:32  

I couldn't agree more. It's so wonderful and just to actually really appreciate what we have on our home turf. Scotland has for many many years been my favorite place on the planet and I'm dying to get up and weigh I've feel like I'm indulging in my inner child as well because I go out for little walks and pick flowers and press flowers and I'm making gifts from them and you know, that's a far cry from you know, climbing mountains and cyclocross countries but it brings me so much joy just to be out in nature and reconnect and just have the time to focus on things that are more creative or more playful or more exploratory and just yeah, it's amazing what we have here and I think that hopefully it's given us all an opportunity and it will do in the coming months as we you know, it's much gonna be much more difficult to travel to just go out and explore the beautiful UK


George Beesley  5:25  

I've really been focusing on that now for the trips that we're running for call to adventure I mean, we don't really have a choice because you're you're pretty much confined to the UK but it's really made me focus look back here and turn the lens back to home. And there's just so many amazing things to do. We went up to Scotland and I really don't know Scotland very well because yeah, I guess like a lot of people you dream of the really exciting exotic places far away and and you think that you'll save the doorstep for later in life. But we had an amazing time we went up on a winter ascent have Ben Nevis and learning winter mountains skills. And it was it was great. It was really, really snowy. We had everything that you should have in Scotland and four seasons of weather in a day beautiful sunshine, and then hailstorm and proper snow and have the crampons on and doing lots of ice axes and self arrests. And it was such a good weekend it was as good or as good of fun or as good an adventure as I've had anywhere. So yeah, Scotland is somewhere that I don't know as well as I would like to but I'm, I'm really keen to get up there and, and explore a bit more. Have you got any top tips or good places for me to check out?


Sophie Radcliffe  6:31  

So many Okay, so Glencoe is my favorite place on the entire planet. There is something about it that is just completely magical. It's really often been nervous. They can go ons are amazing. You know, you can do all kinds of amazing adventure sports now just go walking and in the whole of Scotland. I personally one of my favorite things to do in the whole of my life is taking the sleeper train from London to Scotland. It's like for me for me, it's so much of adventure in itself is actually kind of reigniting the way that I used to feel about like freedom exploring when I was a child. And I never really, this is going a bit off track, but it just kind of pops my mind I thought was quite relevant. I wasn't born into an adventurous family at all. But I used to just like get my bike and take myself off on a little, you know, probably was like a mile two mile bike ride back a little picnic, and go and sit with the horses in the field or go and like explore the woods with my dog and make dens and stuff like that. And that, to me was adventure and it was freedom. And so often I get that feeling when I'm out on adventures now, like if I got to the Cayman Islands, and again, climb a mountain obviously it's on a much bigger scale and it might be snowy, but I still got my low pack lunch with me and I still couldn't sit by a tree and have it and I just feel that same sense of freedom and wonder and curiosity which draws me to adventure and I really love it in Scotland because there's you know, it's real wilderness up there. And like you You don't need to go to Alaska or the North Pole or any of these far flung places. It's, you know, the Scottish weather is not reliable, but when you get it, it's just so incredible. And last year I cycled the north coast 500 which is quite iconic 500 mile cycle right around Scotland, started in vaness Castle and ends in Inverness castle. So obviously 500 miles cycling, and a lot of people do is a road trip. There's a lot of, you know, motorcyclists and cars and camper vans out there as well and not cyclists. And honestly, I mean, the last 10 years of my life, I've cycled in so many beautiful locations all over the world, but this just absolutely blew me away. It was so beautiful and say that it wasn't just like, is beautiful. It's just the diversity of the beauty. It changed so often you know, from these loch's to these towering mountains to gold sandy beaches with crystal clear blue water look like they could be in the Mediterranean. Huh? It's all there. And I think it's just such a wonderful place to explore. Anyway, you got me on a on a bit of a roll because I miss Scotland a lot and you've just given me an open thing to talk about it so


George Beesley  9:14  

No, I think that's great I I've got the north coast 500 trail as one of my things to do on my bucket list on my wall. So it looks like one of the really big adventures that you can do here on a bike that's almost like a kind of long distance bike tour, like 500 miles take a few days off and and really get out into the wilderness. So yeah, that's, that's going to be on my on my list this year. For sure.


Sophie Radcliffe  9:36  

It's one of those things that you can really take as as I mean, okay, so let's just be honest about it. Some people do do it in like three days. I did it in six days, and that I met some people on it who did it in five, and they won't repeat what they said, but they were just like, you don't have time to go to the toilet. It's been really really hardcore and really rushed. Six days for me was perfect and it was the amount of time I had to do it in, but you could go for like a month and just still not see everything and do everything because there's just so many gorgeous coves and beaches and I knew that's the thing you can wild camp there. There's all these amazing campsites that you can stay in, you know, you don't have to book you can just you can just take it as you go. And that, for me is like a huge part of an adventure. You know, remember, I think an adventure is when you've got a plan to go from A to B. But what happens in between is always, you know, changing and up for grabs. And I love that I love like, even just being on the north coast 500 I genuinely, like I started from inverness Castle, and I was like, Okay, cool. So why should I ride to on my first day, and I just thought, well, this place looks good. And it was before the big hill and the whole climb and I really love that like some people love to have everything planned, and I totally get that and for me, it just works really well. Just that not really having a plan and just go for it. And then just everyday decide, yeah, this looks like a cool place to stay or Let's stop here for lunch. And, you know, if you had more time, you could go climb this mountain and go climb this hill and, you know, go to the distilleries and drink some whiskey, and just so much great stuff to do up there.


George Beesley  11:11  

Yeah, I think it's really good for you to experience a trip without loads of planning. To make it a proper adventure. I think there's something more that you get from it. If you do it like that. Sometimes there needs to be planning and especially if you're doing a race or something, but a lot of the reward that I certainly found when we've been biking around places is when you just let things kind of go with the flow and like you say, have a, an A and a B. That's when the magic happens. And you end up meeting weird and wonderful people and stumbling upon amazing places. And I think most of the best stories come from when we've taken a real big detour and then things have nearly gone wrong, and then it's all worked out. And


Sophie Radcliffe  11:50  

that's what makes an adventure. Otherwise, it could just be more of a holiday or a trip.


George Beesley  11:54  

Yeah. So you said that you didn't really grow up in a Kind of Adventurous way. So what was the tipping point and what was your journey into adventure?


Sophie Radcliffe  12:03  

I did grow up in the countryside. And I love that and I moved to London when I was 11 years old. And then my life became quite sort of London based. I went to school in central London, we didn't do we did do sport, but we were horrendous at it. So, you know, I don't come from a sporty kind of background. And I was pretty unfair and, and never really done much camping or hiking when I got into it. But what got me into it was a ambition to explore. And not just the world but to explore myself and see what I was capable of achieving. I always always had this drive and desire inside me to to do something, you know, impact with my life to help others to find out what I could achieve, and to really just figure out how to be the best version of myself. And what I found was that my job that I ended up getting when I graduate from university with a sales job nine to five in a London tech startup and that Wasn't the place I was going to find out the answers to any of these questions. And I also, you know, had this really burning desire to, to really like I felt like the tools that you need for life, to be emotionally and mentally strong to be able to survive the storms and I consider it as Coronavirus is a storm that we're all having to figure out how to survive, you know, what do we need for this, we need courage, we need confidence. We need resilience we need, you know, able to deal with uncertainty. We need commitment to continue when things are really, really hard. And all of those things, I found the way to harness and develop and sharpen those tools through adventure. So that's really what got me hooked. So yeah, imagine I'm 22 years old, sitting my nine to five sales job in London, making cold calls, sending emails, going to a couple of meetings and just thinking, is this really is this really my life? And the answer was no, it's not and I wanted to go and do something about it. So I decided I needed a challenge. And my first challenge, I like to throw myself into the deep end. And it was an adventure race in the jungles of Borneo. In 2008. I bought a bike I started cycling across London to get there. I joined boot camp in London, and went to parks before and after work and we do like boot camp sessions and and that really kind of ignited a passion for actually exercising outdoors. And it was like no matter if it's raining or snowing or whatever it is, you're out there and you're doing those burpees and these press ups and those sprints, and you're going to get fit. And and then I went off to Borneo and did this incredible adventure race. And there were 40 of us out there. We didn't know each other we all just got pumped into the jungles together and spent the next seven days in teams of four, doing all kinds of amazing adventures from cycling, mountain biking through the jungle whitewater rafting, climbing mountain kinabalu which is 4000 meter mountain out there.


And just doing like, just at one point we actually got helicoptered into the jungle and armed with a machete and they said okay you got to go and make a jungle camp for the night and we're going to come round and that was all part of the points for the adventure was sort of you know, they would also just from our jungle camp or our cooking jungle craft cooking skills and you know, things like that just to diversify it. And yeah, we just had this incredible adventure out there and and honestly a competing it changed my life because I woke up the next day. And after completing this, this adventure race and our team had come second and the whole I looked back at this whole journey from sitting in my office, commuting to work on the tube and thinking, This is my life and I want to do something different to actually standing on top of this mountain. having achieved way more than I ever thought that I posted he could and you know, gone to somewhere exotic Borneo, the jungle to new friends, just experiencing so many highs and lows and incredible feelings, and thinking, this is it. This is what I want my life to be about. And not necessarily that I want to go on adventures all the time, but it was the way that I felt it was that feeling of feeling so alive, and so empowered and so excited about my future of like, wow, you know, I thought that I wouldn't be able to do any of this stuff, but I did. And if I can do this, then what else can I do? And that basically started this whole journey of talent Sophie and and just kind of went back to London went back into my office job. And I started looking for the next adventure and thinking, you know, what else can I do? And so I decided I wanted to travel on and I fell in love with cycling, and I wanted to cycle London to Paris in 24 hours. Then I saw I'd always wanted to climb mountains. I've always had that ambition and drive to do that. And I thought I'd love to you know learn how to climb become an Alpine mountaineering Mont Blanc. And so I signed up for a course and start going to the Alps and the Scots Scottish Highlands like you did to do to do winter skills and learning grass rescue and ice climbing and and then went off from crime mont blanc and got really into mountaineering for quite a few years. And it just it was just this incredible, you know, like life that I was living for, for those for those years where I'd go off and do these adventures and challenges on my weekends. And every time I would dare myself to push it further and to dream bigger. And every time it would build my confidence a little bit more and then I'd come back into work. And I'd be like, more empowered and ask for more and be knocking on my boss's door and saying, you know, can I have another opportunity please? Because I'm ready. I want to, I want to take my life further. It was just a amazing journey of adventure and growth. And finally The next iteration.


George Beesley  18:01  

Yeah, it's almost like when you do that first big adventure and you peel back the curtain and you see what's on the other side that kind of exciting life that I think we kind of can forget exists but then you you peel back the curtain, you do something and then you're just like, oh, wow, life could be like that. And then it's really hard to go back afterwards. But it fills you with this kind of fire inside where all of a sudden you're very excited about things again, and you're dreaming about the next adventure and you build that confidence like you say, it's it's quite funny. The first mountain that I ever climbed was a mount kinabalu in about a two and that set me off on Yeah, yeah, I think that set me off on a on a different course through life because I hadn't done particularly adventurous stuff before I was more intellect traditional sports and played rugby and not really traveled anywhere outside of Europe. And then I did that and I think that was the case. You know, like you say you're in the jungle and it's such a different environment and you're living with tribe or staying with tribes people and Have a giant machete and you're making cups and spoons out bamboo is just, it's it's amazing. It's it's such an incredible experience. But I remember seeing that adventure race over there thinking, Wow, that looks hardcore. That looks amazing. So that was like you say, certainly jumping in the deep end. What do you think gave you the courage or the confidence to do that? Or what would you say to people who are thinking, it sounds cool, but I'm just not sure that's really me.


Sophie Radcliffe  19:28  

You know, I think that we should never follow in other people's footsteps. But maybe you are also thinking that you can achieve more that you want more from your life or that you believe that you're capable of more? Well, I would say is just go and find out. Because, you know, you're not going to find that out necessarily just by doing the same things and living the same life that you're living. And that's it, you know, and I am very aware that, you know, I do like I do like to push myself and for me that is that's part of the magic. But everybody has to create their own adventure and their own challenge in their own way. And it could be, you know, going camping for the first time it could be signing up for a sponsored walk. It could be, you know, take it, take it like right now. You know, we all we all live with trails, somewhere near our houses, even in London, there's a trail from London to Brighton, you know, there's beautiful trails everywhere, even if you're in cities. So find a trail, pack a backpack full of food and water and jelly babies, and go off and walk a bit of that trail for a day. You know, just go and have a little adventure on your own that makes you feel like you've, you've come up with an idea that inspires you. You've planned it, you've executed it, and then you're just out there you're doing it and you don't have to do it on your own. You know, find a friend who wants to do it with you. Use groups. There's tons of groups on social media where you can meet like minded people, but it's just about putting yourself out there and creating experience for yourself that shows that gives you an opportunity to do something different. Get outside your company. His own experience different things. But most importantly, it shows you who you are. Because that is that I think that's really the hardest thing about life is that we all feel so much pressure to fit in and to be accepted and to, you know, look a certain way or whatever it is. And especially with social media, you know, I do a lot of work with teenage girls. And the pressures that they're under to just constantly be looked at talk in a certain way is very restrictive for them. And so going out on an adventure, you you forget about all of that. When you climbing a mountain or you're out on a walk and the winds howling around, do you care about any of that you just being yourself. And I think the more that we can be ourselves, especially in an opportunity that can be challenging, then you get to see who you are because you have to step up like it's hard, it's raining, something's gone wrong. I'm tired. I'm running out of food. I know feet hurt, whatever it is in all of those things. Do you have a choice? Am I going to give up or am I going to continue. And I always want to be the person that continues. And I always want to be, like, have for me, the most important thing in my life is having that internal strength to carry on going, you know, in life in general. So that's what draws me often to adventures because I get to practice that I get to practice being that person. And then, you know, also in just such an amazing way, you just get to have fun and you get fit, and you see the world and you meet new people, and it's just like an incredible journey. So just say to anybody, like, I hope, some part of what I'm saying you relate, you can relate to it. And if you do, then go and find your own way to create these kinds of experiences that I'm talking about.


George Beesley  22:45  

Absolutely. It's a really good training ground for life doing things on adventures when the pressures kind of dialed up and you get more comfortable with operating in that area. It turns down the volume on the rest of life. You let your morning able to deal with things but like you said before, with Corona, when you kind of build a little bit more mental fortitude, and it doesn't have to be doing super hardcore stuff, but I really liked what you said about the, the self confidence part as well that you start to do things you you set yourself slightly higher, a slightly higher bar, and then you actually achieve it. And then you change this idea of who you are and what you're capable of. And each time you move the bar a little bit higher, and you grow into maybe a new person or just explore new parts of you that you didn't really know were there. And that personal growth side is really important. Yeah,


Sophie Radcliffe  23:36  

you realize it's not happening. You know, it's like, the best school you could ever go to, except you're not sitting down in the classroom again, or when's break time. You're having so much fun. It's


George Beesley  23:46  

like the School of Life, all the stuff that they don't teach you sit at a desk, but that you need, like your ability to deal with conflict, work with other people work in a team resilience, all those things that you said. So you've done Great ventures, I think the one that catches a lot of people's eye is the Alpine coast to coast challenge. So can you talk a little bit about that the genesis of it, and what the actual experience was like,


Sophie Radcliffe  24:12  

I guess the the whole, like we're talking about is where people start, and where I started in my journey. And then, you know, it is a journey and you do kind of it does open up each time. And that's what happened to me. And for all these, those kind of adventures and challenges that I was doing, I was building the confidence and the courage to one day actually go and do something really big, because I believed that I had that in me, but it's a process you have to go through it, you know, this is 2013. And I actually quit my job in London, and with the quote that I love that inspired me to do it a ship and a harbor is safe. But that's not what a ship was built for go sailing, and which really inspired me to just like take my ship out of the Safe Harbor and go for it. And I moved to Germany in France. And sharks, which was my dream place. So I was like, right to tearing up the rule book of life, leaving London go to Germany. And I'd had this adventure in mind for the last sort of 18 months. And it just sat as a document in my, you know, Google Docs in a spreadsheet. And it was called the optimum case case. And basically, it was something I dreamed up to climb the highest mountains in the eight Alpine countries and cycle between them. And it was really combining my two biggest passions, which had being in the mountains and climbing mountains, and cycling, and I just decided to do it, you know, just go for it. And, and I was like, now's the time. I was sort of 28 years old. And I had my bike. You know, I had sort of quite a bit of experience mountaineering at this point at the highest mountain in in the countries I cycled and climbed in was mont blanc, but there were about four 4000 meter peak. So is it some fairly serious mountaineering in in some Have those and we just happen to pick this August, which is the month I did it. And that was really bad weather, so much rain. It was like minus 50 on the summit of mont blanc, you know, snow storms just Yes, it got pretty gnarly at points. But it really, really was the most incredible experience of my life. And it was the most challenging and most rewarding, most eye opening. And, you know, going back to this, this idea that I spoke about earlier about feeling alive. You know, that is so important to me, because I and i'd love everyone listening to this, just take a moment and think about that. When do you feel alive? And how does that feel to you? Because we live every day. But how much of every day do we actually feel alive and were we just often you know, sort of going from one place to the next and often sort of sitting down and just, you know going through the motions of our life but actually be out there in the elements, pursuing something that you're passionate about and For me, I wanted to prove to myself what I could do if my mind was, you know, engaged, and if I really, really, really wanted to do it, for me, it was about the testament of the human will. And the mindset because I think the power of the mind is absolutely phenomenal. You know, I'd had built up a fairly good amount of endurance, but I've never cycled anything like this. I've never, I've never done anything like this. This was 32 days. I think I had a couple of rest days in between, but it was 32 days of nonstop cycling 150 kilometers a day, with tons of ascent because you're literally cycling through the Alps. And then I'd do two or three days on my bike, I get off i'd climb a mountain for two or three days, come back down camp, get back my bike is like the next country. Climb the next mountain. Come down cycles next country repeat eight times through Slovenia, Austria, Germany, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Italy. And Monaco. And yeah, I just got I just, I just loved it. And it was, you know, I was very new to the scene of social media and blogging, I loved I blogged a little bit on the way obviously not that much, because I didn't have that much energy. I was putting up posts and just, you know, it's just me out there living my life, living my biggest dream, facing my biggest fears and proving to myself what I could do, and who I could become if I really, really wanted to do to do something. And it turns out that you can achieve quite a lot if you've got that mindset in place. And one of the quotes that I really like, my mom gave me this bracelet before I went, and on it, she said she believes she could so she did, and it sounds so simple, and it's not simple to put that into practice. But honestly, it can be simple. If you've got that belief and when you're doing something like that, and you're constantly pushing and you know, just like on this pursuit of this journey, There's there's not a lot of room for the negative thoughts that are like, oh, there's no there's no purpose in them of Actually, I can't do this. So yeah, it was amazing. And I've I did fun things like when I was like in Italy and I would like have an ice cream every day and you know eating pizza and eating like delicious chocolate when I was going through Switzerland and swimming and rivers cool my legs down at the end of the day and campaigning and meeting people and just just like, just great stuff like that. We met a lot of people on the way he was sort of asked me what I was doing. And I like this one point, I remember going through this beautiful, beautiful Alpine descent. And I met these guys and they were they were British guys, and they wanted cycling holiday. And they're like, Hey, what are you doing? What are you doing? And I sort of told them and they're like, Okay, cool. And then the next morning we both happened to be leaving where we were staying at the same like we were saying in different places both had to live in the town at the same time. And they came up to me and they were like, holy, like, what? We actually googled you last night, right? We didn't really take you seriously when you were telling us what you were doing. But I was like, Yeah, I have more countries to go keep tracking on. And you know, just, like, a few years before then I didn't own a bike. I never climbed a mountain before. And, you know, I was a 20 year old living in London, working in office job. So what you can achieve, I think, you know, and I, again, I hope that that is something that your listeners can take from this is that, you know, just go out there and give it your best shot and do something that makes you feel alive.


George Beesley  30:39  

Did it feel different doing well, first, did you feel any pressure that you had to do it or was it more were you more motivated to achieve the end goal for the kind of, I guess, Glory might be a bit strong, but you know, I'm wondering because a lot of people do adventures that that aren't like that, and you've done some other stuff like, you know, the kind of  Yeah, yeah, yeah. So did it feel different? Or was it much the same? You're just kind of out there, enjoying the stuff of Fest, but enjoying it along the way?


Sophie Radcliffe  31:11  

Yeah, it didn't feel different to me. That wasn't my motivation. I think that one of the reasons it's, well, first, it's just because like, no one had the idea to do it. You know, I mean, it was really hard. And, you know, but people just didn't kind of put those ideas together. For me, it was just something that just wants, I just ignited the idea and know, the, like I said, because I was quite new to like social media and stuff at the time. So I didn't really have a lot of, like, people were supporting me and stuff, but I wasn't doing it for anyone else. I was doing it for me. It was like, that was my opportunity to define myself, you know, and to have this adventure and, and just experience it and live it. And so yeah, the fact that no one else has done it is like, that's cool. I love that. I just think you know, it's just because it is Just a bit different.


George Beesley  32:01  

Now you've been on social media for quite some years, and you've got a big following. And it's kind of part of your work, I guess as an influential person in adventure and endurance sport. How's the journey been through social media? And what have you learned along the way?


Sophie Radcliffe  32:17  

It's been amazing. It's so pretty. As soon as I when I finished the airplane coast to coast, I was living in Germany, I had no job. And I spent all my money on like how funkiness goes so I was like, Okay, I really need to make this work now. So I threw myself into creating a life for myself through challenge Sophie. And as soon as I started building a following, I knew that I wanted to be a force for good and I wanted to use that to build a community to support people that debate and you know, empower people to go on their own life changing journeys. And I just did that by sharing my story and by, you know, supporting people and being like, really within the community, and and it's been phenomenal because I get to connect with people all around the world, I get to create opportunities for people to come and challenge themselves and experience the things that have changed my life. Like for example, every year, I organized a bike ride challenge from London to Paris in 24 hours. And like everyone in there finds out about me through my social media and some of the people have come back like three or four years in a row to do it because of the people they meet. And they love the experience. And without social media, I wouldn't have the opportunity to create those kind of events and to, to engage with people and offer them to people and I just love it. I just think it's, you know, it's such a cool tool to be able to share something you're passionate about to be able to like champion messages that you think are important and bring people together.


George Beesley  33:55  

It's nice to hear the positive side as well and to actually see how You've made some very concrete impact on people who follow you and for the better because we hear a lot of the bad side about social media. But I really think that I think I've said it before some time ago that it's a bit like it's a tool, isn't it, it's like a knife that can be used to cut a birthday cake or inflict harm on somebody else. And you can use it as a way to inspire you and and to become your best self. Or if you kind of don't use it responsibly, then it can get the better of you as well. And it can really have a detrimental effect on some people. But I think the messages that you spread are really, really positive, like you've talked about kind of make the most of your life and the other one that's really powerful is kind of judging a body based on its functionality not on aesthetics. Can you talk a little bit about that and that message that you that you kind of broadcast?


Sophie Radcliffe  34:47  

Yeah, that's basically how I feel about our bodies. Because I think that and you know, often body confidence can be talked about with women. It's so prevailing with women, but I know that Diamond suffered from it as well, this pressure from the media and this body shaming that happens that is just over the other day is just blows my mind. People just go on social media and tell somebody else that they've put on weight during lockdown, as if they're doing them a favor, like I've seen that because my friends have reposted it and and said, you know, somebody did, it just blows my mind that you would do that, that you would think that that is a productive or positive thing to do with your time or to somebody else. It's insane. But anyway. And so, I think that for me, when you actually go and you challenge yourself, you realize how incredible your body is. And that takes away the focus from how it looks. You get to use your body and chart and push us up and they are so incredible, and they really just want to do the best that they can for us and they just want to, they just want us to feel them and you know, look off To them, and that's the kind of picture that I want to cultivate is actually let's love our bodies, and let's go and, and put them to good use and show ourselves what we can do with them. And that is amazing. So there's a statement on my website, which I say, you know, fitness for me is not about how you look about aesthetics, but it's about what you can do with your body, and really importantly, how that makes you feel. Because if you go run a marathon, you're going to feel incredible, you're going to feel superhuman, because running a marathon is incredible, and it is superhuman. And it doesn't matter how you look, or what body shape you are or size, it matters that you ran a marathon  and and it matters how you feel and how you wake up every day and how you feel about yourself determines the rest of your life.


George Beesley  36:47  

Yeah, and I think if you have those two lenses when you go on social media, that it's not about having to look a certain way and that you should be inspired by the message. To serve others, I think that does a good job of avoiding it being quite so catastrophic as it is for some of the people it's not that you have to look a certain way like somebody is really slim, it's more that you should be impressed by somebody who's trying really hard following their dreams and, and going going after their goals. That's that that's what should really impress you, as opposed to somebody who is 8% body fat. So you've worked with a lot of big brands and kind of your role as a an influencer. Have you noticed any barriers and adventure for women? Or do you think that's not really the case or things heading in the direction? What's your what's your experience been?


Sophie Radcliffe  37:41  

I think that a lot of it comes down to confidence, especially with women. There's a lot of barriers that we put in place. We think that we might not have the right kit or we don't have the right knowledge, we don't know where to go. We don't have anyone to go with scared about being on our own. You know, and I think that often people can You know, we can create, say we want to do something and make it into this big thing. And actually, we need to just take the first steps and make it almost you know, for example, if you want to go wild camping, don't necessarily go and, you know, plan to make it really big camping, you know, on Ben Nevis, go and do it somewhere that's really close to home. And it's just about taking those steps to build your confidence. And know that you know, cycling for example, people that are worried about cycling on roads, and the best way to break down these barriers is just to give it a go and to find people who will take you under their wing. And I have found a lot of people like that, you know, because I have been I've kind of like gotten into sports and taken on adventures like I might not necessarily have had the right kit or the right knowledge or even the experience to do it. But what I was lacking in those areas, I was bringing in desire and drive and energy and people seem to like That no like, okay, cool, she might not know how to change the puncture. But you know, she's got this like crazy ass there it was, she just wants to go and cycle and Paris in 24 hours. So let's do it, it'll be an adventure. And, you know, I think that there's always barriers. But for me, when I first quit my job and started blogging, one of the big things that I wanted to do was to break down those barriers and to make it seem fun and accessible and that everybody can do it. And I want people to look at the things that I do and think, you know, she can do it. So can I, whereas what I saw previously, from a lot of like, perhaps all the people in the adventure space on adventures, were sort of making a bit of a distance or there was a bit of a distance between is what I'm doing. And I want people to be able to not just come to a talk that I do and and think that you know that like there's something different about me or put me on a pedestal I want them to take action that is my personal objective in life. Is that To help people create change and help them go on their own, you know, in journeys with adventure, and to experience all that they can from it. So yeah, so for me, I'm all about breaking down those barriers. And and, you know, I think that it's been, I personally don't whether I don't haven't had that many I just don't really pay attention to them. I'm not sure I think more than I just carry on with my thing. But I did have a situation a couple of years ago where I applied for a TV program for the world's toughest army. And it was on the BBC, and they wrote back to me within like, very quickly for me submitting my application. And they said, Oh, I'm really sorry, but in keeping with the Special Forces selection criteria, we're not accepting women on this TV program. And that, to me, seemed like something that I wanted to talk about openly, because I am a big advocate for change. And I thought that you know, Ad This is a TV program, it's not actually going to war. And and, you know, why can't women have a chance to compete on an on an even playing field and to show how strong they can be, you know? And if it is, well as tough as army, then you know, then why can't women be involved as well? So I wrote about on my blog and the BBC changed their minds, and they accepted women onto the TV program. And a woman won the entire program she be every man in the country. It's amazing lady. There's loads of research out there saying that, that women actually need positive role models. And sort of this idea of you can't be what you can't see. And it's really important and the research shows it's really important for women to do that especially younger girls So yeah, that's why I'm big advocate for I think if people can see that, then they can they can think oh, well actually made like, do something like that.





George Beesley  

So, what are you doing with Trail Blazers and what's the what's that initiative about


Sophie Radcliffe  

Trail Blazers is a youth empowerment program that I set up to build confidence in code and teenage girls, but also goes back to what we've been speaking about the theme of our podcast really is about these life skills that you and I know that you get through adventure and challenging yourself that you don't necessarily pick up in schools. And I wanted to create a program and go and work with girls that really needed to help bring them to, you know, bring them to the surface and so they don't feel so squished with all the pressures and the judgments and they can actually be themselves and be the best version themselves and go and live the life that we're destined to live. And so I work, I created a program I deliver talks and workshops in schools, and I also run into, like adventure camps and I recently took a bunch of 10 girls sailing we went sailing around southwest coast for a week and just is so horrible I absolutely love these experiences of working with these girls, and just really helping them go on that growth journey themselves.


George Beesley 

Is it still going now, or what's the kind of state of things that you're looking for funding.


Sophie Radcliffe   

Yeah, it's going I'm looking for funding, I'm looking for people to help as well, and there's so much potential there so it's just figuring out the best way forward with it. And it's been really amazing so more of that coming up soon. Definitely. Sounds good. So if anybody


George Beesley  

likes the sound of getting involved with that, I guess, Sophie would like an email from you. Yeah, that's that sounds like a really good program, something that I've seen is that you have an amazing. Tell me about your horse and how I haven't seen the story behind it. I just saw a picture of it and it's the it's the sexiest van life. I think I've seen it looks awesome.


Sophie Radcliffe  

Like one divided since I was a child, and, you know, never went on any company holidays but I was always like, I don't know I just thought the idea of having your home and your car just seemed like the funnest thing ever. And I'm all about making your dreams come true so last summer I decided to get on my van project and I built a Pinterest page with some inspirations and started thinking about wind was gonna need in my barn and what was important to me and it wasn't, and I found a van, when I bought it and although this van from bw, and then I found this amazing company called van life built to do my conversion. And we just got to work and started planning it and so I'm sort of September through to January, they built this just absolutely beautiful costume. And it's just so much fun like I was really sad towards the end I was so excited to pick up my van but I was also sad towards the end of the project because I was like, I've really enjoyed, you know, working on this with you and choosing all these things and making decisions and figuring out every style easy. It's mountain themed inside it's got like beautiful mountain splash bag. It's got solar panels on the roof it's got a hammock. That kind of comes out of the side of the barn. And one of my favorite features is you can climb out through, through my bed, into the through the skylight so you can come up from my bed through the skylight onto the roof and go up there and like watch the stars and have your morning Morning Coffee out there, honestly is so amazing


George Beesley   

to have you had a chance to get away in it. Yeah, or was it, when was it kind of done just as lockdown was coming in or are you still busy, have you managed to get away. No.


Sophie Radcliffe   

I mean, I had a few little many very many adventures I took it to Whitstable one day for a day trip and they'd be carnies, and I took out north to Pete districts and had a weekend there and it was like, you know, it's like, end of January. It's pouring rain all weekend, I got ill, you know, it really wasn't a bad life tree. But it's improved it because my mind's not going anywhere and I'm really excited to be able to go and I probably use it this summer and just I can't surf so I want to take it down to maybe Cornwall and spend a week down there and try and learn surf and, you know, go to Scotland and I'm really excited and I think that it's such a great decision to get it sounds great, you'll have


George Beesley  

the perfect adventure vehicle for exploring the UK, we'll have to go for a surf together one day you can come along with, with the gang, and we'll, we'll get you aboard and get you up. Fantastic. Okay, well, Sophie thanks so much for your time it was really awesome to chat I'm so glad that we finally managed to get round to it. So, yeah, thank you very much for coming on the show and taking the time


Sophie Radcliffe  

it's been my absolute pleasure I've really enjoyed it, and just take that as well. So where's best for people to


George Beesley  

find out more about, you Sophie Radcliffe  can find me on Instagram on social media channels I'm Challenge Sophie and ChallengeSophie.com


George Beesley

Awesome. Thanks so much. And thanks everybody for tuning in, and cheers guys look forward to seeing you next time.