#13) Sarah Williams

As many readers will know, The 52 was devised to promote equality and increase media coverage of women’s sport.

This is one of a number of projects set up in recent years set up to achieve the same goals, including the ‘Women’s CricZone’ website and the recently formed ‘It’s A Woman’s Game’ podcast.

But one woman who has been at the forefront of this battle for a good number of years is Sarah Williams, the founder of ‘Tough Girl Challenges.’

For those of you not already aware, Sarah quit her city-based job in 2013 and took herself off travelling across the world for 18 months, using the time to push herself to the limit and also decide on her next life move.

She ultimately settled on the task of motivating and inspiring young girls and woman and came up with the idea of creating ‘Tough Girl Challenges’ to do just that.

For so long society has suggested that only men are capable of achieving sporting excellence, setting records and completing the most arduous and gruelling of physical feats.

But since 2015 Sarah has interviewed more than 200 incredible guests on the ‘Tough Girl Podcast’ as well as writing numerous empowering blogs, each of which completely shun those stereotypes and prove that sport and exercise really is for anyone.

As well as inspirational professional athletes such as boxing legend Stacey Copeland and Rugby World Cup winner Maggie Alphonsi, she has also welcomed a whole hosts of adventurers, explorers and everyday women who have achieved incredible feats that most of us couldn’t even think of, let alone complete.

To prove this point, here are just some of the amazing women she has welcomed on the podcast in 2018 alone:

  • Fiona Oakes: British marathon runner who holds three world records
  • Cazz Lander: Ultra-marathon runner, completed 12 challenges in 12 months and currently training to row the Pacific Ocean
  • Kiko Matthews: The fastest woman to row the Atlantic Ocean having had two brain tumours removed and overcoming Cushing’s syndrome
  • Pip Stewart: Cycled 13,000 miles from Malaysia to London and has also paddled the length of the Essequibo (the third longest river in South America)
  • Terra Roam: The first woman to walk solo and unsupported around Australia
  • Nicky Spinks: First woman to run a Double Ramsay Round in the Scottish mountains, completing the 116 mile, 57,000ft ascent over 48 peaks in 55hrs 56mins

As well showcasing these frankly unfathomable achievements, the ‘Tough Girl Podcast’ also discusses a wide variety of societal issues, bringing them into the limelight when sometimes they are ignored or avoided by other media outlets.

This includes mental and physical health problems, phobias and burnout, while she has also had guests on who have taken up their extreme activities for charitable causes, to seek happiness, change lifestyles and/or challenges themselves to the maximum.

What each guest shows though is that sport and exercise is for anyone and that literally anything is possible if someone puts their mind to it. Surely there isn’t a more inspirational message than that?

It seems more and more people are agreeing with this too as the ‘Tough Girl Podcast’ has been listened to in 174 countries and racked up more than 500,000 downloads.

Furthermore Sarah has also become more and more recognised in the mainstream media, reaching the final of the UK Blog Awards in 2017 before the podcast was named ‘Media Initiative of the Year’ at the 2018 Women’s Sport Trust #BeAGameChangerAwards.

But Sarah doesn’t just talks the talks – she also walks the walk too. And then some.

In 2016 she completed the Marathon des Sables (six marathons in six days across the Sahara Desert), before hiking the entire 2,190 mile Appalachian Trail in just 100 days last year.

Her next challenge – starting tomorrow (10 Sep) at the time of writing – is to cycle 4,448km from Vancouver to San Diego before crossing into Mexico to complete a 2,736km off-road bike packing route down the length of the Baja California Peninsula.


Here is someone who had a normal, 9-to-5 job working in the city but has transformed her life and is continually showing the world that woman can achieve extraordinary physical feats.

A true inspiration, we can’t wait to see how Sarah gets on in North America and we definitely can’t wait to see her next batch of guests on the ‘Tough Girl Podcast’!

You can follow Sarah on her latest adventure as well as keeping up to date with the latest from ‘Tough Girl Challenges’ on her website, Twitter and Instagram accounts.

You can also listen to her mental health special interview with us on the SportSpiel podcast here.

2 Comments on “#13) Sarah Williams

    • Thank you Sarah, really glad you enjoyed the piece! And thank you for being such an inspiration in so many ways 🙂 Can’t wait to see how you get on in North America! Will

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: