Jenny Tough is an adventure traveller originally from Canada. She enjoys writing about her solo mountain expeditions and tales of world travel as a solo female. When she’s not exploring the mountains of the world, she lives in Scotland, and occasionally wherever she parks her adventure van On this week’s podcast, we talk about her solo mountain expeditions around the world from the very first in Kyrgyzstan. We speak about her inspiring women into Adventure and tales of world travel as a solo female adventurer.

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Transcript of our Conversation

Jenny Tough Interview

[00:00:00] Jenny Tough Interview: and he goes, you know, I actually you’re right. Okay. I think it’s possible for someone to run across Kyrgyzstan, but not you. And I just, I’ll never forget the way that he did that. And it was just clearly based on the way that I looked, you know, he didn’t know anything about me. He didn’t know my skills.

He didn’t know how many hours I put into mountains in my life. To this point. He didn’t know my grit. He just knew what I looked like. Which is a woman.

Hey, how’s it going, Jenny? Good to have you on the show. And, thank you for coming on all the way from Canada. You’re in quarantine at the moment. I am in quarantine, just got back from Scotland. Very nice. Very nice. Well, I have to say I was really impressed with some of the stuff you’ve done over the [00:01:00] last couple of years.

How, how did this sort of love for adventure and running? Come about? so I grew up in the Canadian Rockies and, you know, I never, I always was into travel. That was always my biggest passion. And I was also into running and that was just kind of another, these two completely different passions that I had.

And then when I left home, after I finished school and started traveling the world, I, you know, I was kind of immune to homesickness and I still am, but I miss mountains. It was just one thing that whenever I’m in the mountains, wherever they are in the world, even if they’re country that I didn’t even know previously existed, I just feel at home, I feel that comfortable, peaceful thing that I think most people feel when they’re in their actual home.

So, it just kind of all came out of this love of mountains. Then I realized, like I combine my love of endurance sport and travel and putting those two things together. It was just like the thing that made my heart sing. And so that’s what I’ve pursued over the last 15 years of adventure. All [00:02:00] right.

Well, good. Let’s see, you’ve been doing this 15 years. I guess so. Yeah, I was, when I finished the university, I went back home briefly and I mean, I lasted like a month and spent everything that I had, which wasn’t a lot on a touring bicycle and cycled up to the Yukon. And that was my first, really big adventure at the time.

I I’d never cycled. Like I’ve never rode a bike aside from like a little kid bike or whatever. So I didn’t know how to ride a bike and that’s not a problem you can learn pretty quickly. They say it’s like riding a bike, but I mean, I didn’t know how to. Like, I didn’t know. There were tubes inside of the tires.

Like that was how, like my bike knowledge was just really, really pathetic. so it was a bit of a, I don’t think it was a smart place to start a venture to go into the Canadian wilderness was something you don’t know how to fix, but was that a bright bike or a mountain bike? So it is quite similar geometry to a road bike and a steel frame Canadian made.

I love to, I still have to have that bike. Yeah, it’s, it’s [00:03:00] actually funny enough, exactly the same, how I started in adventure was to buy a touring bike and then cycle across America. Wow. And as you say, I’ve never sort of gone more than sort of 10 miles in one day and then did very little training and then it was like, right.

Okay. I’m 70 miles, New York to Princeton. Oh my gosh. I honestly think it’s the best way to start. Like it’s stupid and you’re gonna like hurt yourself quite a lot, but. 21 at the time. So, you know, you can take the pain, just go for it. Yeah. And then changing a tire. I hadn’t changed one for probably 15 years from when I was sort of tours.

Right. Okay. How do I do this again?

And I was there for like an hour, just sort of trying to break it and trying to do this. As you say now probably takes you a minute or two. It depends on the tire [00:04:00] road. Tires can take me a little while, but yeah, hopefully a minute or two. Yeah. And so the six or the mountain race around the world, how did that idea sort of start about and what sort of drove you to do it?

It was never meant to happen. I, I came across, like I just was looking for an adventure in mountains. I was really craving mountains. I mean, I, I love Scotland and, I really loved living there, but I was really missing the big, big mountains. And I spend a lot of time daydreaming at maps. That’s just one of my guilty pleasures throughout the day when I should be working.

I look at that and I came across the TN sham of Kyrgyzstan. And I was looking at images of them. And you, you ever had that moment where like your heart stops and you know that your life isn’t complete until you go to that actual place. And that was my reaction to the TN chance. So I decided I would go there.

and somehow in that process, I really can’t remember how, because I’m sure there was wine [00:05:00] involved. I decided, you know, cycling across them would just be too fast. I would miss it. So I should slow down and maybe just run across. and I would run on support because I’ve always believed in unsupported challenges.

I think you’re more immersed in the culture and the community. We can do it that way. no one had ever done that. No one had ever crossed carriers down on foot in recorded history. I mean, I’m sure lots of people have, but I mean, running in this way had never been done, which was so exciting to me because it seems like there are no worlds first left and I couldn’t believe there was this entire country that just seemed.

Like no one had done it. I should’ve taken way more time to contemplate why no one did it, but I just, you know, obviously was so stoked and went ahead planning this and figuring out how to do it. And then I went out and did it, and it was by far the hardest thing I’d ever done in my life. so it was, the recovery afterwards was, was brutal.

Like I had no idea how to recover from something that intense. so it was months and months after I’d done that. World’s first. That was meant to be the hardest thing I’d ever done in my life. And then. You know, who knows what [00:06:00] was next? I started looking back on it and started realizing that was actually the most alive I’ve ever been.

It was the best thing I ever did. The whole process of it from planning, having to figure out a route to actually doing it and living out there, was by far the best thing I’d ever did. And I wanted to do it again. And so again, wine was involved and then we got to blame wine for almost all the ideas that I come up with.

I decided I would do this. I actually made a list of all the mountain ranges I wanted to run across. And then there’s actually more mountain ranges in the world than you realize. So I had this huge list, so I thought I need a theme. So I’ll just pick one on every continent and then it’s a thing. And then there’s only six and it’s not that bad.

And, and so that’s how the challenge was born. And a few months later, I went to Africa to do the mountains. Oh, wow. and so your, the run before, did you, were you a big runner or had, did you train hard for it or was it very much a get up and go. Yeah. Running has been a really significant part of my life since I was a [00:07:00] teenager.

it started from a really negative place when I was 15 or 16. I started running just because I absolutely hated my body. I think a lot of teenage girls go through that, where, what you see in media and magazines. I mean, now I know that that’s all Photoshop, but at the time you look at that and you go, well, my body doesn’t look anything like that.

And I’m being told on meant to look like that. So I would run just to punish myself and I hated it came from a really negative place. But the more I ran, the better I got and the other benefits, the mental health benefits, the not looking at my body, like it was an object that had to look like these magazines, but rather looking at my body as something that could take me further away on adventures and trails.

Cause I was still outdoors-y and I just loved being in the mountains. then running started to develop to be something that was just really important to me and something that I actually loves and I did on purpose. so, so running was always a really big part of my life. So when I went to go run across the TN Shaun, I was, I was pretty competent.

You know, I’ve been doing it for a long time and, yeah, [00:08:00] I was pretty fit at the time. I didn’t specifically train so much cause it’s impossible to train for. It’s possible to have a real life and train for. Something on that level where you’re going to be running for 10 hours a day with a backpack.

Like, you know, you can’t hold down a real life and do that. Yeah. I think in my run, I trained in London at the time where I was working and I was training on tarmac, raids and pavements. And then once I got out to the sort of Mt. Elgon in Kenya, You know, it was dirt roads, which were bumpy and uneven and suddenly this sort of really easy run, which had been training on going down very lovely pave rights suddenly became completely different from what I’d been training.

And you can’t, you can’t really train for that other than try and build up your cardiovascular fitness. Yeah, definitely not. If you live in London, I think that’s really [00:09:00] difficult in cities to have access, to, to mimic something like that. I mean, don’t, you guys have one Hill or something like that, which I think I, I walked up over the weekend in about two minutes.

I wouldn’t quite class as a, you know, a big Hill. Yeah. There’s no altitude zone. Unfortunately not. I’d say, once again, so in terms of kurgastan, where did you fly into? so I flew into Bishkek, the Capitol, and that’s not a very high altitude, I think it’s 1200. so I, but I mean, still coming from the UK to 1200.

And if you’re about to do something really ridiculously hard, that’s going to take you up to 4,500. You need to take it pretty slow. So I spent a couple of days in beach Keck. I, the only thing I had to do cause I on this adventure, I didn’t do the sense, but on this adventure, I did [00:10:00] take most of my kit with me.

So the only thing I had to buy was the gas councilors that you can’t fly with. Each truck has a mountaineering office cause they do have some 7,000 or so. That’s basically, I mean, when I was in Kyrgyzstan, that was the majority of the adventure tourism industry was just. The mountaineers that would come to plant flags on summits.

So, so I went to the mountaineering office to buy my gas canisters, and, and the guy there was like, what’s your holiday fun? What are you doing in Kyrgyzstan? So I told them like, I’m just going to run across the country. It’s going to be a thousand kilometers going to be great, got a backpack. And, and this guy, I mean, till my dying day, I’m going to remember this conversation.

He just looking up and down. He went, no, no, this can’t be done. So I said, well, no, you’re wrong. I mean, unfortunately for him, the only thing I had to do that day was adjust to altitude. So like I had time, so I was like, no, I gotta be done, buddy. Let me show you. And he had a map on the wall and I kinda like do on the map for him.

My route that [00:11:00] I designed, I had spent so much time designing because there wasn’t a route. and he followed along and he went out, you know what, actually, that is a good route. and he goes, you know, I actually you’re right. Okay. I think it’s possible for someone to run across Kyrgyzstan, but not you.

And I just, I’ll never forget the way that he did that. And it was just clearly based on the way that I looked, you know, he didn’t know anything about me. He didn’t know my skills. He didn’t know how many hours I’ve put into mountains in my life. To this point. He didn’t know my grit. He just knew what I looked like, which is a woman.

And. Yeah, I was so determined. I mean, he fueled so much of that run. Just that one conversation with this guy just doubting me just because of the way that I looked. So that was my, that was my start and curious check and chatting to him. That’s good. Motivation. When times are tough, I’m going to show him

no matter what happens. I am going to make it.

[00:12:00] Good. I’d say from Bishkek UN it’s probably over to Kara. Cool.

And did you starting around Kara? Cool. I had a taxi dropped me off. The fair bit East of Kericho, like, I didn’t want to get too close to the borders just cause I didn’t have border permits. I read a lot about corrupt guards and I was really like, nervous about that kind of stuff at the time. so yeah, I had a taxi driver just take me down the road, like really far East of Kericho and then I told them to let me off.

Cause I knew I could get up, river Valley. He was just like, Whoa. You want to get out of the taxi? Like, did I say something wrong? Like you can’t be here. Like, there’s nothing here. It’s just the wilderness. I’m like, Hey, I hear and gave him the money and left. And he was just like, Oh my God. W was that by any chance, the a world’s worst raid in Asia.

It felt that way at the time. I didn’t know if it made a [00:13:00] list. Does it, is it on a list? It’s a raid, which goes up to . and it’s, it’s about TA I think it’s about 10 or 20 kilometers and it’s just horrendous. I assumed it was disused until I saw a Hunka come around the corner, literally on like some 45 degrees South.

And I was like, I mean, the drivers here are ballsy. Like I wouldn’t take my all wheel drive on this under any circumstances when we drive up in our car and we got stuck at the top because it was pouring rain and I mean, it’s horrendous, right? Yeah. There’s some I, so I went back to hear Sam two years later to do a mountain biking race, and yeah, there, I can certainly attest that.

The Rose, they’re just something else. Like they just haven’t been touched since the Soviets left. It seems like there’s a lot of infrastructure in the cities, but, [00:14:00] but yeah, in the wilderness, there were a lot of things that I just thought were trails until, Latta comes around the corner and you just can’t believe anyone’s driving there.

And one thing is because you are sort of traveling over the mountain ranges. Food and water. How did you manage to gather that? Because I imagine you are covering between 30 and 60 kilometers each day. yeah, that’s what I try to average. And so you’re, you’re quite committed. I mean, the stretches I use, it can kind of figure out that to be on a fast backing setup, something that’s light enough for me to carry.

for me personally, five days is kind of the maximum that I can pack food for and still be able to move and do out my backpack. and that point you’re really committed. Like nothing can go wrong because if you’re out there for an extra day, that’s a hungry, hungry day. so I do dehydrated food on a stove.

I find that it’s lighter. And also if you’re going into mountains, I just think it’s way safer to take a stove. You know, you have to be able to [00:15:00] warm yourself up or di or clean water or something like that. So, yeah, so I would take dehydrated foods and you know, it’s not like now knowing what I know, cause I’ve been doing this for a few years.

It’s certainly not a healthy thing to do to your body, to be in mode for that long. Like you can’t, or I can’t get enough calories in a day. It’s just, it can’t be done like running 10 hours, and eating that much. It’s just something that I’ve never been able to manage. So it’s, it’s definitely one of the hardest things to manage in the run, but you know, it’s one of the most basic things.

Yeah. No, of course. And in terms of the people you met along the way, especially up in the mountain ranges are probably pretty Nomatic. people who live up there and yurts, did they invite you in, did they, Yeah. I mean, aside from the mountains themselves, that was what called my [00:16:00] heart. it was the nomads.

I really wanted to meet them. You know, I’ve always believed that I have the heart of a nomad and I was so curious about this culture. and they, they were unanimously lovely. I couldn’t believe that, you know, I feel so alone. I’d be out in the wilderness just completely by myself. Wouldn’t have used my voice more than a day, and not seeing anyone, but if I stopped for any reason, like the top of my bag, or put on some sunscreen or whatever, These nomads have just come out of the woodwork.

And I wouldn’t realize that they all knew where I was and they had their eyes on me the whole time, seeing that suddenly someone would show up on horseback and say like, why did you stop? We saw you were running for hours. Are you okay? Do you need something? Come to the air? We’ll get you some tea. And, and yeah, I was invited into so many homes and it was, it was such a humbling experience to have so many people who have objectively so little, but are just so willing to share and make sure that I’m okay.

That I’m warm enough, that I’m fed and. yeah, really some of the loveliest people I think on this planet. Yeah. I, I agree. Co kurgastan was, definitely one of my [00:17:00] favorites when I went across central. and so you went from Kara. Cool. And where did you finish up and then, Oh, in, Oh gosh. Good. That is a very, very long way.

I that’s what. Was it a thousand. And how long did that take you? How many days?

That’s a, what? A few days out with,

I think there were 22 days of running. What was the, what was the, the, Vic, what was the, Croce use that got you? I dunno. I’ll never know. I mean, it could also have been water. I mean, a lot of the water, like I always do filter my way, but some of the water is quite heavily contaminated out there. So, gosh, I mean, it could have been anything, I mean, that was, and that was really [00:18:00] towards the end.

Like I was really close to Oshkosh when it happened. And so I think at that point, like your body’s strength to defend itself is just so low. You know, you just put yourself through so much. You’re so exhausted in such a deep way that. No, your defenses are just gone. So wasn’t nice. And how did it feel finishing, finishing an arch?

I just never, I mean, there were so many points that I thought I would never make it, you know, and no one thought I couldn’t do it. I mean, that guy that I met in Bishkek, who said, not by you, he, he wasn’t a singular case. Like a lot of people believe that. And even people at home, like I remember leaving and people saying things to me, like.

You know what, no matter what happens, it’ll still be a story. And me going, like, what does that mean? so, you know, there was a lot of leaf that I couldn’t do it well, myself and externally. So when I did do it, I mean, there was just so much, you know, looking back on that 16 year old girl and started running because she hated her body to suddenly [00:19:00] being someone that is the only person alive who’s ever run across the country.

Like that’s cool. And it was really overwhelming. I remember running through the Gates and just like starting to cry. But the thing was, you know, with everyone believing that I couldn’t do it. And the curious people being lovely about the fact that I couldn’t do it. and those last few kilometers coming into Oshkosh cars kept on stopping to try and give me lift because I said I was going to OSS, which was five kilometers away now.

And they’d be like, Oh, it’s too far. You’ll never be able to run there, get in the car. And I’m like, just kind like that. so I was going to have in this moment running into the city and you know, when you do things like this, there’s no finish line. It’s not like finishing the marathon with someone gives you chocolate milk and a free t-shirt and stuff like you just you’re alone on the city streets.

Yeah, exactly. so. That kind of happened. But then at the same time, there were just all these cars and I wasn’t used to cities and I was sort of like in a city with pavement and all these people like trying to give me a lift and taxis on kissing. And I was just like here a [00:20:00] guy. So it was kind of, yeah, it was funny moment, but it was, it was big.

Like, I was really, really proud of myself for probably the like probably the first time on that level. And what was the sort of, highlight, do you feel of that trip? Was there a sort of main that stuck out where you were like, wow, that was incredible. I mean, there were so many, and there, there were probably some every day and then there was probably also little lights every day.

probably about halfway through. just before halfway through, I’d had a real incident where I’d made a huge navigational mistake and that had led to me being kind of caught in some landslides and, and a really challenging, climb that I, I obviously shouldn’t have been doing by myself on roped.

And it was really scary. And I knew that I knew that I was way beyond the line of acceptable risk. That one slip would cost me in my life. so it was like this prolonged ethics near death experience. And so then when I finished that and I did throughout that say, [00:21:00] well, I crossed the line across the line that I accept, which means I can’t do this.

And everyone is right. I can’t do this and going home. So I I’d said the words out loud that I was quitting. As soon as I survived this, I was just going to, I think I was three days away from the next highway, but like, in those three days I would get to the highway and I would just go home. Like I would just can it, so I had quit, but obviously had to kept, keep moving.

Cause I’m in the middle of the wilderness with only a couple of days worth of food. and then after that happens, I got invited into a year by some nomads. And like, I was really upset. I was in a really fragile place cause I knew died and the family took me in and I was kind of part of their family for a night.

Even if you don’t speak the same language, it’s amazing how much he can connect with people. And, they just totally revived. Like they didn’t know that I’ve had a horrible day. They didn’t know that I’d been like crying all afternoon. They just saw that I was outside and took me in. and it just totally revived me.

And then the next day was this really beautiful day. And I remember having a really nice sunset and a [00:22:00] really nice counsel and just like everything fell into place. And like, after your worst day, you always have your best day, don’t you. And so I just remember being really grounded that day and just realizing like the school concept of being this world’s first is just crap.

Like it’s just not important. Like it absolutely doesn’t matter. A thousand people could run across Kyrgyzstan and we’ll come back with a thousand different stories. And that’s what’s valuable is, is this experience that I’m having. So after that, I think everything, all my motivation behind this whole project just completely changed that it was just about, you know, enjoying this experience and connecting with this place and these people.

And so that was, that was definitely my biggest, mindset change. And that’s carried through that’s now how I approached the mountains. I think we have a real culture of first and fastest and adventure. You have to be the first person to do something the fastest or it’s not valuable. And I just, I hate that.

Like, I just think it’s bullshit. I think. Yeah, adventures all these records around the world, which people are sort of doing that becoming harder and harder. And actually a lot of the time you’re [00:23:00] doing these sort of adventures for your brain. And it’s not really because we were discussing about cycling and how, you know, the first time he, we were discussing about going across America and he was.

Like, you know, I’m never going to be the fastest to go. It will be. There’s plenty of people far quicker, and there’s a lot of people, but I was sort of saying that the first time I ever crossed a hundred miles in a day, I was like, yes. You know, get in. but no, no one cares. Yeah. I know. That’s, I mean, that’s something that I always say to myself when I’m out there, I’m like, no one cares.

Like this is important to only, you. So this has to be valuable to you. And this has to be something that’s honest to you because like you’re right. No one cares. This is such a privileged thing that we get to do. Like it’s beyond privilege to go struggle on purpose to intentionally go have a really bad holiday, you know, that’s essentially what it is.

so yeah, you just got to [00:24:00] remind yourself like all of that stuff. It’s not important. And when you get to those really hard moments out there, that’s not the stuff that’s going to get you through thinking, like, what about the headline or whatever, like, you’ve got to have way better reasons. Was there a point where you sort of did sort of 60 or 50 kilometers in a day or a hundred kilometers in a day and you were like, right.

Get in. This is amazing. I’ve just clocked over a hundred and then for a brief period. And then you’re like, yeah. I mean, that’s just me. Yeah, I think I remember having that in the Atlas mountains. Cause mine was, could be a lot higher out there because it was just, just easier to rain, just faster. And I remember having these big mileage days and thinking like, I’m shit hot right now.

Like this is going well. And then you just kind of look around yourself, you know? Like, I mean, I’m like, again, I’m talking to a camera, like I’m alone. It doesn’t matter. And if I said that to like the next passer-by, I see some Berber coming down the trail. There’ll be like, [00:25:00] what did you decide and why does anyone care?

How did your, race or your trip in the Atlas mountains compare with kurgastan? so I arrived there feeling really confident because I now knew what it took to run across a mountain range. the Atlas are, there are a lot shorter, like altitude wise, You know, there were a lot of things that were just going to be easier.

No, the places I was going, weren’t frequented by visitors, but at least in the local does have a huge tourism industry. So at least in the cities that I would use for logistics, there was like people who looked like me and there was a bit more of a culture towards that. So I went into it thinking this is going to be way easier.

And I think the mountains always punished confidence. so they, they were completely different, but they were, they were really hard in different ways. probably that was myself. I had a really big fall in the beginning and cut [00:26:00] my hip open really quite badly. definitely did need stitches, but I didn’t get them.

I just stuck, taped it close and kept going. So I had had an injury and I was getting infected and it was really swollen. So I was, I was limping as it was. but the biggest problem in Morocco was of course the cultural difference. that being a solo woman doing mountain sports, just, it just doesn’t exist.

And. There were quite a lot of men trying to stop me and never in a, in a threatening and violent way, just in a, in a paternal way. Like they just really didn’t accept, or they’d never seen women doing solo sports. So for them, they could only see danger. They could only see that I was going to die and they don’t want me to die.

So it was. It was quite complicated to be, you know, really angry at these people that are trying to stop me from doing my expedition and doing something that I know and something that I’m competent about. but knowing that they’re not doing it from, from a bad place, they’re doing it from a place of, they want [00:27:00] me to be okay.

And they just do not believe that I could go into the mountains and be okay. So there was, there was a huge culture clash. That kind of overrode the whole, you know, like I’ve always said with these things running is by far the easy part. It’s the part that everyone thinks is so incredible while you ran so far, but like I’ve always run running is awesome.

I’m good at it. Right. Left. Right. Left stop. When you’re tired, like it’s easy. So running was just the holiday between like all of these logistics, all these, cultural, issues to figure out like all the other stuff. That’s, what’s hard. I’m the sort of day to day running. It’s sort of the day-to-day running is quite mundane.

What sort of kept you occupied throughout the day? Because although the scenery is insane in some of these countries, as you say, when you’re running morning till evening, your sort of mind wonders, what sort of kept you entertained in your mind? Did you listen to music? [00:28:00] Podcasts? Yeah. I mean, sometimes there’s so many hours that account account for all of these that I have no idea where I was like, you know, you get to the end of the day and you want to write in your diary what happened today?

And you go, gosh, I have no idea. Like I literally don’t know. And that’s partly why I bring a camera’s too, because like, I won’t remember. Cause I just have gone to like the zone and now I’ve just like my brain’s wherever it is. And so there’s a lot of that. I do listen to music and podcasts. I think music’s really fascinating to manipulate your mood.

You know, if you need mojo, there’s a playlist for that. If you need to calm down, because you’re scared, there’s a playlist for that. Like when you’re alone, you have to find a way to manage your mindsets because you don’t have a partner. Who’s going to say. This isn’t, this isn’t working. You need to come back to this.

so you have to be able to do that and you won’t always have the capability to do that. You know, when you’re feeling really negative, it’s so hard to like solo, pull yourself out of [00:29:00] that negative black hole that you’re going down. So you have to have the discipline and say, I need help. Well, the only help available is my headphones.

So, so music’s really fascinating in that way to me to manipulate my moods, podcasts, I probably got into, That was maybe three quarters of the way through Kyrgyzstan. When I realized, like I haven’t had a conversation in English, the only language I’m confident in, in a really long time. And I think I forget how to do it.

And I think I’m losing my mind. And I found that listening to podcast is two people. Having a conversation was enough to bring me back to reality and like, remember what my life is normally like and the conversations I normally have. Yeah. so the podcasts are great for that. Just like injecting something.

Cause as you say, the running is mundane. All you think about all day long is in navigation and finding enough water. Yeah. And that’s all you have to do. That’s literally you have to do is you have to keep moving in the same direction. Like your to-do list is very small. So yeah. Oh, [00:30:00] wow. and so you’ve done the Atlas you’ve done.

the, what’s the one in kg it’s done. Like then that’s the one. And so how many more have you got to go? One, just one. yeah, I finished number five, just over a month ago. So yeah, just, just Europe left actually. Sure. And which, European range are you? It was meant to be the caucuses and I was meant to do them this spring, which obviously spring 2020 didn’t happen.

So, it wasn’t always meant to be the caucuses. I’m kind of now at a place where it’s more important to me to finish this challenge. I mean, this challenge is. Been in my life for four years and my God four years. So it like, it’s just it’s time for me to, to finish it. So yeah, it was always going to be the Caucasus, whether or not I’m going to be able to go to Georgia and [00:31:00] Azerbaijan by next summer.

but there are other options within Europe. So at this point, I’m not going to make that call until probably may I’ll call it literally last minute, because. A lot of things stay the same. Like what I need to pack. Like I’m already prepared the Caucasus expedition. So if it goes ahead, know I’ve already got my route and stuff like that.


yeah. And there’s an autonomous region. That’s on the coast on the West. I think it’s called that caveat or something like that. That’s how it looks in English. The route that I’ve made, I’m not going to cross into Russia, just because the logistics of going back and forth over borders and all the autonomous regions.

I mean, that’s your biggest problem with the caucuses is all the autonomous regions are like these little red dots on the map. Going, if you go here, your insurance is void and your car comes, you won’t come get you. If you were getting your passport wrong. Amber in Georgia, there was a area in the mountains where again, we can go and we sort of walked up and the army were like, [00:32:00] nah, this is as far as you’re allowed.

Yeah. So, and that’s going to contribute a lot of extra miles, like a lot, because I’m not gonna be able to go straight across. I’m going to have to like go around these barriers. And so. it’s, it’s really interesting, but it’s also, really challenging. So I’ve kind of got a meandering route across Georgia and Georgia is I think the first half, like it’s almost kind of exactly a Georgia and then as a by John, yeah, but out to basically out to the coast.

So it’ll be a nice, and so what’s your hope is to do that once cave, it sort of settles down and you’re allowed to go. I I’d rather finish the challenge. So if COVID doesn’t allow, then I could do the generic outside. I love the Balkans I could do here, knees, or, you know, I’ve got plan ABC kind of, kind of ready.

So as long as any form of going outside is allowed next June, July, I will [00:33:00] be out running a mountain range on the European continent, which one is the I’ll be announcing that probably like. Oh, that’d be amazing. And, and people can follow. And how do people follow your sort of adventure? I do share them on social media as I go along, kind of post data just for safety reasons.

I don’t think it’s good to like live stream. Where you are all by yourself with all your fantasy stuff. but yeah, I do do share everything along on social media, any Tufts. And what other sort of adventures have you done other than, because you did you do this mountain biking, races, you do these mountain biking races around the world to sort of.

And started bike packing. And then that led to, to sign up for ultra distance racing, [00:34:00] which isn’t my mindset. Like I’m not a race person. I’m not competitive. I’m like, I’m one of those people that people get medals for participation. Like if people like me who are just like, everyone’s doing a great job today, like that’s how I race.

Like I just don’t belong in a race environment, but, but I started doing them and what I found was it was amazing that there were people just like me. Which is something I probably never found people who are weird the way that I am, people who want to travel the way that I travel, who experienced the outdoors, the way that I do it with that combination of like being thrilled by the adventure of seeing this place, but also wanting to like push their bodies to its limits and find out what their womens are.

so I started racing through that, and did see some success and saw some failures and yeah, it’s, it’s been amazing. That’s certainly something that I’m really missing right now. Is that race community. Yeah. So it was very difficult to sort of try and convince people to come and do these sort of expeditions in trips with you when they have a choice between.

[00:35:00] Going to a lovely beach holiday where they can sit and relax or go on a, a thousand mile run across the, Atlas mountains. It’s not everyone thinks that’s a holiday. Then I joined the weird club. Hey,

so there’s a part of the show where we asked the same five questions to every guest. And so, get them up. So we, we always are, so we always ask them on your trips. What’s the one thing you crave or miss from home? you know, it usually takes a while for me to create remiss. I mean, Coffee machine. It comes up a lot as something that I miss.

and then when things start to get really bad, [00:36:00] like really bad, then I start to miss the couch and how comfortable it is. did you, what is your favorite adventure book? The living mountain by Nan shepherd, thinks she’s such a great writer, but. There’s actually, there’s a lot in the adventure literature industry that is just kind of one narrative of the ex-military British white male.

And there’s a lot of terminology about conquering mountains and stuff like that. and then separates approach is I think very much the female that approach of the mountain will be here, was here before you and will be here after you. And you’re a blip and just experiencing the beauty of the landscape and not worrying about.

Finding flags at the top. And I just really love the way that she writes. And it’s a book that it’s an older book and it’s about it’s all in the Cairngorms, which is a part of the world that is really close to my heart. So that’s a hundred percent my favorite. [00:37:00] Very nice. Okay. So did you, have an inspirational figure growing up?

I didn’t and I think that has, and a lot of what I’ve done now, cause I, I was always adventuring. I just wasn’t telling anyone about it. And the switch from me who is a total introvert to finally start, you know, filming myself and putting things on social media. That was, it doesn’t come naturally to me, but I found it was really important because I never had anyone who looked like me when I was growing up.

And I say growing up, I mean up until like. Really recently, I never had anyone in the outdoor industry that I could look to and think that person’s like me and I’m inspired by them. So, that’s why I think it’s important to bring different voices into the industry and to, bring different narratives, different body types, different human types.

so yeah, I, I didn’t have one. I think that was a quote from someone you said. He was [00:38:00] on a very similar, line of thoughts. And he said, when he grew up, he didn’t really have an inspirational figure. Say he just looks to inspire himself and looks to make sure that he’s the figure that he wants to be.

That’s beautiful. and I think it was Matthew McConaughey always said he’s inspirational figure was him five years from now. And so he’d always look five years ahead and say, Oh, you know, who is this, figure I’m going to be. And then he would try and emulate that figure. And then five years from now, it’ll always be him from five years.

Actually. That sounds really intriguing. do you have a favorite quote or motivational quote that sort of. Keeps you going or inspires you. [00:39:00] So I have a lot of mantras. I’m really big, big on mantras. one of mine is like one minus don’t be shit. one of mine is toughen up. but the, one of the quotes that I really love that I keep coming back to and something that I always kind of need at the start is always do what you are afraid to do.

it’s Waldo Emerson. Cool. I think, I haven’t bad. Always gives me that courage. Cause at the start line, you always just look at it and go like suddenly the mountains get way bigger. Don’t they? And you just go on, what have I done? I shouldn’t be here. I can’t do this. and then I remind myself like that fear is a good, good sign.

You need that. Yeah.

And I, and I imagine a lot of people listening are always keen to go on these sort of grand adventures. what would you recommend for them to get them started? [00:40:00] I would say make, I’m a really big around to make a list. there are reasons why you’re not out there right now. So make a list of what they are, you know, it could be money, time skills, whatever it is, make a list of all the reasons that step things that stand in your way between you and your adventure.

And then just start taking the things off the list. If you don’t have the skills, we’ll go get the skills like, you know, So I think if you just break it down on that level and just show yourself these are the barriers, and this is how, and then make a plan for how you’re going to act as all of them.

And the second thing I would say is you’re tougher than you think you can totally do this. If fear is one of the problems. let me just tell you that you don’t need that. You’re fine.

And, I know we, we said this earlier, but just for anyone who was wasn’t listening, how can people find you and follow your adventures for the future? on social media, it’s Jenny [00:41:00] tough, real name and, same websites. Didn’t help. How many times have people sort of said, is that your real name? All the time.

And I get really self-conscious that people think it’s my Instagram name, but I’m not cool enough to have an Instagram name. And if I did, I’m not sure that’s the one I would give myself. but yeah, no, I got lucky with that one real name. And finally, I suppose what people are wondering, what is next?

What is next is I will finish this challenge to run across a mountain range and every continent. So there’s just one chapter left and that’s my, that’s my biggest focus. Amazing. And just on a, sort of more, a personal, did you ever try horses, milking kurgastan yes. I didn’t get a choice on it. The nomads were very clear that it was very important to my health that I drank a lot of Comis.

Yeah. I think one of the year, it didn’t let me leave without a leader of it. Like he literally like dumped out my water bottle and children up. He was like, it’s really good [00:42:00] for you. yeah. Did you have it? I tried the host milk cheese, and that was this. That was, more than I could bear the more advanced level, but the calmness is not as.

I mean, it’s, it’s still an acquired taste, but I think you went to advanced by starting with the cheese. Yeah. After the trying to achieve, which was, you know, back of the three, like this is awful. I was like, no, I, I can, I can give horses milk and miss as much as they claimed to be high in vitamin C, I was like, not happening.

Yeah, I am just understand your trepidation with that, Jenny. Thank you so much for coming on today and I look forward to following your adventure in the European mountain range, whichever one they may be. Yeah. [00:43:00] And, again, thank you so much for coming on the show. Thanks again. Thank you. Well, the sh chef or the bottom of the first step got incredibly out.

The TCIC hit somebody twice before, but very out to second was throwing photos of his family off the mountain and saying he was going to die and it was quiet and he didn’t, he didn’t want the oxygen. We gave them. he refused it. He wanted to eat.

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