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Maria Leijerstam a Welsh British polar adventurer who was the first person to cycle the South Pole

Tough Girl - Meike Stones  “Powered By Me” - A year-long human-powered lifestyle adventure

On December 27, 2013, Maria Leijerstam became the first person in the world to cycle from the edge of the Antarctic continent to the South Pole. She also set the new World Record for the fastest human powered coast to pole traverse, completing her journey in 10 days, 14hrs and 56 minutes.

Leijerstam has always been a traveller, albeit a non-traditional one. Her trips are usually built around multisport adventure races involving cycling, running and kayaking, or other slightly longer endurance tests, such as the Marathon des Sables, where she completed six marathons in seven days in the Sahara Desert, or cycling more than 600km across Siberia’s frozen Lake Baikal.

During the podcast we learn more about Maria, the challenges she has faced along the way, what she's learned and why she puts her body through this.

"I’m not adverse to risk at all, and I get excited by new tough challenges."


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Show notes

  • Why she doesn’t call herself an explorer

  • Growing up and wanting to be an astronaut

  • Her childhood

  • Getting into more extreme adventures

  • Always living in a mans world

  • Joining the Officer Training Corps

  • Learning how to look after herself

  • How she started her journey into adventure

  • Doing the Marathon des Sables!

  • The lead up to the race, dealing with nerves and preparing her body for the heat

  • Knowing how your body responds during a challenge

  • Learning how to manage pain

  • Why you put your body through the extreme challenges?

  • Being the 200th person to ever reach the South Pole

  • Doing an adventure race & what she loves about it

  • The last wild race in Patagonia

  • Handling team dynamics during adventure races

  • When races fall apart…

  • Dealing with discomfort and managing your pain

  • Colour therapy

  • 4 years preparation to get to the South Pole

  • Testing out equipment and figuring out what was going to work

  • £100,000 needed to do the expedition and how she paid for it

  • Dealing with rejection

  • Getting onto the ice and the relief she felt

  • What she leant from the experience of planning and doing the polar expedition

  • Coming home and returning to Wales

  • Future goals and plans

  • Being a mother of 2 and how she fits fitness into her life


Learn more about Maria


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