Just Challenge: Join The Iceland Trek To Empower Women
Every year, Just Challenge, an award-winning adventure agency organises an extreme trip around the globe that requires both determination and an appetite for exploration.
Together with Her Planet Earth, a non-profit organisation focused on the connection of the environment and women’s empowerment, this year’s competition is expected to be the most exciting yet: seven days in Iceland trekking through glaciers, waterfalls and steaming hot pools.
We speak to a previous Just Challenge attendee Holly Millward, the Managing Director of sports and entertainment marketing agency CSM, to get the inside scoop on the upcoming women-only trek.
Having recently taken part in the Just Challenge trip to the Himalayas, Millward tells us there is nothing more powerful than sharing trips like these. “In the same way that life has its ups and downs, the same can be said for a challenge that puts people out of their comfort zone,” she says.
“We’ll be encountering everything from lava tunnels to hot springs and the famous colourful sulphur slopes of the Brennisteinsalda volcano,” Millward says. While the beautiful scenery is enough to entice you, you’ll also have the rare opportunity to meet like-minded women from all around the world, making friendships that will last a lifetime.
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What Just Challenge events have you been a part of?
I was lucky enough to take part in the inaugural trip to the Himalayas last year. It was a privilege to be part of the start of the Just Challenge journey with an inspiring group of 100 individuals from all over the world. The campaign raised over US$300,000 for Laureus Sport for Good.
What is your favourite Just Challenge event?
It’s hard for me to look past the Himalayas trip with it being the first challenge of its kind. Honestly, this incredible part of the world should feature on everyone’s life bucket list.
It’s easy to see how this mountain range has become irresistible to those who want to escape their comfort zone through adventure. There was something truly magical about scurrying through valleys during the day, spying snow-capped Indian peaks at night and watching the stars before bedtime around the campfire.
However, the defining factor of these experiences is always the people, walking side by side in a tough environment for nine hours a day was the perfect backdrop for forming new bonds and making connections. I am joining Challenge Africa in May and I am certain that will be no different. We may just have to have our ‘fight or flight’ mode primed to escape the wild animals that are reportedly roaming around camp.
What are you most excited about the Iceland trek?
Just about everything about this challenge excites me, Iceland is unique as it is the first challenge for just women.
It’s a fantastic opportunity for any women out there to take part in a meaningful adventure that will bring together inspiring people from around the world from different background and nationalities, and it’s very special because it’s a female challenge to raise both awareness and funds for other women from underprivileged backgrounds.
For those reading this over brunch and lightly musing their next challenge, I urge you to consider it. We will cover 80 KM over several days but it’s open to all abilities with a few hikes under your belt.
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Why did Just Challenge decide to make the Iceland event a women-only event?
The idea for the Iceland challenge has been born out of a partnership with an incredible women’s advocacy movement called Her Planet Earth. In simple terms, their mission is to increase awareness of environmental degradation and raise funds for programmes that empower women affected by climate change.
The team at Just Challenge have been really inspired by this and collectively felt it was a powerful platform to communicate the importance of addressing women’s needs globally, so that was the start of the journey.
What are the envisioned benefits of this coming Iceland event?
I know from speaking to the Just Challenge team that there is an amazing line up of women taking part. The group so far comprises a real range of industries, backgrounds and nationalities. The one common denominator, of course, is that they’re all doing great things in their own lives already and I am sure will inspire each other with stories and shared experiences during the trip.
Of course, the ultimate benefit is women’s empowerment and the promotion of gender equality, which is why we chose the beneficiary charity of the challenge to be UN Women. The Just Challenge team felt strongly that the partnership and opportunity presented by the challenge was a fantastic chance to shine a light on the work and raise funds for a very relevant cause.
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Do you think this trip will aid in the advancement of gender equality globally?
The reality is that every challenge, every engagement, every donation advances gender equality somewhere in the world where the work is being done—but we must be realistic that there is much work to do. Someone the other day said to me in a different context ‘Start small, but start today’, I believe that in this case the same can be said.
I know that for all the various causes that Just Challenge are supporting through these expeditions, everyone involved feels a sense of pride at being a small cog in the wheel of progress.
Why do you believe these treks are so important?
With the ever-increasing pace of life, we rarely give ourselves the opportunity to disconnect. We are living in a world where people are increasingly overtired, overstressed, overworked and overstimulated.
We are more connected digitally but less connected with the people and things that matter to us most. Getting out into nature, challenging ourselves physically but switching off mentally is more valuable than ever before, I think we all need it perhaps more than we realise.
It’s also interesting to observe and experience how people engage with each other when they’re out in the middle of nowhere and without a phone. It’s amazing how much you can learn about someone else walking side by side, being curious and interested in their lives rather than being distracted by something of little consequence, that is where the human stories emerge.
Have you made lifelong friends from these events?
Absolutely. Friendship and connections are ultimately built on shared human experiences. You share the laughs, the tears and the drinks at the finish line, in fact, it’s actually the one space where WhatsApp can be deployed for brilliant use once everyone is back to real life.
I still have my ‘Team Yellow Submarine—Himalayas’ group that pops up every now and again when the team get together in a far-flung part of the world or the anniversary of wearing a ‘Minion’ outfit in the mountains comes around again. Life-affirming and most importantly, great fun.
What advice would you give to people who have just signed up to the challenge?
Be open on three counts: open-minded, open to meeting new people and open to new experiences. But, it might be time to get to The Twins and not take the detour route down to the beach for brunch for the next few weeks. You’re all in for an experience of a lifetime and one you will genuinely never forget.
About the Iceland Challenge:
The Iceland Challenge takes place from August 20 to 27, 2019. The entry cost is US$6,800 and includes seven nights of accommodation, ground transfers, meals, experienced challenge leaders, medical support and sighting seeing activities. Apply for one of the limited spots here: www.just-challenge.com/iceland2019