“Everyone else seemed to have it figured out, everyone else knew what they were doing, and then there was me”.

Sophie Radcliffe
Words: Steve Trotter
Images: Sophie Radcliffe

Standing on top of that mountain I knew my life was never going to be the same. I had this feeling of confidence and self-belief and empowerment. I had set myself the biggest goal I could imagine, and I had gone out and achieved it. It was then that it hit me, what if I dared to look up from the world I had fallen into, what if I dared to create a life that was truly mine.”

The night before Sophie Radcliffe quit her job at a tech start-up she phoned her brother. She was apprehensive, she had no road map, no compass, but she was ready to make that leap of faith.

Having taken a sales job straight out of university at 22, it soon became apparent that she couldn’t progress any further. Sophie knew that by staying, to help someone else build their business and realise their own goals she would be sacrificing her own. She knew she was capable of much more, that the only limitations were those that existed in her own mind. “So I looked for inspiration, I went out into my world and figured it out. The thing that changed my world, the thing that I still refer back to today, is that there is no difference between us, and the people we aspire to be like, apart from the fact that they took the steps and went out to make it happen”.

“I’m not here to advocate that you should quit your job and climb mountains. I am here to champion this; I stopped looking at the world to tell me who I should be, or what extraordinary feels like.”

Sophie’s passions were fitness, adventure, cycling, triathlon, mountain sports and what her body could do, not what it looked like. Her focus was on functionality rather than aesthetics, on developing a strong mind instead of focusing on negatives, that passion was about to change her life.

Sophie Radcliffe: Founder of ‘Challenge Sophie’

On a journey to improve her fitness she signed up for a new challenge. She trained for 6 months and raised a chunk of money for charity before boarding a plane with 40 total strangers for a grueling week-long adventure race through the jungle of Borneo, by far her biggest challenge yet. Cycling, running, Kayaking and climbing to the peak of the highest mountain in South East Asia – mount Kinabalu she pushed herself in more ways than she could have ever imagined.

“I remember looking out over the South China Sea at 7 in the morning as the sun was rising, just thinking I can’t believe I’m here. All the obstacles and challenges I’ve overcome and all the things I have proven to myself, things that I didn’t think I could do. They were all there, all now, all part of my memories that I could keep with me forever. Standing on top of that mountain I knew my life was never going to be the same…”

“When it was over I was supposed to stay in Borneo for another 2 weeks, go scuba diving and hang out, but actually the next day I changed my flight. I flew back to London and I walked back into work. My colleagues were so surprised to see me, they said – shouldn’t you be on holiday, on a beach having fun, and I just said to them; ‘I’m ready’. I have never felt so fired up. I have never felt so motivated and driven, I don’t want to waste this feeling sat on a beach.”

Like a domino effect, Sophie’s life started to flow, there was a feeling of purpose to her life and she began setting herself more and more adventures at weekends and on holidays. She started pushing herself as far as she could and found herself plugging all that new energy and drive and motivate back into her work. “One day I won’t be able to do this, today is not that day” Petrified, Sophie quit her job; she had done her research and at length considered the worst-case scenario. She knew that now was the time in her life that she had the least to lose.

“Challenge Sophie started out as just me, going out whenever I could, climbing mountains and going on adventures that inspired me. Turning that into my career didn’t happen overnight, it was a long, hard, painful, scary, broke journey. Even now I know nothing is set in stone, nothing is for certain and I take nothing for granted. I go through times when I think wow this is fantastic, and other times when I think; how am I going to make this happen, how will I ever pay a mortgage”.

“I never imagined any of this could be possible”

“One day I won’t be able to do this, today is not that day”

“I believe that it is through challenging ourselves that we stretch our limits, break down barriers and realise we can achieve far more than we think.”

“If someone is looking to take a big leap in their life, I would say that you have to dream big, you’ve got to face your fears, and take them with you on your journey. You’ve got to get the right people on your bus, you need to have a network of good people around you – that’s super important. You’ve got to be passionate, enthusiastic and go out and keep creating opportunities. Finally – don’t stop when it gets hard”.

“I’m really passionate about getting ‘Challenge Sophie’ to a place where I can do the things that I love, but my focus now is using that platform to help other people. If I can help people make change by showing them what’s possible. By supplying them with support, inspiration and the tools to make positive changes in their life, that’s my goal. It doesn’t matter what we look like, it doesn’t matter what other people tell us what we should look like. What matters is what we can do, and how you feel every day, getting up every morning and going out into the world. Why fit in when you were born to stand out”!

“I believe that it is through challenging ourselves that we stretch our limits, break down barriers and realise we can achieve far more than we think.”

Sophie is the only person in history to have climbed the highest mountains in the eight Alpine countries and cycled between them, climbing five times the height of Mount Everest in 32 days. She has cycled 300kms from London to Paris in 24 hours on nine occasions, completed numerous multi-sport adventure races around the world, raced coast to coast across the US on her bike, completed 100km ultra-marathons, and she is a two-time Ironman finisher. Today Sophie is a TEDx Speaker with a mission to champion ordinary people achieve extraordinary things. Her dream was to create change in her own life, to follow her passions and live life on her own terms.

Through her passion and appetite for life, the energy and drive she has to find her own extraordinary, she encourages belief in others to go out, define and achieve their own extraordinary.

“You’ve got one life, live it.”

Check out more about Challenge Sophie: | Facebook – Challenge Sophie | Instagram – Challenge Sophie | YouTube – Challenge Sophie