We work with a huge number of incredible women, so it felt appropriate to celebrate just a few of them for International Women's Day.
Women are quite under-represented in our industry, partly because (with the possible exception of wild swimming) women are actually very under-represented in most of the outdoor activities we love doing.
We've been working hard to address this at Alpkit. 50% of our senior management team are women, 44% of our workforce are women and we have achieved a 0.5% gender pay gap (excluding the board). But there's still a bit of work to do.
We could have featured any of the amazing women we work with day to day for International Women's Day - in our office, in our stores, in our factory and in our warehouse.
But, to be completely honest, they're much too busy: providing advice, guiding runs, repairing gear, making sales, solving enquiries, planning campaigns, designing products, processing warranties, leading teams, arranging shipping, handling finances, helping staff, teaching yoga, making bags, stitching pads, massaging muscles, packaging parcels, managing shops, and a million and one other things besides that we can't think of right now, to have time for all our website witterings!
So we thought we'd just feature some of our inspirational Alpkiteers instead. Because they've got plenty of time in between leading movements, climbing mountains, running ultras and cycling the breadth of the country... maybe not...
We've chosen to focus on five of our female Alpkiteers, representing our core activities of hike, bike, run, swim and climb. Choosing just five was a real struggle, as we really could have picked any single one of them.
Whether at the forefront of advancing important causes, or pushing their minds and bodies to staggering athletic feats, they're truly fantastic role models for all of us - regardless of gender.
Nicky Spinks (Running)
Nicky Spinks is, quite simply, a legend of British fell running. Nicky was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2006 and underwent surgery for a hysterectomy in 2012. She went on to hold the records for all three of the classic mountain rounds (the Lake District's Bob Graham Round, Snowdonia's Paddy Buckley Round and Scotland's Ramsay Round) from 2014 until 2016, when they were broken by Jasmin Paris. She marked the 10 year anniversary of her cancer diagnosis by breaking the record for the Double Bob Graham (132 miles and 54,000 feet of climbing in a staggering 45 hours 30 minutes) and became the only person to ever complete doubles of the Ramsay Round and Paddy Buckley Round.
"I think Nicky is an inspiration to anyone with aspirations of trail running. She's a sheep farmer based in the Peak District and yet she's found time to absolutely smash awesome feats of endurance. Nicky's own achievements make my own ambitions seem tangible and maybe not that crazy!" - Caroline, Customer Support Hero
Zofia Reych (Bouldering)
Zofia Reych is a writer, speaker and boulderer and who set up the Women's Bouldering Festival - the first international bouldering festival for women - two years ago. Taking place over four days in the Forêt de Fontainebleau, the festival aims to bring together like-minded individuals to share in a spirit of inclusivity (regardless of gender, ethnicity, sexuality, age or climbing level), and take part in a series of workshops, talks and activities. As well as encouraging all-round climbing excellence, the festival is very focused on promoting good bouldering ethics and the conservation of the Fontainebleau Forest's fragile ecosystem,
"As what I would call a keen-but-terrible climber, I find it really inspirational and comforting to know that an event like the Women’s Bouldering Festival exists. Sometimes I can feel a bit intimidated at a climbing wall by all the strong armed, super flexible and insanely cool climbers. It’s nice to know that there is a festival solely focused on celebrating inclusivity in climbing, where we can all share in each others success! - Elly, Customer Support Hero
Anna Wells (Mountaineering)
Anna Wells first made her name on the dry tooling circuit and has represented the UK in several Ice Climbing World Cups. Balancing her time between the mountains and her career as a junior doctor Anna completed 37 x 4000m Alpine peaks in one summer (including 22 in 6 days), all five of the main ridges on Ben Nevis's north face in a single day (including down-climbing several of them), and holds the women's fastest known times for the summer and winter Cuilin Ridge Traverse on Skye (6 hours 34 minutes for the summer traverse). She's currently taking a career break to focus on her climbing career and recently passed her winter assessment to become a registered International Mountain Guide.
"Anna’s enthusiasm and sheer desire to get out there and do stuff never ceases to amaze. She packs so much in to a day out, and it doesn’t matter what the activity: she is a true mountaineering polymath." - Ronnie, Design Manager
Kate Rew (Swimming)
Kate Rew (front) founded the Outdoor Swimming Society (OSS) in 2006 to pioneer outdoor swimming in rivers, lakes, lido and seas. Under her watch the OSS has grown to 100,000 members (of all ages, abilities and backgrounds) and the organisation has played a significant role in the recent growth of outdoor swimming, changing perceptions about the nature of swimming in rivers and lakes. Kate swam all over the country whilst compiling her book 'Wild Swim, and in 2016 she received an award from the International Swimming Hall of Fame for contributions to recreational swimming. Along with Kari Furre (also pictured), Kate was the subject of the award winning short film Chasing the Sublime.
"I love Kate Rew. Wild swimming is a really big passion of mine and the fact Kate and her team of wild friends have created a community around this wonderful sport is really incredible. The wild swim map helps me to find new places to swim and amazing events like the Bantham Swoosh just make me want to jump in a pond immediately!" - Elly, Customer Support Hero
Mel Nicholls (Cycling)
Having always lived an active life, cycling, running and horse-riding, Mel was left unable to walk and use much of the left side of her body following her third stroke in 2008. But that wasn't going to stop her. Having watched the Beijing Paralympics from her hospital bed, Mel competed in wheelchair racing at the London 2012 Paralympics - just 15 months after taking up the sport. Mel went on to represent Great Britain for the next 4 years, achieving track world records, winning medals and becoming a finalist at both London and Rio. She is now devoting herself to a series of endurance challenges, exploring the Faroe Islands by handcycle, breaking the Land's End to John O'Groats handcycle world record in 6 days, 22 hours and 18 minutes and is an active team member for the Adaptive Grand Slam.
"I honestly didn't know a huge amount about Mel, despite the fact she'd given a talk whilst I was working at our Hathersage shop. I've been following her on social media recently and, her achievements aside, the thing I find most inspiring is her general attitude and approach to life. I found myself getting quite emotional reading one of her posts recently - it was a serious post, but genuinely funny and really quite moving. 'Those new directions have a way of meeting just where you'd planned many miles back down the road, and when you're least expecting it. You just took the scenic route.' Cheers Mel!" - Mark R, Content Writer