The Incredible Stories Of Our Most Inspiring Nominees for 2017...

By the Wild Women On Top Team | Experts in hiking adventures for women

Every year we love to celebrate the amazing women who have inspired us most with our Most Inspiring Award. The nominees for this award have been selected by their coaches and teammates for their remarkable achievements throughout the year, demonstrating compassion, strength, kindness, preparation, achievement, resilience, improvement, mental toughness and more. Please help us to congratulate these awesome women and join us at the Christmas Party, where we will announce the winner! 

Liz Walden 

Liz is a stand-out inspiration both to Wild Women On Top and other communities. She has trained hard for several years, building up her strength and fitness to take on some of the toughest treks in the world while also raising funds for charity and encouraging others to get involved. She takes on extreme adventure challenges in all walks of life and is a shining example of a 65-year-old leading an adventurous life she loves. She has done the GR 20 in Corsica, Mt Barney, Mt Gower, Mt Blanc and Coastreks. She took up swimming at 65 and she’s now heading to Ama Dablam Base Camp in Nepal, looking and feeling strong and a picture of vitality and health. She’s fun to train with and inspires all in her wake. Awesome work Liz!

Caroline Wilson

After years of battling depression, Caroline joined Wild Women On Top because she learned the hard way that for her, shared hiking adventures really help her manage her mental health. When she joined us, she not only struggled with mental health, but also had an extreme fear of heights, which included flying. 

Over the past two years, Caroline has overcome her fear of heights, taken her fitness to extreme ‘Hard-Core’ level, done two Coastreks, 100km Oxfam Trailwalker and the Ultratrail 50km. Her goals for 2018 include Tarawera Ultra NZ in Februrary, trekking Japan in March, UTA100km in May and Coast to Coast in the UK in June. She continues to undertake challenging treks and inspire all around her. She also manages a family with its own mental health challenges and generously shares her stories to inspire others.

Monica Sy (Matison)

Monica is an incredibly strong and humble achiever. She’s lead 60km Coastrek teams, trekked the challenging parts of the Great Himalayan Traverse and is now heading back to Nepal to climb two challenging mountains, Mt Mera and Island Peak. She is constantly encouraging and inspiring others and is a wonderful ambassador for our community

Lorraine Tawse

A kind, strong, compassionate leader and part of our community for several years, Lorraine manages two hip replacements and other health problems while training for big goals and inspiring others in the process. She’s done some of our toughest treks and is heading off to Patagonia soon. She always reaches out to new clients to make them feel welcome and is a great example of extreme mental toughness. She floats above life’s daily twists and turns to always see the best solution for herself and others in our community.

Julie Towner

Julie brings a welcoming and encouraging smile to every session. She trains two to three times a week in various Trek Training groups and is well liked by all. She sets a strong, constant walking pace. Julie is currently training for the Camino, which is Julie's first big trip by herself. Her lead up training was on the Lord Howe Island trip in March. It’s a pleasure to share her company during training and on a trip. She is caring and nurturing to all around her. 

Helen Alexander 

Helen has found her mojo in trekking and is doing as much as she can with Wild Women on Top. Helen has tackled nearly all of our Wild Walks and training challenges. She has done Mount Solitary, Royal National Park, Barrenjoey Headland, Wild Blue Labyrinth, Blue Gum Forest and Grand Canyon. This year Helen has undertaken two tough treks, Mongolia (17 days) and Cape to Cape in WA (6 days). Both treks involved averaging about 27 km per day. Helen inspires us by her bravery and willingness to try things that scare her and to join in with the fun. Helen shows us every day that being adventurous requires some effort, determination and practise. We wish we could be as nimble, active and good fun as Helen when we hit 70! No wonder she is much admired.

Robyn Elliott

A long-term loyal member, Robyn’s quiet determination and super-friendly nature is a credit to her. Robyn picks some big hiking goals with Wild Women On Top as well as her family and just makes them happen! Always ready to welcome new members and encourage all around her to keep chasing their goals, she is a popular team player. Robyn regularly works hard at 2-3 sessions a week. This year she undertook a challenging trek with her family through France and Italy, and prepared so well for the recent big pack challenge for Freycinet and scrambling ascent of Mt Amos, despite some knee issues. She powered up two mountains like it was a walk in the park! With her increased strength the Bungle Bungles is her next big goal. Congratulations on your well-deserved nomination and for reflecting the golden attributes of a Wild Woman.

Jackie Quang

Jackie is full of beans and always positive no matter what happens. She is quick to join a Wild Walk, and has participated in two Coastrek Sydney events, the most recently the 60km with great results. She has also worked hard to build up her strength to carry the 15kg pack weight for the recent Freycinet trip on her slight frame, and got right into all the gear talk that goes with it, encouraging the others to be best prepared. Jackie’s chronic asthma is now well under control with no drugs, since joining us 18mths ago – all credited to her increased fitness. Always ready to lend a hand, help organise events, and put others before herself, she is fun to be around, and a great support to all Wild Women she meets. Jackie’s next big adventure is the Bungle Bungles next May. Big congrats Jackie!! 

Nitu Gupta

Nitu’s ever-positive, humorous and supportive nature makes her a worthy candidate for Wild Women’s Most Inspiring award. She is so well loved and respected in all groups. Her commitment to training is excellent – often smashing out three sessions a week. Earlier in the year she joined a Wild Women On Top team on Lord Howe Island, and has completed many Wild Walks. For the recent Freycinet trip in Tassie she worked hard to build pack weight and really encouraged her team members to as well. Nitu has also helped many other women be comfortable in their own skin by encouraging them to participate in the Sydney Skinny nudie swim at Middle Head raising money for various charities. All this while juggling a demanding job and two young boys. Her physical and mental strength has really been tested this year, but she has come out on top, as she is stronger than she knows. With Iceland on her upcoming calendar, she is truly on a wild journey of discovery and adventure that I’m sure will only get bigger!

Alison Morgan

Alison joined Wild Women On Top in March 2016, unsure of where it would take her. She immersed herself in our culture, setting a goal to get the leanest and fittest she could be to kick ass. She completely transformed her fitness and body, and dedicated herself to training and challenging Wild Walks. Her first big goal was the 60km Sydney Coastrek, having to travel well over 50km to train on the route whenever possible... and she completed it with great enthusiasm and humour. Next was Huayhuash, Peru... Alison encouraged others to join in and sign up to make the trip happen. Then she inspired the team to train hard, pushing herself and others in up to four Trek Training sessions every week. Alison went out of her way to organise to do more training with others outside of Trek Training, including rock climbing and climbing Brokers Nose Mountain in the Illawarra. Now, after having to deal with all the emotions of not being able to complete the Huayhuash Circuit due to altitude sickness, she is back at Trek Training, disappointed but demonstrating great resilience for her next adventures. She is now training hard for a new set of goals including NZ’s Ball Pass Summit in March and applying to join NSW Fire and Rescue.

Helen Vella

Everyone says: ”When I grow up I want to be Helen." At 68 years young, Helen is making the most of her life with the motto: “I wouldn’t be dead for quids." She sets a goal and then does what it takes to get herself as ready as possible. She knows her limitations but that never stops her... she quietly and gently cares for and inspires those around her and brings great fun to any group. Helen has been a regular Trek Training member for many years, building strength for amazing adventures such as Iceland in 2016, Walls of Jerusalem in 2017, some inspiring personal travels and then Huayhuash, Peru in 2017 - 19 days of high altitude trekking! Well done, Helen.

Karen Blackstock

Karen is affectionately known as one of the group ‘elders’… not from age but time at Wild Women On Top and experience. She is one strong leader in our tribe. Karen always inspires, loves a laugh and cares for others before herself. She is always the first to step up in times of need. You would want Karen in any challenging situation on an adventure. She is one of our most consistent and long-term members, having never missed a Wednesday night session – powering along the trails with her monster pack. She completed 100km Oxfam in 2016, leading her team, backed up with Walls of Jerusalem in March, and is always looking for the next challenging adventure. She will be kayaking in QLD in November and is preparing for NZ Ball Pass Summit in March, then Jatbula in June. Karen shows women the importance of putting their "own oxygen mask on first" especially when life is pulling you in every direction. A wonderful example to others… she is our Bear Grylls.

Kerrie Sainsbury

The little whippet… that's what I think of when I see Kerrie. She is a natural athlete with the power and determination of someone twice her size. After overcoming many of life's obstacles, Kerrie found Wild Women On Top and has never looked back, taking on and accomplishing every Wild Adventure, Coastrek or marathon with the vigour of a tigress. She is a delight to have on any team and is always very supportive of her group members. Go Kerrie, you're a champ!

Margaret Sheridan

At the tender age of almost 80, Margaret would have to be one of our eldest Wild Women On Top members, but it doesn't hold her back at all. She trains with us two to three times a week and is always enthusiastic with her efforts. Her record of trips for the past couple of years are so inspiring, and she’s never put off by the more difficult ones! This month Margaret completed Ama Dablam and Gokyo Lakes with a summit up Gokyo Ri, taking her over 5500m above sea level. Earlier this year she trekked through Patagonia with her son, again at altitude, and completed the 307km Coast to Coast in the UK prior to that. Margaret is such an outstanding candidate for the Most Inspiring Award and such an inspiration to us all. 

Want to be inspired? Sign up to our newsletter.

Share this page

Latest news

When the doors to my gym closed in late March due to COVID-19, I felt like the rug had been pulled out from under me. In the first few weeks of lockdown, I’ll be honest, I was in a pretty dark place. I felt joyless, flat, uninspired, confused, scared and isolated. I got teary and emotional over insignificant things. They’re feelings I know many of us went through, at various times, at various intensities. But lockdown also taught me a valuable lesson about exercise…
Don’t be fooled by the gym selfies and abs on Instagram. The healthiest people around aren’t spending all day in the gym, eating nothing but bland chicken and broccoli, and drinking protein shakes. Here are 8 things healthy people do daily (or at least… most days!)
We all need to do something thrilling and daring every now and again. Not just because it unleashes our inner child and fills us with a lust for life, but because awe and exhilaration is actually good for our health! On the eve of World Nude Hiking Day, we thought we'd share some wild and wonderful ways you can experience natural exhilaration and get your vitality back.
When you're hiking overnight, you don't need to miss out on a delicious, decadent dessert. Di has perfected this apricot crumble recipe which you can make on the trail on a multi-day hike. It's easy, it's quick, it has limited ingredients, it's delicious, and it's the ultimate post-dinner treat for an overnight adventure. Enjoy!
At Wild Women On Top, we're all about delicious, nutritious gourmet food. Even on overnight hikes, we go the extra mile for our tastebuds. You don't need to resort to commercial, dehydrated meal packets. From curries to pasta dishes, you can cook fresh, gourmet meals on the trail.  The recipes in this blog have been fine-tuned over several years of overnight hiking and involve a little preparation at home. They're tried and tested, and they're super secret (so don't go sharing them around!) Enjoy!