Nothing could stop this British woman, and her bad knee, from hiking 318 miles in 6 days

In a year where Major League Baseball has been delayed, the 2020 Olympics have been postponed, and the NBA season has been moved to something called a "bubble," a new sport has emerged as the ultimate athletic challenge in our COVID-19 world, at least for one British woman.

"Peak bagging" is an activity where hikers, mountaineers, and sometimes runners attempt to reach the summit of every mountaintop in a published list of peaks, and Sabrina Verjee, a British ultra runner, has just become the first woman to complete the 318 mile route through the 214 English peaks known as the "Wainwrights." Oh, and she did it with a bum knee.

The 39-year-old veterinary surgeon ascended over 35,000 meters on her run, completing the trek in just 6 days, 17 hours and 51 minutes, just eleven hours short of the record, which was broken last year. She completed the race on July 12th, after beginning it on the 6th, and plans to do it again in the near future. When she finished there were two previous Wainwright record holders, Joss Naylor and Steve Birkinshaw, waiting to congratulate her at the finish line.



"I'm so happy to have completed my round and more than a little relieved. My right knee hasn't been happy for a couple of days, so the final sections were very tough, especially as the fatigue really started to kick in," Verjee said in an interview.



Sabrina Verjee isn't new to pushing the limits of human endurance, just last year she took fifth place in the Montane Spine Race, a 270-mile ultramarathon through the blistering winter cold across the Pennine Way, an English national trail that runs through Scotland. She was also the first woman to complete the race. Before that, she came in second in the 2017 Berghaus Dragon's Back Race, a Welsh mountain race that boasts ascents adding up to twice the height of Mount Everest. Despite her resume of being, perhaps, the greatest walker alive, Verjee claimed in a Facebook post that she doesn't "claim any record for this achievement," on account of her relying on her support due to a knee injury. She does, however, look forward to completing the challenge again in the future. More than 200 people have responded to the post, praising Verjee for her endurance and humility, and congratulating her for completing the challenge.

Despite being one of the most prominent athletes in her field, Verjee is also a veterinary surgeon based in Ambleside. She had been waiting for the go-ahead from Prime Minister Boris Johnson for British citizens in the pandemic to be allowed to participate in "unlimited exercise." As soon as she got it, she completed the hike, despite having minimal support due to her insistence on taking COVID-19 precautions.

Verjee exhibits perseverance in an unprecedented time of anxiety, uncertainty, and immobility for the world as it faces the current pandemic. By continuing to train throughout quarantine, adjusting her support system to lower risk for potential COVID-19 transferrances and continuing to push through a knee injury that threatened to spoil the whole hike, Verjee proves that global pandemics aren't an excuse for people to stop doing amazing things, as long as they're gone safely, that is.

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When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."

"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.

The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.

"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."

Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.

Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.

Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.

She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.

Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.

Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.

"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."

"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.

Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.

"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.

"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."

"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."

"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."

"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."

Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.

That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."

Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

Vanna White appeared on "The Price Is Right" in 1980.

Vanna White has been a household name in the United States for decades, which is kind of hilarious when you consider how she gained her fame and fortune. Since 1982, the former model and actress has made millions walking back and forth turning letters (and later simply touching them—yay technology) on the game show "Wheel of Fortune."

That's it. Walking back and forth in a pretty evening gown, flipping letters and clapping for contestants. More on that job in a minute…

As a member of Gen X, television game shows like "Wheel of Fortune" and "The Price is Right" send me straight back to my childhood. Watching this clip from 1980 of Vanna White competing on "The Price is Right" two years before she started turning letters on "Wheel of Fortune" is like stepping into a time machine. Bob Barker's voice, the theme music, the sound effects—I swear I'm home from school sick, lying on the ugly flowered couch with my mom checking my forehead and bringing me Tang.

This video has it all: the early '80s hairstyles, a fresh-faced Vanna White and Bob Barker's casual sexism that would never in a million years fly today.

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