Growing up in Canada, Gabrielle Degagne never noticed the lack of female role models in extreme sports. It wasn’t until she attended the Banff Mountain Film Festival, where she saw a movie about female athletes, that Degagne even began to consider extreme sports as something she might want to try.
“I want to be that badass,” Degagne recalled thinking at the time.
Fast forward to today, Degagne recently completed an expedition where she and a group of women explored previously un-skied areas in Kyrgyzstan and collected data on climate change.
On March 4th, Degagne and her team attended the Women’s Adventure Film Tour and presented their film to an audience full of badass women.
“Just being able to see other women who you can look up to or relate to is super encouraging,” said Degagne. “It can be hard for women if there isn’t other women doing the sport. Joining a new sport it can be a bit intimidating with all these people and men you don’t know.”
Ultra runner Tanya Bennett was the MC at the event.
“There are fewer role models for women in sport in general,” said Bennett. “When women in sport are in the media, it can help jog other women into joining.”
Bennett has run in the Oxfam Trailwalker 100km every year since her friend competed in the challenge to celebrate beating breast cancer.
The four-person team Bennett runs with rotates every year and the camaraderie that Bennett has formed with the teammates is lasting.
“There is that feeling that you are a pack,” she said. “We always say we feel like a pack of dogs, bound together intrinsically. We know we are going to go through these highs and lows.”
Hong Kong, where the Women’s Adventure Film Tour took place, is blessed with incredible female runners such as Marie McNaughton and Nia Cooper. Unfortunately, women entrants for running events are usually much less than that of men. The Trailwalker that Bennett ran in this year was only 22.2 percent women.
“There is an amazing field of female runners here,” Bennett said. “But there could always be more.”
These two badass women show that any sport is possible for women. Hopefully they can inspire women to follow their passions regardless of the gender divide.
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