Sahara trek forces a reassessment of the meaning of a work-life balance

Debbie Richards, a partner at law firm Hutchinson Thomas, has described how completing a gruelling, once in a lifetime, five-day trek through the Sahara Desert, has completely changed her outlook on life and forced her to reassess her work-life balance.

Debbie, 54, completed the punishing endurance challenge late last year with Global Adventure Challenges. The ordeal consisted of completing two marathons in two days, and climbing the highest sand dune peak in the area.

Through her participating in the event, alongside other fundraising initiatives she completed in advance, she raised approximately £1,500 which was donated to the Brain Research Trust, an organisation which helps and supports families suffering from the issues surrounding brain diseases. The charity is close to her own heart because her husband has a degenerative neurological disorder.

As part of the fundraising, companies paid to have their logos on a banner, which she carried to the dune’s summit and displayed it there.

Recalling her experience, Debbie said: “A small group of us – all strangers – completed the trek. We all had our own motives. It was very tough and very basic; no showers, no toilets. But it was also incredibly beautiful and a truly life changing experience. Since then, I have realised that anything is truly possible, and I am always seeking my next challenge.”

In fact, this latest adventure built on an earlier challenge in 2017, which was triggered by a good friend of hers dying suddenly. She spoke at the time of how a colleague passing away suddenly ignited her motivation to get fit, as people in her line of work experience a stressful working environment and don’t always find the time to keep fit.

On the back of this new-found drive, she was inducted into the London Classics Hall of Fame in 2017 for completing three endurance challenges: the London Marathon, the Ride London-Surrey 100 Sportive, and a two mile swim of the Serpentine.

On top of this, Debbie has also turned her attention to becoming a personal fitness trainer. She is also a fully qualified yoga instructor, massage therapist and personal trainer, all alongside being a partner at Hutchinson Thomas.

“My level of fitness is now higher than ever,” she says. “Managing a work/life balance which involves fitness has made me a better lawyer. It’s about considering your health as a whole; mental well-being and physical well-being.”

This is not Debbie’s last challenge. She is doing a sky dive for charity in August and is already plotting to swim the Serpentine again but this time with a six mile goal. Additionally, Debbie hopes to complete the Snowdon Marathon and Athens Marathon this year, while looking to complete an expedition to the Arctic next year.

We look forward to hearing what Debbie does next – we will keep you updated!

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