International Women’s Day 2024: Celebrating #TeamMontane

To mark International Women's Day 2024 (#IWD2024) we want to celebrate the incredible women that make up the Montane community. Hear from some of the Montane HQ staff breaking boundaries…

It's not just our team of athletes and ambassadors breaking bias! Behind the scenes, our internal office team is made up of an amazing range of women, many of whom live for the outdoors. This International Women's Day (08 March) we want to celebrate some of their inspiring achievements to date. Collectively we can #InspireInclusion.

Pat Woonton Pink, Montane Customer Service Advisor

I joined the Montane family in December 2018 and met some incredible colleagues who talked about the iconic Lakeland 50/100, mostly horror stories about bad weather and missing toenails. In 2021 I was finally persuaded (possibly by the prospect of cake) to commit to taking on the race with my colleague Kay O Toole. We swore and encouraged each other up and down the hills laughing manically along the way. It was such a memorable experience!

Fast forward to 2023 and I was planning for a 5k open water swim, but, annoyingly though Cancer had other plans. What I thought was a sore throat turned into a diagnosis of Oesophagus cancer. I didn’t even know where the oesophagus was or how to pronounce it! A month of radiotherapy and chemotherapy followed, as well as 6 weeks of recovery. A major Oesophagectomy also involved them cutting the tumour out. Sadly there were lots of complications and a few scary moments that resulted in a 6-week stay in hospital instead of the usual 7/10 days. 

Out of the hospital, I had a feeding tube attached to recover and had to learn how to eat with a stomach the size of a teacup. As I was recovering and before I started immunotherapy for a year, I decided to take on the Geordieman Triathlon with 2 of my friends as a relay. They didn’t even ask what the distance was before agreeing. Some of the Montane family came out to support me on my part, a very slow walk. Instead of the 5k swim, it was downsized to 500 meters in Windermere, my darling husband took on the challenge with me. 

I’m still on the road to recovery and currently working on rebuilding my body and mental health. I couldn’t have done any of this without the support of my family, friends, and work colleagues. But Cancer isn’t going to stop me from having fun! This year I have an ambitious plan to complete the rat race coast to coast. Having fun is one of the lessons I have learned from this experience because you don’t know what is around the corner.  

International Women's Day | Pat running

Steph Robinson, Montane Social Media Manager

My solo journey in bagging all 214 Wainwrights began during the Covid-19 pandemic as a way to keep myself active when I lived and worked in Cumbria. For those who aren’t aware, the Wainwrights are a group of 214 hills and mountains in the Lake District, named after British fell walker Alfred Wainwright and his seven-volume Lakeland guidebooks.

Little did I know that my first-ever solo hike up to the summit of Great Gable would lead me to becoming completely obsessed with spending my weekends for the next two years ticking off as many Wainwrights as I could, no matter the weather. 

Each Wainwright brings its own challenges and rewards but nothing beats the rush of accomplishment with every peak ‘bagged’. Some days I’d wake up at 1 am to drive to the Lakes and then hike to watch the sunrise, other days I’d complete one horseshoe and then drive to another location to tick off a few more. It was a journey of pushing my limits and a personal adventure that led me to my job at Montane! 

International Women's Day | steph walking the wainwrights

Rebekah Hendrickse, Montane Customer Services and Repair

My idea of fun, enjoyment, and even rest, is being outside and moving. It feels good to get my heart pumping, blood circulating, joints rotating, and muscles engaged, leaving my mind refreshed. So, as much as possible, I try to fit this into my daily life so that it becomes a habit. 

Thanks to where I live and work, I have a long cycle to work and back each day, and at lunchtime, I always try to fit in a steady run with an optional sea dip if the tide and waves look safe. If I don’t feel like going at the time, I always remind myself of the feeling after when I am rejuvenated, content, and ready to get back to work!

International Women's Day | Rebekah running

Fran Wilson, Montane Digital Marketing Manager

I've always loved moving my body in different ways and seeing what it can achieve! From long-distance cycling routes on wild, remote Scottish islands, to finally taking on the iconic Great North Run in recent years.

I genuinely never thought I would be capable of running further than 5km comfortably, let alone taking on over 21km with thousands of others watching. But when you work with so many people who have done it before and are full of advice and encouragement - it's hard not to feel inspired!

International Women's Day | Fran running the great north run

Kay Toole, Montane Support/Office Manager

Working at Montane has certainly inspired me to get out of my comfort zone in a big way. Having ran for many years up to half marathon distance, but never considering anything further, at the grand old age of 48 I suddenly decided it was time to give a marathon a go.

York 2015 was my target and after a fraught month beforehand with an ankle injury, I managed to get round in one piece and absolutely loved it. That was the start of my love of running further, 15+ marathons later and then on to Ultras, with 5 in the bag so far.

Taking part in the Lakeland 50 in 2021 was amazing, the training and completing it with Pat Woonton-Pink was tough, but we laughed and cursed each other all the way round. It was an incredibly hot day which I loved as I hate the rain, but it made the climbs really tough in the heat, and taking a wrong turn didn’t help with an extra 3 miles in the middle of the night. All of this only added to the experience.

Having been injured for the best part of 18 months and my partner in crime Pat recovering from cancer, it’s been a tough road back on my own, but Ratrace The Wall in June won’t run itself and at 70 miles it will be the longest distance I have ever covered. As we get older it's important to keep moving and I can't imagine life without some sort of challenge ahead.

International Women's Day | Kay and Pat


Stephanie Proud, Montane Global Athlete and Partnership Lead

My journey to the Olympic Games started here in the North East at the local leisure centre. My first swimming club was Consett ASC but I spent most of my early career at Chester-le-Street who I represented at local junior galas all around the region. I quickly excelled and at 12 years old I made my first junior national team, over the following decade I swam in competitions all over the world including the European Championships, Commonwealth Games and World Championships.  

My swimming took me to the University of Florida where I studied for a degree alongside competing for the university and Great Britian. In 2012 my dream came true when I qualified for the London Olympic Games, competing at the pinnacle of sport in front of a home Olympic crowd is something that very few people get to experience, and I will treasure it forever.

I’m now 12 years officially “retired” from competitive sport, but the water still feels like home, I can go months without entering a pool and then hop in and it still feels like the most natural thing in the world. I feel incredibly lucky that I’ve been able to transition from athlete to the world of sports marketing, I now get to support other athletes realize their dream!


International Women's Day takes place on 08 March, head over to our dedicated IWD24 webpage to discover more inspiring stories from the Montane community.