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Sarah saddles up for ultra-tough ride

By day, Sarah Ruggins currently leads portfolio strategies at Cirencester's St James Place (SJP). 

But outside those hours she is now limbering up for one of the world's hardest cycling challenges.

And the wealth management exec's decision to join the race signals a remarkable comeback for a woman who has fought her way back to fitness after foot surgery and a disease that triggered near-total paralysis.

Dr Ruggins, who was born in Canada, will be raising money for SJP's Charitable Foundation by racing in the Transcontinental Bicycle Race, an ultra-endurance contest.

As SJP's acting Head of Portfolio Strategies she will be racing against a field of international athletes – all attempting to cycle self-supported across the European continent in under 14 days.

Representing her home country, Sarah is one of the few females who have been selected to compete and the itinerary will see her cycle 4,000km across 11 different countries, while also being her own mechanical, medical, and navigational support.

In her teenage years, Sarah was an Olympic hopeful, running her first Commonwealth Games qualifying time at 15 years old. 

But the course of her life changed when an injury required extensive surgery to both her feet. Soon after, she developed a disease to her nervous system which caused near total-body paralysis.

Sarah said: "In those years my goals changed from running an Olympic qualifying time to surviving. But over time I gained confidence to try and flex my toes, feed myself independently, and hold a pencil well enough to write my name. During this time there were numerous charities involved in my care, and I could not have recovered without them."

As well as being an enormous physical challenge, the race will also test Sarah mentally: she will be sleeping on the side of the road en route when it's safe to do so, needing to problem solve under increasing levels of fatigue.

Current preparation for Sarah involves 30 hours per week of training, in addition to planning her route logistics and using that to inform her bike specifications. She also has to learn to build every component of her bike in case of mechanical failures during the race.

Sarah added: "What my rehabilitation taught me is that we are capable of enduring infinitely more than we think, and that compassion for yourself and others can be your competitive edge, both in sport and in life. I now use ultra-endurance training as a way to explore the emotional and physical limits of my body as it exists today while bringing awareness to impactful charities, such as the fantastic work being undertaken by the SJP Charitable Foundation.

You can support Sarah's entry to the race this July by donating to her JustGiving  page.

The SJP Charitable Foundation is one of the largest corporate foundations in the UK, supporting hundreds of charities every year through its grant-making programmes. Many of its partnerships go beyond funding, with the SJP community also volunteering their time and skills, helping to deliver an even bigger impact.

St. James's Place (SJP) is a leading UK wealth management organisation. Founded in 1991, SJP was listed on the London Stock Exchange in 1997 and is a FTSE 100 company with over £148 billion funds under management. 

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