SJP employee to take on one of the world’s hardest cycling races

by | May 22, 2023

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Dr Sarah Ruggins, from Gloucestershire, will be raising money for the St. James’s Place Charitable Foundation by racing in what has been called one of the world’s hardest ultra-endurance contests: the Transcontinental Bicycle Race. 

Sarah, who is acting Head of Portfolio Strategies at St. James’s Place, will be racing against a field of international athletes, attempting to cycle self-supported across the European continent in under 14 days.

Representing her home country of Canada, Sarah is one of the few females who have been selected to compete in the race. The challenge 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. However, 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. 


“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, it will also test her mentally. Sarah 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

A huge amount of preparation is required for the race too. Sarah is in training 30 hours per week 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 continued: “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 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 charity partnerships go beyond funding, with the SJP community also volunteering their time and skills, helping to deliver an even bigger impact.


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