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Maria Leijerstam

Maria Leijerstam

Never doubt yourself and be amazed by what you can achieve

World Record Holder, Maria, was born in Wales in 1978 and during her university years her life of adventure began when she signed up to run the Marathon des Sables, a 151 mile marathon across the Sahara Desert. After graduating with a pure Mathematics degree she worked globally for companies such as BAE Systems, Ford of Europe & Siemens in a Buisness Imporvement and strategic management role.

During her 25 days of annual leave she was competing on the World Series Adventure Racing stage (multi-day and multi-sport team races) and taking on expeditions in Ireland, Iceland, Norway, Portugal, Patagonia, New Zealand & Siberia. With each expedition fueling the next she now came up with her biggest challenge to date….to become the first person in the world to cycle to the South Pole.

Maria speaks not only of her expeditions and world first accomplishment but also what it took to come up with the ideas, plan their execution and achieve the desired outcomes. She speaks of the physical training required and sometime more importantly, the mental commitment and preparation it took to achieve such feats. Goal setting, team work, dedication and balancing needs all comes to life during her story. Information about the innovative design of her PolarCycle and how this was developed provides a great insight into the complexity of the project and why she was a step ahead of her competition. She uses spectacular photographs and breaks her talk up with show reels from her expeditions. Maria delivers a heart- warming talk that allows you right in to her world and encourages involvement to allow her talks to be of maximum benefit for her audience.

Maria is now a mother of two and runs her own adventure racing business called the Burn Series. She established her business in 2010 which provides both training and events in running, cycling, kayaking & orienteering. Her Mini Burn events are family focused events are the only ones of their kind in the UK today.

As part of her talks Maria can also touch upon the challenges of establishing a business and what pitfalls to avoid in order to maximise chances of success and longevity. Each talk she gives is unique based on the audience.

For younger audiences she really aims to gain involvement from the children and uses their questions as the basis for her talk. "Did you see any snowmen?" is one of her favourite questions and the children love the answer to this!

Testimonials from Teachers

“Maria pitched her speeches perfectly for the audience from a year four assembly to an upper sixth graduation. Funny, humble, truthful and gritty, Maria is one speaker we keep asking back"

– Jodi Barber, Teacher, Westborne Independent School

“Through her remarkable adventures and endeavours Maria is an inspiration to students and graduates everywhere.”

– Professor Kevin Jones, Dean of the Faculty of Science and Engineering, Plymouth University​

"The children were really inspired and motivated by Maria's talk and so excited to have met the first person to cycle to the South Pole! They had no idea that could be possible and they are excited about the possibility of new challenges still being out there and up for grabs! Maria spoke really well and with great care and listened to the questions the children posed and replied in a really understandable and meaningful-to-them manner. The children were enthralled and listened really well because Maria engaged them and sparked their imagination. After Maria's talk, each child wrote about what they wanted to achieve."

– Claire Smits, Teacher, Ashfield Junior School

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