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Samantha Gash

Inspirational Speaker, Personal Development, Social Issues

Samantha took the ultimate challenge and entered the ‘4 Deserts Grand Slam’, which requires competitors to run four 250km ultra marathons across the driest (Chile), windiest (China), hottest (Sahara) and coldest deserts (Antarctica) on earth – it is regarded as one of the toughest endurance series on the planet. Samantha made history by becoming the first woman and the youngest person ever to complete the Grand Slam. Her journey was captured for the big screen in the award winning film Desert Runners. She now uses her capacity to run long distances to impact social change in developing countries and within Australia. In 2014, she ran 1968kms across rural South Africa to fund an initiative that improves access to feminine hygiene products and education.

Where were you born?

In Bendigo, but I moved to Ballarat when I was a few months old.

What other jobs have you had?

More than you can imagine! I am a lawyer by trade and worked in an international commercial law firm in the city for a couple of years. I have also worked in finance and communications. I now rely on all of those skills in my own business ventures.

What themes are recurring in your work?

Collaboration – it is incredibly powerful to be able to align yourself with people who have strengths where you have weaknesses (and vice verse) to optimise performance.
Adaptability & realistic optimism – being able to turn seemingly negative situations into positives and opportunities.
Lateral thought – I tend to use creativity and out of the box thinking to approach problems.

What have been the highlights of your career?

I am grateful for where I am at now with my career. I am using what I am good at (running, public speaking, writing, collaboration and creativity) to address social and cultural problems that I believe need attention. In 2015, I completed a 32 day run across South Africa. I had no days off and ran an average of 65kms each day, across challenging terrain. Completing the physical challenge was satisfying but the highlight was when we reached our fundraising target and the initiative was implemented in South Africa.

What are you passionate about?

Improving access to QUALITY education worldwide, with a specific focus on access for women. Referencing Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide.  WuDunn and Kristof: ‘the single most important way to encourage women and girls to stand up for their rights is education’ (p. 66) … ‘Empowering women begins with education’ (p. 66)

Haven’t I seen you before?

That film where crazy people run ultra marathons across four extreme deserts (not to be mistaken for desserts). Or on breakfast TV/the Project/radio where you may have seen me chat about my running projects that are connected to social impact objectives.

Anything else you’d like to share with us?

On a local level, my team at the Melbourne Oxfam Trailwalker (consisting of four females) currently hold the record for completing the 100km event in 10 hours and 55 minutes.


Such an inspirational story that brought tears to many people’s eyes. Sam is a great speaker and has an extraordinary story to tell. She spoke about her physical and mental preparation & how she prepared for the unknown and there were many messages and takeaway tips for our people. I would not hesitate to recommend Sam.

—Bupa, 2016

Samantha was highly organised, professional and engaging.  She managed to hold the attention of the audience throughout the hour and feedback was very positive.
Our focus on the day was staff wellbeing and Samantha was able to integrate and understand her personal and incredibly challenging experience then make sense of what she has learned about herself in the process and present it back to our staff.  So much of what she spoke about is applicable to daily life and staff were able to take away what was relevant to them.

—Y.Ashmore, Beaconhills College, July 2015

Samantha is an outstanding speaker – articulate, passionate and able to quickly relate to her audience through her inspiring personal journey from lawyer to extreme athlete and community fundraiser. She would be a great addition to any motivational forum.

—Save the Children Australia, Mat Tinkler, Director of Policy and Public Affairs, May 2015

Samantha was a key note speaker at the Mindful in May launch and inspired the audience with her story and passion. Not only is she an inspiring speaker she is also a warm and generous person who brings brightness into the room.

—Dr E. Bialyiew, Mindful in May Founder, May 2015

Samantha’s story is authentic, moving and inspirational. Her delivery was heartfelt and honest and had attendees glued to their seats. Samantha’s energy, positivity and passion is infectious and left the audience inspired by what can be achieved with determination, motivation and pushing yourself beyond where you thought you could not go.

—A. Whitechurch, Bankwest Executive General Manager, May 2015

I recently had the pleasure of listening to Samantha speak at a financial services industry function and found her to be thoroughly engaging.  It is very refreshing to hear someone speak so clearly and authentically about taking on extraordinary challenges.  Samantha spoke without hesitation about her passion to make a difference and was compelling and inspiring.  Her aim to make an impact on women’s lives in Africa while creating employment is at once creative and meaningful.  Anyone who is crazy enough run so far for so long wants to have a purpose.  Samantha’s talk did not fail to connect with anyone who understands the importance of young women needing confidence to take opportunity in life … starting with the basics.  Her feats, this purpose and the way she connects, means time with Samantha Gash is very worthwhile.

—A. Howard, NAB Asset Management, May 2015

Samantha tells an incredible and personal story.  Although her physical pursuits have been super-human, her messages to our teams are more about how much of a role the mind plays in setting and achieving goals – whether they be business or personal.  She really helped my team put business issues into perspective, and helped them realise that ‘what’ we do as a business, is far less important than ‘why’ we do it.

—N. Brinkworth, ipac Head of Financial Planning, May 2015

Samantha was invited to speak at the farewell dinner for Standards Australia’s 2014-15 Young Leaders Program. As an admirable young leader herself, Samantha was able to transport everyone in the room to those tough desert marathons, learning life lessons with her along the way. Samantha speaks from the heart, and manages to inspire those that listen to her story. Whether it is motivation to run that extra mile, or to apply her survival skills in the business world, Samantha is well equipped to guide her audience into reaching what they previously thought impossible.

—Standards Australia, May 2015

When you read about her accomplishments you may think that Samantha Gash is a super hero! When you hear her speak you realise that she is a mere mortal. Personable, passionate, authentic and motivating, Samantha leaves everyone in the room feeling that now matter who they are they can make a difference.I highly recommend Samantha as a speaker if you want your audience to be awakened to what is possible.

—K. Nekvapil, Speaker and Wellness Coach, May 2015

We invited Samantha to speak at the launch of our League of Extraordinary Women event.  The event was aimed to motivate and inspire young females in business- and Samantha definitely did that!  Her amazing story, along with her talent in speaking, left the room in awe.  Samantha comes across as motivated, passionate and is certainly an ‘extraordinary’ woman.  We had such great feedback after our first event we have invited Samantha back to speak again!  She is a must see!

—L. Atkinson, League of Extraordinary Women / Zest Possibilities, May 2015

I really enjoyed Samantha Gash’s keynotes presentation. She is a highly driven, highly motivated person who I found very inspiring. Her presentation was honest, genuine and she is a very high-achiever! Her results to date in ultra-marathon running are outstanding. I learned a lot from Samantha’s presentation, for example to ‘continually push the envelope’ to achieve greater results, that you don’t necessarily need to ‘want to have Friday night drinks with someone, or have a lot in common with each other, to be able to achieve amazing results together’ also that if you have a cause or reason, this helps to drive and motivate you to achieve your goal.

—J. Manning, ipac Client Relationship Manager, May 2015

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