TrailFest Asks… Rachel Newstead

We first met Rachel at TrailFest last year and she stood out after coming first female, and second overall, in the TrailFest Mugdock Mile sprint race. Since then we’ve watched her rise up the field and she’s now regularly stepping onto podiums across Scotland. She was part of the first TrailFest Team to enter a race – last month’s Scottish Long Coastal Relays where she helped us finish a highly respectable 6th place. So after sharing a few runs with her we decided we needed to know more about Rachel Newstead.

TF: When did you start trailrunning?

RN: I started trailrunning about 5 years ago. I was living in London at the time and loved the feeling of escape when I found hidden trails in the parks. When I was lost on Hampstead Heath I could convince myself that I wasn’t living in a big city! Being close to decent trails played a big part in my decision to move to Scotland last year and I love that I can now see the Pentland Hills from my kitchen window!

TF: What do you run for?

RN: For everything. For balance and to clear my head. To see the world and to meet new people. I’ve met most of my closest friends through running and I love that you can run with someone for 20 minutes and feel as if you’ve known them for 20 years.

TF: What’s your proudest running (or running-related) achievement/moment?

RN: Every self-planned running adventure that goes well. The first one was the UTMB route with my friend Lindsay over 6 days in 2015. Everything was a complete guess (what we should bring, how far we should run each day). We ended up being very unambitious with the distances which meant lots of time to recover each afternoon (and lots of time to eat ice cream in the sun!) Each trip is a little more ambitious than the last (I can see that this may backfire at some point). Most recently we went to Ireland to run the Wicklow Way over 3 days. This meant 2 days of running over 30 miles each day (which was the furthest Lindsay has ever run) and a final 22 mile day that ended at the airport to catch a flight home!

TF: What’s been your darkest/bleakest moment/time running?

RN: The last 15 miles of the Highland Fling were pretty tough. My head was in a bad place and I was super frustrated at myself for not being able to run more.

TF: What did you learn from this?

RN: That the bad times pass and they’re not (usually) as bad as you think. In this case that was quite literally true at the end as I was convinced there were another 3 miles to go when I came round the corner to the finish line. So that was a nice surprise. But the memory of the struggle has stayed with me and made me more determined to prepare better next time.

TF: What do you think of when the trails get tough?

RN: That it will probably feel easy again in a few minutes!

TF: Does trailrunning help you in other areas of your life? If so, how?

RN: I often go out for a run at lunch time if I’m stuck on a difficult problem at work. More than once I’ve had a light bulb moment at the top of a hill and come up with a new way to approach the problem. In general I think I’m a much nicer and more relaxed person after I’ve been for a run as it gives me a chance to get my thoughts together.

TF: Who (or what) is your running inspiration?

RN: My friend Andy from work. He started running at the end of last year and has just completed his first marathon. After years of being out of shape he decided he wanted to slim down and get fit so that he could enjoy playing with his young son. He’s now aiming for the Ultra Trail Cape Town at the end of the year. It’s been incredible watching his progress. At the end of every week we talk about our running plans for the weekend and Andy is always unsure if he can achieve what he is planning. Then on Monday morning we catch up over a call (he lives in South Africa) and each week Andy is amazed at how he has run a new distance or a PB. I used to give him advice on training and racing and now he gives it back to me.

TF: What’s the one big race you’d love to complete?

RN: The Ultra Tour Monte Rosa. I’ve always wanted to go to the Matterhorn and this race starts at the foot of it.

TF: Do you prefer morning or evening trailruns?

RN: Mornings, before the world wakes up.

TF: What season do you enjoy the most for trailrunning?

RN: Summer. The days are so much longer and it’s amazing being able to do a long run in daylight after work. I also like running in shorts and vest and only carrying minimal kit!

TF: Where’s your favourite trail/area to run?

RN: The Pentlands, probably because it’s the closest area to me with lots of trails and hills (and the novelty definitely hasn’t worn off yet!) But there are so many parts of Scotland that I want to explore. I went to Arran for the Goatfell hill race earlier this year and was blown away by how beautiful it is. I want to go back and run more trails there.


TF: What are your favourite trail shoes/what are you running in just now?

RN: I have too many pairs of trainers and most are Innov8s. The Race Ultra 270 is my go-to shoe, and I like the old Trailrocs for more technical terrain.

TF: What three words would you use to describe your relationship to running?

RN: Adventure, fun, friends

TF: What one piece of advice would you give to others?

RN: Be consistent: just go out and run. Sometimes it’s hard and sometimes it’s not. Just keep doing it!

TF: What’s your trail style:

  • Buff, headband or trucker cap? Buff, although I seem to collect trucker caps and one day will be brave enough to wear them!
  • Shorts, tights or compression? Shorts all year round.
  • Singlet, tech t-shirt or windshirt? I love a good singlet.
  • Bumbag, rucksack or race vest? Either, depending on how much kit I need.
  • Headphones or the sounds of the trail? The sound of the trail. One time I tried trail running with headphones and it made me really jumpy.
  • Energy gels or homemade sandwiches? Homemade sandwiches. I got given a great book for Christmas called Feedzone Portables which has loads of great recipes for mini wraps and pies. I still haven’t got around to making anything from it yet though…
  • Jelly babies or TUC biscuits? TUC biscuits
  • Instagramming or disconnected? Somewhere in between. I’m a Strava addict but haven’t got the hang of Instagram yet.

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