Meet Team TrailFest


TrailFest is not a club, but a community helping people to try trailrunning and supporting those already ripping the trails.

Since it started in 2015 as a festival of trailrunning, TrailFest has evolved into one of Scotland’s biggest trailrunning communities.

We have a regular programme of group runs to suit all abilities and a summer trail race series to support and inspire more people to leave the pavements and roads behind for adventures and explorations in the forests, hills, mountains and moors.


Ryan Scott | Co-Founder

When did you start running?

I started doing British Military Fitness in 2009 and began running shortly after that. In the space of the next 18 months I’d discovered trailrunning and ran a range of distances, including my first ultra; The Classic Quarter – 44 miles along the South West Coastal Path.

Why do you run?

I love nature and the environment. I go trailrunning to be out in nature in all weathers and all seasons. I get so much positive energy from observing the natural world constantly change. I have an inquisitive mind; if there’s a trail I’ve never been on before, I have to find out where it goes and explore what there is to see along the way.

Where’s your favourite place to run?

I love my trails of home; the Lomonds of Fife and the Fife Coastal Path between Elie and St Andrews, but I am madly in love with the area around Lake Annecy in France.

Your favourite race?

I really like the race route of the Ring of Steall Skyrace, but it has to be Maxi Race France; an 85km loop around Lake Annecy via the mountains. The trails are stunning, technical and steep.

Your best run moment?

Crossing the finish line of Maxi Race in 2018, my biggest race to date. I could not prevent myself from roaring wildly as I rang the Finisher’s bell.

Worst run moment?

DNF at Maxi Race 2017 after 72km. It wasn’t the actual decision to withdraw, it was the way my race had gone for the 72km before it. It was a lesson in how not to run a mountain ultra. From training, to pre-race prep, to pacing, to nutrition, to keeping my head together, it all went totally awry. This one’s a story for round the log burner one evening!

3 words that sum up your relationship to running:

Tumultuous. Awesome. Inspiring.


Jo Cowper | Co-Founder

Jo is co-founder of TrailFest. She started running in 2007 with the goal of completing a half marathon, but one trail led to another and she soon found herself drawn to longer distances and multi-day off-road adventures. Running trails is her favourite way to explore new places. As a freelance marketing consultant and mum to two small children, it’s also her favourite way to stay sane! Jo co-founded TrailFest with Ryan to celebrate and share all the things about trailrunning that she loves the most: the energy, achievements, friendships and adventures that are born on the trails. Jo is also a qualified fitness instructor.


Graham Kelly | Run Leader

When did you start running?

I started at the tender age of 30 when getting up and down mountains became tougher than it should have been. Initially a road runner, I soon found the trails and that led to a love of running in the mountains and a handful of ultramarathons in some pretty special places around this wee planet.

Why do you run?

These days a mix of find escape from an increasing insane world and as I get older, running is a time efficient way of getting kms in and keeping the weight off!

Where’s your favourite place to run?

The Scottish Mountains

Your favourite race?

The annual Ben Nevis Hill Race

Your best run moment?

Crossing the finish line of the 2008 Marathon des Sables  having run 251 km across the Morrocan Sahara.

Worst run moment?

Making the decision to quit at 77.5 miles into the Thames Path 100.

3 words that sum up your relationship to running:

Adventure. Passion. Camaraderie.


Nicola Dawson | Run Leader

When did you start running?

I have been running my whole life but the first race I remember was a 1.5mile road race when I was about 12. I did my first half marathon at 17 and the London Marathon at 20.

Why do you run?
I run because I enjoy it. It’s an escape from the real world and I get thinking space. I love the outdoors and this gives me a chance to see some amazing scenery. I always run on holiday (at the request of the family) as I find all the great places we can go adventuring to later. I’m also quite competitive and enjoy the races…the muddier the better!
Where’s your favourite place to run?
When I go back home I love to run along the beach and up through Culzean Country Park.
Your favourite race?
I did the Highland Fling in 2018 which was amazing but challenging. I also really enjoyed the TrailFest Solstice Series at Mugdock as I got to race on the trails I train on.
Your best run moment?
Completing the Fling – I actually ran 53miles! The children loved watching their mummy complete it and be an inspiration to them.
Worst run moment?
An undetected stress fracture in my foot which eventually broke. I had a bone graft, a pin and 3 operations over 3 years and it kept re-breaking. I never thought I’d run again.
3 words that sum up your relationship to running:
Enjoyment. Mud. Mental.

Steve Leith | Run Leader

When did you start running?

I started running around early 2006 when I lived in Aberdeen with the aim of completing a local 10k race. Despite being fit and healthy, I had no prior experience or history of running since my school days and I had little knowledge of runners kit, training and etiquette. I completed the race in under an hour and from then on, it didn’t take long to get inspired and catch the running bug!

Why do you run?
I run to keep myself motivated, energised and to have “me” time and that doesn’t necessarily mean flying solo. More often than not, I very much enjoy the company of others whilst running. Whether that’s simply listening to each other’s breathing and footsteps with little words spoken and having a mutual respect for one another or having an interesting discussion about life in general. Of course, running stories and experiences always crop up prominently in the topic of conversation. I feel a real sense of purpose and pride when I run.
Where’s your favourite place to run?
I love running in Kelvingrove Park in Glasgow as it’s a stone’s throw from my home and offers so many different permutations for routes, terrains and all with spectacular scenery and wildlife changing throughout all four seasons. It doesn’t even feel like you’re running in the city as you are surrounded by nature and distance wise you can run as little or as far as you desire. It’s my go to place to run when I want to clear my head or don’t have a planned route.
Your favourite race?
For me, my favourite race has to be the Run Mhor Half Marathon set in the beautiful countryside near Balquhidder. Think multi-terrain, undulating rolling hills and some tough climbs and really thrilling downhills where you can let loose. Better still, there’s a medal and a beer waiting for you at the finish line!
Your best run moment?
Leading off on Leg 1 at the top of Mount Hood, Oregon, USA as Captain of my team at Hood to Coast Relay in 2015. Known as “The Mother of all Relays” I ran 4 legs of the 198 Mile Relay Race through both day and night amidst steep descents, spring water dust trails and dense forests. An epic experience and also my first time running with a headtorch!
Worst run moment?
My worst running moment occurred when I was on a solo trail run at The Whangie. It was icy underfoot and I lost my balance and subsequently my footing on a narrow downwards section and landed badly on my wrist. Although painful at the time, I was lucky to escape with merely a small bruise by the time I had made my way back down to the car park.
3 words that sum up your relationship to running:
Exploration. Escapism. Challenging.

Stuart MacDonald | Run Leader

When did you start running?

I started casually when I was about 22. I was into other sports when I was younger.

Why do you run?
I initially started running simply to keep fit. But now I enjoy all the positives of running – pushing myself to new PBs, the great friends I’ve made in the running community, getting out into the forests and hills, the mental and physical benefits it brings.
Where’s your favourite place to run?
Generally wild trails in the far north of Scotland but more closer to home it would be Loch Lomond and the Trossachs. Even closer to home; Pollok Park.
Your favourite race?
Loch Ness Marathon. Big enough to feel like a serious event but small enough to feel personal. To run for almost 26 miles in a fairly straight line with Loch Ness next you is special.
Your best run moment?
I’d have to say completing the inaugural Cape Wrath Ultra in 2016, finishing in 6th place and 1st Scot home. 8 days of wild  trail running in beautiful weather, amazing experience.
Worst run moment?
Probably losing a friend on a group trail run in the Trossachs. We had helicopters, police and dogs all out looking for him. All ended well and learnt some valuable lessons to stand me in good stead for TrailFest!
3 words that sum up your relationship to running:
Love. Obsessed. Inspired.

Betty de Jongh | Run Leader

When did you start running?

About 5 years ago. I signed up for a triathlon before I’d realised it involved a bit of running at the end. I started with the Couch to 5k programme, doing loops around our block early in the mornings in the dark so no one could see me in lycra!

Why do you run?
So I can eat cake! Also because it keeps my head in the right place. As a single parent with a very busy job, I’ve experienced periods of stress, anxiety and depression. Running (and cycling, swimming and yoga) helps me manage my mental health. I’ve found an amazing and supportive community of runners here in Glasgow which I love being part of. Running also allows me to be a rolemodel to my daughter and show her what you can do when you put your mind to it.
Where’s your favourite place to run?
Mugdock definitely. It has a bit of everything that I love: mud, rocks, great views, hills and toasties after.
Your favourite race?
Craggy Island triathlon is everything I love about the sport. It’s all offroad, muddy and in an amazing location. It has a chilled out atmosphere and is just so much fun. First you swim across the sea to the island. You then do a mountain bike ride all the way over the island with some great descents and beautiful views. A bit of technical riding thrown in and some steep climbs. And then you run (or scramble in my case) all the way to the highest point of the island and straight back down again, through a cave and then along the other side of the island back to the finish. The run of this triathlon was my first offroad one and I found it exhilarating. It got me hooked on trailrunning.
Your best run moment?
I’ve had so many, it’s hard to choose! At Bowhill duathlon the long run route takes you through a downhill wooded section where you’re slaloming in between trees, jumping over ditches and fallen trees. I loved that so much. Another great moment was at the start of Manchester marathon when you could hear 1000s of running shoes hitting the road. I will never forget that sound. The best ever moment though was triathlon champion Chrissie Wellington cheering me on during the marathon section of Challenge Galway. Total fangirl moment! 
Worst run moment?
One of the winter duathlons where I completely ran out of steam. I felt I had no energy left to get myself round and I didn’t enjoy one moment of that run. It put big doubts in my head about why I was even doing it. Eventually it turned out my iron levels had bottomed out after a season of tough long distance races, but it set me back and I still struggle with my motivation. 
3 words that sum up your relationship to running:
Mud. Rocks. Friends.

Sharon Taylor (details coming soon)