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An interview with Get Outside Champion Tracy Purnell

Monday, 30 July 2018

Photo credit: John Coefield

Now available to pre-order, Brecon Beacons Trail Running offers a complete guide to off-road running across the hills and valleys of the national park. Ahead of the book's publication in a couple of weeks, we caught up with Tracy Purnell, an Ordnance Survey Get Outside Champion, who kindly modelled for the cover of the book. Tracy spends much of her time exploring Brecon Beacons with her two husky dogs and she recently ran forty miles to raise much needed funds for Central Beacons Mountain Rescue.

You are obviously very passionate about the outdoors, how much of an impact has walking had on your life?

Walking and trail running in the outdoors is a huge part of my life and my life pretty much revolves around getting outdoors and exploring. Enjoying the outdoors not only has made me so much more fitter, but also a lot more laid back, and a relaxed outlook on life. 

Asher and Marley, your two adorable dogs, play a very important part in your life, have you always been a doggy person?

I owe a great deal to Asher and Marley for helping me regain my love for exploring the outdoors. I have always loved animals and have always been surrounded by pets. As a child my outdoor companion was a springer spaniel, we spent hours walking the forestry and hills around my home. But unfortunately as I got older life got in the way and less and less time was spent being active outdoors.

When did you begin walking and why?

After quite a few years of not owning a dog due to work commitments, I brought Asher home as a thirteen week old puppy in January 2014 and that's when I regained my love for exploring the outdoors again. Ashers energy levels are extremely high, huskies need a huge amount of exercise and a stroll in the local park is just not enough. We spent most days walking the mountains and exploring new places. 

Hiking to Trigulation points is something you do frequently, which is your favourite walk to do?

Hunting down Ordnance Survey Triangulation Pillars turned into a bit of an obsession. We have travelled over the UK to hunt down and bag certain Trig pillars. OS Trig points have lead me to places I had no idea where there, even within a few miles of my home! I have learnt how to map read and navigate to find these fantastic historic structures. It is so hard to pick just one walk from all the Trig pillars we have ticked from our list. My most favourite place is the Brecon Beacons National Park so any walks there are epic! 

What are your aspirations for your future mountaineering career?

I would like to continue to encourage and inspire people to get outside and become more active, enjoy our landscapes and experience the beauty surrounding us. 

Earlier this year you walked forty miles in order to raise money for the Brecon Beacons Mountain Rescue, what has been the best part of this experience and what does the charity mean to you?

Running forty miles for my fortieth birthday was a huge challenge, I was never much of a runner and the farthest I had run at anyone time was about six miles. I had only given myself thirteen weeks to train, looking back this wasn't a sensible amount of time, however I ran the forty miles in under ten hours and raised a good amount of money for Central Beacons Mountain Rescue. Mountain rescue are a life line for me, feeling reassured there is always help out there should I need it. The best thing about the whole experience is that it has given me a passion for running. I'm competing in events and I now seem to run more in the mountains than walk.

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