Rebecca Lees
  • OS Champion

Rebecca Lees

Meet OS Champion Rebecca Lees – Hiker, runner, writer and sunset lover based in beautiful Wales.

Rebecca lees wild swimming 

Rebecca taking a dip

Tell us a bit about yourself

I’m a hiker, trail runner and writer based in beautiful south Wales, wonderfully sandwiched between the mountains and the sea. A former journalist, I now work as a marketing exec at The Royal Mint and also provide freelance PR and content for health and wellness clients. I’ve written three walking trails books – including two of children’s trails – and walked with Wales’ favourite meteorologist, Derek Brockway. This year I achieved my first ultra marathon, and on Saturday mornings I like to shout at complete strangers in the park – perfectly acceptable when you’re volunteering at parkrun in a pink high vis and shouting nice things!

Why do you love the outdoors?

Spending time outdoors in nature every day is essential to my mental wellness. I hiked as a child and teen, but I didn’t prioritise time outdoors enough as a younger adult and felt stressed and anxious a lot of the time. A few years ago, I put some new cornerstones in place and transformed how I look after myself. Now I like to be out early, no matter how dark or rainy, when it’s just me and the birds. I believe in the adage ‘Spend half an hour in nature every day, unless you’re really busy – in which case, make it an hour.” I can sit at my desk for hours and not see the answer to a problem, but a 20-minute blast up our local hill or an urban lunchtime walk solve most things!

How do you get outside?

I run three or four times a week, a mixture of road running, parkrun and longer trail runs with the Hengoed Harriers, who are an amazing bunch of people. I love the ‘right’ company but I can also be a bit of a hermit, escaping to the quieter western Beacons or my favourite local forestry routes for a solo hike or run. I love swimming in the sea and I’m also a newbie ‘lockdown’ cyclist, happily pootling away behind my son and partner. I try to get my teens out ‘for a walk’ as much as I can, but sadly the bribe of an ice cream doesn’t work as easily as it did when they were small!

What’s your favourite route?

This scenic route is one of the lesser-known in the Brecon Beacons. 

parkrun volunteer 

Rebecca volunteering at parkrun

Have you got any adventures planned?

No sooner had I completed my first ultra (30 miles and 4,250ft ascent) with the brilliant Pegasus Ultra Running, I spotted that they have a Birthday Wall of Fame – just run an ultra on your birthday to be added! My birthday happens to be in the darkest week of December, so it’s taking some careful planning to make sure I stay safe, but this is how I aim to celebrate turning 47 this year. I also hope to do my first road marathon and also do my ‘Home from Home’ charity run – about 50 miles from my parents’ house to my house – for the wonderful City Hospice. I think I’ll do it over two days, though, not one!

What’s the most essential thing on your kit list?

A map, first aid kit, whistle and foil blanket. I spend a lot of time on my own in the mountains and hills, and just don’t go anywhere without the basics.

Who inspires you to get outside?

The ordinary, everyday people doing extraordinary things. Solo mums and dads, holding it all together and prioritising getting outside because it’s their way of keeping themselves strong and resilient. I’m inspired every time I do parkrun or a race event by the people who are out of their comfort zone but determined to finish, smiling all the way. I get frustrated when people dismiss themselves for being ‘too slow’ or not good enough – you’re always better and faster than the person who chose to stay home on the sofa and not give it a go.

What do you prefer: Paper or digital map?

Paper, of course… but lately I’ve been getting a little too hooked on the tracker arrow on the OS Maps app!