Meet Rosie Watson, the 25-year-old running from the UK to Mongolia
At just 25 years old, fell runner and all-round adventurer Rosie Watson left her office job to travel from the UK to Mongolia – on foot.
She’s aiming to raise awareness of the climate crisis by sharing the stories of inspirational people she meets along the way, learning more about their own experiences of living sustainably.
After embarking on a career in the environmental sector, Rosie found that she was sorely missing the great outdoors and made the decision to tackle the climate crisis in her own way – by going back to basics and witnessing a simpler, more sustainable life first-hand.
Five months into her journey, from a hut in Croatia, she talked to us about trail running, self-confidence and the tragedy of natural beauty destroyed by commercialism.
It’s not her first visit to Croatia, but it’s her first experience of the colder months.
“It’s so beautiful in winter,” she tells us, “and so quiet – on weekdays you barely see anyone in the mountains. They’re incredible, and there’s so much wild, as well as a great free hut network.” This is the system she’s currently making the most of, staying in basic mountain accommodation dotted around the area, so she has a roof over her head between treks.
From cold water swimming to watching the sunsets, Rosie is enjoying the relative simplicity of life in the mountains: “It’s hugely refreshing after going through the over-flashy Alps and spending so much time in Western Europe,” she explains.
She’d been hugely looking forward to running through the Alps, but it turned out to be what she considers her toughest challenge so far.
“It was winter and there was a huge dump of snow which cut all the trails off. It was super deep and dangerous to quite low altitudes for that time of year,” she says. “It meant I was stuck on roads for a lot of it, often without pavements, battling with the awful traffic.”
The adverse weather conditions took their physical toll on Rosie, who was starting to feel nervous about injury.
“Being on tarmac with a rucksack is really bad for the legs, so I walked a lot to try and reduce impact,” she clarifies, “but even that was causing lots of niggles. It was a long stretch and I’m relieved to be back on proper trails in quieter places now!”
Despite heavy snow and painful road runs, the most disappointing aspect for Rosie was seeing the destruction of the natural beauty of the Alps, which she describes as a ‘should-be-beautiful place that is used and abused to an extreme level’.
For all her disappointment at the damaging human interference she’s witnessed in the world, she has countless contrasting stories that demonstrate the good in people.
“The most inspiring thing has been how welcoming people are,” she reassures us. “I’ve spent so many nights in people’s homes who’ve given me a bed to sleep in when I’ve simply asked where the best place to camp is, or for some water. I’ve been given meals, been lent clothes so I could wash everything I have… all from people who were strangers only minutes earlier.
“I expected this on some level,” she continues, “as I’ve always believed in the goodness of people, but it’s been such a continuous and regular occurrence. It’s truly heart-warming, as it tells a totally different story to the one we are generally default to. I think the world really needs to hear this, now more than ever.”
It seems that, from Rosie’s experience, the more simply we live, the more likely we are to find joy in helping others.
She ended our conversation with some all-important advice for anyone wanting to embark on a similar adventure.
“In terms of trail running: practice, practice, practice! You’ll find your feet on the tough terrain.
“Learn to navigate and map read, too – it will increase your confidence massively when exploring. Get a map out and find routes that excite and challenge you. I try to push myself out of my comfort zone, little and often. If you can get used to being on the edge of your comfort zone, and learn to trust yourself and enjoy it, then you’re all set!”
Finally, she says, you should trust yourself more.
“Advice from others is good, but you know yourself and your ability best. Unfortunately, we still live in a world where women are underestimated by default, so do take others people’s doubt with a pinch of salt, no matter how well-intentioned it is. Anyone is an adventurer if they want to be.”
Her self-supported expedition mostly involves solo wild camping and eating basic food, crossing the seas by ferry and avoiding flights at all cost. If you want to support Rosie’s cause, you can donate here. You can follow her journey on her website, as well as using the hashtag #newstoryrun on social media.
Rosie wears Inov8 Terraultra G260 running shoes. You can find them here.