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March 25, 2022 8 min read
Here at Meander we are constantly inspired by those who push the boundaries and live a life full of adventure. We also find it inspirational when someone manages to turn their passions and love of the outdoors into a career. So when we came across Seana Forbes, who is not only a passionate skyrunner, but also happens to be the Press Officer for the Sky Runner World Series, we just had to get in touch.
Seana encapsulates the adventurous spirit and love for the outdoors that we so admire and we really enjoyed hearing about her experiences running high altitude races, her introduction to a life outdoors and what makes her tick.
From what I can gather you are a multi-talented woman with a wide range of interests and roles. Would you be able to describe yourself in a couple of sentences?
I’m just someone who loves to be outside in the mountains and I’m very connected to nature. Everything else in my life - hobbies, job, friends, where I live, etc. - it's all centred around my passion for the outdoors.
I’ve read that your first mountain run was the Brecherspitz in Munich. How did you transition from being a competent long-distance runner to tackling extreme races such as Skyrunning?
The transition happened naturally. I love to explore and discover new places and this curiosity ended up taking me to more technical routes and signing up to races I thought looked interesting and a bit more challenging. In 2018 I signed up to my first Skyrace, the Hochkönig Skyrace in Austria, just because I thought it looked super cool and a very beautiful place to run. Surprisingly, I ended up winning it, but more importantly, I just really enjoyed the route and when I was up at the top of the mountain, I didn’t want to come down anymore. From then on I became hooked on the sport. I suppose it’s also the adrenaline you get from doing something like Skyrunning and the feeling at the finish line. It’s pretty addictive.
If you had to sell the concept of Skyrunning to someone who is hesitant to get involved, how would you try and persuade them?
It’s not for everyone. You need to be someone who enjoys being put through a bit of pain and isn’t afraid of heights or throwing themselves down a really steep mountain (the downhill is often just as tricky as the climb). If the thought of that doesn’t scare you, then it’s 100% worth it. I always find it to be quite meditative in a weird kind of way. You have to really focus on the technical parts and the downhill and this means you are completely present and in the moment. So, as scary as it might sound, it also leaves you feeling very calm and above all, it’s a great way to discover new places and see some spectacular views from up high.
If you’re not feeling fully confident, it’s a good idea to work your way up to a skyrace. You can hit the easier trails first, then try a bit of easy scrambling and then begin with a shorter, less technical one. You don’t have to start with one of the very extreme ones like Tromsø or Glen Coe.
As Press Officer for the Skyrunning World Series, you’ve managed to carve out a really interesting career based around a hobby that you love. How did you go about combining your professional life with your passion for the outdoors and endurance racing?
Before I worked for the Skyrunner World Series I had a 9-5 office job in the city. Every weekend I was heading out to the hills to go running. When I was sitting in the office and the weather was nice outside I was always thinking “If only I could be on a mountain right now”. It was always my dream to be able to do something more connected with the outdoors so when the job came up with the World Series, I didn’t hesitate to go for it. I was always interested in the sport and knew everything about the athletes and races so it made sense. I always think that if you are passionate about something, you will do better at it. Life is too short to spend 8 hours a day sitting in an office doing a job you don’t enjoy. We spend the majority of our lives working, so you might as well work on something that brings you happiness.
Of course my job is still pretty stressful and there are days when I’m sitting at my laptop all day but I always have the feeling that it’s worth it.
You’re clearly an adventurous woman, do you think that you have an innate desire to be outdoors or is it something that you developed?
I grew up in a small village in the countryside so as kids we were always outside. My family are all into hiking and mountain sports, so I think it is an innate desire that I inherited, from my grandfather especially.
When I moved to the city for university and afterwards for my first job, my priorities and my interests changed a little. At the time I was more interested in socialising so didn’t spend much time outdoors. By the time I was about 24 / 25 I was less interested in partying and began to spend more time outdoors again. The more time you spend in nature, the more you realise how good it is for you - physically and mentally. So yes, deep down I think adventure and my love for the outdoors has always been there but I also think that it is something that can be developed. It’s like a good addiction. Once you try it you realise how good it is and then you just want to do it over and over again!
You work as a running coach in Munich as well. Does the role of coaching and teaching come naturally to you and do you enjoy it?
Yes, so I coached a running team in Munich for a few years but I live in Scotland now so not anymore. I never really saw myself as a coach but many people did start coming to me for help and advice about training, nutrition, tips for a healthy lifestyle, etc. and that’s when I realised that I could actually use my experiences and learnings to help others. I do really enjoy it. It’s nice when you can help others realise their potential and achieve their goals.
I’ve read that you describe yourself as a Scottish/German hybrid, and your work has taken you to a huge range of countries. Where do you feel most at home? And where is your favorite place to spend time outdoors?
I definitely feel most at home in Scotland, especially the West Coast Highlands. I lived in Munich for seven years and then in 2019 I travelled to 16 countries with the Skyrunner World Series and went to some pretty amazing places like China, Japan, Switzerland, Norway. Every time I went somewhere though, I found myself thinking, “this is so nice, but not as nice as Scotland”. I suppose being away from Scotland made me appreciate it so much more.
I love to spend time in the really remote mountains in the North West of Scotland. I love areas like Knoydart and then also Torridon, Assynt and the Fisherfields. These are the places where you can run for 10 hours and not see a single person. You feel like the luckiest person to get there beautiful views all to yourself.
Your lifestyle sounds quite fast-paced and full-on, what do you do to switch off and recharge your batteries?
Yes, everyone thinks it’s so glamorous always travelling for work but actually it’s really exhausting! Although I get such a buzz from working at events and I really thrive in that working environment, deep down, I’m not a very social person and actually enjoy being alone most of the time. After an event, I usually need a couple of days alone in the mountains to recharge. I find that a solo weekend in the hills starting with sunrise on a summit usually does the trick.
What has been your favorite day or adventure in the mountains?
Oh that is such a hard question to answer - there are so many!!!
It would have to be a quite recent one actually. My friend Robin and I always do really cool adventures together. In 2019 we spent the weekend at Shenevall Bothy and did the Fisherfield 6 and part of An Teallach for my birthday - that was awesome!
Last year (again for my birthday) we bivyied on top of An Teallach and then the next day biked out to Magoo's Bothy and ran the munro next to it called “Seana Bhraigh” - I always wanted to do this mountain because we share the same name so this was quite special for my birthday. It’s one of the most remote ones as well so you really feel completely disconnected and away from everyone. The bothy was super cosy and we just had such a chilled time.
There must have been a few days where you wish you hadn’t gone into the mountains as well? Do any stick in your mind?
I’m not sure if it made me wish I hadn’t gone but it definitely sticks in my mind. One time in December 2018 (again with Robin) when we did a couple of Munros close to Loch Carron. The weather was fine at the bottom and it looked like it was going to be a clear and calm day but once we got to the ridge that connected the two summits, the weather took a turn and the wind became so strong we could hardly stand and had to cling to the rocks to stop us from being blown over the side. We managed to make it to the next summit but the fog had also come down so we couldn’t see a thing and on top of that there was a sheet of ice on the summit we were practically crawling to find a shelter where we could pull out a map and compass and navigate our way off safely.
Luckily it all ended well, but it goes to show that you can never trust the weather in Scotland. You always need to be prepared for anything.
Is there any one piece of advice that you have received that you think you’d like to share?
Sensible advice is probably to learn how to use a map and compass, always know where you’re going and always tell someone where you’re going.
Other advice is never be frightened to explore. Sometimes the thought of heading out into the hills can be daunting but once you’re up there, especially on a good day or for sunrise, you will be so happy you went!
Finally, are there any adventures you’ve got your eyes on in the near future? Or any lifelong ambitions that you don’t mind sharing with us?
Everything! I feel like there are still so many parts of Scotland I would like to explore - especially the islands.
I would love to do some kind of multi-day stage race or run in the Alps or Pyrenees.
Honestly, I could go on forever!
Many thanks to Seana for taking the time to talk to us. She’s definitely worth a follow on Insta - @seana_forbsy and if this has got you interested in Skyrunning you can find out more at www.skyrunning.com
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