In the second installment of our Circuit Challenger Spotlight, we meet Rachel Edwards, who has been exploring trails and racking up miles during our 500 Challenge. We caught up with Rachel about how her challenge is going, her favorite trails and more!

 

Are you participating in the Circuit Trails Challenge by yourself or with friends and/or family?

My boyfriend is participating in the challenge with me.  He's always great at being my coach and cheerleader for any challenge I take on. For this challenge, he's up for a ride or run any time, encouraging me to get in one more mile and getting excited for me when I hit milestones.    

When do you typically use the Circuit Trails network?

Since I work a typical 9-5 job, I log all my trail miles after work and on the weekends. When I have a full day open on a weekend, I enjoy taking longer bike rides. One of my favorite trips is when my boyfriend and I start at the Oaks trailhead and ride out to the Outbound Station in Conshohocken, where we’ll relax and have some coffee and sandwiches before riding back. 

What’s your current progress in the Challenge?

So far, I’m at just over 60 miles. I hoped to be much further along at this point, but life kind of got in the way, leaving me with less time on the trails than I’d hoped. I’m not giving up, though! If I don’t make the 500 miles during this challenge, hopefully there will be another challenge in the future, and I’ll try again.

Have you explored any new and exciting trails as a part of the Challenge?

From the very beginning, I wanted to use this challenge as motivation to see new trails I’d never explored before. So far, I’ve checked out the Cynwyd Heritage Trail, the Perkiomen Trail and the new bridge linking Valley Forge and the SRT near Betzwood. The view from the bridge is lovely, and it’s so much nicer than the previous rickety one along the side of 422 – riding that one gave me anxiety!

Why are the Circuit Trails important to you?

The Circuit Trails not only offer me a way to stay fit and active, but they also provide me with an escape from my hectic schedule. It’s nice to have them there to motivate me to break out of my routine and experience new sights while still being close to home. 

 

What’s your favorite trail on the Circuit and why?

My favorite trail has to be the Audubon Loop. I’m an animal lover, so I love getting the chance to spot some animals on a ride. When I pass the farm on the Audubon Loop, I love seeing what animals are out that day. If you’ve ever been on that trail and heard some crazy person yelling out, “Hi donkeys!” that was probably me!

What motivated you to sign up for/do the Challenge?

At the end of last year, my favorite fitness studio suddenly closed. After that, I was really worried about keeping up my fitness level without the motivation of the challenges that the studio offered, so I started searching online for alternatives. I was taking the regional rail train into the city one weekend when I saw an ad for the Circuit Trails Challenge flash up on the monitors.  I immediately looked it up on my phone, and it sounded like the perfect thing to motivate me to stay active over the summer months while also exploring parts of the trail system that I’d never been on before. I texted my boyfriend right away telling him we should sign up!

What do you love about being out on the trails?

I like being able to run, bike and walk outside to enjoy nature. And there’s a stretch of trail for whatever mood you’re in, whether that’s city or country, busy and bustling or quiet and secluded. My favorite stretches of trail are those through the woods where you feel a million miles away from the city.