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Brands, People & Love

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WANDERFUL ISSUE 6, Q3 2015

Brands, People & Love

Rachel Frei Bandieri Lone runner and limitless adventurer with a unique bond with nature.

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Brands, People & Love

Rachel Frei Bandieri Passionate long distance runner, mountain trail walker, horse endurance rider and explorer of the Great North; constantly striving for change and vitality in life, dynamic and tireless, she feels a deep connection with nature and the environment. When she is not planning for a new adventure, Rachel trains athletes and amateurs, preparing their minds and bodies to face their limits and go beyond them.

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“Sometimes to improve we just need to slow down and listen to ourselves.”


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Brands, People & Love

Rachel, tell us your story: how did you

What are the fundamentals of your

realize that your passion was so impor-

training?

tant?

My approach to training is a holistic ap-

The path that brought me here was a

proach. Mental preparation gets the same

little bit unusual: I studied Law and

attention as physical, if not more: it’s

Criminology and I started my career as a

definitely the mind that shapes the body!

lawyer in England, then I moved back to

It took me a while to understand how

Switzerland and joined the police. I really

important it is to take care of your mind

liked my job because of its dynamism, but

while preparing for a physical effort.

something was definitely missing. In 2010

Years ago, I was all for the “maximum

I finally realized how strong my passion

effort with maximum output” creed,

for endurance outdoor sports was and

then I discovered Dr Phil Maffettone’s

that the spirit of challenge, the sense of

training approach, which totally changed

achievement and fulfillment that those

how I trained. Combining it with men-

activities gave to me was everything I

tal preparation techniques, I developed

wanted. So I quit my job and headed off

a method that teaches how to connect

for the Alp Trekking, a two-week trek

body and mind for better performance

set among the beautiful Alpine peaks. In

and increased well-being. Each of us is

nearly fifteen days I walked and ran 530

different, we each have our own pace, and

kilometers as the first woman to face this

sometimes to improve we just need to

trail completely alone. On those peaks I

slow down and listen to ourselves.

had the ultimate coup de foudre and decided never to stop doing what I loved. Back home I started RFB Concept, which aims to train people mentally and physically for better performance in challenging endurance events. I practiced and studied a lot, and now I can declare myself an enthusiast, satisfied with my achievements both as a trainer and as a runner.

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“What was missing in my life was the contact with nature, the spirit of challenge, the sense of achievement and fulfillment.�


Brands, People & Love

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Do you find this body-mind connection

Speaking of preparation, in the last few

on the trail? What are you looking for,

months you are getting ready for a great

walking and running for so long?

adventure, and this time you won’t be

Finding this interaction is the first step

completely alone…

in all my excursions, and the feeling just

In August I will start on the longest and

gets stronger as I walk and run. Lone-

toughest expedition I’ve ever faced: the

liness is helpful there: listening to your

Nordkalottleden trail, a 800 km long trail

heartbeat and senses, you slowly learn

that runs through Norway, Sweden and

how to understand your body-signals.

Northern Finland. It’s really demanding

You also feel a complete and overwhelm-

– I’ll have to walk and run for about 40

ing symbiosis with nature, which is un-

kilometers a day with a 12 kilo backpack

doubtedly the greatest gift. I just love the

on my shoulders and nobody keeping me

feeling of running, of moving fast on the

company… except for two exceptional

trail; it doesn’t stop me enjoying the mo-

friends: Sparta and Nyx, my beautiful

ment, being fully in what I am doing, and

dogs! I met them by chance in 2011 – or,

taking in the scenery – on the contrary!

rather, I saved them from an unfair end

And of course there is the pleasure of

– and it was love at first sight. We bond-

meeting your limits and surpassing them,

ed immediately and now have a pretty

going beyond your own assumptions. I

strong relationship: they usually train

have always admired people who refuse

with me, and are definitely used to long

to limit themselves… I mean, life is really

walks and runs! This is why I thought I

too short to be small!

should take them with me on this Northern adventure. Going on trails with them

How do you face the difficulties of such challenging trails?

is amazing: we communicate without even knowing it, we adapt to each other’s pace and they are really helpful when

First of all, it is essential to be prepared.

it comes to listening to the path and

Preparation is even more important

understanding the surroundings. They

than the trek itself: you must study the

have also taught me something impor-

maps, the alternative paths, the weather

tant: challenges are good, but the greatest

conditions and so on. Yet no matter how

thing on such adventures is to really en-

well you prepare yourself, it’s unrealistic

joy the path and sometimes even stop to

to think you can predict every possible

stare at the wonders around you. We have

hitch. We can’t protect ourselves from

been preparing a lot for this and I am

everything, and we shouldn’t be afraid of

so looking forward to sharing the Great

unpredictable events, because fear always

North experience with them!

leads to bad decision-making. Always. One thing I try when I feel a bit down or tired is positive thinking: I imagine myself reaching my destination and seeing at last all the people who have supported me – and that helps a lot.


Brands, People & Love

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“When I’m alone, I feel a complete and overwhelming symbiosis with nature. This is the greatest gift.”


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Brands, People & Love

Why did you chose the Nordkalottleden, and what motivates you? I have always been attracted to the Northern regions, maybe because of my Russian origins, or maybe because I’m attracted by people who live differently from us. Northern people have an amazing traditional connection with nature that I deeply admire. Apart from that, Hiking for the Arctic – which is what I decided to call my adventure – has a clear purpose: raising awareness of the continuing climate change that is causing so many environmental shifts. I will also be able to contribute to some major research conducted by anthropologists at the University of Lapland’s Arctic Centre; its purpose is to understand the life of Sami people and other indigenous populations who are also struggling because of the changes their land is facing. My strongest motivation, therefore, is knowing that I am not just running for my own sake, I am doing it for a better cause. And I know that even on those days when I feel exhausted, this will help keep me going. People expect me to make it, and if I can be of some inspiration for others, I will consider myself satisfied.

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“My strongest motivation is knowing that I do not run for my own sake, I am doing it for a better cause.�


Brands, People & Love

The Wanderful Take Meet your challenge. Rachel says that life is too short to be small. We should never limit ourselves, but instead search for those things that challenge us and make us leave our comfort zone. And if fulfilling our goals is important, enjoying the journey is fundamental: the way defines us better than the destination. Don’t resist the desire to push boundaries and keep raising the bar; strive for change, change for the better. Never settle for normal; always seek for Wanderful.

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WANDERFUL MAG Contributors Micol Biasoli, Editor in Chief Giulia Piazzi, Art Direction Simona Tami, Director of Photography Alberto Bernasconi, Photography Publisher Ander Group SA, BSW Lugano, Lausanne, Geneva T. +41 91 966 99 66 wanderful@ander-group.com

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All rights reserved, 2015

The Wanderful Mag, Issue 6 Q3 2015  

Rachel Frei Bandieri, lone runner and limitless adventurer with a unique bond with nature.

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