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I visited the Glen Coe area during a Scotland traverse this summer and on the taxi journey out to Glen Nevis my driver pointed out numerous film locations on both sides of the winding dirt road. It was Harry Potter here and Highlander there and “look that’s where Mel Gibson found the light” and it is not hard to understand why this stunning valley surrounded by rugged ridges and decorated with numerous water falls leading down to a birch tree lined river attracts visual visionaries. It is such an incredible place even in the worst of weathers and lets be honest the odds for a sunny day here are not in your favour ... In my opinion this is where you can find the most beautiful and fun trails on the isle of Blighty so it’s with slightly jealous legs that I’m presenting the list of lucky runners taking on the RING OF STEALL this weekend.
RING OF STEALL 29 km / 2500 m
Even with it’s shorter and less technical route the ROS is the main event of the Skyline Scotland weekend. It is the penultimate race in the Golden Trail Series and the field is stacked with Salomon stars who wants to grab a coveted place for the Final in Nepal.
Last year Tove Alexandersson, the reigning orienteering world champion from Sweden won the race, she is not returning to defend her title this year but one of her former rivals from the map and compass game might follow in her footsteps;
JUDITH WYDER was not happy with her race at Sierre Zinal where she placed second behind Maude Mathys back in July, she claimed that she was having a rough time on the trails and didn’t get into the race until the end. If that was her on a bad day then I don’t think there is anyone who can beat her should she have a goodun. As Tove’s performance showed us last year this is a route which favours runners who are used to moving fast over wet ground off the trodden path so should suit Wyder who started her Golden Trail Series journey with a win at Dolomyths very well.
HOLLY PAGE with her fellrunning past and skyrunning seasoned legs is another big contender. She suffered with stomach problems at CCC but displayed great grit by battling her way through and said afterwards that she learned a lot from her first 100 k experience. Short, fast and technical is more of Holly’s game though and last year she was third at a very competitive Ring Of Steall. Due to high winds the 2018 race was running on the bad weather route which doesn’t play to Holly’s scrambling strengths so with the weather looking promising and with an impressive season on the skyrunning series Page is definitely one of my pre race faves and I’m guessing she will take second behind Wyder.
ELI ANNE DVERGSDAL from Norway had a great start to the Golden Trail Series with a win at Zegama and third at Marathon Du Mont Blanc but has since struggled with a lingering infection leading to an early DNF at Sierre Zinal followed by a few weeks of recovery. She looks to be back on form now and with a 8th place in the rankings Dvergdsdal is still in with a good chance of revenge-ing her way into the final. The Scottish underfoot is very similar to that of Norway and this has played well for runners from the land of fjords and trolls in the past.
Fourth behind Eli Anne at Marathon Du Mont Blanc was Sweden’s Skimo ace FANNY BORGSTROM. She recently showed that her form has improved since July by winning the Kia Fjallmarathon last month and crushing the women’s field at the Rosetta Skyrace two weeks ago.
YNGVILD KASPERSEN has only competed in two of the golden trail series this year. She took 6th at the series opener in Zegama and more recently second behind Mathys at Pikes Peak. Between those two events she’s taken second at Tromsdalstinden, the shorter version of Tromso Skyrace and was in the winning team at Infinite Trails. Being both a Skyrunner and a fast roadie Kaspersen has all it takes to perform great at the course of Ring of Steall.
As with all the Golden Trail Series you can follow the event live on Salomon’s You Tube channel where you can also check out a detailed race description; https://youtu.be/BrFbvysvvmg