Race Date: 21st September 2019
Report by Ben Clithero
The Salomon Ring of Steall Skyrace follows in the tradition of skyrunning, which consists of uncompromising mountain running, such as scrambling along mountain ridges with steep ascents, traverses and descents on technical and challenging terrain. This skyrunning race route incorporates two lofty ridges within the Mamores, including the Devil’s Ridge, which provides a thrilling and airy traverse with Glen Nevis visible ahead and has a yawning drop far below, and Ben Nevis beyond and towering above.
The race route is set within the Mamores, which are an east – west series of majestic Munros (Scottish Mountains over 3,000ft / 914m) and in this route there are four that are summited.
The route takes in the incredibly beautiful Steall waterfall as seen in the Harry Potter movies. The scenery is incredibly beautiful altogether if you can avoid the infamous Scottish weather which, even in late September, we managed to do. We were rewarded with the most stunning views across the vivid green landscape with a backdrop of clear blue skies.
The race itself forms part of the Gold Trail World Series and is attended by some of the best athletes in the world so, as you can imagine, the course is no push over.
Marcus, Matt and I made our way up on the Friday so we could get a good nights rest before our 10am Saturday morning start. Matt wasn’t running but had decided to come along for the journey and be our groupie for the weekend.
The race starts in Kinlochleven which is a lovely little village in the Northwest Highlands. As we entered the starting pen with Marcus I could see how much this meant to him. We had briefly met each other on the Trigger race earlier in the year and after a chat soon discovered that we had our sights on similar races, this being one of them.
Marcus made a tremendous start and shot off but I wasn’t going to be dragged along at his pace. He ran phenomenally well and finished almost an hour ahead of me.
We ascended up through a small wood on a narrow track which finally widened out to a short undulating trail. We were then marshalled to a right turn and the real route began – plenty of mud, stoney trails and narrow sections surrounded by green foliage.
I had set my sights on 6 hours but the soul destroying second climb and my own failure to eat and drink properly were taking its toll. The second climb is particularly steep and you can see the runners in front of you, high up ascending like a trail of ants. The ETA on my watch was starting to get later and later until it read over 7 hours to complete the course and this was beginning to get me down a bit. The final descent started making a dent in the time I was losing as I managed to claw back half an hour.
I could go on and on about the entire weekend it was fantastic.
Great weather, great running with great company to boot.
A thousand people entered the race of which only 691 people finished
Nadir Maguet of Italy won in 3:14:47. First Lady was Judith Wyder of Switzerland in 3:36:46
Full Results and information http://www.skylinescotland.com/ring-of-steall-skyrace/