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Runner Interview: Ross Spalding (@ross.spalding)

Runner Interview: Ross Spalding


  • Location: Falkirk, Scotland, UK

Sgurr Dearg on Skye with the Inaccessible Pinnacle at the summit
Sgurr Dearg on Skye with the Inaccessible Pinnacle at the summit

When and why did you start running?

I started running this year. I’d always been into fitness, ran occasionally and had active hobbies since high school. Around a year and half ago I got into rock climbing at an indoor wall which naturally led to wanting to get outside and explore. I started hiking, a lot of the time in search of places for climbing, and from there I got fitter and faster and fell in love with the mountains.

April this year I bought my first fell running shoes and ran my first race in September and have been stoked ever since!

Describe your ideal race or adventure challenge

My ideal race would be in some technical mountains. 6-20 miles with over 3000 ft gain. I like changing pace and terrain so steep power hiking with some technical climb with a descent of technical trail and some soft ground or scree to get some fast downhill, a little exposure never does any harm and some runnable summits and ridges feel amazing. I’ve never ran outside of Scotland or the Lake District, England and I’ve yet to go past 20 miles so I’m excited to have a lot still to experience. I’ve basically described Ring of Steall Skyrace..

Curved Ridge Buachaille Etive Mor
Curved Ridge Buachaille Etive Mor

Tell us about your favourite trail

An Teallach Ridge in the NW Highlands. The most remote mountains I’ve been on and the views were insanely good, dirt track run in to the first steep ascent and then some exposed undulating ridge with lots of pinnacles to climb. Ten miles and over 5000 ft elevation gain. A little wilderness route down with not so much path added to the adventure.


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Nearby to home I train on the Ochil Hills and local mountain bike tracks and have gotten to know them well so I can move fast and have a lot of fun there with so many options.

I like changing pace and terrain so steep power hiking with some technical climb with a descent of technical trail and some soft ground or scree to get some fast downhill, a little exposure never does any harm and some runnable summits and ridges feel amazing.

What has been your biggest running / adventure challenge to date?

Biggest challenge really for me was taking it easy sometimes. Being new to fell running and improving every time you get out there starting out is addictive, so easy to over do it and not be smart about recovery… aside from that lets just say navigational errors and very traditional Scottish weather can make easy days into hard, painful days (it’s always fun looking back though..).

Ross running uphill at Fairy Glen on Skye
Ross running uphill at Fairy Glen on Skye

Tell us about your greatest running fail, we’ve all had – or will have – them at some point!

Just recently I ran my first 20 miles across my local hills, a route with 7800 ft elevation gain, and very ambitiously thought I could cycle 18.5 miles back to my car, the last part being some uphill country road, realising I would be struggling to get on my bike never mind cycling it and getting to the car before dark I phoned around friends. Third call lucky whilst on my final climb I got through to a mate who would pick me up.. Probably missed my first chance to cry during an endurance challenge.

What advice would you give to a new trail runner?

Advice to a new trail runner, from a new trail runner, would simply be keep getting out there and enjoy it. I’ve found the fell running community to be really good. People are generally always psyched to hear about each other’s goals, achievements and keen to chat and help. After a race I love that rather than asking ‘how did you place’ or ‘what was your time’ fell running is often more: “how did you find the route and did you have some fun?”.

Ross on An Teallach Ridge
Ross on An Teallach Ridge

What is your favourite bit of running kit, and why?

Favourite bit of running kit is my Suunto Ambit 3 Peak. I love planning out new routes on its nav and all its performance features are solid.. closely followed my new Salomon Sense 5 Sg as they look as good as they perform and fit.

Advice to a new trail runner, from a new trail runner, would simply be keep getting out there and enjoy it. I’ve found the fell running community to be really good.

What challenges / races / adventures are you planning for the coming year?

I’m hoping to race the Salomon Ring of Steall Skyrace September 2017 and possibly Tromsdalstinden Skyrace August 2017, they would be my main focus racing. Apart from that I’ll be entering smaller locally organised fell races across Scotland and the Lake District hoping to explore new places. I will be hoping to  take some time on the Isle of Skye to get familiar over there the Cuillin mountains and enjoy the scrambling and climbing they have to offer, as well as plenty scenic trails! Heading to the Dolomites in January and Iceland in February and hoping to fit a run into the trips.

Whats your favourite running/adventure book, and which songs keep you going when things get tough?

My favourite running/adventure books are Run or Die, Kilian Jornet and Alone on the Wall, Alex Honnold. Both these guys have made groundbreaking achievements and pioneered in mountain sports. I love the way they both explore human limits and mindsets.

My favourite music is normally pretty relaxed stuff. My favourite band the now are Foals and find myself on a lot of these long drives to the Highlands listening to Paulo Nutini when travelling myself. On the trails and running I don’t really listen to music, I like to switch off and keep it simple out there or run with friends.

Ross at Beinn Ime enjoying some deep snow descents, fun!
Ross at Beinn Ime enjoying some deep snow descents, fun!

Finally, What do you get up to when you’re not running or adventuring?

When I’m not running or adventuring I love spending time doing anything outside and enjoy including camping in my trips. I am new to Photography and currently teaching myself a little and pretty excited about it. I work as an apprentice electrician and I’m also learning to snowboard for the Dolomites trip in January!

Thank you for taking the time to be interviewed Ross, happy trails!

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Alastair Dixon
Alastair Dixonhttps://www.trailandkale.com
Hey, I'm Alastair. 5 years ago I started Trail & Kale as a way to share the mental & physical benefits that trail running and nature had given me. Since then Trail & Kale has grown to become a thriving blog and community that inspires people to trail run, hike, adventure more, and live a healthy plant-based lifestyle.

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