England’s Victoria Wilkinson’s long history with cross-country, fell, and mountain running helped her take second at the 2018 Ring of Steall Skyrace. In the following interview, our first with her, Victoria talks about what her history is with various types of running, how she’s competed both in small fell races and international trail and mountain races, how she decided to race Ring of Steall last minute, and how the race played out from her perspective.
Be sure to read our results article for the full race story.
Victoria Wilkinson Post-2018 Ring of Steall Skyrace Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Victoria Wilkinson after her second-place finish at the 2018 Ring of Steall Sky Race. Congratulations!
Victoria Wilkinson: Thank you very much. Thank you.
iRunFar: Did you have a good run out there?
Wilkinson: Yeah, well, the position tells the story, doesn’t it? Yeah, I wasn’t expecting that. I wanted top 10 definitely. Top five was going to be a very good run, so to actually get a medal is amazing. Proper pleased.
iRunFar: It wasn’t because of ridiculously poor conditions. You just had a stellar run.
Wilkinson: The weather has been pretty good. The rains held off. It wasn’t too windy. It wasn’t too cold. It wasn’t too misty. For Scottish September it was pretty good really. It was pretty wet out there. It was a bit boggy in places. But we’ve all got to get around in it, don’t we?
iRunFar: You’ve got probably some experience with that. Tell me about your running history. When did it start?
Wilkinson: It started a long, long time ago. I started when I was nine, so I’m 40 now. I started when I was nine and was racing by 10 or 11. It was a few years out that I turned into cycling for four or five years. I always competed basically. I ran on the fells and cross country and not a great deal on the track. I just love being out in the hills and seeing the scenery and getting to different places and seeing different people. It’s good.
iRunFar: What brought you back to the trails?
Wilkinson: Well, for this race, this race was a bit of a last-minute decision really. After the Ben Nevis Race I decided I didn’t want my season to finish basically. So I looked for something that was fairly prestigious and a bit of a challenge. It’s paid off.
iRunFar: If I get this correct, you won the Ben Nevis Race a few weeks ago with a 34-year-old record? That’s stout. You had to know you’re in good fitness.
Wilkinson: Yeah, I’m climbing quite well. I’ve had a few weeks away. We had a week in Italy. I did Sierre-Zinal back in August. Yeah, I’m feeling quite strong. My descending isn’t spot on, but it’s not too bad. I can get down without too many bruises.
iRunFar: Obviously you have a long history of running in the U.K., but in the last couple years at least you do have some international experience against top fields.
Wilkinson: I’ve done quite a lot world champs, European champs.
iRunFar: World Mountain Running Association, World Long Distance Mountain Running…
Wilkinson: Not as many World Longs—I’ve done four World Long [Distance Mountain Running Championships] I think. I’m not quite sure how many Worlds I’ve actually been to, the short-distance ones [the World Mountain Running Championships] quite a lot.
iRunFar: What’s your preferred racing style, terrain, distance?
Wilkinson: I love the Three Peaks Race in Yorkshire which I won this year but won last year and got the record last year. I love that kind of distance. Today was potentially just a little bit over for me, but I tried to pace it well, and it paid off.
iRunFar: It certainly did. The men’s race, it was an international card. Here on the women’s side, it was Sweden and two Brits. Does that feel good?
Wilkinson: Yeah, it does. The Brits have done well. Holly [Page] has had an amazing season. She’s dropped onto the Skyrunning scene really well. She’s living the life. She’s going to all the races. Yeah, it’s great to have Brits up there.
iRunFar: Have you matched up a bunch with her recently?
Wilkinson: We were in Canada although I didn’t race because I was ill, but I didn’t chat with her or anything. I’m a bit older than her.
iRunFar: What did you have on your feet on a course like this?
Wilkinson: Today I wore my Inov-8 X-Talon 212 which I just love.
iRunFar: Super light and drains well?
Wilkinson: Yeah, the studs (lugs) are great. They’re not too bulky and rugged. They’re just that comfort. They suite me on a lot of different terrains.
iRunFar: They were made for this.
Wilkinson: Yeah, and people who had lesser studs, shall we say, on were probably flailing about. I do like a good grip. I don’t like flats. I do like some studs.
iRunFar: Nice. Congratulations on a great race.
Wilkinson: Thank you so much. Cheers.
iRunFar: A bonus question for you—why are we swatting ourselves?
Wilkinson: Yeah, the midges, we call them.
iRunFar: The midges are quite bad.
Wilkinson: Yeah, Scotland is renowned for them. Normally it’s earlier in the season, but it seems to be all summer as well. I think this damp weather probably doesn’t help.