Trail Running Euphoria in Sweden
The running community is an ever growing group of enthusiasts and as a result, more territory is being explored on foot than ever before. Particularly so by trail runners, who are switching from their normal running routines and heading out and exploring the boundless mountain terrain that Sweden has to offer. This particular adventure, finds itself in the Southern Åre mountain range in Sweden, approximately 30 minutes’ drive from Åre. The small village of Vallbo is the starting point of the trail, offering trail runners parking and a chance to go through last minute checks before the run starts.
The run starts off through the old pine forests of Vålådalens Nature Reserve in Sweden, created 1988. The forest is dense with the trees growing tightly over each other, their thin trunks stretching silently up and shutting out both light and sound. Different varieties of moss and lichen drably blanket the earth and slowly consume dried out stumps in inviting earthly tones, filling the nose with musty, yet fresh scents. Despite the silence, these forests are home to all sorts of animal life, from the small Siberian Jays, Capercaillie and Northern Hawk Owl to fox, reindeer and the king of the forests, the moose.
After approximately four kilometres the trail reaches the tree line and wide open spaces. The most notable peak is Stor-Anahögen, 1218 meters high and peaking over the horizon like an inviting sugar cone. The trail is built up on wooden platforms and the running is easy as the meters tick by rapidly, as long as one keeps your eye on your footfall for risk of slipping off and landing with one foot in the swamp. The trail varies between woods and rocky paths, requiring extra effort parrying your way over the uneven terrain. After six kilometres an old croft and Sami village called Grönvallen makes a great place to catch your breath, take in some water from the small stream or make small adjustments in your gear before continuing out, either clockwise to Issjödalen, or counterclockwise towards the famed Pyramids.
We decide to head out towards Issjödalen and its incredible landscape. The pathway meanders its way like a long snake through the mountain terrain, marked to one side by the quintessential red trail markers and clear mountain streams to the other, lined by gravel ridges and crooked, windswept birches. Silently we move on, the only sound being our footsteps and occasional streams gurgling their way downstream.