Extreme! Yes, it was… that was the consensus as the Skyline Scotland’s Salomon Glencoe Skyline drew to a conclusion after only its 2nd edition.
Last year, Skyrunning superstar Emelie Forsberg, travelled to Scotland to take part in the first edition of the race. She placed 2nd overall and won the female category. After the race she said that ‘this’ race truly is one of the best races out there!
Cut to 2016 and Skyline Scotland developed a VK race and SKY race to join the Glencoe Skyline which had gained the approval from the ISF (International Skyrunning Federation) to be one of three races that would make a new ‘SkyExtreme’ category in 2016. This three race series also include Tromso SkyRace and the iconic, Trofeo Kima.
Many had said that Skyrunning in the UK was not possible.
Ask again – not one participant in the 2016 edition of the race would question the legitimacy of how extreme this race was.
Gaining Skyrunner® Extreme Series status also has a huge impact on the participants taking part. It’s fair to say, that the 2016 edition of the race had arguably one of the greatest fields ever assembled for a mountain race.
Coming into this edition, Jonathan Albon and Tom Owens were the hot favourites to take away the title of Skyrunner® Extreme Series champion and in the ladies race, Jasmin Paris after victory in Tromso was a likely female champion.
The race played out as expected with Tom Owens and Jon Albon pushing each other throughout the early stages of the race with strong competition coming from Marc Lauenstein, Finlay Wild and Salomon team manager, Greg Vollet. It was Jonathan Albon though that snapped the elastic pulling away for Tom Owens running on home soil. Pre-race predictions were blown out of the water and Jonathan crossed the line first in a blistering 6:33:52. To put this time in perspective, it is over 1-hour faster than the 2015 course with additional distance and vertical gain.
Tom Owens suffered with foot issues throughout the race but battled all the time. He finished 2nd in 6:37:21. Zegama-Aizkorri and Matterhorn Ultraks winner Marc Lauenstein, although not competing for the Skyrunner® Extreme Series title was always a potential contender for victory or the podium and he didn’t disappoint in finishing 3rd in 6:54:37. As Marc came to the end of one of the more technical sections of the race, the infamous Aonach Eagach, he said, “This is one seriously technical and challenging race!”
Local man and Ben Nevis expert, Finlay Wild placed 4th and Greg Vollet 5th, their times 7:00:57 and 7:10:19.
In the ladies’ race, Jasmin Paris lead from the gun and although Ruth Croft did catch her at one point, Jasmin placed her foot on the gas and pulled away becoming not only a convincing Salomon Glencoe Skyline winner but also a Skyrunner® Extreme Series champion. Quite incredible when you consider that just recently she placed 6th at UTMB. Jasmin’s time of 8:15:56 will be considered a CR for this new course.
Malene Bikken Haukoy ran a savvy race pacing herself in the early stages to move up through the field and eventually place 2nd in the ladies’ race in 8:23:04. Her podium finish in Tromso SkyRace also providing valuable points for the Skyrunner® Extreme Series.
Sarah Ridgway is now the leader of the Skyrunning UK Series and her 3rd place on the ladies podium showed incredible consistency, her time 8:44:40.
Ruth Croft found today’s course a challenge after placing 2nd at Trofeo Kima recently. Despite difficulties though, Ruth ran a strong race gaining valuable points for the Skyrunner® Extreme Series.
Martina Valmassoi rounded out the top 5.
The Salomon Glencoe Skyline route features long and sustained sections of scrambling terrain, which is roughly equivalent to moderate standard rock climbing. In addition, the race traverses high and remote mountainous terrain, which is at times impossible to retreat from and may be subject to severe and rapidly changing weather. The day started in glorious sunshine but as predicted, a weather system arrived late morning making the crossing off the Aonach Eagach a wet one with limited visibility due to clag and mist.
As expected, the race had many dropouts due to the severe course and inclement weather in the latter half of the day. Ultimately though, the feedback and response has been incredible.
2016 was the start of really big things for the UK Skyrunning scene and the Salomon Glencoe Skyline is not only paving the way and setting the benchmark within the UK but also for Europe and farther afield.
- Jonathan Albon 6:33:52
- Tom Owens 6:37:21
- Marc Lauenstein 6:54:37
- Finlay Wild 7:00:57
- Greg Vollet 7:10:19
- Jasmin Paris 8:15:56
- Malene Bikken Haukoy 8:23:04
- Sarah Ridgway 8:44:40
- Ruth Croft 9:10:33
- Martina Valmassoi 9:14:37
Extreme Series ranking. Final*
1. Jonathan Albon (GBR) – 208 points
2. Tom Owens (GBR) – 205.6 points
3. Finlay Wild (GBR) – 164.4 points
4. Andew Fallas (GBR) – 143 points
5. Sota Ogawa (JAP) – 128.4 points
1. Jasmin Paris (GBR) – 220 points
2. Malene Haukøy (NOR) – 193.6 points
3. Ruth Croft (NZL) – 172 points
4. Martina Valmassoi (ITA – 152.4 points
5. Natalia Tomasiak (POL) – 127.6 points
Click on an image to view in a gallery
Images available at iancorless.photoshelter.com