SCAFELL SKY RACE AND THE LAKES SKY ULTRA 2018 Preview

EXCITEMENT AHEAD OF THE SCAFELL SKY RACE AND THE LAKES SKY ULTRA

The English Lakes provides a great area this coming weekend when many of the UK’s best Skyrunner’s descend on Ambleside to participate in the first two races of the 2018 Skyrunner UK National Series.

SCAFELL SKY RACE

The 40km Scafell Sky Racetakes place on July 15th. It is a pure mountain race with 3000m of vertical gain. At times, it is a technical race and uses a multitude of single-track. In 2017, the amazing Lucy Bartholomew, who recently placed 3rd at the iconic Western States said, “The Scafell Sky Race is the most technical race I have ever done!”

Lucy Bartholomew ©guillemcsanova

In 2018, the race has significant importance as it is a qualifying race for the Skyrunning UK National Team that will participate at the 2018 Skyrunning World Championships at Glen Coe in Scotland.

18 slots are available, 6 per race – VK, SKY and ULTRA and places will be awarded as follows:

1. Ranking places – 6 in total.

2 entries are awarded, male and female, to the two top ranked athletes in VK, SKY and ULTRA categories based on the Skyrunning ranking.

2. Qualifying places – 4 in total.

2 entries are awarded, male and female, for SKY and ULTRA (4 entries in total) based on the results from Scafell Sky Race.

3. VK places – 2 in total.

2 entries for the VK will be awarded for any UK athletes who show previous experience/ results on the Vertical Kilometer World Circuit or via Scafell Sky Race.

4. Merit places – 6 in total.

2 entries are awarded, male and female, for VK, SKY and ULTRA based on the discretion of Skyrunning UK.

In the event of an invited athlete being unable or wishing not to take a place in the National team, Skyrunning UK will roll down the Skyrunning ranking (point 1), roll down the results from Scafell Sky Race (point 2), scroll down VK experience (point 3) and use discretion to award merit places (point 4).

In all scenarios, the final decision rests with Skyrunning UK.

So, who are the hot contenders for the overall podium places in the Scafell Sky Race?

Skyrunner World Series Champion and multi OCR World Champion, Jon Albon heads-up the field and will almost certainly be the man to beat come race day. But rest assured runner’s, Jon gets an auto entry in the Skyrunning UK National Team for the world champs, he has decided to race the ultra-distance event.

Marcus Scotney has won the Dragons Back Race, The Cape Wrath Ultra and is an ever-present in a GB vest. He loves the mountains, technical terrain and racing hard. He will, without doubt be a prime contender for a podium slot.

Tom Evans is a late entry and has been a revelation since placing 3rd at Marathon des Sables in 2017. What has followed is a whirlwind of races and great performances. In early 2018 he obliterated the course record at The Coastal Challenge ahead of Hayden Hawks and recently he placed 3rd at the IAU World Trail Championships.

Steve Birkinshaw needs no introduction the fell and mountain running, he has been there and done that. He recently said to me that he lacks speed these days but just last weekend he paced Kilian Jornet on leg 4 of his Bob Graham Round record, so, his slow is most people’s fast!

Sally Fawcett is an experienced mountain runner and has represented GB. She won the Lakeland 50 and has placed highly at the World Trail Championships.

Sarah Sheridan has raced many of the UK series races and has had great results recently at 9th place at the Maxi Race Ultra in May 2018 and she was 6th place at the UTMR in 2017.

Ones to watch:

  • Andy Bryce
  • Casper Kaars Sijpesteijn
  • Tristan Pope
  • Brennan Townshend
  • Beth Albon
  • Catherine Slater
  • Henriette Albon
  • Tamsin Cass

The race starts at 0900 from Seathwaite Farm and the first runner can be expected in Ambleside around 1330, however, remember, this may well be a fast year… arrive at the finish early! The route is a classic to be reckoned with. Participants willsummit Englands highest mountain and traverse some of the most challenging trails in the central Lake District via sections of scree and light scrambling thrown in.  Scafell Sky Race is a serious test of nerve, skill and endurance. 

LAKES SKY ULTRA

Relentless, technical and designed to test you to the limit. The 56km race with 4500m of ascent requires a rounded athlete with experience, has mountain running strength, endurance, speed, balance and skill to the maximum. From grassy trods and well-worn mountain paths, to bare rock and scree, open fell, bogs and tussocks, the race is the ultimate test.

Inspired by the great Sky races of Europe, Lakes Sky Ultrais a technically demanding course that requires athletes to be vetted to ensure that only the most experienced will tackle this ultra-distance route.It contains ridges and one of the most gravity-defying scrambles the Lake District has to offer. Racers need a good head for heights and nerves of steel: their going to traverse three of the most iconic ridge-lines in the Lake District: Swirral Edge, the knife-edge of Striding Edge and the very alpine and technical Pinnacle Ridge.

The Scafell Sky Race being a UK qualifier has certainly impacted on the LSU but a great line-up of runners are set to do battle on the fells. Andy Berry will be racing hard for a repeat win at the LSU and is certainly one of the favorites for the top podium spot. James Elson is an experienced ultra-runner and ever-present on the UK scene. Has had great success at the 100-mile distance and has figured in the top ranks at Lakeland 100. Jarek Czuba made the podium V3K and Jason Millward was 4th at the 2017 Lakes Sky Ultra, can he make the podium this year? Rob Sinclair is a major contender for the overall victory, he won KMF 50 and smashed the record, set by Donnie Campbell in 2016, by 18-minutes. Tim Campion Smith was the winner of the 2017 Scafell Sky Race and this year steps up to the big brother, also watch out for Andy Bryce who placed 3rd last year, although he is going for the double! Sophie Grant heads up a small contingent of ladies who are taking on the LSU challenge. She is the overall favourite for victory after placing 2ndin 2016 and don’t be surprised if she does not impact on the overall ranking.

The race starts at 0700 on Saturday July 14th. First runners are expected in Ambleside around 1400hrs and the race cut off is at 2100.

All information for the weekend can be found at the race website

LAKE DISTRICT SKY TRAILS here.

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