Mourne Skyline MTR 2018

Another year, another stunning edition of the Mourne Skyline MTR awaits. This race over the last-years has personified the true ethos of going fast and light to the mountains. Created by Justin and Ryan Maxwell, the race has been a permanent fixture on the Skyrunning UK calendar.

In 2018, over 250 runners will toe the line to undertake what is one of the toughest challenges out there, a 35k race, incorporating 3,370m (11,057ft) of accumulative ascent, set in the heart of the scenic Mourne Mountains in Northern Ireland.  The event, which is now in it’s 5th year, will take place on Saturday 20th October 2018, starting at 0900. The race is brought to you by NiRunning (Northern Ireland Running), Northern Ireland’s most popular running website, with assistance from the Northern Ireland Mountain Running Association (NIMRA).

Race website HERE

The Mourne Mountains are a granite mountain range in County Down in the south-east of Northern Ireland. Owned by the National Trust, an area of outstanding beauty, it includes Slieve Donard (850m), the highest mountain in Northern Ireland and Ulster and as such it provides a perfect location for a mountain race.

Among the more famous features, the Mourne Wall is a key element of this region and a key aspect of the race. Construction of the wall was started in 1904 and was completed in 1922; its purpose, to define the boundary of an area of land purchased by the Belfast Water Commission.

Comprised of forest path, fire roads, single track, granite trail and tough uneven broken fell, the race is a tough challenge. In just 35km the course has a brutal 3370m of ascent and no less than 9 peaks, the highest being Slieve Donard at 850m.

“…this would be a tough one, with 11,000 feet of climbing over 22 miles, a serious amount of ascent and descent that equated to 500 feet per mile,” said 2015 5th place runner and Lakeland 50 champion, Jayson Cavill. “That is almost double the climbing of the Yorkshire Three Peaks route over a slightly shorter distance.”

The coastal town of Newcastle hosts the start of the race and a short section of road leads into Donard Park via the promenade entrance and the ‘Granite Trail’ awaits for a long and relentless climb. Dundrum Bay is visible to the west, before a fast downhill section to a climb of the stony and challenging Glen River Path to the Col between Slieve Donard and Slieve Commedagh.

At Hare’s Gap, the first major peak awaits, Slieve Bearnagh, first passing the North Tor before reaching the summit quickly followed with the technical ascent of Slieve Meelmore. The Mourne Wall becomes a key feature of the race and for the first time the runners follow its line for just 0.4km before veering right and descending towards The Mourne Way path. 

Fofany Dam precludes the only road section of the course which leads to the Mourne Wall and the style between Ott and Slieve Loughshannagh. The climbs and summits come thick and fast now; Slieve Loughshannagh, Slieve Meelbeg and the course continues to follow the Mourne Wall leading to a repeated climb of the technical and challenging Slieve Meelmore, this time in the opposite direction. The toughest climb of the day follows, Slieve Bearnagh. 

Passing around the North Tor it is downhill towards Hare’s Gap and a steep climb next to the Mourne Wall towards Slievenaglogh and Slieve Commedagh, Northern Ireland’s second highest mountain. It is ironic that Slieve Commedeagh should lead into Slieve Donard and the highest point of the race. On a clear day the views are magnificent out over the sea, inland towns and villages are visibleand of course, the Mourne Mountains. From the summit, it’s all downhill to the finish via the rocky Glen River Path and a fire road that leads into Donard Park and the finish.

J Marshall Thompson, an experienced ski mountaineer from the USA raced the 2014 edition and placed 3rd, an incredible result for someone who had never experienced such technical terrain.

“That was some of the most crazy terrain I have ever run. It was relentless. It was beyond technical. You had no idea where to put your feet and I can’t tell you how many times I fell over; I loved it’

But the technicality and challenges the Mourne Mountains offer are not for everyone, Jo Meek has raced for team GB and has placed top 5 at the iconic Comrades Ultramarathon in South Africa:

“I really did push and race hard but the relentless ankle twisting and gnarly terrain beat me down and in the latter stages. I eased off a little knowing that 2nd place was secure.”

The mountains of Northern Ireland may not have the height or elevation gain the the Alps or Pyrenees offer, but what they lack in height is more than compensated for in technicality and repeated roller coaster climbing. Ask anyone who has run it, the Mourne Skyline MTR is no easy race.

The race description is taken from the book RUNNING BEYOND HERE

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SkyRace® Comapedrosa 2016 Race Summary and Images – Skyrunner® World Series 2016

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SkyRace® Comapedrosa – Skyrunner® World Series 2016

The SkyRace® Comapedrosa really did personify everything that a Skyrunning race should be today as the Skyrunner® World Series 2016 moved at a fast pace. The race route was tough, technical, had loads of climbing and plenty of time up in the sky at altitude. In many respects, it’s a course of two halves – the early stages weave up steep forest paths and then in the latter half, after summiting the highest point of the course, the iconic peak of Comapedrosa, the terrain becomes almost permanently rocky and technical.

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Laura Orgue and Tom Owens were champions of the day and with two new course records! What makes the result of the dynamic duo more impressive is that they both achieved ‘silver,’ just last weekend at the Skyrunning World Championships organized by the ISF.
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The tiny ski-resort of Arinsal in Andorra hosted 370 runners as they toed the line to cover the 21.2km course with a vertical ascent of over 2,000m+. Much of the pre-race talk had been about ‘the wall,’ a technical 1000-metre vertical climb over the short distance of just 2km to the summit of the Comapedrosa at 2,942m, the highest peak in the principality of Andorra.

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Aritz Egea lead the race on the climbs and reached the summit of Comapedrosa with Tom Owens, Oscar Casal Mir and trailing Alexis Sevennec. Egea who has not been inform of late struggled to keep the second place after Owens passed him on the last long technical descent but the revelation came from Hassan Ait Chaou who closed from outside the top-5 to take 2nd on the podium. ©iancorless.com_Comapedrosa2016-7090

Egea held on for 3rd and post-race said, “I’m very happy with third. This year has been a little complicated for me, I’ve not been very motivated, so this a good surprise. The course is really, really tough but I love this kind of race, especially the steep climbs.” ©iancorless.com_Comapedrosa2016-7048

Tom Owens had contemplated not racing but sometimes last minute decisions work, “I was un-decided if I should run?” said Owens. “Today I felt great, sometimes it’s nice to race with no expectation. I was 6th or 7th on the first climb but running on those ridges was just brilliant. The descents were great for me…and move quite quickly and pull back places.”

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Pull back places Owens did and on that final descent he gave it everything and moved up from the 3rd to take victory in a new CR, knocking 6-minutes of the old record of 2:46:42.

Owens continued, “My weakness is on the steep climbs. The other guys would just pull away… then I eased back on the second climb. We all pretty much reached the summit of the second climb at the same time and from there I knew I had to concentrate.”

Surprisingly, the top three in the male podium all crossed the finish line today under the previous CR, a true sign of a fast, furious and highly competitive race.

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Laura Orgue ran an impressive time of 3:12:27 in the ladies’ race beating the previous CR of 3:21:15 held by Oihana Kortazar who would place 2nd. Like Owens, Orgue had achieved a silver medal just last weekend in the Skyrunning World Championships and although victory and CR were hers, she complained of not being her normal self. A VK specialist, Orgue loves to climb but today it was the worst part of her race… the other female runners must be terrified if she has a good day!

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Oihana Kortazar, placed 2nd and was also very happy to beat her own course record, no doubt due to the blistering pace of Orgue, “In this race I prefer the ascents to the descents, which are very, very technical. Andorra has some really tough terrain and I welcome the challenge. My next race is Matterhorn Ultraks in Zermatt.”

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Third was Àngela Castelló in 3:20:13. As with the male podium, the top three in the female podium all came in under the previous CR.

Attention now turns to next weekend and the first race in the EXTREME series, the Tromso SkyRace.

 

Provisional Race Results

Male:

  1. 1.Tom Owens 2:40
  2. Hassan Ait Chaou 2:41
  3. Aritz Egea 2:44

Female:

  1. Laura Orgué 3h14′
  2. Oihana Kortazar 3h17′
  3. Angela Castello 3h20′


Thanks to the support of our Partner Migu Xempower, Sponsor Alpina Watches and Official Pool Suppliers, Scott RunningCompressport and Salomon.

About Skyrunner® World Series
Skyrunning was founded in 1992 by Italian Marino Giacometti, President of the International Skyrunning Federation which sanctions the discipline worldwide and sports the tagline:
Less cloud. More sky.

The Skyrunner® World Series was launched in 2004 and has grown to represent the peak of outdoor running defined by altitude and technicality. In 2016, the Series, composed of four disciplines, features 23 races in 15 venues on three continents.

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Ultra Skymarathon Madeira 2016 #SWS2016 – Race Images and Summary

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The 2016 Skyrunner® World Series arrived in Madeira, Portugal for the Ultra Skymarathon Madeira (USM) – a tough and challenging 55km ultra with 4000m of vertical gain. The 2016 edition had a minor change to 2015, an extra section that added more technicality and potentially more time… could the times of Ricky Lightfoot and Stevie Kremer be beaten?

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The USM course is a unique one. Weaving up and down mountains, around beaches, through dense undergrowth, up a riverbed and of course plenty of climbing and descending. It’s not your ordinary Skyrunning course!

Departing the start line at 0600 on the dot, the runners disappeared down a darkened lane with only head torches for company, it was going to be a great day – the sky was clear and the stars were sparkling in the sky. Just 1km to warm up and then a climb of 1400m straight up to the highest point of the island – pure Skyrunning.

The runners climbed and a section of via ferreta was the prelude to the new course addition, instead of following the stone steps to the off-path climb to the summit, runners dropped down once again to take in a technical descent and ridge climb. A final push to the summit; It wasn’t easy going. The sky was blue, the sun was beating down but despite the picture postcard, it was hard graft.

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Andre Jonsson (Sweden) and Dimitrios Theodorakakos (Greece) were the first to appear. The contrast between the two striking, Andre is tall and with an ultra runner beard. Dimitrios is stocky, well built and all power.

They matched each other step-by-step. A string of runners appeared all looking relatively calm and relaxed considering the severity of the course – it was early days!. At the summit of Pico Ruivo the ladies arrived, first was Anna Frost, closely followed by Gemma Arenas.

Running the ridges and several more climbing sections, the front of the race didn’t change until a decisive phase around the 36km mark. Climbing from the sea and beach, Andre Jonsson continued to lead looking strong. However, Dimitrios looked to be struggling a little and Cristofer Clemente was closing. After 5km of ridge running and a technical descent, a riverbed with boulder hopping awaited. Cristofer made his move and passed Dimitrios and went in pursuit of Andre.

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The final long climb needed to be ascended and descended before the finish line and here the podium changed. Andre crumbled after leading the race all day:

“I had felt great, running within myself and in the riverbed I cooled down but then in the early section of the final climb I just had no energy, the heat hit and that was it!

Cristofer took the lead, opened a gap and won the race by a clear margin. Dimitrios held on for 2nd and local runner, Luis Fernandes went past Andre to take 3rd.

Gemma Arenas was almost in another race by the time the riverbed came and the final climb she held that margin to take a convincing victory. Anna Frost who had lead the race for much of the day was relegated to 2nd by Gemma but then faded to 3rd – a strong performance from US based Hillary Allen reeled ‘Frosty’ in and she sealed 2nd. Frosty said post race:

 “I really gave it everything today, on the ups and the downs, I just didn’t have that extra oomph but what a great (and tough) course!”

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The 3rd edition of the Ultra Skymarathon Madeira has been a great success. Despite a potentially more difficult course, both the men’s and ladies records were broken! The top 2 men and top 5 ladies all broke the previous records. This is extremely significant and reflects the quality of the male and female line-up – world-class runners pushing hard for victory and resulting in fast times. João Canning Clode, USM co-director and PR commented, “We didn’t expect to break the standing records but given the good weather this year and the strong competition, it was a welcome surprise.

Madeira is an amazing island with a tough and challenging course. The future looks bright for this new addition to the Skyrunner® World Series.

Results: (official times to follow)

  1. Cristofer Clemente 6:00:28
  2. Dimitrios Theodorakakos 6:09:06
  3.  Luis Fernandes 6:11:34
  1. Gemma Arenas 6:59:51
  2. Hillary Allen 7:13:12
  3. Anna Frost 7:17:00

Cristofer Clemente now takes over the Ultra Series ranking lead for the men and Gemma Arenas for the women. Look out for the next Ultra Series race with the new High Trail Vanoise in the renowned ski resort of Val d’Isère, France on July 10.

Later this month the Skyrunner® World Series will head for North Eastern Italy with the Santa Caterina VK and the Livigno SkyMarathon® on June 24 & 26.

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Skyrunner® World Series is supported by Migu Xempower, Alpina Watches, Compressport, Salomon and Scott Sports.

iancorless.com is the official photographer and media partner for the Skyrunner®World Series Follow on:

 Facebook/iancorlessphotography

Twitter (@talkultra)

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Follow the Skyrunner® World Series on social media platforms

Facebook.com/skyrunning

Twitter @skyrunning_com

Instagram @skyrunning