Lakes Sky Ultra 2019 Summary and Images

Andy Bryce and Sophie Grant gave two dominant performances on the newly revised Lakes Sky Ultra 2019, the second race in the 2019 Skyrunning UK & Ireland Series. Starting and concluding in Patterdale, the duo covered the 60km route with over 5000m of vertical gain in 8:46:18 and 10:27:07.

Image Gallery HERE

The route encompasses the best of the north eastern Lakes with a circular route that takes in Lakeland highlights that included Place Fell, Beda Fell, High Street, Thornthwaite Crag, Stoney Cove Pike, St Raven’s Edge, Red Screes, Dove Crag, Hart Crag, Fairfield, Dollywagon Pike, Nethermost Pike, Helvellyn with some of the most remote valleys in the area dropped in for good measure.

Starting at 0600 under cloudy skies, the heat and humidity of the day was masked, but it soon became apparent that it was going to be essential for all runners to keep on top of their hydration.

Andy Berry dictated the early pace up to place fell but all the main contenders were in close proximity and it was only when runners crossed Kirkstone Pass and started the climb of Red Screes that the main protagonists became apparent.

It was here that Andy Bryce showed that he was on a good day opening up a gap on the chasers of Philip Rutter, Andy Berry, Liam Mills, Marco Costelo and Simon Darmody.

For the women, Sophie Grant was already opening a huge gap over Kasia Osipowicz and make a dent on the overall top-10. Hanna Walsh running in 3rd was a long way back pacing herself for the tough challenges ahead.

Ambleside provided a major checkpoint for the long climb up to Fairfield, the decent to Grizedale Tarn and then the climb to Helvellyn and the technical descent down Swirral Edge.

The front of the race looked set with Bryce looking strong, but Rutter was moving quicker and one wondered would the final tough 20% of the race bring a change at the front? At the line, no! Bryce held on for victory beating Rutter 8:46:18 to 8:49:05. Berry ran a solid and consistent day having lead from the front with a 3rd place in 8:57:03.

Grant was head and shoulders above the competition and crossed the line for the women in 10:27:07 and placed 8th overall. Osipowicz placed 2nd in 11:06:40 and also made the top-20 overall. Third placed woman was Hanna Walsh in 13:43:55.

Full results HERE

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Scafell Sky Race 2018 – Jon and Henriette Albon take the victories.

The second Scafell Sky Race (SSR) brought not only a large international field of runners to the Lake District, but the strongest line-up of any UK mountain race so far this year. The SSR had increased significance in 2018 as it was a qualifying race for the 2018 Skyrunning World Championships that will take place in Scotland later this year.

Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, France, Greece, Ireland, Malaysia, New Zealand, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Romania, USA and Britain were the nations that made up 196 runners who started the 2018 edition.

The SSR line-up included two stars from the Great Britain (GB) team that earned a team silver medal at the 2018 IAU Trail World Championships, Tom Evans and Jonathan Albon, who placed third and fourth in Spain in May. GB 100K-runner and Dragon’s Back-winner Marcus Scotney, fell-running legend Steve Birkinshaw, and Lakeland 50 course record-holder Casper Kaars Sijpesteijn were just some of the other names in a strong field. The women’s field was equally stacked, with GB trail-runner Sally Fawcett facing competition from GB mountain-runner Georgia Tindley, experienced ultra-runner Sarah Sheridan, Jonathan Albon’s wife Henriette and his sister Beth, and last year’s Lakes Sky Ultra-winner Catherine Slater.

Like its big sister event, Lakes Sky Ultra, which took place on Saturday (read HERE) , 14 July, SSR is owned and organised by Glenridding-based Mountain Run Events. But unlike LSU, it’s designed as an introduction to technical skyrunning and entries are not vetted. The course, created by Charles Sproson, is designed to showcase the very best of the Lakes.

With a fast start on a short section of road then good trails, runners left Rosthwaite at 9am. After climbing past Sour Milk Gill waterfalls, up the Gillercomb Valley to the summit of Green Gable, technical singletrack led past the Napes Needle (where rock climbing originated, in the 1880s), to a classic, technical ascent of the highest mountain in England, Scafell Pike, via the Corridor Route.

After summiting Great End, crossing a boulder field, and almost summiting Bow Fell, a scree descent led to one the best singletracks in the Lakes. Next was the Climbers’ Traverse, then the Band, before runners descended into Great Langdale and a feed station outside the historical Stickle Barn pub.

After a hearty climb up Harrison Stickle, Stickle Tarn was passed, before some easier singletrack-running on the northern side of the Great Langdale Valley, with big views over Grasmere and classic Wordsworth country, leading to the finish in Ambleside.

As expected, in the men’s race Evans and Albon charged off the front, with Sebastian Batchelor initially keeping in touch. The GB trail-running stars arrived at Stickle Barn, about halfway into the race, together. Albon had a faster transition though and gradually pulled away, to arrive first at the University of Cumbria’s Ambleside Campus, in a course record time of 04.26:50.
“The Lakes is an amazing place to run,” said Norway-based Albon. “It was a lot of fun, especially the technical sections, when you get into your flow – if you ignore that there’s a drop off next to you. The second half was more runnable, but hotter – more bearable when we had some wind and cloud cover. The nice, open grassy fells were welcome. It’s interesting doing the techie stuff first – I loved the slabby section, I hadn’t run on stuff like that before – your legs get blasted by all the jarring around, and then you get the long flowy sections afterwards, so your legs need to be in good condition.”
“It was an amazing race,” said Evans, who placed second, in 04:39:57. “It’s different to what I normally do and a course of two halves: the first half was super-technical, and I was way out of my comfort zone, which is great. The second half is more runnable and more suited to me, but it got hot and I slightly misjudged my hydration strategy. I’m super happy though. It’s my first ever skyrace and it was great to race against Jon.”

Sebastian Batchelor (GBR) was third in 04.59:50.

In the women’s race, Georgia Tindley set the early pace, but dropped out after Harrison Stickle. Catherine Slater, too, was suffering on the big climb out of Langdale. Henriette Albon started conservatively but gradually moved ahead and took the win in 05:59:27.

“That was definitely one of the tougher races I’ve done this year,” said Albon. “There was a lot of undulating, rocky terrain, you constantly had to be focused. I was surprised by how much time it took. I remember looking at my watch 15K in and thinking, ‘Phew, this is going to be a long one!’ I liked the grassy sections at the end because I could get some speed, but I liked the rocky bits too. I started slowly and tried to pace it.”

“I loved the race,” said Sally Fawcett, who placed second, in 06:26:16, “even if I was out of my comfort zone for much of the first half. But I was in my element for the more runnable second half. It was pretty much six hours and 26 minutes of fun!”

Catherine Slater dug deep to finish third woman in 06:47:48.

About the race:

The Scafell Sky Race (SSR) is a 42km skyrunning race with 3,000m of ascent on challenging, often technically extreme terrain in the Lake District National Park, going over England’s highest peak, Scafell Pike (978m). Skyrunning in the Lake District is a combination of mountain running and mountaineering, which includes low grade rock scrambling. SSR is an introductory to intermediate-level skyrace and part of the UK Skyrunning Series.

FULL RESULTS HERE

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IMAGES AVAILABLE HERE