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.
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.
Following on from the continued growth of skyrunning worldwide and the expansion of the Skyrunner ® World Series– Skyrunning UK is pleased to announce five races in four stunning locations that bring you the best of what the UK and Ireland has to offer.
The season will start in the iconic English Lakes with the Scafell Sky Race on June 8th.
Technical single-track and scree and 40m slab make this a classic 40km skyrunning route to be reckoned with. The circular ‘newly designed’ route allows you to run from the iconic National Trust’s Stickle Barn over Lakeland Fells and through Lakeland Valleys, whilst you summit England’s highest mountain on route and traverse some of the most challenging trails in the central Lake District.
“The Scafell Sky Race is the most technical race I’ve ever done … even tougher than Tromso! Emelie Forsberg would love it!”– Lucy Bartholomew.
With sections of scree and light scrambling thrown in, Scafell Sky Race is a serious test of nerve, skill and endurance. Mountain experience and moving solo across highly technical mountain terrain is an essential skill for this classic skyrunning race.
The second race of the season also takes place in the English Lakes, Lakes Sky Ultra on July 13th.
You’ll need a good head for heights and nerves of steel: you’re going to traverse three of the most amazing ridge-lines in the Lake District: Beda Fell, remote and sublime, the bone shaking and very wild ridge of Long Stile Edge and the very alpine and rocky scramble of Swirral Edge. We’re talking serious ascent with some distance thrown in, 60km of Lake District paths, trails and rock with 5’000m ascent.
We packed all the best central and eastern-Lake District mountain running trails we know into this course: you’ll go up and over 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. It’s an epic day out to say the least.
And just as you think you can make the whole distance, we’ve added some new KoM Super Stages in to spice it all up. This year we will be combining the times for a real up-hill extravaganza, so remember to train ‘hill reps’ galore. It’s a race within a race, and the prizes will go to the runners who can dig the deepest in the final flight to the finish.
Ireland brings us a new race and experience for the ever-expanding calendar with the Seven Sisters Skyline on July 28th.
Dunlewey officially known by its Irish name Dun Luiche is a small Gaeltacht village in the Gweedore area of County Donegal, North West Ireland, now host to the InauguralSeven Sisters Skyline. The Seven Sisters are the seven high peaks of the Derryveagh mountains. From southwest to northeast they are as follows, Errigal (751 m), Mackoght a.ka. Little Errigal (555 m), Aghla More (584 m), Ardloughnabrackbaddy (603 m),Aghla Beg (564 m), Crocknalaragagh (471 m)and Muckish (666 m).
The course is an out and back route which traverses 13 summits in total (Errigal once). The course is unique in that there are little or no tracks or paths, just wild open isolated mountains and hillsides. This stunning skyrunning race route incorporates technical sections on either side of the route at Muckish and Errigal mountains.
Scrambling, ridge running, steep technical descents and ascents and a multitude of mixed terrain makes the 50km Seven Sisters Skyline with 4000m of vertical gain a great addition to the 2019 Skyrunner ® UK & IRELANDcalendar.
Our fourth race is another new addition to the calendar and we once again welcome Wales in the Skyrunner ® UK & IRELANDcalendar with the stunning Snowdon Skyline on September 15th.
The event where the sky isn’t the limit, it’s where the fun begins! Nestled in the quiet valley of Nant Gwynant in Snowdonia, Hafod y Llan farm will play host to the inaugural Snowdon Skyline.
The 40km Skyline Sky Race gets stuck straight into its 3600m+ right away by ascending the famous Snowdon Watkin path to then traverse the stunning Y Lliwedd ridge. After Pen y Pass road crossing, a second sizeable ascent to the gnarly terrain of the Glyders awaits, before plunging down the Y Gribin ridge to the Ogwen Valley.
The course offers little respite as it immediately ascends the iconic Tryfan via its sublime north ridge scramble, weaving upwards through rocky outcrops and gullies on route to the summit. A technical descent followed by some lovely undulating trails back to Pen y Pass and runners are nearly ready to finish this unrelenting figure of eight route. The jewel in the crown is a westbound traverse of the infamous Crib Goch ridge, followed by a delightful run off Snowdon summit via its south ridge. A sting in the tail comes in the form of the last summit of Y Garn, before a final descent home to Nant Gwynant.
With a course designed by a race director and skyrunner, the inaugural Snowdon Skyline will be sure to test all limits of a runner’s ability! A grand tour of some of the UK’s most scenic trails, ridges and scrambles, it’s a dead cert to become an international skyrunning classic…
The 2019 Skyrunner ® UK & IRELANDcalendar concludes with well-established and sell out race, the Mourne Skyline MTR – currently it has a scheduled date of October 19th (land permissions allowing tbc)
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.
The mountains of Northern Ireland may not have the height or elevation gain 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 Skyrunner ® UK & IRELANDseries is combined of five races and to be the best-of-the-best, runners must take part in at least three races. Points are awarded based on results and the male and female runner with the most points will be crowned as the Skyrunner ® UK & IRELANDchampion of 2019.
A Skyrunning World Ranking is a rolling 52-week ranking based on all the points awarded to the athletes from his/her participation in: Skyrunner® World Series races, Skyrunner National Series, Skyrunning World Championships and Skyrunning Continental Championships.
Importantly, from 2019, the Skyrunner® World Seriesseason will end with a Sky Mastersrace gathering only the best athletes who qualified over the season. SMSA offers to Skyrunner® National Series Skyrunner ® UK & IRELAND qualifying paths.
“Skyrunning” has been around for some time. Hundreds, even thousands of years ago mountains were negotiated out of necessity: war, religious persecution, hunting, smuggling, or just out of plain old curiosity. The concept of running up and down mountains for fun is much newer. Take for example the Ben Nevis Race which goes back to 1903, or the Pikes Peak Marathon which began as a bet in 1954 among smokers and non-smokers.
The idea of creating a sports discipline however was the brainchild of Italian mountaineer Marino Giacometti, who, with a handful of fellow climbers, pioneered records and races on Mont Blanc and Monte Rosa in the Italian Alps in the early ‘90’s. In 1993, with the support of the multinational Fila as sponsor, skyrunning took off across the world’s mountain ranges with a circuit of awe-inspiring races stretching from the Himalayas to the Rockies, from Mount Kenya to the Mexican volcanoes. Giacometti’s term skyrunning*, as the name suggests, is where earth and sky meet.
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.
Episode 159 of Talk Ultra is a Bob Graham Round special with a full and in-depth interview with Kilian Jornet. In addition, we bring you two interviews with Paul Aitken and Steve Birkinshaw who helped pace Kilian, amongst others, on this record breaking FKT.
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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!”
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:
Casper Kaars Sijpesteijn
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 England’s 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 Ultra™ is 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
The 2017 Lakes In A Day (LIAD) in contrast to the idyllic 2016 LIAD was a brute! Renowned for beautiful landscape, blue skies and rolling and splendid mountains, the Lakes can also be a grey and brutal place.
As hundreds of runners arrived in Calbeck before the 0800 start, much of the talk was about the day ahead. It wasn’t the 50-miles north to south and the 1000’s of meters of vertical gain, it was, rightly so, what will the weather do?
Initial forecast earlier in the week had looked horrendous, trace morning greeted the runners with a brighter prospect. It was going to rain, that was for sure. The winds come and go and as the day progressed, the grey and wet would gradually clear bringing a drier conclusion.
The dry start gave everyone a false sense of security.
By the time the summit of Blencathra came, what lay ahead was clear for all. The winds were already gusting between 45 and 50mph. At times, it was difficult to remain on the ground as runners angled themselves into the wind fighting the force of nature. Dropping down from the summit, Hall’s Fell provided an intimidating and technical descent all the way to the first control at Threlkeld.
Hall’s Fell for some can be an intimidating section in dry and beautiful conditions, this year, it was intimidating for all – the rock sections ran with water and became like ice. It was four-points of contact for much of the technical sections with steely eye focus (or fear) written across many faces.
From Threlkeld, some easier running precedes the climb to High Fells and Helvellyn. The winds continued to throw the runners around making for a tough section before the drop down to GrisedaleGrisedale Tarn, traverse and then the climb of Fairfield before dropping down to Ambleside via High Pike.
From Ambleside, the course changes completely. The high ground covered, now it’s a journey down the Western side of Windermere though lower-ground, despite prevailing wind and rain, tree cover now offered a blanket of protection all the way to the finish, via Newby Bridge, to Cartmel.
The day was dominated by a strong and consistent performance by Marcis Gubats who crossed the line outside Kim Collison’s course record in 10:18:39. Gubats was an ever-present on the early stages biding his time and by the time he had crossed the Helvellyn summit he had opened a gap which he held all the way to the line.
Much of the talk pre-race had been about Lakeland 50 champ and course record holder, Katie Kaars Sijpesteijn. This lady has been on fire in 2017 with a string of top performances, her most recent coming at Salomon Glen Coe Skyline just 2-weeks previously. The form was there but would she be recovered? On the descent of Hall’s Fell she was 8th and full of smiles. At Grisedale Tarn she was 3rd and still full of smiles. Down the western fells, she moved into 2nd and was in a battle with Jack Casey. By the time the finish line came, Casey had edged away to finish in 10:43:49 and Kaars Sijpesteijn finished 10:46:29 for an overall podium place and an obliteration of the ladies’ record to win the £1000 bonus for a new CR – job done!
Nick Green rounded out the men’s podium in 11:04:07 and Elizaveta Ershova and Liz Barker placed 2nd and 3rd ladies’ respectively in 11:52:54 and 12:50:31.
It was seriously tough 2017 Lakes In A Day reflected in the battle the runners faced to cross the line, some taking almost 24-hours for the 50-mile journey, darkness bringing a whole new dimension to the journey.
I have always loved that simple quote from the movie, ‘Field of Dreams.’ I had the same thought process when I started the Skyrunner National Series in the UK. I was told, Skyrunning in the UK, don’t be silly. It’s not possible.
However, over the last three years the small but perfectly balanced series has gone from strength-to-strength. We had Stevie Kremer and Jo Meek race in year-1. In year-2, Emelie Forsberg, Jasmin Paris and wealth of other world-class talent toed the line.
And last year, the world came to Scotland for the UK’s first ever Skyrunner World Series race. This knock-on effect has seen a sell out 2017 calendar and all the races with in the UK Series personify pure Skyrunning.
The season starts with the V3K in Wales, the series then moves to the Lake District with Scaffell SkyRace and Lakes SkyUltra. Skyline Scotland follows with no-less than three World Series events – in the SKY, ULTRA and EXTREME category, the Mamores VK also joins the new VK Series. Finally we finish in Ireland with the Mourne Skyline MTR.
It’s never good to pinpoint one person, but when Kilian Jornet confirms that he will come to the UK and race in the series. That is worth shouting about!
Roll on June when the series starts – we hope you can join us in what will be the pinnacle of mountain racing in the UK!
Did I mention, he’s having a go at the BOB GRAHAM ROUND too!
Kilian marking his own Skyrunning race, TROMSO in Norway.
Episode 130 of Talk Ultra brings you some audio from The Coastal Challenge with Sondre Amdahl, Jason Schlarb, Anna Comet and an in-depth chat with Cherie Soria and Dan Ladermann. We also talk with UK based fell and mountain runner, Jim Mann.
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Rand Hayley, Simon Darmody, Mike Hewison, Tom Flummerfelt, Rupert Hitzenberger, Derek Doran, Dan Masters, Steve Milne. Daniel Weston, Andi Dunn, Sam Wilkes, Ron van Liempd, William Sichel, Jonni Suckling, Ally Spiers, Lindsay Harmoudi, Rene Hess, Mathew Melksham, Jamie Oliver, Kent Keeler, Aaron Aaker, David H, Brian Wolfkamp, Neil Catley, Craig South, Melissa Bodeau, Mark Moromisato, Sarah Cameron, Kerstin Palmer, Nicola Scott, Rohan, Aurora, Thomas Mueller, Fredrik Rantarkyrl, LostTrailRunner, Neil Staveley, Philippe Lascar, Marc Mills, John De Martin, Brian Walters and Martin Gray.
Courtney Dewaulter ran 250km (155.3 miles) to set a new American record beating Sabrina Littles best by more than 3-miles. Dewaulter will join Katlin Nagy, Traci Falbo, Jenny Hoffman and Pam Smith in Ireland for the IAU 24-Hour Championships. – That is a seriously strong ladies team!
What a stunning race that turned out to be a Pau Calpell and Azara Garcia show. The two respectively lead from the front to take great victories. Pau (13:21) smashing the old course record set by Didrik Hermansen who placed 3rd in this years edition. Second place went to Lithuanian, Vlaidas Zlabys (13:35) who is going to be one-to-watch this year! Although Azara won the ladies’ race (16:25), she was 1-hour slower that Caroline Chaverots 2016 time. Chaverot dropped at 30km not feeling good! Andrea Huser placed 2nd (17:150 and Melanie Rousset 3rd (17:30).
The Coastal Challenge
Anna Frost won in 27:08. Anna Comet (Spain) and Ester Alves (Portugal) were second and third in 27:58 and 28:23, respectively. Tom Owens dominated the men’s in 22:29. Chema Martinez (Spain) 23:43 and Jason Schlarb 24:34 were second and third. We caught up with Sondre Amdahl, Anna Comet and Jason Schlarb for a post TCC chat.
00:25:10 INTERVIEW with Sondre Amdahl, Anna Comet and Jason Schlarb
At TCC Cherie Soria and Dan Ladermann were a constant inspiration to all competitors. Niandi caught up with them and ‘Coastal’ the dog, back in our hotel in San Jose.
01:30:14 INTERVIEW with CHERIE SORIA and DAN LADERMANN
Iditarod Trail Invitational
David Johnston once again won the 350-mile journey from Knik Lake to McGrath. Conditions this year were very tough with many drops. This is Johnston’s 5th victory – he finished in 5-days, 21-hours, 43-minutes. Second was Kyle Durand… 2-days later! I am not sure if any woman finishes, results don’t show this HERE
Red Mountain 55k
Once again saw ‘one-to-watch’ Hayden Hawks take another victory in 4:15. Rachel Cieslewicz won the ladies’ race in 5:38. Results HERE for the men and HERE for the ladies.
Way to Cool 50k
Cody Reed won in 3:16 and Megan Roche in 3:52 results HERE
Not many race results yet, still early in the calendar but if you are missing watching some of the top runners in the world, take a look at ski mountaineering. The cross over between mountain running and skimo is growing and growing – Kilian and Emelie have long been exponents but runners like Rob Krar, Nick Elson, Mike Foote, Jason Schlarb and so on are turning to skis over the winter months. Currently the iconic Pierra Menta is happening – it’s the Hardrock (on a much bigger scale) of skimo. Read here.
RUNNING BEYOND BOOK
I will be also going to Sofia in Bulgaria on the 17th, 18th and 19th March for a trail, mountain and Skyrunning expo.
Jim Mann is a low-key highly accompolished fell and mountain runner in the UK. However, he like to keep a low-profile. Recently, Jim completed all 3 UK rounds in 1 month… in winter! On the 22nd January Jim set a new winter record for the Charlie Ramsay Round completing it in 22:23. Three weeks later (11th February) Jim completed the Paddy Buckley Round in 21:37. And then theBob Graham Round in 20:26. I had to chat with him!
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It’s a question I get asked a great deal and my answer is always the same – ‘Have you considered inov-8?’
inov-8 has been making shoes for muddy conditions for over 10-years and as such they are my ‘go-to’ brand when I need something to handle ‘off-trail’ conditions such as fell, mountain, open fields, mountain terrain and so on.
I photograph, test and run in many many shoes and no shoes come close to handling thick, sloppy and unpredictable mud like inov-8.
A firm favourite is the Mudclaw 300 which has a 6mm drop. You can read a review from 2016 HERE.
In the last 12-months, inov-8 has tweaked its line of shoes once again and the popular Race Ultra has now become the Trail Talon (one of my favourite trail shoes for dry conditions HERE) and we have the X-Claw 275 (HERE) which is a favourite for me when I want to mix up good trails with mud and rock for longer duration, the 275 version with wider toe box and 8mm drop is perfect.
The X-Talon shoe has been around for sometime as an inov-8 classic and certainly the 212 (6mm drop) is a shoe that I have used time and time again. HERE
Usually, I prefer 6-8mm drop shoes, however, if I am just running in soft mud, a lower drop of 4mm or 3mm is usually fine and providing I am not running for too long it is preferable as I feel lower to the ground and more connected.
The 225 is a 4mm drop shoe with a 3mm footbed and a stack of 19.5mm at the heel and 15.5mm at the forefoot. The lugs are the same as the Mudclaw 300 with 8mm depth.
It’s easy to see from the off that the X-Talon 225 is designed for a more efficient runner and having switched between the Mudclaw 300 and the X-Talon 225 the main differences come with a touch more cushioning in the Mudclaw, otherwise, both shoes feel very similar as they have ‘precision’ fit, same lug depth, similar lacing and a similar feel when running. Obviously, the X-Talon is 25% lighter and that does feel different!
Running off-trail in muddy and sloppy conditions requires control and precision, therefore, the X-Talon 225 is a precision fit shoe. You need your foot to feel controlled and yes, maybe a little tight in the shoe. This is what gives you the control and the security to let yourself go. The only time you would compromise on this precision feel is if you were running for hour upon hour or running a very long race where the fit may cause an issue. Therefore, I see the X-Talon as a perfect shoe for up to say marathon distance – it does depend on the runner?
They are feather light. You pick them up and you know straight away they will be a delight to wear. They are simple and no fuss. Good bumper around the toe with a reinforced section. The upper is durable, lightweight and designed to be breathable and protective. The tongue is lightweight and the laces almost feel inadequate but they really pull the shoe tight and give a wonderful secure feeling around the middle of the foot to offer that security and control that is so essential when running in the sloppy and unpredictable terrain that mountains or fells give us. The heel box is classic inov-8 and wraps around providing a comfortable and secure hold with no rubbing.
The X-Talon is ultimately what is on the bottom of the shoe and as the name suggests, you have a plethora of 8mm talons to provide maximal grip. The compound is DUAL-C as seen in other inov-8 shoes and this works well in transitioning from mud to rock without a compromise on grip. The configuration is designed to shed mud and debris, however, I have yet to find a shoe that when it’s really muddy sheds the mud as I run. Certainly, transitioning from muddy terrain to harder, firmer or dry trail and the mud falls away quickly.
Another key feature is META-FLEX which allows the shoe to bend just in the correct place to facilitate the propulsive phase. One of the tings I love about inov-8 shoes is this really does work! It’s not some name jargon that doesn’t mean anything.
My daily trail run requires me to run a 1-mile of road to the trail and 1-mile home. The X-Talon handles this well and just for kicks, try it yourself – you will here the outsole grip to the pavement and road. It’s quite a feeling! Of course, you want to keep road use to a minimum in a shoe like this – the outsole won’t thank you for rubbing it against such an abrasive surface. Ideally, this is a shoe that you will put on just before you start to run. Rest assured though, the shoe gives a wonderful feeling on hard pack. How wonderful depends on you, your efficiency and your need for cushioning. If you are looking for a shoe that can handle some road, some hardback trail, rocks and some mud – I recommend the X-Claw.
I mix between shoes with a wider toe box such as the Trail Talon and X-Claw and can quite happily use a shoe with a more precision or tighter toe box such as the Roclite, Mudclaw or the X-Talon, so, the precision fit is not a problem for me.
I prefer a higher drop shoe of 6-8mm but the 225 with 4mm felt really great on soft and muddy trails – I didn’t really notice the lower drop and the lightness/ flexibility is a real pleasure.
The shoes are really comfortable and secure. The heel box really grips and the lacing really holds the foot secure. I had no movement or sloppiness.
Toe protection is good. I’ve had a few toe collisions with rocks and had not problems. The 3mm footbed and 15.5/19.5 cushioning is certainly on the minimal side and when running on rocky, dry or stony trails I could certainly feel the ground beneath me. Again, this comes down to choosing a shoe that is fit for purpose and fit for the duration you are running. Again, need more shoe? Look at the Mudclaw 300 or X-Claw 275.
Grip is awesome and few shoes in the marketplace can compare to the grip offered by the 8mm lugs. The compound also works great when transitions from mud to rock – a real winner.
If you need a low drop, lightweight shoe with loads of grip and a precision fit, look no further than the X-Talon 225. This shoe has very little not to like and actually the negatives for some are what make this shoe great:
If all of the above is ‘too’ minimal for you, look at the Mudclaw 300 and if you need a higher drop (8mm), a little more toe width, good lugs but not as aggressive and more cushioning, you can’t go wrong with the X-Claw 275. If I was only going to have one pair of shoes for trail, mud and rock then I would go for the X-Claw. However, if I can pick and choose and use shoes shoes like weapons, the X-Talon 225 would be fast and light shoes for racing a fast and furious fell race, Skyrunning race or even a VK.
Skyrunning UK is pleased to announce the confirmed calendar for 2017.
Following on from a very successful 2016, changes have taken place over the winter months and Skyrunning UK is now pleased to confirm races that will take place in the UK calendar for 2017.
The season will start with the V3K taking place on June 24th. Now in its 4th year on the Skyrunning UK calendar, the race personifies what makes a great Skyrunning course – technical terrain, elevation, a challenge and amazing landscape. It’s a rugged race that requires an awareness of the mountains and the challenging Crib Goch provides exposure and lofty heights to place each and every runner in the sky! 55km and 4000m of vertical ascent provides a stunning start to the 2017 season.
Closing date for entries is June 1st. Website here
The Lakes Sky Ultra team once again bring us the Lakes Sky Ultra and a new race, Scafell Sky Race for 2017. This duo of races take place on the 15th and 16th July and provide two incredible opportunities. The Lakes Sky Ultra is a tough, challenging and adventurous race that requires experience and vetting. Elevated ridge lines, exposure, tough, challenging and technical terrain all pale into insignificance with grade 3 scrambles. Extreme, gnarly and hardcore, it’s everything a Skyrunning race should be! 55km in length and 4500m of vertical gain.
The Scafell Sky Race offers a 40km race and 2700m of vertical gain. It’s a challenging race that like its bigger brother offers an incredible Skyrunning experience. However, the challenge is less extreme and vetting is not required. Therefore, this race is open to all.
In 2017 Skyline Scotland provided us with three events, the Mamores VK, the Ring of Steall Sky Race and the Extreme Glen Coe Skyline – the latter event was a Skyrunner World Series event. In 2018, race organisers Ourea Events add an Ultra, the Ben Nevis Ultra. For the UK series, to have a Skyrunner World Series event in the UK was incredible – in 2017 we don’t go one step farther, but three steps. The Ring of Steall, Ben Nevis Ultra and Glen Coe Skyline will all be in the SWS calendar. The Mamores VK will be added to the new VK Series. Taking place over an action packed weekend of the 15th, 16th and 17th September, Skyline Scotland will not only provide one of the key weekends on the UK calendar but also the world calendar.
Salomon Mamores VK™
Friday 15th September 2017– 5km / 1,000m – enter now
An incredible leg burning and lung-busting ascent from sea level to Munro summit.
Salomon Ben Nevis Ultra™ – *new for 2017*
Saturday 16th September 2017 – ~110km / ~4,000m – enter now
Weaving through remote glens, crossing high mountain passes and embracing the superb wilderness on offer in the Scottish Highlands. Truly, this course is for the boldest all-round ultra-runners.
Salomon Ring of Steall Skyrace™
Saturday 16th September 2017 – 29km / 2,500m – enter now
A variation of the classic ‘Ring of Steall’ ridge-walking route, the Skyrace® has spectacular views of Ben Nevis from the Mamores and includes short sections of easy scrambling.
Does this race need any introduction? Pure Skyrunning that includes the most challenging Scottish mountain terrain. Scrambling/climbing experience required.
To conclude the 2017 season will be the Mourne Skyline MTR in Ireland which takes place on October 21st. This race over the last 3-years has grown to become a favourite of all the runners who have participated in the UK series. At 35km’s it is one of the shorter races in the UK circuit, however, the Mourne Mountains pack a whopping 3370m of vertical gain. Salomon International athlete and Skyrunning World champion, Stevie Kremer, said it is one of the hardest events she has ever participated in. Don’t let that put you off though. The landscape, terrain, views and Irish hospitality make this a stunning way to close the 2017 series. Entries are available HERE (note, entries open March 17th)
In 2016, the Skyrunning UK Series was won by Bjorn Verduijn and Sarah Ridgway, they both will gain free entry into all 2017 events as part of their prize.
For 2017, the Series will take place once again but with some changes.
Points will be awarded for the top 20 men and top 10 ladies in the following races:
Lakes Sky Ultra or Scafell Sky Race
Ring of Steall or Ben Nevis Ultra or Glen Coe Skyline
Mourne Skyline MTR
The Mamores VK will not be included in the points for the UK Series.
To participate in the series, you will need to run at least three races. If you run more, your best three results count.
Points will be awarded as follows (please note, new scoring points
In addition, points will also go to the Skyrunning World Ranking. The Skyrunning World Ranking is a rolling 52-week ranking based on all the points awarded to the athletes from his/her participation in:
(i) All the Skyrunner® World Series races.
(ii) The SNS races, wherever run (best four results).
(iii) The Skyrunning World Championships.
(iiii) The Skyrunning Continental Championships.
(maximum one counting).
Points in the world ranking will be awarded to the top 30 men and top 20 women.
Skyrunning UK, the V3K, Lakes Sky Ultra team, Skyline Scotland team and Mourne Skyline MTR look forward to welcoming you all for LESS CLOUD, MORE SKY in 2017!