The Salomon Glen Coe Skyline series of races are upon us – a stunning weekend of Skyrunning! From the short, sharp and brutal VK in the VK World Circuit, to the long, demanding and challenging ultra – this weekend will be the pinnacle event of racing in the UK in 2017 and sees three events in the Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series
With the exception of World Championship events or the Olympics, the Glen Coe Skyline events will without doubt have the greatest elite field ever assembled on UK soil of sky, trail and mountain runners. It’s a who’s who of the Skyrunning world with the best all assembled in one place in what will be an absolutely incredible weekend of racing.
Kilian Jornet, Emelie Forsberg, Max King, Caroline Chaverot, Laura Orgue, Jan Margarit, Maite Maiora, Ragna Debats, Alexis Sevennec, Andy Wacker, Pascal Egli, Bhim Gurung, Mira Rai and so many more will head to Scotland.
The highlight event is without doubt the brutal, demanding, challenging and yes, dangerous, Glen Coe Skyline Extreme Race™ which will see 264 vetted runners take on what has become one of the most challenging events in the world. It’s up there with Tromso SkyRace and the iconic Trofeo Kima. Following in the finest tradition of the most prestigious Skyrunning races the race fuses mountain running and alpinism, the extreme race is a pure test of speed, endurance and skill on an uncompromising, world-class course. At 55km with 4,750m of vertical gain, this race personifies Skyrunning, it includes the most challenging Scottish mountain terrain with a traverse of the Aonach Eagach ridge.
Ok, take a breath! Kilian Jornet will race on UK soil and on a course that it is fair to say, exactly his thing! It’s technical, pure Skyrunning, offers an incredible technical challenge – all things the Catalan loves. KJ needs no introduction to anyone, he just placed 2nd at UTMB, he won Sierre-Zinal and he summited Everest twice in one week and he won Hardrock 100 single-handedly, and that is just 2017. To see Jornet race this course in the UK is a dream come true.
But Jornet will have his hands full with Tromso SkyRace winner and GlenCoe Skyline 2016 champion, Jon Albon. Importantly, Albon is tied on SWS points with Nepalese runner Bhim Gurung. These two will have a race within a race, the first past the line will be the Migu Run Skyrunner World Series champion for 2017.
Let’s not also forget that Tom Owens is running! Add to the mix USA legend Max King and world class competition – Hector Haines, Andre Jonsson, Cody Lind, Martin Gaffuri, Pere Aurell, Rolf Einar Jensen, Roger Vinas, Konrad Rawlik and the UK’s Oli Johnson – we have the most exciting race ever on UK soil!
For the ladies, Emelie Forsberg is back to a race that she loves! This race has figured highly on Forsberg’s calendar and she has meticulously prepared in 2017 by slowly coming back to racing after knee surgery in 2016.
Ragna Debats will push Forsberg every step of the way. The lady from the flatlands of the Netherlands is having a stunning year and recently won at the RUT in the USA and placed 2nd at Tromso SkyRace. Caroline Chaverot was unstoppable in 2016, won Hardrock 100 earlier this year but recently withdrew from UTMB after winning in 2016. If she is recovered and fit, she will be a contender for sure, however, the technical terrain will be a challenge.
Other top contenders will be Megan Kimmel from the USA who was unstoppable early season. Malene Bikken Haukoy, Ekaterina Mityaeva, Katie Schide, Kimberly Storm, Natalia Tomasiak, Martina Valmassoi, Zuzana Urbancova, Kelly Wolf, Ann-Marie Madden and the UK’s Beth Pascall.
The weekend kicks off with the Salomon Mamores VK™, an incredible leg burning and lung-busting ascent from sea level to a Munro summit. It is also iconic as it is the UK’s only Vertical Kilometer®. Following the well-established ISF (International Skyrunning Federation( ‘VK’ format, 298 participants will follow a marked course climbing 1000m of vertical gain in less than 5km’s. Departing at timed intervals, it’s like an epic stage of the Tour de France as runners push their limits – the fastest overall time to the summit is the winner!
Stian Angermund-Vik heads up a world-class field for the men and Laura Orgue heads up the ladies’ race. Also watch out for Jan Margarit, Alexis Sevennec, Andy Wacker and Ondrej Fejfar in the men’s race.
Saturday brings us the Salomon Ring of Steall Skyrace™ which is a pure ‘classic’ following in the tradition of Zegama-Aizkorri and the Dolomites SkyRace. It consists of uncompromising mountain running with scrambling along mountain ridges. Traversing ridges are followed by technical ascents and descents, it’s a challenging race to push the most experienced Skyrunner to the limit. The Devil’s Ridge provides a thrilling and airy traverse with Glen Nevis visible ahead, and in total four peaks will be summited.
Last year, in its inaugural event, the race was won by Stian Angermund-Vik and he returns to do battle again! He is going to have a battle on his hands with Skyrunning legend Marco De Gasperi coming to race on UK soil along with Pascal Egli, Jan Margarit, Kiril Nikolov, the Casal Mir brothers of Oscar and Marc, Rok Bratina, Andy Wacker and the UK’s Jayson Cavill and Ben Hukins. It is set to be an epic battle. Egli, Angermund-Vik, De Gasperi and Margarit have all been on fire in 2017 and to see them go head-to-head on Scottish soil will be amazing.
Laura Orgue heads up the ladies’ race but she also will have a fight on her hands. Laura recently won the RUT VK and SkyRace so comes to Scotland with great form. Maite Maiora though has been unstoppable in 2017 with victories across the Skyrunning calendar, just recently she placed 2nd at CCC. Sheila Aviles is a likely podium contender and yes, maybe even winner after a strong performance at Comapedrossa. Also watch Oihana Azkorbebeitia, Katrine Vilumsen and Laura Sola.
The Salomon Ben Nevis Ultra™ uses remote runnable tracks, technical single track, and airy trackless ridges, the highlight and highpoint coming with a climb and traverse via the Carn Mor Dearg Arete, leading to the summit of Ben Nevis. This is one seriously tough race, especially when one considers the demanding 120km course and 4000m + of vertical gain! Starting from the southern shore of the world-famous Loch Ness, the Salomon Ben Nevis Ultra™ follows a route through remote Scottish Highland Glens, before finishing at the Skyline Scotland™ Event Centre in Kinlochleven.
Dmitry Mityaev heads up the men’s race and he will have a fight on his hand with local runner, Donnie Campbell. Lakeland 100 winner and 8th place at the 2017 CCC, Michael Jones, will also be one to watch. Csaba Nemeth and Nuno Silva add to an incredibly stacked male field.
For the ladies, Nepalese sensation Mira Rai will be a strong favourite, however, the ever-present and indestructible Andrea Huser will toe the line after recently placing 2nd at UTMB. This is going to be an epic battle! Also keep an eye on the USA’s Kristina Pattison and local lady, Rachel Campbell.
Skyrunning UK was created four years ago with the dream of bringing the best-of-the-best to UK soil, this weekend, that dream becomes a reality. I for one cannot wait!