The Skyrunning UK season concludes in Ireland this coming weekend with the Garmin Mourne Skyline MTR. Now in its 3rd edition, the race has grown to become a beacon of the UK series. From the very first edition the race has sold out and demand continues to exceed places available.
The big news for the 2016 edition is the presence of Skyrunner® World Series champion JASMIN PARIS running for inov-8 and the Salomon International runner, ROKI BRATINA who placed 4th at the recent Limone Extreme in Italy.
Remi Bonnet a rising star of the sport of Skyrunning excelled in 2015 at races all over the world; two highlights coming in the USA with victory at The RUT and Hong Kong with victory in Lantau ahead of a world class field while a typhoon blew. Remi was due to toe the line at the Garmin Mourne Skyline MTR, however, a fall two days before the Limone Extreme race just last weekend has caused an injury and he will be unable to run.
Roki Bratina will therefore replace Remi after a stunning 4th place at last weekend’s Limone Extreme Skyrunner World Series race. The Irish terrain may well provide a challenge for the Salomon young gun but he is most definitely a contender for overall victory.
Joining Roki is lady of the moment, Jasmin Paris. Jasmin has rocked the world of fell, ultra and Skyrunning in 2016 and is without doubt one of their most inspiring runners in the sport. Her relentless enthusiasm and ability to race and run week-in and week-out is stunning. In 2016 she placed 6th at her first attempt at UTMB, she set three course records on the legendary UK rounds – Bob Graham, Ramsey and Paddy Buckley and in the process set the fastest accumulative time for anyone brave enough to run all three in one year. But it doesn’t stop there! Jasmin won Kilian Jornet’s and Emelie Forsberg’s Tromso SkyRace and then followed it up with victory at the Salomon Glen Cole Skyline – the latter providing her with the 2016 Skyrunner World Series title for the Extreme Series. Somewhere in and amongst all this, Jasmin also placed 3rd at the Skyrunning World Championships behind UTMB winner, Caroline Chaverot. It would be an understatement to say that Jasmin is the favorite for victory in Ireland.
Michelle Maier from the Salomon International Team will certainly add some spice to the ladies’ race and then of course we have Sarah Ridgeway, Sarah Sheridan, Katie Boden, Sarah Morwood and Shileen O’Kane amongst many others.
Roki will have strong competition from Julien Jorro from Team Garmin France, Germain Grangier from Team Garmin France, Ian Bailey, Casper Kaars Sijpesteijn, Paul Tierney, Eoin Lennon, Konrad Rawlik and the UK series contenders of Michael Jones, Bjorn Verduijn and Ben Hukins amongst a very stacked field.
It’s also important to remember that although a race is on for podium places the Skyrunning UK Series champions will be confirmed in Ireland. The battle is on for a male and female champion. This battle has been given an edge with results from the Salomon Glen Coe Skyline and more importantly the recent cancellation of any points from the 3 x 3000 race due to a lack of course marking making the race a navigational event and not a Skyrunning event. This latter decision impacted heavily on the 3 x 3000 winner Michael Jones. Therefore, Michael will race in Mourne looking for victory once again in an attempt to take victory from Bjorn Verduijn.
Sarah Ridgway has been extremely consistent in 2016 with victory at the Lakes Sky Ultra and the Peaks SkyRace. A podium place at the Salomon Glen Coe Skyline places her in a great position for the series title with competition coming from Sarah Sheridan and Katie Boden.
Points update after Skyline Scotland are as follows:
- Sarah Ridgway 200 points + 78 points for 3rd place at Glen Coe Skyline – 278 points
- Sarah Sheridan 216 points + 58 points for 10th place at the Ring of Steall – 274 points
- Katie Boden 166 points + 66 points for 6th place at Glen Coe Skyline – 232 points
- Bjorn Verduijn 224 points + 50 points for 13th place at the Ring of Steall – 274 points
- Ben Hukins 172 points + 52 points for 12th place at the Amores VK and 30 points for the Ring of Steall – 254 points
- Michael Jones 100 points + 38 points for the 19th at the Mamores VK and + 64 points for 6th place at the Ring of Steall – 202 points
To clarify, the four best results from the 2016 Skyrunning UK calendar provide points that will determine the male and female 2016 Skyrunning UK Champions. The ladies’ race will be a nail biter between the two Sarah’s and should either have a bad day, this will open the door for Katie Boden.
Michael Jones would have been leading the 2016 ranking with an additional 100 points (302 points) had those points not been removed from the 3 x 3000 and so therefore he will be going into the Mourne race with something to prove. Add into the mix a wealth of local talent and the 2016 Garmin Mourne Skyline MTR is going to be quite an epic race.
Owned by the National Trust, the Mourne Mountains are 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. 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 visible and 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.
RUNNING BEYOND BOOK news
My new book Running Beyond will be released on November 3rd and features the Mourne Skyline MTR. However, with the approval of the publisher Aurum, I will have 10-copies available to sell and sign at the Garmin Mourne Skyline MTR and I will have an additional 15-copies that can be signed and posted out after the race. If you like to secure a copy an advance of the race, please contact me HERE
In other news, the Skyrunning AGM will take place in Ireland and you can expect announcements in regard to the 2017 calendar in the first week of November. We hope to be able to confirm and announce new races!
Finally, it’s with some sadness that the Peaks SkyRace will not be in the 2017 calendar for Skyrunning UK. So, if you are planning on accumulating points for the 2017 series you need to be aware of this. Skyrunning UK would like to thank the Peaks SkyRace for the support in the first three years, the race provided a perfect entry level challenge for any runner.
However, as Skyrunning grows in the UK and runners gain more experience for the unique challenges that these races provide, Skyrunning UK as a series want to make sure that our races follow as much as possible the pure ethos of Skyrunning. Many thought this was not possible in the UK, but we have proven that with the V3K, Lakes Sky Ultra, Skyline Scotland races and the Mourne Skyline MTR we are able to fulfill the needs and demands of the International Skyrunning Federation. Expect new additions to the UK series to be challenging, demanding with an abundance of technical terrain and vertical gain.
The Skyrunning UK, Skyrunner® National Series 2016 is well underway and with three races completed – V3K, Lakes Sky Ultra and the Peak SkyRace it is time to post an update on the rankings.
To clarify, the 2016 ranking includes ALL the races in the 2016 UK calendar and yes, that includes the UK’s first ever VK!
Including ‘all’ races in a calendar would not normally be the case as per the Skyrunner World Series. However, the UK series is still relatively small and we want to encourage participation in all races and all distances. It may well show a complete and rounded athlete?
To score for the series, you need 4 races to qualify for the series and should you complete more than 4, then your best 4 results count.
Importantly, the 3×3 in the Lakes is very soon (and has entries available) and if you need a race or points, that is the one to enter…! Don’t think easy points will come at the VK, that race will be a full on lung and leg buster.
What can you win?
- In addition to prize money awarded at each race, the male and female 2016 Skyrunning UK Champions will receive:
- Free entry into all Skyrunning UK races in the following year.
- Guaranteed entry into a 2017 Skyrunner World Series event with 2-nights accommodation.
- Prizes from Skyrunning UK sponsor, Raidlight
In the ladies ranking, Sarah Ridgway currently has a 200 points from victories at Lakes Sky Ultra and the Peak SkyRace. This places Sarah in a very strong position for the UK series but despite two victories, Sarah ranks 2nd.
Currently the 2016 ladies leader is Sarah Sheridan who has completed three out of three races. Sarah placed 3rd in two races, the V3K and Peak SkyRace providing 156 points but she also placed 9th at Lakes Sky Ultra providing 60 points. Her tally is currently 216 points.
Beth Pascall won the V3K and this provides her with 100 points. But the great thing about a series is consistency and therefore Katie Boden currently lies 3rd in the ranking with 166 points coming from 2nd at the V3K and 3rd at Lakes Sky Ultra.
- Sarah Sheridan 216 points
- Sarah Ridgway 200 points
- Katie Boden 166 points
The men’s race may well go down to the wire and once again, consistency is playing a key part in the ranking. Despite Michael Jones and Donald Campbell gaining maximum points with victories at the V3K and Lakes Sky Ultra, they have each only run one race!
Ben Hukins placed 4th at the V3K and recently won the Peak SkyRace and this provides a total of 172 points, however, Ben is not in the lead!
Bjorn Verduijn has run all three races and therefore has a strong lead in first place with 2nd at the V3K (88 pts), 9th at the Lakes Sky Ultra (58 its) and finally 3rd at the Peak SkyRace (78 its) providing a grand total of 224 points.
The final podium place is currently with Emmanuel Barbier who placed 10th at the V3K (56 its) and 14th at Lakes Sky Ultra (48 its) providing a total of 104 points.
- Bjorn Verdijn 224 points
- Ben Hukins 172 points
- Emmanuel Barbier 104 points
The next races on the UK calendar are at SKYLINE SCOTLAND which takes place on the 16th, 17th and 18th September. This is one weekend that you will not want to miss and if you are looking for points, some entries are available!
On Friday the 16th we will have the UK’s first ever VK – Salomon Mamores VK™ . If you are not running, come along, bring a bell and cheer runners on as they climb 1000 vertical meters in less than 5km. *Limited places available enter HERE
On Saturday 17th it is the Salomon Ring of Steall Skyrace™ which is 25km and includes 2500m of vertical gain. *Limited places available enter HERE
The main event of the weekend is the Salomon Glen Coe Skyline™ which is a 2016 Skyrunner® World Series event in the three race EXTREME category and this race, I guarantee, will have the greatest elite field ever assembled for a race in the UK that takes place on trails and mountains.
Following an epic weekend in Scotland is the 3×3 in the English Lakes which takes place on September 24th. Three summits, 4000m of vert and 80km in distance. This is a seriously tough, challenging and beautiful race. Entries are available HERE
October draws a conclusion to the 2016 series with the Garmin Mourne Skyline MTR which is full. however, they do put on a great race and maybe you’d like to join the party and enter the GTR evening run which follows the ethos of a VK but over a shorter distance, you can enter HERE