Salomon Glen Coe Skyline 2016 by Chris Baynham-Hughes

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Chris Baynham-Hughes writes about his experience of participating in the 2016 Salomon Glen Coe Skyline, the final race in Skyrunner® World Series for the ‘Extreme’ category.

Judging by the way the internet has exploded over the past week with a constant stream of comment, videos and pictures on social and traditional media; I think it is fair to say that the Scotland Skyline events were a success. What a weekend of running! Kicking off with the first UK vertical kilometre (VK) on the Friday it was a fascinating spectacle – not just the breath-taking scenery, time trial format, facial expressions that silently screamed for the end to be in sight or the cruel, deceptively deep, bog early on in the course, but in the stripped down nature of the race; an ultimate mountain test.

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If the VK was the amuse bouche, then the Ring of Steall was the starter. 400 competitors toed the line for a spectacular course and the best of the weekend’s weather. Many had doubled up from the VK to take part in the Ring of Steall and didn’t regret it as the course simply kept on giving.

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As part of the event team I’d spent seven hours on the Friday up Munros playing with the radio repeater (test, move, test, repeat) until ultimately we had to give up and bring it down. The Saturday had consisted of seven and a half hours on Sunday’s course marking the route with Pin flags and signs ready for the main course… well, the main course and the desert all in one really.

The Glencoe Skyline had grabbed my attention from its conception. The combination of scrambling, exposed ridge lines and epic territory had me intrigued. Missing the first running of the event due to other commitments meant I could only read quotes from our sports most respected ambassadors such as Emelie Forsberg and blog postings from those that took part; they did nothing to dissuade me from wanting to run this race.

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Whilst my interest was piqued, it wasn’t without a tinge of doubt. I wasn’t concerned about the organisation or running of the event – I knew that with Shane at the helm as RD the event would be of the highest possible standard. My doubts came from not knowing the key elements of the route and thus a fear that it may not flow, that it may in some way be a little contrived; putting in gnarly sections because they were gnarly rather than because they fit in the flow of the journey.

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Having now run it I can state without a shadow of a doubt that this fear was totally unfounded. Not only that, I can do nothing but agree with the long line of people stating that it is one of the best if not the best race they’ve had the pleasure to run. It is truly stunning, a total cracker jack of a course that just keeps on testing and rewarding relentlessly for as long as you’re out there for. Everything fits; it feels like a natural journey and, frankly, does what it says on the tin, it takes in the skyline of Glencoe.

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Having raced too much over the year and not long since returned from completing UTMB I was not expecting much performance wise. Sometimes we need to turn the racer off and the adventurer on and I had entered for the adventure. Getting out in the mountains for the two days before hand had been part of that overall adventure, so by the time I started it felt like the victory lap, the one to savour.

That time on the hill had allowed me to see parts of the course at its best. The main thing that struck me was that the mountains in Scotland are familiar but somehow different; like an aging celebrity that has “had some work done”… but this is not just a misguided effort to freeze/ preserve what was there, this is “Wow, have you seen what they’ve done to their…” type work. I’m lucky in that I primarily play in Snowdonia; an area of true beauty. Hard slogs are generally rewarded by long ridgelines and the mountains generally find their limits within your vision, whereas the mountains of Scotland are not conquered quite so easily.

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Ok, so there are nice ridgelines enabling one to bag a number of tops, but there are also many tops that require a decent amount of descent and ascent for you to tick it off.  They stand alone as a mountain within a mountain and give away more to their half million year old volcanic heritage. The second thing I noticed was the sheer scale – not only are the a bit taller in general, but they stretch as far as the eye can see and beyond. The scale of the lochs and the frequently angry skies provide additional beauty and drama to frame this picture; inspiration on a massive scale.

The race starts with a fair trot out on the West Highland Way from Kinlochleven to one of the key features of this course; curved ridge. I’m not a climber so the grade III scrambles had been weighing a little in the back of my mind. One of the key reasons for the long trail run out was to spread the competitors as this section becomes a natural bottleneck and can cause frustration. My experience was very positive though. Yes it would have been great to have monkeyed up the rock faces at my own speed, but in the sections I had to wait I found there were no issues between the competitors waiting their turn and, frankly, the views were so stunning that I was quite happy to drink those in for a change.

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The support on the course was excellent. There were plenty of people out on curved ridge cheering, ringing bells, taking photos, giving hugs (to the people they knew I assume!) Don’t get me wrong, this was no Transvulcania with the whole local community out cheers, but it still had the feel of a world championship race. I’ve little doubt that this will build in successive years although I suspect it may be weather dependent.

Hitting the top the running was a delight. Technical, but very runnable undulating paths and single track descents were a joy to run. I don’t expect every year will include a helicopter hovering overhead filming, but it certainly added to the feeling like this race was special, like Skyrunning had really come to town.

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Joyous as this was there was always going to be some payback and the bump between us and the next section was steep and unforgiving on both sides of the top. The terrain became boggier underfoot on the climb and the descent was just the right gradient to encourage each competitor to trash their quads. The pockets of support continued before we hit a fast runnable section out to the second of the three main areas with Bidean Nam Bian as the main prize.

Having marked this section of the course I couldn’t wait to get to the ridge line and the incredible views. Sadly on the Sunday they were shorter lived as the mizzle came in determined not to reveal the surrounding beauty. This served me well over the tops allowing me not to be distracted and to knuckle down, but it also gave me another reason to be grateful for having been out on the course the day before.

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Again, this part of the course didn’t disappoint. Even the out and back that seemed so unnecessary whilst marking the course served its purpose perfectly. The section is one of those descents and ascents to ensure you earn the bagging of the next peak, but the primary purpose is to allow competitors to see how far/ behind they are of their rivals. I can only imagine that at the front of the race this is vital, but the opportunity to see other friends and rivals was certainly welcomed by me.

The subsequent descent along the ridge is spectacular and quick, but step off the ridgeline and you know you’re in different territory. This section caught a lot of people out as they slipped and over balanced their way down. The rock was now wet and for my money that made this the most dangerous part of the course once the stone steps came into play with a friction akin to ice. There was a clear exception to this in the form of Naila Jornet who dropped like a stone! Her hip movement and grace gave away her skiing background as she flew past scores of people on this 800+ metre straight descent.

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The aid station at the road crossing provided a huge boost and psyched me up for the big climb ahead up to the Aonach Eagach ridge – it also provided me with a finger of fudge; something I don’t think I’ve had since I was 12! The crowds were in full voice and I was still buzzing a couple of hundred vertical metres up the hill. Stretching back into the mizzle it was clear to see that competitors were tiring. The final big climb took chunks out of people as it demanded payment for admission to its playground.

Traversing the Aonach Eagach ridge was a pure delight. I can only imagine how spectacular it is on a clear day, but frequently either side of me just dropped off into the cloud I was occupying. The narrow band of rock floated in the clag as it was slowly soaked to add extra tension. Traversing exposed ridges at speed is about those few crucial first moves. Get them right and confidence starts to flow along with the speed. Get them wrong and the pace slows to a crawl as doubts get the better of you. Fortunately for me the first few moves went well and had all thrills and no terror.

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The roped support on key sections was a welcome comfort before the rocky/ boggy run off back to the West Highland Way and that that crucial left turn that signals the final straight (which is actually very bendy). I have a tendency to finish strong, like my mind won’t allow my legs to unleash until it knows it will finish. Naturally this didn’t stop me feeling like the path was twice as long as it had been on the way out, but at least it was primarily downhill and fast.

Crossing the line I piled into the water, desperate to rehydrate and make up for the lack of water source on the Aonach Eagach ridge. Entering the Ice factor climbing centre the warmth hit me in two ways, but the physical was nothing compared to the warmth provided by the sentiment and camaraderie of other competitors. Tucking into some post-race food, chatting and surveying the room the buzz was electric. Something very special went on in Glencoe that day; and I feel privileged to have been a part of it.

Images from the Salomon Glen Coe Skyline are available HERE

You can read about the Salomon Mamores VK Here, the Salmon Ring of Steall Here and Salomon Glen Coe Skyline Here

The Skyrunning UK Series concludes on October 22nd at the Garmin Mourne Skyline MTR.

Episode 113 – Cape Wrath Ultra and Northern Traverse

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This is Episode 113 of Talk Ultra and We have a show with a selection of audio from participants who took part in the 8-day, 400km Cape Wrath Ultra (Ita Marzotto, Jenny Davis, Louise Watson, Luke Robertson, Richard Beard and Ted Kristensson)and the 190-mile, single stage, Northern Traverse (Angela White, Clare Turton and Eoin Keith). We have the news and Niandi Carmont co-hosts.

NEWS

COMRADES

Men

  1. David Gatebe 5:18:18 new record
  2. Ludic Mamabolo 5:24:05
  3. Bongmusa Mthembu 5:26:39

notable 8th – Max King 5:37:27

  1. Charge Bosman 6:25:55
  2. Caroline Wostmann 6:30:44
  3. Kajsa Berg 6:39:04

2 Americans in the top-10, Sarah Bard 4th in 6:42 and Colleen De Reuck (aged 50) 7th 6:50:21

ULTRA SKYMARATHON MADEIRA – HERE

Men

  1. Cristofer Clemente 6:00 new CR
  2. Dimitrios Theodorakakos 6:09
  3. Luis Fernanndeez 6:11
  1. Gemma Arenas 6:58
  2. Hillary Allen 7:13
  3. Anna Frost 7:17

all ladies under Stevie Kremer’s 7:33 from 2015

GOLDEN GATE DIRTY THIRTY

Men

  1. Chris Vargo 4:30
  2. Josh Arthur 4:54
  3. Jason Schlarb 4:55
  1. Alicia Shay 5:30
  2. Clare Gallagher 5:46
  3. Taylor Nowin 5:58

GRAND UNION CANAL RACE

Andy Jordan 25:49 ahead of Barry Miller 27:22 and Ian Thomas 27:43

Cass Chisolh, 1st lady and 4th overall 29:25, Katherine Ganly 31:49 and Georgina Harrison 32:05

Rob Young – marathonmanUK has started his Transcontinental run record (2766 miles) on May 14th. He started with an 81 mile day 1…. He is now in Missouri HERE

Damian Hall set a FKT for the South West Coast Path in the uk – 10 days, 15 hours and 18 minutes

Francois d’Haene set a new FKT on the GR20 in Corsica, breaking the old record by 1 hour – 31 hours 6 minutes

Cape Wrath Ultra HERE

  1. Marcu Scotney 41:40:50
  2. Thomas Adams 45:59:20
  3. Pavel Paloncy 52:22:38
  1. Ita Marzotto 66:53:12
  2. Louise Staples 68:02:02
  3. Laura Watson 68:42:11

INTERVIEW audio from Cape Wrath Ultra

Northern Traverse HERE

  1. Eoin Keith 51:38:15
  2. John Knapp 57:08:29
  3. Tim Laney 58:41:00
  1. Anne Greeen 86:34:31
  2. Hisayo Kalahari 87:57:54
  3. Angela White 88:27:07
  4. Angela’s charity:

Follow at: http://pushboundaries.co.uk/

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INTERVIEW audio from Northern Traverse

UP & COMING RACES

Australia

Queensland

Endura 50K | 50 kilometers | June 11, 2016 | website

Gold Coast 50 Miler | 50 miles | June 11, 2016 | website

Runners ConneXion 100 km | 100 kilometers | June 11, 2016 | website

Austria

100km Wien | 100 kilometers | June 11, 2016 | website

50km Wien | 50 kilometers | June 11, 2016 | website

Scenic 100 | 100 kilometers | June 18, 2016 | website

Scenic 55 | 55 kilometers | June 18, 2016 | website

Bulgaria

Vitosha 100km Mountain Super Trail | 100 kilometers | June 18, 2016 | website

Canada

British Columbia

55K Ultra | 55 kilometers | June 11, 2016 | website

Vancouver 100 km | 100 kilometers | June 11, 2016 | website

Vancouver 50 km | 50 kilometers | June 11, 2016 | website

Vancouver 62.5 km | 62 kilometers | June 11, 2016 | website

Vancouver 75.8 km | 75 kilometers | June 11, 2016 | website

Vancouver 87.9 km | 87 kilometers | June 11, 2016 | website

Ontario

100 Km | 100 kilometers | June 18, 2016 | website

50 km | 50 kilometers | June 11, 2016 | website

50 Km | 50 kilometers | June 18, 2016 | website

Ultimate Canuck | 92 kilometers | June 11, 2016 | website

Chile

Ultra Trail Putaendo – 60 km | 60 kilometers | June 11, 2016 | website

Ultra Trail Putaendo – 80 km | 80 kilometers | June 11, 2016 | website

China

Gobi March 2016 | 250 kilometers | June 19, 2016 | website

Czech Republic

Krakonosova Stovka 100 km | 100 kilometers | June 17, 2016 | website

France

Alpes-Maritimes

La Grande Courasse | 61 kilometers | June 12, 2016 | website

Aube

Team Trail Intermarché | 180 kilometers | June 24, 2016 | website

Troyes à l’aube de l’enfer d’Éric Peters | 180 kilometers | June 24, 2016 | website

Bouches-du-Rhône

Grand Raid de Camargue | 100 kilometers | June 11, 2016 | website

Cantal

Ultra-Trail Puy Mary Aurillac | 105 kilometers | June 18, 2016 | website

Drôme

Les Drayes du Vercors 60 km | 60 kilometers | June 18, 2016 | website

Essonne

Relais Trail du Gâtinais | 66 kilometers | June 19, 2016 | website

Trail 91 km | 91 kilometers | June 19, 2016 | website

Haute-Loire

100 km | 100 kilometers | June 11, 2016 | website

Le Grand Trail du Saint Jacques | 71 kilometers | June 11, 2016 | website

Hautes-Alpes

Trans Écrins | 80 kilometers | June 18, 2016 | website

Haute-Savoie

80km du Mont-Blanc | 80 kilometers | June 24, 2016 | website

L’esprit Angolon | 60 kilometers | June 18, 2016 | website

Trail des Crêtes du Chablais – 70 km | 70 kilometers | June 19, 2016 | website

Hautes-Pyrénées

Aneto trail de la Haute – Bigorre | 50 kilometers | June 11, 2016 | website

Hérault

6666 Occitane | 105 kilometers | June 11, 2016 | website

Grand Raid 6666 | 110 kilometers | June 11, 2016 | website

Lozère

Aubrac Circus Trail | 55 kilometers | June 19, 2016 | website

Manche

Défi des Barjos | 65 kilometers | June 18, 2016 | website

Défi des Grands Barjos | 115 kilometers | June 18, 2016 | website

La 1/2 Barjo | 50 kilometers | June 19, 2016 | website

La Barjo | 100 kilometers | June 19, 2016 | website

Raid de l’Archange | 270 kilometers | June 19, 2016 | website

Morbihan

Grand Raid 56 Golfe du Morbihan | 177 kilometers | June 24, 2016 | website

Pas-de-Calais

Trail des Coteaux de l’AA- 55 km | 55 kilometers | June 12, 2016 | website

Pyrénées-Atlantiques

Montan’Aspe : la Piste Noire | 50 kilometers | June 11, 2016 | website

Saône-et-Loire

tour du canton | 60 kilometers | June 11, 2016 | website

Var

Entre les deux rives | 57 kilometers | June 18, 2016 | website

Grand Tour du Verdon | 83 kilometers | June 18, 2016 | website

Vosges

Le Grand Trail de la Vallée des Lacs | 85 kilometers | June 18, 2016 | website

Le trail de la Vallée des Lacs – Trail Long | 55 kilometers | June 18, 2016 | website

Germany

Bavaria

Supertrail | 60 kilometers | June 18, 2016 | website

SuperTrail XL | 79 kilometers | June 18, 2016 | website

Ultratrail | 100 kilometers | June 18, 2016 | website

Hesse

Oxfam Trailwalker Deutschland | 100 kilometers | June 18, 2016 | website

Rhineland-Palatinate

Eifel Ultramarathon | 51 kilometers | June 12, 2016 | website

Ireland

Connacht

Forest Marathon – 100 km | 100 kilometers | June 11, 2016 | website

Forest Marathon – 50 km | 50 kilometers | June 11, 2016 | website

Kildare

Stonemad Multi Stage Marathon – Day 1 Ultra Marathon | 62 kilometers | June 18, 2016 | website

Stonemad Multi Stage Marathon – Day 2 Ultra Marathon | 55 kilometers | June 19, 2016 | website

Wicklow

Celtic 6 Day Stage Race 133K | 133 kilometers | June 20, 2016 | website

Celtic 6 Day Stage Race 210km | 210 kilometers | June 20, 2016 | website

Italy

Friuli-Venezia Giulia

Magraid | 100 kilometers | June 17, 2016 | website

Liguria

Avatrail – 54 km | 54 kilometers | June 19, 2016 | website

Puglia

Ultramaratona del Gargano | 50 kilometers | June 11, 2016 | website

Veneto

103 km | 103 kilometers | June 10, 2016 | website

53 km | 53 kilometers | June 10, 2016 | website

Lavaredo Ultra Trail | 119 kilometers | June 24, 2016 | website

Japan

100 km | 100 kilometers | June 12, 2016 | website

100 km | 100 kilometers | June 12, 2016 | website

71 km | 71 kilometers | June 12, 2016 | website

72 km | 72 kilometers | June 12, 2016 | website

Namibia

Richtersveld Wildrun | 200 kilometers | June 13, 2016 | website

Netherlands

Gelderland

55 km | 55 kilometers | June 19, 2016 | website

Norway

UltraBirken | 55 kilometers | June 11, 2016 | website

Portugal

Ultramaratona Caminhos do Tejo – 144 km | 144 kilometers | June 10, 2016 | website

Ultramaratona Caminhos do Tejo – 57 km | 57 kilometers | June 10, 2016 | website

Réunion

Grand Raid 97.4 | 100 kilometers | June 11, 2016 | website

Serbia

100 km Run Palic | 100 kilometers | June 19, 2016 | website

Slovakia

Štefánik Trail | 140 kilometers | June 10, 2016 | website

Spain

Canary Islands

Tenerife Bluetrail 60 km | 59 kilometers | June 11, 2016 | website

Tenerife Bluetrail 94 km | 94 kilometers | June 11, 2016 | website

Catalonia

Cadí Ultra Trail | 80 kilometers | June 18, 2016 | website

Volta Cerdanya Ultraresistència – VCUR 122K | 122 kilometers | June 11, 2016 | website

Madrid

Gran Trail Peñalara | 110 kilometers | June 24, 2016 | website

Gran Trail Peñalara 60km | 60 kilometers | June 24, 2016 | website

Oxfam Intermón Spain – Madrid | 100 kilometers | June 11, 2016 | website

Sweden

Jättelångt | 68 kilometers | June 11, 2016 | website

Switzerland

Berne

100km run Biel | 100 kilometers | June 10, 2016 | website

Neuchâtel

Trail de l’Absinthe | 75 kilometers | June 18, 2016 | website

Ticino

Scenic Trail – 54 km | 54 kilometers | June 11, 2016 | website

United Kingdom

Cambridgeshire

Pathfinder March | 46 miles | June 18, 2016 | website

Cornwall

Endurancelife Classic Quarter Ultra Marathon | 49 miles | June 11, 2016 | website

County Borough of Conwy

V3K Ultra Extreme | 89 kilometers | June 18, 2016 | website

V3K Ultra Marathon | 53 kilometers | June 18, 2016 | website

Cumbria

The Wall Ultramarathon – Challenger | 69 miles | June 18, 2016 | website

The Wall Ultramarathon – Expert | 69 miles | June 18, 2016 | website

The Wall Ultramarathon – Relay | 69 kilometers | June 18, 2016 | website

Three Rings of Shap | 100 kilometers | June 18, 2016 | website

East Dunbartonshire

West Highland Way race | 153 kilometers | June 18, 2016 | website

East Sussex

South Downs Way 100 | 100 miles | June 11, 2016 | website

Gloucestershire

Cheltenham Circular Ultimate Challenge | 78 kilometers | June 19, 2016 | website

Northern Ireland

Mourne Way Ultra Marathon | 84 kilometers | June 11, 2016 | website

USA

California

50M | 50 miles | June 11, 2016 | website

Big Basin Trail Run 50 km | 50 kilometers | June 12, 2016 | website

Burton Creek Trail Run 50K | 50 kilometers | June 19, 2016 | website

Canyon Meadow 50 km Trail Run (May) | 50 kilometers | June 18, 2016 | website

Rodeo Valley Trail Run Spring 50K | 50 kilometers | June 11, 2016 | website

Shadow of the Giants 50K Trail Run | 50 kilometers | June 11, 2016 | website

Georgia

50K | 50 kilometers | June 18, 2016 | website

Idaho

River of No Return 108K Endurance Run | 108 kilometers | June 18, 2016 | website

River of No Return 50K Endurance Run | 50 kilometers | June 18, 2016 | website

Indiana

50K | 50 kilometers | June 12, 2016 | website

Kansas

50k Relay | 50 kilometers | June 18, 2016 | website

50k Solo | 50 kilometers | June 18, 2016 | website

Maine

6-Pack (6 Person) | 200 miles | June 24, 2016 | website

Standard Relay Team (7-12 Person) | 200 miles | June 24, 2016 | website

Ultra Relay Team (4-6 Person) | 200 miles | June 24, 2016 | website

Maryland

Mason-Dixon Trail Longest Day 100K Challenge | 100 kilometers | June 18, 2016 | website

Massachusetts

Vegan Power 50K | 50 kilometers | June 18, 2016 | website

Michigan

40 mile through-the-night run | 40 miles | June 17, 2016 | website

North Country Trail Relay | 63 miles | June 11, 2016 | website

Montana

50K | 50 kilometers | June 18, 2016 | website

50 Mile | 50 miles | June 18, 2016 | website

50 Mile Relay | 50 miles | June 18, 2016 | website

Nebraska

187 miles | 187 miles | June 11, 2016 | website

187 miles Relay | 187 miles | June 11, 2016 | website

New Mexico

Angel Fire Endurance 100 Mile Run | 100 miles | June 11, 2016 | website

Angel Fire Endurance 50K Run | 50 kilometers | June 11, 2016 | website

Angel Fire Endurance 50 Mile Run | 50 miles | June 11, 2016 | website

New York

50K Green Race Relay | 50 kilometers | June 11, 2016 | website

Manitou’s Revenge Ultramarathon and Relay | 54 miles | June 18, 2016 | website

North Carolina

Bethel Hill Moonlight Boogie 50 Mile | 50 miles | June 11, 2016 | website

Ohio

Mohican Trail 100M Trail Run | 100 miles | June 18, 2016 | website

Mohican Trail 50M Trail Run | 50 miles | June 18, 2016 | website

Oregon

100K | 100 kilometers | June 11, 2016 | website

50K | 50 kilometers | June 11, 2016 | website

Mary’s Peak 50K Trail Running Race | 50 kilometers | June 18, 2016 | website

Relay | 170 miles | June 17, 2016 | website

Relay | 200 miles | June 17, 2016 | website

Pennsylvania

Laurel Highlands Ultra’s 50 K Trail Run | 50 kilometers | June 11, 2016 | website

Laurel Highlands Ultra’s 77 Mile Trail Run | 77 miles | June 11, 2016 | website

Rachel Carson Trail Challenge | 34 miles | June 18, 2016 | website

South Dakota

Black Hills 100 Mile | 100 miles | June 24, 2016 | website

Tennessee

Chattanooga Mountains Stage Race | 60 miles | June 17, 2016 | website

Utah

100 Mile | 100 miles | June 17, 2016 | website

50K | 50 kilometers | June 18, 2016 | website

50 Mile | 50 miles | June 18, 2016 | website

Ragnar Relay Wasatch Back | 192 miles | June 17, 2016 | website

Virginia

Eastern Divide Ultra | 50 kilometers | June 18, 2016 | website

OSS/CIA 50 Mile Night Run | 50 miles | June 11, 2016 | website

Washington

Echo Valley 50K Trail Run | 50 kilometers | June 12, 2016 | website

Echo Valley 50 Mile Trail Run | 50 miles | June 12, 2016 | website

Emory Corwine Memorial Ruck Race | 50 miles | June 18, 2016 | website

Kaniksu 50 | 50 miles | June 18, 2016 | website

Rattlesnake Ridge Run 50K | 50 kilometers | June 19, 2016 | website

West Virginia

Highlands Sky 40 Mile Trail Run | 40 miles | June 18, 2016 | website

Wisconsin

Ahnapee Summer Solstice 50 Mile Relay Run | 50 miles | June 18, 2016 | website

Ragnar Relay Chicago | 194 miles | June 10, 2016 | website

Wyoming

Bighorn Trail 100 Mile Endurance Run | 100 miles | June 17, 2016 | website

Bighorn Trail 50K Endurance Run | 50 kilometers | June 17, 2016 | website

Bighorn Trail 50 Mile Endurance Run | 50 miles | June 17, 2016 | website

CLOSE

 

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Website – talkultra.com


The Cape Wrath Ultra™ 2016 – Day 7

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The big man in the sky did it again, he refreshed the batteries in the big sun torch and then shone it down on the Highlands of Scotland – it was ‘another’ incredible day!

Departing Inchadamph between 0700-0900, the 62 runners remaining in the race headed north on the penultimate day of the 2016 Cape Wrath Ultra. Passing Loch Glencoul and then traversing over Air da Loch, the runners then passed around the stunning Loch Glendhu before climbing up and over to Cp1 on the A838.

A long tough section of technical trail culminated in Cp2 and then the final kilometres wound up and down on a stunning road around Loch Inchard into the day 7 bivouac – Kinlochbervie.

Do I need to say who won day 7?

Marcus Scotney has been in impressive form during this race – he has looked relaxed, calm and in control in every moment and it has been impressive to watch. He has paced himself and at all times has looked capable of going faster or moving into another gear if required. He won the day in 6:42:05.

Thomas Adams has also been incredibly consistent but today on stage 7 the fatigue was starting to hit, he fought hard but didn’t look as fresh as other days finishing in 8:28:58. Pavel Paloncy has looked tired all week and has at all times looked to be fighting the terrain. No doubt, Paloncy is a tough and gritty runner. Today he finished 5th 8:59:23.

A notable mention must go to Andrew Biffen and Ian White who finished 4th and 5th on the stage and they have both improved as the week has passed. Ian White though is till 1-hour of Paloncy for overall 3rd,

But anyone who contemplated this race has required grit and with just 1 day left, the 59 runners left in the race will almost look at the final 16-mile day as a ‘recovery’ day.

Swollen feet, aching knees, tired bodies, fatigued minds and a desire ‘to get this done,’ has pushed all the runners to complete an incredible challenge – the Cape Wrath Ultra is a tough race!

Overall standings after day-6

  1. Marcus Scotney 39:03:22
  2. Thomas Adams 42:51:45
  3. Pavel Paloncy 48:31:11

Ladies leader, Ita Emanuela Marzotto had a tough day 7 finishing in 3rd place in 12:51:37, not helped by a minor fall in the final mile. She looked a little shocked at the finish, a sit down and some RnR did the trick though.

Louise Staples won the day in 11:23:18 followed by Louise Watson in 12:19:21 – both ladies have been consistent and fought hard all week and have really impressed.

Overall standings after day-6

  1. Ita Manuela Mariotto 49:03:02
  2. Laura Watson 51:18:08
  3. Louise Staples 52:11:49

Tomorrow is the last day, a 16-mile jaunt to the tip of the UK – Cape Wrath.

Follow the Cape Wrath Ultra on http://www.capewrathultra.com

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The Cape Wrath Ultra™ 2016 – Day 6

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Day 6 was ’just’ 45 miles and what a day – the longest day of the 2016 Cape Wrath Ultra. The early stages were remote and isolated but in the latter stages, the mountains loomed and single-track trail lead the runners into camp. It was another day of wall-to-wall sunshine and many are saying, me included, that we may never come back to Scotland as the weather could never be this good again!

The views, the scenery, the landscape and the mountains have been magical – almost alpine! It has been quite an amazing week and journey. Of course, the race is not yet over.

Day 6 was a long day and not all runners made the finish but those that did were all home by 2100 hours. With over 30 miles tomorrow for stage 5, it is starting to look likely that many who start tomorrow will finish the 2016 Cape Wrath Ultra. But as Shane Ohly says, ‘After this many days running, bodies, minds and legs are tired and stage 7 is a tough day, certainly over the first half!’

Marcus Scotney and Ita Emanuela Marzotto, once again were the male and female 1st placed runners on the day, that is 6 out of 6 for Scotney and in all honesty, he made it look it easy.

Thomas Adams gain ran a strong 2nd and Andrew Biffen/ Stuart MacDonald, for the ladies, Laura Watson finished 2nd and Louise Staples 3rd.

Overall standings after day-6

Marcus Scotney 32:21:17

Thomas Adams 34:22:47

Pavel Paloncy 39:31:48

Ita Manuela Mariotto 49:03:02

Laura Watson 51:18:08

Louise Staples 52:11:49

 

Follow the Cape Wrath Ultra live on http://www.capewrathultra.com

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The Cape Wrath Ultra™ 2016 – Day 5

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A chilly wind and cloud greeted the runners for the first couple of hours of day 5, don’t worry, it didn’t last long and what followed was blue skies and white fluffy clouds… why do people say the weather is ‘always’ bad in Scotland?

In all honesty, the 2016 Cape Wrath Ultra really has hit a purple patch of weather, not only providing the runners with stunning clear views (easier navigation), but wonderful sunshine tempered by just a subtle breeze. This race would be very different with inclement weather and clag – very different!

27 miles faced the runners today and a moderate 1400m of climbing. Departing from Kinlochewe between 0700-0900 double-track roads and relatively little elevation took the runners to the Fisherfield mountains and one of the most impressive views on Scotland (apparently). From the Fisherfield Mountain, and  corner of Lochn Fada, the views off to the distance are impressive. An early incentive to tick off the miles.

From here it was long trek to CP1 through Bealach Nan Croise and the mountains of Beinn Tarsuinn, Mullach Coire Mhic Fearchair and Sgurr Bann made for a stunning backdrop. On the final stretch of the day while heading to Inverdael, Loch Broom loomed the left and Ullapool could be seen in the distance. It was an impressive day, once again!

Overall standings did not change and in all honesty, the finishing format (at least at the front) has little variation – I wonder, will someone blow up? Have a bad day? Go of course?

The level of consistency (for all runners) is quite impressive, it really takes some tenacity, grit and determination to bang out these distances day-after-day.

Marcus Scotney and Ita Emanuela Marzotto, once again were the male and female 1st placed runners on the day, that is 5 out of 5 for Scotney, and their times were equally impressive, 4:08:45 and 6:24:09. I have to say, Scotney looks like he has another gear spare should he need it – I don’t think he will!

Thomas Adams again played bridesmaid in 4:36:01 and Stuart Macdonald today pipped Pavel Paloncy to 3rd place on the stage, 5:02:33 to 5:07:43.

Louise Staples and Laura Watson finished 2nd and 3rd in the lades race, 6:42:21and 6:48:37 respectively.

The multiple days, accumulative distance, fatigue and tired, sore bodies are now looking to the end in Cape Wrath. With 3-days to go it is in sight BUT tomorrow is a big day and unfortunately some won’t make it! The ice cream at the end of day 5 will have helped though.

Overall standings after day-5

  1. Marcus Scotney 25:12:43
  2. Thomas Adams 26:34:51
  3. Pavel Paloncy 30:15:06
  1. Ita Manuela Mariotto 38:08:00
  2. Laura Watson 39:25:09
  3. Louise Staples 39:47:05

Follow the race via the Cape Wrath Ultra website http://www.capewrathultra.com

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The Cape Wrath Ultra™ 2016 – Day 3

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A ‘runnable’ day played into Marcus Scotney’s hands and pulling of a three-in-three stage win he once again consolidated his overall lead by another 20+ minutes for convincing lead overall. For the ladies, Laura Watson today took a stage victory by just over 1-minute from overall ladies race leader, Ita Manuela Mariotto.

At 68km long, it was a long and tough day, considerably coming on the back of a tough day 2. Although considered a course that would allow more running, the 2400m of ascent added to the difficulty. Unfortunately, the day didn’t start well for a couple of runners, Darren Grigas and Peter Fairhurst who made a huge navigational error and went completely off course and causing a minor concern from the safety team – a message was sent to the runners informing them that they were off course and to take evasive action. Unfortunately they missed the cut-off time at CP1 and therefore were withdrawn from the race in a competitive nature. It was a huge blow for both runners, particularly Peter who was in a top-position.

At the time of writing (21:30) just 49 runners had completed the day 3 course with 13 confirmed additional confirmed dnf and the remaining 32 fighting the cut-off times for a finish.

Departing Kinloch Hourn between 0700-0900, most runners maximised the additional time and left as close to 0700 as possible in an attempt to make Acanshellach before 2300 hours.

The sun was out, the skies were blue and white fluffy clouds occasionally offered some cover from the heat of the day but it was a tough day and only Scotney (7:49:09) and Mariotto (11:56:24) made the day look easy. For the remaining runners it was a day of struggle and survival. Thomas Adams (8:11:29) remained consistent running 2nd (once again) but Pavel Paloncy (10:00:58) seemed to struggle today and looked to be fighting the terrain, he finished the stage 5th over 1hr and 10min behind Scotney. Ian White (9:31:22) ran another good stage and today finished 3rd.

Ita Manuela Mariotto and Louise Staples ran a consistent day 3 and consolidated their respective overall top-3 places with11:56:24 and 12:18:38.

Stage 4 is a arguably a recovery day at 22-miles finishing in the town of Kinlochewe.

Overall standings after day-3 

  1. Marcus Scotney 16:58:06
  2. Thomas Adams 17:36:28
  3. Pavel Paloncy 20:24:51
  1. Ita Manuela Mariotto 25:29:00
  2. Laura Watson 25:54:06
  3. Louise Staples 26:30:40

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The Cape Wrath Ultra™ 2016 – Day 2

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Day of the 2016 Cape Wrath Ultra lived up to expectations – beautiful and brutal!

On a course that is remote and isolated, the 95 participants battled the terrain in what was, for most of the day, dry weather, with amazing sunshine outbursts that improved throughout the day culminating in blanket sunshine.

The day 2 camp, located at Kinloch Hourn (the longest cul-de-sac in the UK) made for an amazing location nestled amongst the mountains at the end of Loch Beag.

At the time of writing, it’s 15-hours since the first runner departed camp 1 and 3 runners are still on course with approximately 3km to go, so they will hopefully make the 11pm cut-of time.

Only one runner has withdrawn from the race so far, impressive considering the tough conditions of day 2.

Marcus Scotney lead the day again finishing the 57km (1800m+) in 6:22:49. Thomas Adams and Pavel Paloncy repeated their day 2 performances finishing 2nd and 3rd, however, both lost time to Scotney finishing in 6:38:50 and 7:27:00.

In the ladies race, Ita Emanuela Marzotto once again had a good day finishing in 9:34:48. Laura Watson finished 2nd in 9:45:59 and Louise Staples placed 3rd in 9:59:13.

Post race, general consensus amongst the runners was amazement at the course, some were heard saying, I thought I knew Scotland – I obviously didn’t.

Tomorrow’s stage offers easier terrain underfoot but a longer distance of 68km with 2400m+ which will be a  real challenger for many of the competitors. It will be imperative to start at the 0700 slot.