ARRAN SKYLINE joins the 2020 Skyrunner UK and Ireland Series

ARRAN SKYLINE brought to you by Ultra Trail Scotland joins the Skyrunner UK & Ireland series for 2020.

The Ultra Trail Scotland team of Andrew Falconer, Noreen Devine and elite mountain runner, Casey Morgan bring an out-and-out pure mountain running experience that harks back to the heritage of skyrunning races in Italy.

READ MORE HERE

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Glen Coe Skyline 2018 – Skyrunner World Series

Kilian Jornet and Hillary Gerardi win the 2018 Glen Coe Skyline 2018.

Report via Lauri van Houten, ISF

With wild and windy weather in the Scottish Highlands, the Salomon Glen Coe Skyline was run on a reduced course, but it didn’t take any of the excitement away from the star line-up that battled right to the finish line. The sixth stage of the Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series, valid for the Sky Extra category, was won by Kilian Jornet and Hillary Gerardi.

Probably one of the toughest races on the Series, it was run on the “bad weather route” which is just 32 km long with 2,700m vertical climb avoiding the exposed scrambling terrain. (The original course was 55 km with 4,700m vertical climb). 203 runners from 28 countries participated.

Race winner Kilian Jornet was in his element. “The Scottish Highlands really inspire because you can run everywhere. It’s got good ridges and good elevation and even though it’s not high altitude you can find all the challenges you want. I ran with André [Jonsson] for a big part and then I took the lead to be a bit more relaxed in the last part. He’s a very strong runner. For me it’s more for the participation than winning. These are races that I love.” Jornet closed in 3h40’33” followed in 3h42’33” by Sweden’s André Jonsson. In third in 3h45’03”, a first podium for ItalianDaniel Jung.

I got a good position so I feel good. I pushed myself to the limit. It was a great course, technical. I live in the Alps but here it’s more slippery. I love it when it’s raining,” commented Jung. “When you see Kilian and André Jonsson in front, the world champion and second world champion, what more can you ask? It’s a dream for me to be on the podium and so… I love Scotland!”

With less kilometres, vertical climb and ridges, there was still plenty of action in the stacked field especially in the women’s race where a fierce battle raged concluding in a tight sprint.

Winner Hillary Gerardi from the USA, who closed in 4h17’48”, summed it all up. I was really pleased to be at this race although disappointed not to be able to do the whole ridge but it was the right call on the part of the organisers to cut it short. It was pretty cold and wet and very, very windy at the top. I gave it my best. I was a little faster than Jasmin [Paris] on the uphills but she definitely dominates on the downhills and it was really a pleasure to be out there with her.

“Either of us could have won the race. We were together on the last downhill and I said to her ‘What do you think will happen if I manage to hold on to you and we go through the finish together?’ and she said, ‘Oh no! It will come down to a sprint!’ So I just gave it everything I had and in the last 200m I was able to pull ahead of her.

“I will definitely be back next year to do the full ridge. Last year when I came here I was hitting a low point in my season and I found joy in running again in Scotland.” 

Briton Jasmin Paris lost the sprint by just seven seconds. “It would have been nice to win to be honest. I gave it my best shot but going to the end I couldn’t make up on the downhill and I knew I didn’t have the speed in my legs.”

Third lady was another American, Brittany Peterson. “For me I actually never got cold, it was all a matter of arm sleeves up, arm sleeves down. I was definitely tired by the end just tried to stay strong for third. It was a great race! I love it! I feel like I suddenly got a new element of technical terrain – wet and slippery and mossy which just added a new element of fun. I fell three or four times and just popped right on back. I got really muddy,” she said. “I’ve heard great things about the ridge so I can imagine what the full race would be like. Just doing the Skyrunner World Series I feel it brings a lot of energy!”  

André Jonsson climbs to third on the Sky Extra ranking and is 55 points from leader Dmitry Mityaev while Pere Aurell holds onto second.  Kilian Jornet ties with Jonathan Albon in fourth place.

Hillary Gerardi now leads the women’s ranking with Ragna Debats right behind. Brittany Peterson secures third position while Malene Haukøy and Jasmin Paris rise to fifth and sixth respectively.

There are no significant changes in the Overall ranking except that Jornet is the new leader.

Next stop on the 2018 Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series is the Salomon Ultra Pirineu in the Spanish Pyrenees on September 29 where the Ultra specialists will be heading for the longest race on the circuit valid for the Sky Extra category.

Salomon Glen Coe Skyline results
Men

  1. Kilian Jornet (ESP) – 3h40’33”
  2. André Jonsson (SWE) – 3h42’33”
  3. Daniel Jung (ITA) – 3h45’03”
  4. Andy Symonds (GBR) – 3h45’03”
  5. Cody Lind (USA) – 3h45’41”

Women

  1. Hillary Gerardi (USA) – 4h17’48”
  2. Jasmin Paris (GBR) – 4h 17’55”
  3. Brittany Peterson (USA) – 4h25’44”
  4. Malene Blikken Haukøy (NOR) – 4h30’10”
  5. Aitziber Ibarbia Beloki (ESP) – 4h34’40”

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Garmin Mourne Skyline MTR 2017 Race Summary and Images

Misty skies, gale force winds, mud, rain, relentless climbing, technical terrain and an incredible field of runners made the 2017 Garmin Mourne Skyline MTR a tough one! Now in it’s 4th edition, the race has over the years been known for its tough conditions, many said, post race, this tear was the toughest!

Concluding Skyrunning UK’s 2017 calendar, the Garmin Mourne Skyline MTR really was a fitting end to what has been an incredible year. The course, organisation and the field of runners made this a special and unforgettable day in the mountains.

The addition of Ian Bailey, a previous champion of the race, it was always going to be a quick race up at the front, especially with Seamus Lynch toeing the line. In the early stages it was Lynch who lead the duo but with half the race covered, Bailey took the reigns at the front and never looked back forging a convincing lead. At the finish, Bailey crossed in 3:57:18, just over 10-minutes ahead of Lynch.

It was another 5-minutes before Ryan Stewart arrived rounding out the top-3

In the ladies race, Shileen O’Kane would bring local knowledge, fell running experience and being a participant in the last three editions, this would no doubt provide and advantage? It did! O’Kane pushed from the front throughout the race but she was constantly shadowed by Megan Wilson. The duo traded blows and on the climb to Donnard, it looked like Wilson may take the lead… O’Kane kicked though and descended to the finish line with almost a 4-minute margin over the Dark Peak fell runner, 4:56:43 to 5:00:09. Catherine Forsythe was the 3rd lady, crossing the line in 5:40:26.

The 2017 Garmin Mourne Skyline MTR once again established itself as a must-do race. The combination of location, local infrastructure, great organisation, enthusiastic locals and a brutal course will guarantee that demand will be high for the 2018 edition.

Covering 35km and a total elevation gain of 3370m, the Garmin Mourne Skyline MTR is everything a Skyrunning race should be.

Full Results HERE

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Salomon Mamores VK 2017 Summary – Skyline Scotland

The Salomon Mamores VK™ kicked off the Skyline Scotland weekend of racing with the UK’s one ever VK (Vertical Kilometre), part pf the new for 2017 Vertical Kilometer World Circuit. The pure ethos of ‘sea-to-summit’ provided all runners with a challenging 1000m vertical climb over a distance of 5km in a course that was split into thirds.

The first third was runnable trail that may well have lulled everyone into a false sense of security. What followed was a wall of vertical fell with no path, a line of red flags showed a direct line up a muddy green wall/

A stunning rocky ridge concluded the race with expansive views of the surrounding area that lead to the summit at 1000m+.

Scottish weather played its part as anyone would expect, glorious sunshine, heavy clouds, winds, rain and light showers provided and impressive and dramatic backdrop to the stunning climb.

Experienced Skyrunner, Stian Angermund-Vik (VK world champion) paved the way in the race looking strong, calm and relaxed to seal victory in 42:04. Sam Tosh was a surprise second squeezing ahead of last year’s winner, Frenchman, Alexis Sevennec, their times 42:38 and 42:44.

Laura Orgue from Spain, the pre-race favourite, once again showed her class with a strong and convincing performance to take the lead ahead of  the UK’s Beth Hanson. Like in the men’s race a surprise second! Their times 52:22 and 52:26. Emelie Forsberg loosened her legs ahead of Sunday’s Extreme race placing 3rd in 52:50

Following the well established International Skyrunning Federation ‘VK’ format, participants followed a marked course gaining 1000m of height in less than 5km. Participants were set off at timed intervals with the winner having the fastest overall time to the summit.

The route does not include technical terrain that requires any technical scrambling or rock climbing experience, however, it’s tough!

RESULTS HERE

Garmin Mourne Skyline MTR 2016 Race Preview

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

ukranking

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.

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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.

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“…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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

You can follow the race in words and images at iancorless.com and a race summary and image selection will be posted on skyrunninguk.com

RUNNING BEYOND BOOK news

RunningBeyond_JKT

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

Mourne Skyline MTR

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.

Glen Coe Skyline goes EXTREME and makes Skyrunner World Series 2016

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The International Skyrunning Federation is pleased to announce that the Skyrunner World Series calendar will have a new addition to VK, SKY and ULTRA for 2016 and future years. See the full release and calendar HERE.

They are going Extreme!

Trofeo Kima has long been a pinnacle race for Skyrunning enthusiasts worldwide. A jewel in the Skyrunning crown and the words of Kilian Jornet sum it up so well:

“Picture a mountain terrain that has no paths, amidst glaciers; it is all crests, rocks, stretches of via Ferrata and all over a course that stretches 50-km. Kima is not athletics, it is mountaineering; pure Skyrunning!”

Kilian_TrofeoKima

The bi-annual race returns in 2016 and due to increasing demand for adventurous and demanding courses, the ISF have created a new series called SKY EXTREME.

Three countries, three awesome races, a real opportunity to embrace the ethos of where earth meets sky!

The series will start in Norway with the TROMSO SKYRACE in August, we will then move to Italy for TROFEO KIMA in late August and then the final race will be in the UK with Scotland’s GLEN COE SKYLINE in September.

Although it will be possible to race each race in its own right, to qualify for the series you will be required to run two races.

The rewards? Skyrunner World Series Extreme Champion 2016.

“My vision of so many years ago is finally coming full circle,” said ISF President, Marino Giacometti. “I was ahead of my time! After our first records and races restricted to athletes-climbers on the summit of Monte Rosa and Mont Blanc, Trofeo Kima become the symbol of Skyrunning. Kima has always been for a select few but the growth and demand for more challenging races is now finally coming to fruition with the inspiration that Kilian Jornet and Emelie Forsberg have provided. Tromso Skyrace and Glen Coe Skyline are great additions to the Skyrunner World Series and Sky Extreme is a new and exciting step for Skyrunning! ” 

Needless to say, the addition of EXTREME to the Skyrunner World Series is great news for a UK audience and UK based runners.

“I had a dream 2-years ago when Skyrunning UK was launched in the UK that in 3-years we would host a SWS event. That dream is now a reality and with it the worlds best will come to Scotland in September to race in the mountains of Glen Coe!”– Ian Corless, Skyrunning UK Director.

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You can follow Skyrunning on line HERE and HERE

You can follow the Skyrunning UK Series HERE and HERE

You can view the three Sky Extreme Races via the following links:

TROMSO HERE

TROFEO KIMA HERE

GLEN COE SKYLINE HERE

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Garmin Mourne Skyline MTR 2015 – Race Summery and Images

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Iain Bailey and Diane Wilson were the 2015 champions for the 2nd edition of the Mourne Skyline MTR, the 6th and final race in the Skyrunning UK calendar.

Considered by many to be Northern Ireland’s toughest and most challenging race, the Mourne Skyline MTR covers 35km’s with a whopping elevation gain of 3370m. Starting and finishing in the seaside resort of Newcastle, the race is now considered to be a highlight not only of the Skyrunning UK calendar but also the racing calendar in Northern Ireland.

The first edition of the race was made especially difficult with gale force winds that at time lifted runners off their feet and ‘helped’ them along the course. It looked like a repeat day was in store for the 150-runners who would tackle the 2015 edition when overnight wind and rain battered the coastline.

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At 0800 leaving the promenade of Newcastle, the cold temperatures, strong winds and light rain certainly added to the trepidation of a tough day in the mountains. From the off, Dan Doherty dictated the men’s race but he was closely followed by the day’s main protagonists of Eoin Lennon, Ian Bailey, Jayson Cavill and Ally Beaven. For the ladies, Shileen O’Kane pushed the early pace ahead of Lizzie Wraith and Diane Wilson.

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At the col between Slieve Donard and Slieve Commedagh, with 6.6km covered, the action started to unfold as the runners headed out on the more demanding sections of the course. Climbing the rocky and technical Slieve Meelmore, the real race started to take place but at all times the main protagonists jockeyed for position.

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Iain Bailey and Diane Wilson took the respective race leads for the men and the women and this coincided with the skies clearing and the arrival of the sun. Finally, it was possible to see out across the stunning Mourne Mountains and take in the beauty this area has to offer. The sea glistened in the distance and the yellow and amber colours of the terrain provided a stunning backdrop to hard, tough and technical racing.

Overnight rain had made the course exceptionally difficult under foot and many runners commented post race how challenging it was to remain upright while descending.

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Slieve Bearnagh offered one of the toughest climbs of the day and then a drop down to Hare’s Gap where the ever-present Mourne Wall then guides the runners to Slievenaglogh, Slieve Commedagh and then final push of the day up and over Slieve Donard (2788ft) before dropping all the way down from the summit to the finish line in Newcastle.

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Pre race favourite Dan Doherty went to through a bad patch in these sections as he chased Iain Bailey who had a convincing lead of well over 5-minutes, “I am lacking energy and feeling tired,” Doherty shouted as he ran past hotly pursued by Ally Bevan, Eoin Lennon and Jayson Cavill. One would have thought that Doherty would not hold on to 2nd but he found the energy from somewhere!

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Bevan, Lennon and Cavill contested the final podium place and it was a close battle before Lennon found that extra few percent to open up a gap. Bevan looked secure for 4th but a charging Cavill looked like he may well have upset that as he raced for the line. Bevan held off for 4th by just 7-seconds.

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Pre race favourite Diane Wilson never looked back after taking over the front of the race and ran a well paced and controlled run to take victory, behind Helen Brown held off early leader Shileen O’Kane for 2nd and GB athlete Lizzie Wraith finished 4th ahead of Jaqueline Toal. “I had completely wrong shoes today,” said Wraith post race, “the descents were so slippery that I just couldn’t push the pace. I am happy though!”

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Although the start of the day was a tough one many commented that the conditions after a couple of hours of running were considerably kinder than the 2014 edition when the gale force winds battered the runners, this was reflected in a new course record by Iain Bailey of 3:51:22.

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A notable mention must also go to Garmin who for the first year sponsored the Mourne Skyline MTR and the input of the GPS watch brand was instrumental and securing a 30-minute program on the race for channel 4 TV. Needless to say this will be a great boost for the race, running in Northern Ireland and Skyrunning UK.

The program will be televised in November and we currently have a possible date of 8th.

Mourne Skyline MTR concluded the 2015 Skyrunning UK calendar. Just 2-years old, this series of races is now firmly becoming one of the most exciting race circuits. 2016 will see the series grow with points awarded for each race, prize money at every race and some special prizes on offer for the 2016 SKY and ULTRA champions, make sure you keep an eye on www.skyrunninguk.com

 

RESULTS

  1. Iain Bailey 3:51:22 new CR
  2. Dan Doherty 4:04:07
  3. Eoin Lennon 4:07:45
  4. Ally Beaven 4:10:21
  5. Jayson Cavill 4:10:28
  1. Diane Wilson 4:33:26
  2. Helen Brown 4:42:12
  3. Shileen O’Kane 4:50:19
  4. Lizzie Wraith 5:04:12
  5. Jacqueline Toal 5:25:03

 

Race images are available at iancorless.photoshelter.com

All of the images below are copyright protected. You can share on social media but do not crop, adjust or modify and no commercial use. If you don’t wish to purchase images, consider a donation here

Mourne Skyline MTR website HERE

Skyrunning UK Garmin Mourne Skyline MTR 2015 Race Preview

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Ryan Maxwell, race director for the Garmin Mourne Skyline MTR provides an insight into the racing that will take place in the Mourne Mountains of Northern Ireland this weekend.

The Skyrunning UK series comes to a great conclusion for 2015 with its 6th race.

The eyes of the Skyrunning world will be on Northern Ireland, and in particular, the stunning Mourne Mountains, as the 2nd annual Mourne Skyline Mountain-Trail Race once again attracts a plethora of talent from across the globe.  The event will be filmed by Channel 4 and broadcast in November 2015.

This year, world renowned producers of innovative GPS products for the recreation and wellness markets, Garmin, have come on board to support the event, which is now named, the Garmin Mourne Skyline Mountain-Trail Race.

Closing the 2015 Skyrunning UK season, action will kick off at 7.30pm on Friday 23rd October 2015.  Close to 100 competitors will take on the unique ‘Granite Trail Race’ (‘GTR’), a 2 mile uphill only event, starting on Newcastle Promenade (County Down) and finishing approximately 1,000ft above sea-level at Millstone Quarry.

The impressive field will be headed by Northern Ireland international Seamus Lynch (Newcastle AC) and winner of the Mont Blanc 10k, Paul Navesey (Centurion Ultra Running Team).  The ladies race will include highly respected European Cross Country (team) and World Mountain Running Championship (team) medallist Sarah McCormack (Ambleside AC and Ireland) who just last month secured a top ten place at the World Mountain Running Championships in Wales, finishing just ahead of former World Champion Kasie Enman (USA).  Sarah will be joined on the ‘GTR’ start line by the in-form NI & Ulster Half Marathon medallist Laura Graham (Mourne Runners).

On Saturday 24th October 2015, the Garmin Mourne Skyline MTR will see 200 hardy competitors from fourteen countries cover a gruelling but incredibly scenic and rewarding 35k course, which incorporates 3,370m of ascent.  Northern Ireland’s highest mountain, Slieve Donard, which stands at 850m above sea-level, will be the final peak, before the athletes descend quickly into the Donard Park finish area.

Garmin Mourne Skyline MTR logo

Although last year’s worthy Champions and course record holders, Kim Collison (England) and Stevie Kremer (Team Salomon), are unable to return to defend their titles, this year’s race will undoubtedly provide the same exciting spectacle.  There are at least thirty athletes who have represented their country at international level due to start, meaning that both the male and female fields provide incredible strength in depth.

There really is all to play for ahead of this event, and here are some of the athletes who will be gunning for the honour of being crowned Garmin Mourne Skyline MTR Champion.

Garmin Mourne Skyline MTR winners medals

The Men:

Dan Doherty (Scott Trail Team), Paul Tierney (Ambleside AC), Jayson Cavill (Ultra Runner Store Trail Team), Eoin Lennon (Carnethy HRC), Ally Beaven (Unattached), Iain Bailey (Newcastle AC), David Steele (Newcastle AC) and Sam Herron (Mourne Runners) look to be the strongest candidates for the podium places in a field littered with talent from across the globe.

Irish international Dan Doherty has increased his profile considerably since stepping onto the international stage in 2011.  His 17th place finish at this year’s IAU Ultra-Trail World Championships in France cemented Dan as one of the UK and Ireland’s most respected ultra-distance athletes.  The 2013 Anglo-Irish Plate winner also impressed at the gruelling Tor Des Geants, where he worked his way through the field to move into 2nd place before a knee injury cruelly ended his race with approximately 100k to go – 12 months earlier, Dan had claimed the runners up spot at the 330k event, which includes an incredible 24,000 metres of ascent.

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Dan’s Irish International teammate, Paul Tierney will also go into the event with confidence high after victory in the Lakeland 100 in the UK, a top placing at the Skyrunning UK Lakes Sky Ultra and representing Ireland at the IAU Ultra-Trail World Championships.

Scotland based Northern Ireland man Eoin Lennon has been in the form of his life since claiming the runners up spot at the Mourne Skyline MTR in 2014 – Eoin recorded 3:59:42 to finish behind Kim Collision and has went on to impress at several notable events, this includes a 4th place finish at the prestigious HOKA Highland Fling and a win at the recent Glencoe Marathon, both in Scotland.  Eoin has also shown his speedy edge with a 16:16 5k over the Summer.

Newcastle AC men Iain Bailey and David Steele, and Mourne Runners’ Sam Herron will know this course better than most.  All three will be in the mix for a high placing, but it’s Iain’s strength on the climbs that will ensure that he plays a prominent part in in the race for a podium place – he finished in 5th place at the British Championship event in the Mourne’s in August.

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If podium places were calculated for all of the Skyrunning UK events since the Series’ inception in 2014, Jayson Cavill would no doubt be one of the highest ranking athletes.  He (Jayson) is never off the podium and as per usual, deservedly claimed his spot there at the Salomon Glencoe Skyline event in August (2015), where he took 3rd place in the men’s race.  Jason also won the Lakeland 50 in the UK. Steve Franklin (Totley AC), a 14th place finisher at the aforementioned Glencoe Skyline and top fifty finisher at the Mont Blanc Marathon, will finish well up the pack.  The same can be said for 2014 4th place finisher Ally Beaven; despite focusing more on his training, rather that racing recently, Ally should be there or there abouts.

Profeet UK athlete Victor Mound will also run well, as will Richard Ashton (Orion Harriers), Bjorn Verduijn (Shettleston Harriers), Barry Hartnett (Dundrum AC), Gary Bailey (Mourne Runners), Shane Donnelly (Acorns AC), Peter Cromie (Roe Valley CC), Billy Reed (East Antrim Harriers) and Dale Mathers (Mourne Runners).

 

The Ladies:

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Team GB star Lizzie Wraith, a podium finisher at this year’s Dragon’s Back 200 mile race, will start as pre-race favourite. Despite the fact that Lizzie is used to covering much longer distances, it will be her ability to deal with the leg-sapping climbs and descents that may well just give her the edge.  The Lakeland 100 winner (in 2013) is excited about visiting and racing in Northern Ireland for the first time and will prove difficult to beat.  In saying that, local hero Diane Wilson (Dromore AC), winner of the Ben Nevis Mountain Race and a podium finisher at the Mourne Skyline MTR in 2014, knows exactly what to expect and is going into the event in the form of her life.

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Newly crowned Northern Ireland Mountain Running Association (NIMRA) Champion, Shileen O’Kane (Lagan Valley AC), will be another athlete who will be in the thick of the action, but the local lady, who won 5 NIMRA Championship races this term, will have to see off some formidable opposition if she wishes to secure a podium spot – none more so that Mynydd Du Mountain Runners athlete and recognised international Helen Brown, who secured 14th place in the World Mountain Running Championships less than four weeks ago.  Interestingly, Helen has stepped onto the podium on three of the previous four occasions she has raced in Northern Ireland.  Arguably her best performance on these shores was a win at the Silent Valley Mountain Race in 2013, which was part of the British Fell Running Championships.

Jacqui Toal (BARF) and Fran McFadden (Springwell Running Club) enjoyed an epic dual at the 26extreme Causeway Coast Ultra last month (September 2015), with Jacqui coming through to win late on after Fran had led from the off.  The pair will resume battle here and will be joined by another highly respected ultra-distance athlete, Comrades finisher and podium regular Joanne Curran (BARF).  Aisling Allum (Carnethy HRC) will be one to watch – after moving to Scotland earlier this year, Aisling has shown superb improvement and less than four weeks ago, the former triathlon star picked up a prize at the Glencoe 10k, after finishing in 3rd place.  Aisling will smash her 5:54:43 clocking from 2014, which saw her take 10th place in the ladies race.

Lagan Valley AC’s Hazel McLaughlin will claim a top ten place, while Ireland based ladies Jolene Mellon (Unattached) and Elizabeth Wheeler (Unattached) will be hoping for the same.  Versatile Springwell Running Club athlete Sonia Knox will go well, as will 2:50:52 marathoner Georgia Wood (Unattached) and local ladies Taryn McCoy (BARF), Paulette Thomson (Newcastle AC) and Anne Sandford (Lagan Valley AC).

View the galleries from the 2014 edition of the race, Stevie Kremer and Kim Collison were the champions.

Mourne Skyline MTR – new Skyrunning UK race for Northern Ireland

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Skyrunning UK is pleased to announce the fourth race to join the Skyrunner® Series UK, the MOURNE SKYLINE MTR taking place on October 18th in Northern Ireland.

The Mourne Skyline Mountain-Trail Race is arguably Northern Ireland’s toughest and most scenic long distance race; the event is based in the Mourne Mountains, starting and finishing in the seaside town of Newcastle, County Down.

49 Bearneagh Summit on return leg

Comprising mainly of forest paths, fire roads and single-track grass and granite trail, with approximately one mile on the road.  The course measures 35k and there is approximately 11,056ft of ascent and 11,024ft of descent.  The highest point will be 2,801ft and the lowest point is at sea level.

It has been no easy challenge putting together a race in this iconic part of Northern Ireland. ‘It’s been a long process in relation to getting the event off the ground, because of the stunning nature of the course, and the fact that some of it is on protected land, we have been in discussions with various agencies. It has been worth it though, as we have got the course we have worked tirelessly to get,’ said race director, Ryan Maxwell.

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The course is fitting to that of a Skyrunning event; although not at altitude, the amount of ascending, stunning scenery and technical sections are exactly what you would expect from an event of this nature anywhere in the world.  ‘Along the way participants will come 

up against Northern Ireland’s highest mountain, Slieve Donard and some technical ascents, including Slieve Meelmore and descents such a Slieve Bearnagh.’

October may well throw up some challenging weather, we are all aware of that fact that there is as much chance of getting perfect weather conditions in October as there is in August, ‘we have gone into our race plan in-depth and brought a number of very experienced and well respected individuals on board to assist. The route will be very well marked and marshaled at key points.

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Some of the higher parts of the route follow the ‘Mourne Wall’ (a very obvious stone wall), so this will further assist participants in bad weather.  ‘We will have five feed/aid stations along the way; these will be manned by teams who have experience in the mountains. Sweepers (back runners) will also be on hand to guide athletes and assist if anything should go wrong.’

Skyrunning is booming. The growth of the Skyrunner® National Series and the Skyrunner® World Series has been instrumental in increasing the profile of the sport. Skyrunning UK has been at the forefront. ‘Several members of our race team have found the experience of Skyrunning very enjoyable and rewarding, and witnessed what a positive effect it can have on a town/village etc. We felt that from an NiRunning perspective, this was an innovative project and something that would enhance the profile of our local running scene as well as shining a positive light on our country as a whole.’

‘The Mourne Mountains will provide many of us an opportunity to experience beautiful trails, mountains and scenery for the first time. For example I have never been to this part of the world. It’s an exciting opportunity,’ said Ian Corless, Director of Skyrunning UK. ‘Ryan and his team at NiRunning have worked tirelessly to get this race off the ground. It hasn’t been easy and the work ethic has paid dividends. To be able to announce this race is a testament to a committed team and I for one can’t wait to experience Skyrunning in the Mourne Mountains.

What are you waiting for? This may very well prove to be a ‘bucket list’ event! ‘We have limited the main event to 150 participants given the course and the footprint a mass participation event would have on this area of outstanding natural beauty, we were keen to work alongside other agencies to minimize this and uphold the environmental ethos of Skyrunning.’ 

Entries open for the Mourne Skyline MTR on Wednesday May 28th on a first come, first served basis. As a ‘SKY’ distance event it offers a great opportunity to test oneself in the mountains and of course, you may well wish to enter the Peaks SkyRace (August 3rd) with a long-term objective to accumulate valuable Skyrunning points.

Check out http://www.skyrunninguk.com

The Nitty Gritty:

  • MOURNE SKYLINE MTR – The course will be 35k in distance, incorporating 3,370m (11.075ft) of ascending.
  • Capped field – 150 participants
  • £35.00 entry
  • Saturday 18th October 2014 – 8am (Race Briefing at 7.45am – All participants MUST attend)
  • Newcastle, County Down, Northern Ireland (Start – Newcastle Tourist Information Centre, Main Street, Newcastle)
  • Airport – Belfast City
  • The top first three male and female athletes will receive prizes. The generous prize-fund will be announced in the coming weeks.  In addition to this, there will also be prizes for the male and female winners of the following categories:  U-20, Vet35, Vet40, Vet45, Vet50, Vet55 and Vet60. The prize giving will take place in Donard Park (close to the finish area) at 2pm.  Please note that only one prize will be awarded to each athlete; i.e. a Vet35 overall winner will NOT receive the top prize plus a category prize.