Lakes Sky Ultra 2019 Summary and Images

Andy Bryce and Sophie Grant gave two dominant performances on the newly revised Lakes Sky Ultra 2019, the second race in the 2019 Skyrunning UK & Ireland Series. Starting and concluding in Patterdale, the duo covered the 60km route with over 5000m of vertical gain in 8:46:18 and 10:27:07.

Image Gallery HERE

The route encompasses the best of the north eastern Lakes with a circular route that takes in Lakeland highlights that included Place Fell, Beda Fell, High Street, Thornthwaite Crag, Stoney Cove Pike, St Raven’s Edge, Red Screes, Dove Crag, Hart Crag, Fairfield, Dollywagon Pike, Nethermost Pike, Helvellyn with some of the most remote valleys in the area dropped in for good measure.

Starting at 0600 under cloudy skies, the heat and humidity of the day was masked, but it soon became apparent that it was going to be essential for all runners to keep on top of their hydration.

Andy Berry dictated the early pace up to place fell but all the main contenders were in close proximity and it was only when runners crossed Kirkstone Pass and started the climb of Red Screes that the main protagonists became apparent.

It was here that Andy Bryce showed that he was on a good day opening up a gap on the chasers of Philip Rutter, Andy Berry, Liam Mills, Marco Costelo and Simon Darmody.

For the women, Sophie Grant was already opening a huge gap over Kasia Osipowicz and make a dent on the overall top-10. Hanna Walsh running in 3rd was a long way back pacing herself for the tough challenges ahead.

Ambleside provided a major checkpoint for the long climb up to Fairfield, the decent to Grizedale Tarn and then the climb to Helvellyn and the technical descent down Swirral Edge.

The front of the race looked set with Bryce looking strong, but Rutter was moving quicker and one wondered would the final tough 20% of the race bring a change at the front? At the line, no! Bryce held on for victory beating Rutter 8:46:18 to 8:49:05. Berry ran a solid and consistent day having lead from the front with a 3rd place in 8:57:03.

Grant was head and shoulders above the competition and crossed the line for the women in 10:27:07 and placed 8th overall. Osipowicz placed 2nd in 11:06:40 and also made the top-20 overall. Third placed woman was Hanna Walsh in 13:43:55.

Full results HERE

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Skyrunning UK announce the 2019 Skyrunner ® UK & IRELAND calendar

Following on from the continued growth of skyrunning worldwide and the expansion of the Skyrunner ® World Series– Skyrunning UK is pleased to announce five races in four stunning locations that bring you the best of what the UK and Ireland has to offer.

The Races

The season will start in the iconic English Lakes with the Scafell Sky Race on June 8th.

Technical single-track and scree and 40m slab make this a classic 40km skyrunning route to be reckoned with. The circular ‘newly designed’ route allows you to run from the iconic National Trust’s Stickle Barn over Lakeland Fells and through Lakeland Valleys, whilst you summit England’s highest mountain on route and traverse some of the most challenging trails in the central Lake District.

“The Scafell Sky Race is the most technical race I’ve ever done … even tougher than Tromso! Emelie Forsberg would love it!”– Lucy Bartholomew.

With sections of scree and light scrambling thrown in, Scafell Sky Race is a serious test of nerve, skill and endurance. Mountain experience and moving solo across highly technical mountain terrain is an essential skill for this classic skyrunning race.

Race website HERE

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The second race of the season also takes place in the English Lakes, Lakes Sky Ultra on July 13th.

You’ll need a good head for heights and nerves of steel: you’re going to traverse three of the most amazing ridge-lines in the Lake District: Beda Fell, remote and sublime, the bone shaking and very wild ridge of Long Stile Edge and the very alpine and rocky scramble of Swirral Edge. We’re talking serious ascent with some distance thrown in, 60km of Lake District paths, trails and rock with 5’000m ascent.

We packed all the best central and eastern-Lake District mountain running trails we know into this course: you’ll go up and over Place Fell, Beda Fell, High Street, Thornthwaite Crag, Stoney Cove Pike, St Raven’s Edge, Red Screes, Dove Crag, Hart Crag, Fairfield, Dollywagon Pike, Nethermost Pike, Helvellyn with some of the most remote valleys in the area dropped in for good measure. It’s an epic day out to say the least.

And just as you think you can make the whole distance, we’ve added some new KoM Super Stages in to spice it all up. This year we will be combining the times for a real up-hill extravaganza, so remember to train ‘hill reps’ galore. It’s a race within a race, and the prizes will go to the runners who can dig the deepest in the final flight to the finish.

Race websiteHERE

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Ireland brings us a new race and experience for the ever-expanding calendar with the Seven Sisters Skyline on July 28th.

Dunlewey officially known by its Irish name Dun Luiche is a small Gaeltacht village in the Gweedore area of County Donegal, North West Ireland, now host to the InauguralSeven Sisters Skyline. The Seven Sisters are the seven high peaks of the Derryveagh mountains. From southwest to northeast they are as follows, Errigal (751 m), Mackoght a.ka. Little Errigal (555 m), Aghla More (584 m), Ardloughnabrackbaddy (603 m),Aghla Beg (564 m), Crocknalaragagh (471 m)and Muckish (666 m).

The course is an out and back route which traverses 13 summits in total (Errigal once). The course is unique in that there are little or no tracks or paths, just wild open isolated mountains and hillsides. This stunning skyrunning race route incorporates technical sections on either side of the route at Muckish and Errigal mountains.

Scrambling, ridge running, steep technical descents and ascents and a multitude of mixed terrain makes the 50km Seven Sisters Skyline with 4000m of vertical gain a great addition to the 2019 Skyrunner ® UK & IRELANDcalendar.

Race website HERE

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Our fourth race is another new addition to the calendar and we once again welcome Wales in the Skyrunner ® UK & IRELANDcalendar with the stunning Snowdon Skyline on September 15th.

The event where the sky isn’t the limit, it’s where the fun begins! Nestled in the quiet valley of Nant Gwynant in Snowdonia, Hafod y Llan farm will play host to the inaugural Snowdon Skyline.

The 40km Skyline Sky Race gets stuck straight into its 3600m+ right away by ascending the famous Snowdon Watkin path to then traverse the stunning Y Lliwedd ridge. After Pen y Pass road crossing, a second sizeable ascent to the gnarly terrain of the Glyders awaits, before plunging down the Y Gribin ridge to the Ogwen Valley.

The course offers little respite as it immediately ascends the iconic Tryfan via its sublime north ridge scramble, weaving upwards through rocky outcrops and gullies on route to the summit. A technical descent followed by some lovely undulating trails back to Pen y Pass and runners are nearly ready to finish this unrelenting figure of eight route. The jewel in the crown is a westbound traverse of the infamous Crib Goch ridge, followed by a delightful run off Snowdon summit via its south ridge. A sting in the tail comes in the form of the last summit of Y Garn, before a final descent home to Nant Gwynant.

With a course designed by a race director and skyrunner, the inaugural Snowdon Skyline will be sure to test all limits of a runner’s ability! A grand tour of some of the UK’s most scenic trails, ridges and scrambles, it’s a dead cert to become an international skyrunning classic…

Race websiteHERE

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The 2019 Skyrunner ® UK & IRELANDcalendar concludes with well-established and sell out race, the Mourne Skyline MTR – currently it has a scheduled date of October 19th (land permissions allowing tbc)

The Mourne Mountains are a granite mountain range in County Down in the south-east of Northern Ireland. Owned by the National Trust, an area of outstanding beauty, it includes Slieve Donard (850m), the highest mountain in Northern Ireland and Ulster and as such it provides a perfect location for a mountain race.

Among the more famous features, the Mourne Wall is a key element of this region and a key aspect of the race. Construction of the wall was started in 1904 and was completed in 1922; its purpose, to define the boundary of an area of land purchased by the Belfast Water Commission.

Comprised of forest path, fire roads, single track, granite trail and tough uneven broken fell, the race is a tough challenge. In just 35km the course has a brutal 3370m of ascent and no less than 9 peaks, the highest being Slieve Donard at 850m.

The mountains of Northern Ireland may not have the height or elevation gain the Alps or Pyrenees offer, but what they lack in height is more than compensated for in technicality and repeated roller coaster climbing. Ask anyone who has run it, the Mourne Skyline MTR is no easy race.

Race website HERE

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The Series

The Skyrunner ® UK & IRELANDseries is combined of five races and to be the best-of-the-best, runners must take part in at least three races. Points are awarded based on results and the male and female runner with the most points will be crowned as the Skyrunner ® UK & IRELANDchampion of 2019.

A Skyrunning World Ranking is a rolling 52-week ranking based on all the points awarded to the athletes from his/her participation in: Skyrunner® World Series races, Skyrunner National Series, Skyrunning World Championships and Skyrunning Continental Championships.

Importantly, from 2019, the Skyrunner® World Seriesseason will end with a Sky Mastersrace gathering only the best athletes who qualified over the season. SMSA offers to Skyrunner® National Series Skyrunner ® UK & IRELAND qualifying paths.

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Download release, images and logos HERE

“Skyrunning” has been around for some time.  Hundreds, even thousands of years ago mountains were negotiated out of necessity: war, religious persecution, hunting, smuggling, or just out of plain old curiosity.  The concept of running up and down mountains for fun is much newer.  Take for example the Ben Nevis Race which goes back to 1903, or the Pikes Peak Marathon which began as a bet in 1954 among smokers and non-smokers.

The idea of creating a sports discipline however was the brainchild of Italian mountaineer Marino Giacometti, who, with a handful of fellow climbers, pioneered records and races on Mont Blanc and Monte Rosa in the Italian Alps in the early ‘90’s.  In 1993, with the support of the multinational Fila as sponsor, skyrunning took off across the world’s mountain ranges with a circuit of awe-inspiring races stretching from the Himalayas to the Rockies, from Mount Kenya to the Mexican volcanoes. Giacometti’s term skyrunning*, as the name suggests, is where earth and sky meet.

Mourne Skyline MTR 2018

Another year, another stunning edition of the Mourne Skyline MTR awaits. This race over the last-years has personified the true ethos of going fast and light to the mountains. Created by Justin and Ryan Maxwell, the race has been a permanent fixture on the Skyrunning UK calendar.

In 2018, over 250 runners will toe the line to undertake what is one of the toughest challenges out there, a 35k race, incorporating 3,370m (11,057ft) of accumulative ascent, set in the heart of the scenic Mourne Mountains in Northern Ireland.  The event, which is now in it’s 5th year, will take place on Saturday 20th October 2018, starting at 0900. The race is brought to you by NiRunning (Northern Ireland Running), Northern Ireland’s most popular running website, with assistance from the Northern Ireland Mountain Running Association (NIMRA).

Race website HERE

The Mourne Mountains are a granite mountain range in County Down in the south-east of Northern Ireland. Owned by the National Trust, an area of outstanding beauty, it includes Slieve Donard (850m), the highest mountain in Northern Ireland and Ulster and as such it provides a perfect location for a mountain race.

Among the more famous features, the Mourne Wall is a key element of this region and a key aspect of the race. Construction of the wall was started in 1904 and was completed in 1922; its purpose, to define the boundary of an area of land purchased by the Belfast Water Commission.

Comprised of forest path, fire roads, single track, granite trail and tough uneven broken fell, the race is a tough challenge. In just 35km the course has a brutal 3370m of ascent and no less than 9 peaks, the highest being Slieve Donard at 850m.

“…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 visibleand 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.

J Marshall Thompson, an experienced ski mountaineer from the USA raced the 2014 edition and placed 3rd, an incredible result for someone who had never experienced such technical terrain.

“That was some of the most crazy terrain I have ever run. It was relentless. It was beyond technical. You had no idea where to put your feet and I can’t tell you how many times I fell over; I loved it’

But the technicality and challenges the Mourne Mountains offer are not for everyone, Jo Meek has raced for team GB and has placed top 5 at the iconic Comrades Ultramarathon in South Africa:

“I really did push and race hard but the relentless ankle twisting and gnarly terrain beat me down and in the latter stages. I eased off a little knowing that 2nd place was secure.”

The mountains of Northern Ireland may not have the height or elevation gain the the Alps or Pyrenees offer, but what they lack in height is more than compensated for in technicality and repeated roller coaster climbing. Ask anyone who has run it, the Mourne Skyline MTR is no easy race.

The race description is taken from the book RUNNING BEYOND HERE

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Ring of Steall SkyRace 2018 – Skyrunning World Championships

Report by Lauri van Houten, ISF

In three days of uncertain and often extreme weather conditions, the 2018 Skyrunning World Championships lit up the sky in the Scottish Highlands with a rainbow of nations and world class competition. Nine countries took medals and 26 National Teams scored points lead by Spain, UK and USA.

The third and final event of the Championships, the Salomon Ring of Steall SkyRace, saw a stacked field with 879 runners from 40 countries. Thanks to the extremely tough competition, records were smashed by new World Champions, Kilian Jornet from Spain and Tove Alexandersson from Sweden. The top ten men and seven women finished below last year’s record. The new records are 3h04’34” and 3h48’28”.

 

It’s a wonderful race, I love coming here to Scotland. It’s technical, the track is beautiful, what I love when I’m racing,” stated Jornet. “Today was a great battle with Nadir. I managed to put 20” on him on the last part of the uphill. It’s great because when we look for racing we look for competition, for a fight, and that’s what it was today. When you think about skyrunning you think about races like this, you need to fight every step.

“What’s particular here is it’s very muddy, very wet, slippery. The terrain is similar to Norway. I fell in the mud on the last downhill. This year it was good for me, such a good field with so many strong people,” he concluded.

 

Second man, Italian Nadir Maguet, closed in 3h06’05” to take the silver medal. “I came here hoping to do well. Obviously when you see a start list with a very high level, you ask yourself how will it go. My dream was to race with Kilian, to feel strong, and that was how it went. I ran the whole race with him, mostly half a minute behind. In the second half of the race and on the last descent I tried to push but you know Kilian is strong on the downhill. It was impossible to catch him, I tried. The important thing is to dream and dream…I’m really happy with my second place.”

 

2016 Vertical, Sky and Combined champion and race record holder of the Vertical and Sky records set here last year was Norwegian Stian Angermund-Vik. He closed the podium to take the bronze in 3h09’05’. 

It was awesome. As I said before this is my favourite race. This year I ran 15’ quicker,” he said. “This race is more technical than most…I love the ridges and the mud and everything. On the second ridge I just had to stop and look around it was so beautiful. I almost cried it was so amazing. I’m so happy to finish third. It was like a big dream for me.”  For many, it was all about sharing a dream.

Tove Alexandersson, a multiple Orienteering World Champion from Sweden cut an incredible 19’ off the previous record to take the gold and the new Skyrunning World Champion title for the Sky category. “It was a bit more muddy and slippery than I expected but otherwise it was just perfect. I felt strong all the way. I didn’t have much time to see the views because it was quite technical. On the downhill you have to be so focussed. I think that’s my biggest strength so I had a good feeling.

 

“This is so much longer than orienteering. I won my first skyrunning race last year and I couldn’t move for an hour. This time I was more prepared to run a bit longer. I really wanted to come here and to be World Champion. Skyrunning is the best thing. I really enjoy the atmosphere and everything. I’m so happy that I came here to run the Sky race.”

Taking the silver was Briton Victoria Wilkinson. “It was hard work because I have not raced for four hours for quite some time and that meant I had to pace myself.  I raced with Laura [Orgue] who won the race last year for some of the first part. She’s a good climber and I learned a lesson or two from her! I hadn’t run the Ring of Steall course before but I won the Ben Nevis race a couple of weeks ago which was good experience. I loved the race and I’m really happy to be second lady.”

 

The bronze went to top skyrunner Holly Page who took the medal for the UK. “I’m absolutely delighted. I wasn’t expecting that at all when I saw who was going to be here. At the top of the first climb I think I was 15th and I felt really unhappy and horrible. But then I got into a downhill and it ‘smelt’ like a fell race, it felt like home. I overtook lots of people on the downhill which gave me quite a confidence boost.

 “It was quite rough and very muddy until the rocky technical bit which is the part I like. It was a great course. I occasionally looked round and thought ‘I’m so glad that the world has come to Scotland and seen these views.’ It was stunning.”

 

The course, 29 km long with 2,500m vertical climb is fast becoming a skyrunning classic in every sense, with steep ascents, scrambling sections, ridges, and…spectacular views.

Individual world titles and a total of 27 medals were awarded in the three disciplines as well as a combined title based on the best results of the Vertical and Sky races.

Marino Giacometti, ISF President awarded the medals after the events and at the final ceremony. “These World Championships was announced as a difficult challenge and I’m obviously extremely happy for the great participation… and to have survived the Scottish weather,” he said. “Now among the new world champions we have not only Kilian, but Jonathan Albon (an Obstacle racing champion), Tove Alexandersson (an Orienteering champion) and Nadir Maguet (a ski-mountaineering champion). I like to think that skyrunning inspires athletes from other sports too!”

 

He also expressed his thanks to SkyLine Scotland for the excellent organisation and for hosting the 2018 Skyrunning World Championships in the Scottish “Skylands”, a new and spectacular international sports arena.

Following ISF protocol, WADA antidoping tests were carried out at the Championships.

Salomon Ring of Steall SkyRace® results


Men

  1. Kilian Jornet (ESP) – 3h04’34”
  2. Nadir Maguet (ITA) – 3h06’05”
  3. Stian Angermund-Vik (NOR) – 3h’09’05”
  4. Alexis Sévennec (FRA) – 3h11’56”
  5. Pascal Egli (SUI) – 3h12’24”

Women

 

  1. Tove Alexandersson (SWE) – 3h48’28”
  2. Victoria Wilkinson (GBR) – 3h54’01”
  3. Holly Page (GBR) – 3h57’57”
  4. Sheila Avilés (ESP) – 4h01’20”
  5. Laura Orgué (ESP) – 4h03’56”

 

Image galleries will be available HERE

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Ben Nevis Ultra 2018 – Skyrunning World Championships

Report by Lauri van Houten, ISF.

Cold, storms and wild and windy weather meant safety first and the adoption of Plan B at the Salomon Ben Nevis Ultra valid for the 2018 Skyrunning World Championships in Scotland today.

Jonathan Albon and Ragna Debats took the gold for the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. Altogether 478 runners from 41 countries bravely faced the elements in the Scottish Highlands over a reduced course 47 km long with 1,750m vertical climb avoiding the summit of Britain’s highest peak, Ben Nevis. (The original course designed especially for the occasion was 52 km long with a vertical climb of 3,820m).

Albon, probably the most eclectic of the field, closed in 3h48’02” leaving a 12’ gap to second man André Jonsson from Sweden who took the silver. Spain’s Luis Alberto Hernando, 2014 and 2016 Skyunning World Champion took the bronze just one minute later.

It was definitely mountainous in the beginning but then we got on the trail and it was fast. I’m used to winning the extreme races, with loads of climb and steep up and down,” commented Albon. “About 10 km in, there was a really muddy section where I felt a bit more comfortable and took the lead without really trying to and didn’t look back. It would have been nice to win on the actual course but the weather is what it is and hard to predict. Obviously it would have been nice to go up Ben Nevis. I’ve never been up there…It was a good mix and it was fun!”

Jonsson added, ”I enjoyed the race a lot – especially the first part, the actual skyrunning part! I would have preferred to run on the original course but it was the same for everyone. I’m really happy about the silver medal though!”

For the lady from the flat lands of Holland, a top ranked skyrunner, Ragna Debats was very comfortable with the long fast stretches in the second half of the race. She took the well-deserved gold medal for her country with a 14’ advantage over her rivals, closing in 4h36’20”.

I decided to start fast right from the beginning and see if anyone would follow me. I saw nobody was close to me so I just kept on going, reserving just a little energy just in case somebody came up behind me. I also fell into a big puddle with my head right in it so I got cold and was completely wet! It was funny though,” stated Debts. “I sprained my ankle some weeks ago and didn’t know if I could run. However, I got motivated again, my ankle cured and I started to prepare this race last minute. The medal means a lot to me, my season couldn’t be more perfect!”

For the silver and bronze it was a bitter battle to the end with four women competing for the medals. It was resolved in a tight sprint between Spaniard Gemma Arenas, second, and Maria Mercedes Pila from Ecuador, just four seconds later. Arenas was just in eighth half way through the race but gained hard on the group. “In the last ten kilometres we passed each other back and forth, alternating the second position. We’re all friends!” she said.

Natalia Tomasiak from Poland took fourth and Norwegian Henriette Albon (Albon’s wife) placed fifth. Nine different nations featured in the women’s top ten.

After yesterday’s first World Championships race with the Vertical and today’s Ultra, the first 12 medals out of the 27 at stake, went to eight nations. The country ranking is led by Spain with one gold, one silver and one bronze medal. The UK, Netherlands and Switzerland have one gold each.

The final showdown will take place tomorrow with the Salomon Ring of Steall  SkyRace® with a super-strong international line-up headed by 2014 Skyrunning World Champion Kilian Jornet and 879 athletes from 40 countries. The Championship medals for nations will be awarded at tomorrow’s prize ceremony together with the Combined titles and medals based on the VK and Sky results.

Following ISF protocol, WADA antidoping tests will be carried out at the Championships.

Image galleries will be HERE

Salomon Ben Nevis Ultra results

Men

  1. Jonathan Albon (GBR) – 3h48’02”
  2. André Jonsson (SWE) – 4h00’35”
  3. Luis Alberto Hernando (ESP) – 4h01’21”
  4. Manuel Anguita (ESP) – 4h01’41”
  5. Andreu Simon (ESP) – 4h04’32”

Women

  1. Ragna Debats (NED) – 4h36’20”
  2. Gemma Arenas (ESP) – 4h50’32”
  3. Maria Mercedes Pila (ECU) – 4h50’36”
  4. Natalia Tomasiak (POL) – 4h52’46”
  5. Henriette Albon (NOR) – 4h53’04”

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Lakes Sky Ultra 2018 – Sinclair and Grant take Victory

The fourth Lakes Sky Ultra (LSU) again demonstrated both the allure of the Lake District and the international appeal of skyrunning, with runners representing Austria, France, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Poland and Romania (as well as Britain) all arriving in Ambleside.

As the elite field of 74 runners began the ascent of Dove Crag (via Low Pike and High Pike), Great Britain-international trail-runner Rob Sinclair took an early lead. By notorious Striding Edge the Scot had a 10-minute advantage and as the day progressed it looked like he might break the course record of 7:30:27.

The first half of the course includes around two-thirds of the 4,500m of ascent and the majority of the technical ridge running, with the second half being faster, more runnable terrain.

Ultimately Sinclair arrived at the finish line in Ambleside just 10 minutes off the record. “The race was brilliant,” he said. “It was a really good run. It was super hot, but I felt good in the heat today.”

I loved the race,” said second-placed Tim Campion-Smith (GBR), who won last year’s sister race, the Scafell Sky Race (which takes place on Sunday 15 July). “It was super fun. The first five hours were great. Hours five to seven were pretty bleak. But then it was a nice little run in to the finish. The blueberries were out too, so I stocked up on a few calories.”

The other two lads were just a different level today,” said third-placed Andy Berry (GBR), who was 13 minutes faster than his winning time last year. “I don’t have that in the tank at the minute. Pinnacle Ridge [a particularly technical and exposed section where runners use safety ropes] was superb.”

In the women’s race, New Zealand-born GB international trail-runner Sophie Grant, who placed second at LSU in 2016, won by over two and a half hours, in a time of 10:14:41. “This is a race with service!” she said as she was sprayed with water at the finish line. “I’m feeling way better now. Thatwas fantastic. It’s just such a cool race.”

Kate Simpson (GBR) was second in 12:37:38, with Jenny Yate (GBR) third in 12:51:35. “I’m really chuffed with that,” said the Helm Hill runner. “I really enjoyed it up till Patterdale [30K into the race], then it got tough. The climb up High Street just went on forever. Coming off Red Scree [the final descent] seemed to go on forever, too. The marshals were amazing the whole way round. They were egging me on, telling me I was second lady, which did put some pressure on!”

About:

Lakes Sky Ultra (LSU) is a 56km skyrunning race with 4,500m of ascent on extreme terrain in the Lake District National Park. Skyrunning is a combination of mountain running and alpinism, where scrambling/rock climbing is likely. For LSU, runners are vetted to ensure they have appropriate levels of experience in the mountains. The race is part of the UK Skyrunning Series.

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SCAFELL SKY RACE AND THE LAKES SKY ULTRA 2018 Preview

EXCITEMENT AHEAD OF THE SCAFELL SKY RACE AND THE LAKES SKY ULTRA

The English Lakes provides a great area this coming weekend when many of the UK’s best Skyrunner’s descend on Ambleside to participate in the first two races of the 2018 Skyrunner UK National Series.

SCAFELL SKY RACE

The 40km Scafell Sky Racetakes place on July 15th. It is a pure mountain race with 3000m of vertical gain. At times, it is a technical race and uses a multitude of single-track. In 2017, the amazing Lucy Bartholomew, who recently placed 3rd at the iconic Western States said, “The Scafell Sky Race is the most technical race I have ever done!”

Lucy Bartholomew ©guillemcsanova

In 2018, the race has significant importance as it is a qualifying race for the Skyrunning UK National Team that will participate at the 2018 Skyrunning World Championships at Glen Coe in Scotland.

18 slots are available, 6 per race – VK, SKY and ULTRA and places will be awarded as follows:

1. Ranking places – 6 in total.

2 entries are awarded, male and female, to the two top ranked athletes in VK, SKY and ULTRA categories based on the Skyrunning ranking.

2. Qualifying places – 4 in total.

2 entries are awarded, male and female, for SKY and ULTRA (4 entries in total) based on the results from Scafell Sky Race.

3. VK places – 2 in total.

2 entries for the VK will be awarded for any UK athletes who show previous experience/ results on the Vertical Kilometer World Circuit or via Scafell Sky Race.

4. Merit places – 6 in total.

2 entries are awarded, male and female, for VK, SKY and ULTRA based on the discretion of Skyrunning UK.

In the event of an invited athlete being unable or wishing not to take a place in the National team, Skyrunning UK will roll down the Skyrunning ranking (point 1), roll down the results from Scafell Sky Race (point 2), scroll down VK experience (point 3) and use discretion to award merit places (point 4).

In all scenarios, the final decision rests with Skyrunning UK.

So, who are the hot contenders for the overall podium places in the Scafell Sky Race?

Skyrunner World Series Champion and multi OCR World Champion, Jon Albon heads-up the field and will almost certainly be the man to beat come race day. But rest assured runner’s, Jon gets an auto entry in the Skyrunning UK National Team for the world champs, he has decided to race the ultra-distance event.

Marcus Scotney has won the Dragons Back Race, The Cape Wrath Ultra and is an ever-present in a GB vest. He loves the mountains, technical terrain and racing hard. He will, without doubt be a prime contender for a podium slot.

Tom Evans is a late entry and has been a revelation since placing 3rd at Marathon des Sables in 2017. What has followed is a whirlwind of races and great performances. In early 2018 he obliterated the course record at The Coastal Challenge ahead of Hayden Hawks and recently he placed 3rd at the IAU World Trail Championships.

Steve Birkinshaw needs no introduction the fell and mountain running, he has been there and done that. He recently said to me that he lacks speed these days but just last weekend he paced Kilian Jornet on leg 4 of his Bob Graham Round record, so, his slow is most people’s fast!

Sally Fawcett is an experienced mountain runner and has represented GB. She won the Lakeland 50 and has placed highly at the World Trail Championships.

Sarah Sheridan has raced many of the UK series races and has had great results recently at 9th place at the Maxi Race Ultra in May 2018 and she was 6th place at the UTMR in 2017.

Ones to watch:

  • Andy Bryce
  • Casper Kaars Sijpesteijn
  • Tristan Pope
  • Brennan Townshend
  • Beth Albon
  • Catherine Slater
  • Henriette Albon
  • Tamsin Cass

The race starts at 0900 from Seathwaite Farm and the first runner can be expected in Ambleside around 1330, however, remember, this may well be a fast year… arrive at the finish early! The route is a classic to be reckoned with. Participants willsummit Englands highest mountain and traverse some of the most challenging trails in the central Lake District via sections of scree and light scrambling thrown in.  Scafell Sky Race is a serious test of nerve, skill and endurance. 

LAKES SKY ULTRA

Relentless, technical and designed to test you to the limit. The 56km race with 4500m of ascent requires a rounded athlete with experience, has mountain running strength, endurance, speed, balance and skill to the maximum. From grassy trods and well-worn mountain paths, to bare rock and scree, open fell, bogs and tussocks, the race is the ultimate test.

Inspired by the great Sky races of Europe, Lakes Sky Ultrais a technically demanding course that requires athletes to be vetted to ensure that only the most experienced will tackle this ultra-distance route.It contains ridges and one of the most gravity-defying scrambles the Lake District has to offer. Racers need a good head for heights and nerves of steel: their going to traverse three of the most iconic ridge-lines in the Lake District: Swirral Edge, the knife-edge of Striding Edge and the very alpine and technical Pinnacle Ridge.

The Scafell Sky Race being a UK qualifier has certainly impacted on the LSU but a great line-up of runners are set to do battle on the fells. Andy Berry will be racing hard for a repeat win at the LSU and is certainly one of the favorites for the top podium spot. James Elson is an experienced ultra-runner and ever-present on the UK scene. Has had great success at the 100-mile distance and has figured in the top ranks at Lakeland 100. Jarek Czuba made the podium V3K and Jason Millward was 4th at the 2017 Lakes Sky Ultra, can he make the podium this year? Rob Sinclair is a major contender for the overall victory, he won KMF 50 and smashed the record, set by Donnie Campbell in 2016, by 18-minutes. Tim Campion Smith was the winner of the 2017 Scafell Sky Race and this year steps up to the big brother, also watch out for Andy Bryce who placed 3rd last year, although he is going for the double! Sophie Grant heads up a small contingent of ladies who are taking on the LSU challenge. She is the overall favourite for victory after placing 2ndin 2016 and don’t be surprised if she does not impact on the overall ranking.

The race starts at 0700 on Saturday July 14th. First runners are expected in Ambleside around 1400hrs and the race cut off is at 2100.

All information for the weekend can be found at the race website

LAKE DISTRICT SKY TRAILS here.

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Skyline Scotland chosen for 2018 Skyrunning World Championships

Skyline Scotland has been confirmed as the venue for the 2018 ISF Skyrunning World Championships.

Athletes from all over the world will travel to Kinlochleven, Scotland to do battle over the long established distances of VK, SKY CLASSIC and SKY ULTRA during the month of September in 2018.

The Salomon Mamores VK provides a unique challenge unlike other races in the Vertical Kilometre World Circuit, maybe with the exception of Tromso, as runners run and climb 1000 vertical meters on terrain that is unique to Scotland. It is an incredible leg and lung bursting ascent from sea level to a Munro summit. Early winding trails soon stop and wall of heather and bracken lead skywards before the terrain changes to rock.

The Salomon Ring of Steall Skyrace in just two editions has been hailed as one of the most challenging and rewarding, it has become a favourite in the Migu Run Skyrunner World Series and for 2018 the worlds best will battle over uncompromising terrain that includes the Devil’s Ridge. Four peaks, technical terrain, ascents and descents and of course the unpredictable Scottish weather may well prove the ultimate challenge.

The Salomon Ben Nevis Ultra will have a re-designed route for 2018 but it will retain the key chartteristics that made the inaugural 2017 edition special. Expect single-tracks, trackless ridges and a climb and traverse of Carn Mor Dearg Arete. Distance will be +/- 65km with 4000m+ of vert (tbc).

The ISF (International Skyrunning Federation) have pioneered mountain sports in the sky and the 2018 edition of the Skyrunner World Championships will prove to be a special one, especially for runners in the UK.

The 2017 edition of Skyline Scotland arguably saw the greatest elite fields ever assembled on UK soil for a mountain race, the restive and honour that comes from holding a World Championships is a dream come true for Skyrunning UK and Ourea Events who are the organisers of Skyline Scotland.

Race Director Shane Ohly said, “Salomon Skyline Scotland has exploded from nothing, to the pinnacle mountain running event in the world in just three years. It’s a phenomenal rate of change and organising the event has been some journey! It will be an honour to be trusted with the Skyrunning World Championship in 2018 and I look forward to welcoming the world’s best mountain runners back to Scotland next September.”

Notably, the Salomon Glen Coe Skyline will still take place on the same weekend, however, this event will not be in the ISF Skyrunning World Championships but the Migu Run Skyrunner World Series.

Dates September 13th, 14th, 15th, 16th 2018

Importantly, from a UK perspective, SKYRUNNING UK will be looking to assemble a UK World Championship team made up of the best male and female Skyrunners. This will be based on ranking and past results. But, if you are interested and feel you have the appropriate skills, please email skyrunninguk@icloud.com

ISF HERE

Quotes ©ISF

Marino Giacometti, ISF President, commented, “We’re very proud and pleased to present the 2018 World Championships in the beautiful Scottish Highlands and, with the organisation of Skyline Scotland, we are confident the events will be a perfect showcase for skyrunning attracting the world’s best athletes for some intense competition on this technical terrain.

More news and updates will follow in the coming months.

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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Garmin Mourne Skyline MTR 2017 Race Preview

The Skyrunning UK season concludes in Ireland this coming weekend with the Garmin Mourne Skyline MTR. What a year it has been! From the very first edition, the GMSMTR has sold out and demand continues to exceed places available. It’s a testament to the team behind the race.

The 2016 edition was won by Germain Grangier in a time of 3:49:39 and the ladies’ race was dominated by Jasmin Paris running 4:30:02. However, the ladies course record still stands with USA based runner and Salomon athlete, Stevie Kremer.

Ian Bailey, former course record holder at the Garmin Mourne Skyline MTR returns in 2017 and will not only be looking for victory but dipping under the 3:49:39 set by Grangier last year.

Skyrunning UK Series champions will be confirmed in Ireland. The battle is on for a male champion, Tim Campion-Smith is the odds-on favourite with a convincing 25-point lead. Jason Millward, Tomasso Migliuolo and Jonathan Palmer are in with a shout. Tim Campion-Smith will not run in Ireland, however, Jason Millward will! With a 20% bonus at stake for the final event, if Millward wins or places 2nd, he would leapfrog Campion-Smith for the 2017 overall title by dropping his lowest ranking points (9th at Ben Nevis Ultra) and replacing them with points from the Mourne Skyline MTR – 1st would provide 30 points, 2nd 26.4 points and *3rd would provide 22.8 points.

It is likely that Jonathan Palmer will move from equal 3rd to 3rd overall after the Mourne Skyline MTR. Of course, if Millward has a poor run and Palmer has a great run, this could change!

*3rd place would not be enough for overall victory, it would provide a total of 45.8 points to Campion-Smith’s 48-point tally.

The ladies race is wide open! Kirsty-Jane Birch currently leads the ranking with 11 points but it looks like she will not race in Ireland and therefore she will not have three qualifying races. This leaves the door open for 2nd placed Rebecca Morgan who has 5 points and will race at the Mourne – in many respects, she just needs to finish the race but a top-10 would guarantee overall victory.

As in previous editions, there is a wealth of talent toeing the line. Look out for:

Seamus Lynch, Jonathan Palmer, David Hicks, Barry Hartnett, Ryan Stewart and Shane Donnelly.

Linda O’Connor, Megan Wilson, Martsje Hell, Elizabeth Wheeler, Karina Jonina, Jacqueline Toal, Shileen O’Kane, Hazel McLaughlin and importantly Janne Geurts who placed 2nd at the V3K but this is only her 2nd Skyrunning UK race and therefore cannot qualify for the Series despite having the most points.

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.

 

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 Commedagh 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

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