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.
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.
The fourth Lakes Sky Ultra (LSU)again demonstrated both the allure of the Lake District andthe 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 Sinclairtook 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!”
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.
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!”
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:
Casper Kaars Sijpesteijn
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 England’s 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 Ultra™ is 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
We go EXTREME! Yes, the 2017 Migu Run Skyrunner World Series kicks-off the Extreme category in Italy with the Royal Ultra SkyMarathon® Gran Paradiso – 55km, 4287m of vertical and the high-point coming at 3002m.
The course profile is a sharks tooth profile with no less than 10-peaks over the 55km course. Significant points coming at 5km, 12km, 25km, 27km and then a succession of repeated peaks over the final 15km before the final drop from just under 2600m to 1570m. It’s going to be brutal!
The 50km course winds through the Gran Paradiso National Park in the royal hunting grounds, hence the ‘Royal’ title, runners will compete with ibex and chamois. Starting near a lake at an altitude of 2000m, participants will traverse five passes – the magnificent Gran Parasido mountain will provide a stunning backdrop towering over the race at 4061m. Moraines, rocks, streams and snowfields provide an extreme challenge.
Names to watch (alphabetical order):
Jan Bartas is a regular on the Skyrunning circuit and while he may not be a contender for the top-3, he will be in the mix for the top-10.
Cristofer Clemente has grown and grown as a trail and mountain runner. His performances in Skyrunning have elevated him to top the world stage and recently he produced a stunning run in the IAU world champs. He’s a favorite for the win.
Kim Collison is one of the UK’s best on his day. Recent injury problems have reduced his training and he is still unsure if he will be able to toe the line…
Bhim Gurung on his day can handle the distance and technical terrain and beat the best in the world. He can descend like a demon and he will be up at the front end for sure.
Hector Haines is slowly but surely coming a dominant force on the Skyrunning SWS. He excelled at Limone SkyRace and recently he had a great run at Transvulcania Ultramarathon. Hector may well win this race!
Andre Jonsson just had a great run at High Trail Vanoise and he will most certainly be a top-10 and on a normal day he would be top-5, however, I think he may be a little jaded after HTV.
Dimitry Mityaev placed 3rd at High Trail Vanoise and like Jonsson is almost certainly going to be tired in Italy, however, he has the strength to potentially dig-deep and make top-5.
Shane Ohly on his day has the potential to turn a few heads, he’s not likely to make the podium but in recent months he’s been showing some great form.
Pavel Paloncy is as strong as an ox and will trade blows with the best, however, on this course I think he will lack speed to contend for the podium.
Konrad Rawlik is a solid mountain runner who like Ohly has all the potential to mix it with the best in shooting for a top-10 slot.
Roger Vinas rose through the Skyrunning ranks in 2016 with a series of solid performances, he is a top-10 potential and if he’s on a good day he may well make an impact on the top-5.
Zaid Ait Malek raced recently in Spain so may well be tired, however, he has all the speed, endurance and skill to make the podium and yes, win the race!
Sophie Grant has recently placed 10th a Tararwera Ultra, 4th at Transgrancanaria and 11th at Mont-Blanc 80km – the Royal will bring a whole new challenge to this British runner and she has all the potential to turn heads with a podium place.
Aitziber Ibarbia is a regular competitor in the SWS calendar and is without doubt a contender for the top-5 and a potential top-3.
Maite Maiora is the odds-on favorite for victory after winning Zegama-Aizkorri and the recent Livigno SkyMarathon.
Emanuele Manzoli placed 3rd at the Royal in 2015 and brings course knowledge and experience. A recent victory at Trail Alta Vai Nure.
Ekaterina Mityaev is a new name and face in Skyrunning and she is excelling after moving up from shorter distance races to ultras. In 2016 she placed 4th at Ultra Pirineu and in 2017 she was 7th at Transvulcania, 2nd at Ultra SkyMarathon Madeira and she was 3rd at Mont-Blanc 80km – podium potential for sure!
Katie Schide is a relative unknown on Italian soil but she placed 7th at Speedgoat 50km in 2015 and won Antelop Island 50k. No results show for 2016 but 2nd at Moab’s Red Hot 55km in 2017 shows she is in form! Backed up in Livignio and recent racing in France.
Natalia Tomasiak was 7th at Glen Coe Skyline in 2016 and 6th at Trofeo Kima, A recent win at Stubai Ultratrail shows good form.
Zuzana Urbancova 8th at Ultra SkyMarathon Madeira and a string of other top-10 results confirm that a top-10 is a distinct possibility and top-5 is possible on a good day.
Susan Van Duijl and a whole host of other top female contenders will make this an exciting race.
Episode 99 of Talk Ultra we talk all about ELS2900 with RD Matt Lefort and 3rd place overall, Andy Symonds. Sophie Grant talk Raid de la Reunion and Paul Giblet from the UK wins Javekina Hundred beating Speedgoat! Niandi is here too looking like a Druid.
00:01:30 Show Start
Help Nepal – Nepal images ‘FACES of NEPAL’ – order a print and all funds donated to Nepal charities HERE
TRAINING CAMP in Lanzarote with Elisabet Barnes 28th Jan to Feb 4th HERE