The 2021 edition of the Seven Sisters Skyline will see 200 participants take to the start line on Ireland’s most demanding mountain running route.
The out and back course takes in all seven peaks of the Derryveagh Mountains with all but the highest peak, Mount Errigal, being covered twice, covering over 4,000m ascent in the now 55k route. A new start will see competitors take in a loop around Dunlewey lough before the first ascent at 5k.
With sections called ‘Bridge of Tears’ and ‘Heart Attack Hill’ this will not be an easy day out. Competitors will have to contend with everything from soft, wet underfoot conditions as there has been lots of rain in recent weeks; heathery bog and open mountain to rock and scree, often having to scramble on hands and knees over the loose stone.
In the men’s field we will have a new champion as Shaun Stewart 2020 winner isn’t competing. A very open field could see some surprises, for those very well prepared for this brital course. Aidan Mc Moreland was third last year, Lonan O’Farrell third the previous year are back, and other names that could contest the top spots are Shane Lynch; Paddy Hamilton & Marek Wojnarowski. With 3k extra on the route this year a time of 7hrs 30mins would be expected for the male winner.
In the Ladies event, a great race is guaranteed with lots of quality women toeing the line. Laura O’Driscoll Ireland’s top adventure athlete who took first place last year in a fantastic time of 8:22:43, and a top 10 finish overall is back to defend her title, and will be the one everyone will be chasing.
Other notable names to watch for include last years second and third place finishers Ellen Vitting & Karalee Mc Bride, and Bernadette O’Kane who was top 3 the previous year. Helen Brown from the UK make her first trip to the event, and broke the South Wales Traverse record in 2020, a former British fell running champion will relish the running on this course.
Lake District Sky Trails hosted 2 sky races this weekend, one in the Ultra category and one in the Extreme. Both races had small fields, undoubtedly due to the difficulty in training for such hard races over the past 12 months.
Lakes Sky Ultra 2021:
Saturday 10th July saw the 6th edition of the Lakes Sky Ultra take place.
Runners from 7 nations took part in the race that takes in 55km with 4300m of vert over trails and technical ridgelines in the Eastern and Central Lake District.
Conditions in the morning were light mist and banks of cloud drifting in and out with sunshine and then humidity raising the temps into the afternoon for some heavy burst of rain to cool things down.
The course takes in 5 major ridge lines over very technical ground with ‘hands on rock’ needed in many places.
In the men’s race Simon Roberts pushed hard from the start and with taking 3rd place at the recent Scafell Sky Race, he retained his lead throughout over Andy Bryce, who won the 2019 race, putting 38 minutes between himself and 2nd place. Simon finished in a time of 06:50:28. Andy Bryce took the 2nd place in 07:28:35. Casper Kaars Sijpesteijn came in the 3rd place after taking Beau Smith from Voom Nutrition, the main sponsors of the event, a few km’s from the end of the race.
In the women’s race Holly Wotten dominated the lead for the whole race taking the coveted trophy and first place in a time of 09:58:02, with Deirdre Galvin of Ireland taking the 2nd place in 10:37:20 and 3rd place went to Faith Dalgaty in a time of 11:54:00, just scraping inside the cut off. Overall Holly finished 13th, Deirdre took the 19th place and Faith finishing in 30th place.
Pinnacle Ridge Extreme 2021:
Extreme by name and extreme by nature, the PRE attracts a niche field of mountaineers, alpinists and extreme skyrunners, dubbed as mini Glencoe Skyline by one of the entrants, Paul Cornforth of Kong Adventure in Keswick said “it was incredible, like a mini Glen Coe Skyline”
47 extreme skyrunners from 7 nations set off at 10am on Saturday the 10th to battle out the first ascent to Sticks Pass and down to Stannah Hall until they hit the first grade II scramble, Stepped Ridge, on Brown Cove Crags.
Alistair Todd took the lead to Brown Cove Crags, but then retired himself at the Hole in the Wall checkpoint after not feeling right on the extreme terrain, Harry Kingston, who had been in 2nd place then naturally took the lead and held onto it through Swirral and Striding Edges, opening the gap on the descent through Eagle Crag and ascent to Pinnacle Ridge. With near perfect conditions Harry stormed across the finish line in a explosive time of 03:58:28, just missing Rob Sinclair’s awesome record which is – 03:57:02 – by 00:01:26. Jayson Cavill had a cracking race in 2nd place and finished in 04:17:38, with local runner Matt Reedy taking the 3rd place in 04:25:19, not far behind the 2nd place.
The Ladies race was led and won by Kristina Alzulaite, who looked strong throughout and cruised over the finish line looking all too fresh in an awesome time of 05:30:02, setting a new course record in the process. On being asked about what she thought of the race she announced it was her first sky race! 2nd place was taken by Danielle Ledbury who also ran an very strong race, completing the course in 05:43:31 also finishing inside Ursula Moore’s record from 2019 which was 05:45:13. The ladies 3rd place went to Lenka Wiedenova, completing the course in 06:10:28. Overall Kristina was 13th, Danielle came 17th and Lenka was 22nd in a strong field of male runners.
Now all eyes turn to the Snowdon Skyline and Mourne Skyline, both at the start of October taking place in Wales and Northern Ireland respectively, with their dates clashing slightly due to the crazy year we have experienced.
The Coronavirus Pandemic has brought a great deal of disruption over the past 12-18 months resulting in the cancellation or postponement of many events. Unfortunately, date clashes have been inevitable and this coming weekend, July 10, we see three events in the Syrunner UK & Ireleand Series taking place – Lakes Sky Ultra, Pinnacle Ridge Extreme and the Gaelforce Sky Run.
The Lakes Sky Ultra™ is one of the most technically demanding course-marked race’s the Lake District has ever seen with a distance 50km+ with 4000m+ ascent. Taking in Striding and Swirral Edge amongst other extremely technical terrain, competitors must have superb mountain skills for this challenge.
Short, but exceedingly hard, Pinnacle Ridge Extreme packs a massive punch, weaving its way around the Helvellyn Massif taking in some of the best lines, best scrambles and best descents… 28km with 2700m ascent, the numbers don’t do this race justice – It is a brute!
Charlie and the team hope to see you at Patterdale Hall for a stunning adventure.
The Gaelforce Sky Run postponed from earlier in 2021 now has confirmation to take place on July 10 bringing an unfortunate date clash for the UK & Ireland Series. However, this may well be a blessing in disguise with travel restrictions causing many issues.
The Gaelforce Sky Run is a mountain running event incorporating 3 distances to suit different levels of mountain running fitness and experience, however, only one event qualifies for the UK & Ireland Series. Set in the rugged wildness of the Maamturk mountains the event offers a 24KM (1253m+) race on open mountains with little or no trails.
Please note – Due to recent land access issues we have had to change the route on the 22km Sky Run for 2021. The route will still follow the same mountain ranges, with similar underfoot condition and magnificent scenery. We have attempting to keep distance and elevation as close as possible to the original route so it should not effect your predicted performance. The total distance has however increased from 22km to 24km.
The team at Killary Gaelforce offer a warm welcome in Ireland this July.
Due to date clashes and problems with scheduling, the UK & Ireland Series will, for 2021 only, crown a male and female ‘Irish Champion’ incorporating the best results of Gaelforce Sky Run, Seven Sisters Skyline and *Mourne Skyline MTR.
In the *UK, qualifying events will be Scafell SkyRace, Lakes Sky Ultra, Pinnacle RidgeExtreme and Snowdon Skyline, Mourne Skyline MTR.
*We are aware that the Mourne Skyline MTR is in Northern Ireland/ UK, however, to facilitate greater opportunity for Irish based runners we will allow for 2021 ranking to crossover.
The SSR is in its 5th year, but after cancellation last year link many it’s really only the 4th edition of the race in its delivery.
Racing over the highest mountain in England has its fascination and doing it in the Scafell Sky Race just adds to the feeling.
Last weekend 118 of the 150 entrants turned up to Great Langdale in the heart of the English Lake District to pit themselves against the gruelling 40km and 3000m course of the Scafell Sky Race, with 11 nations represented from New Zealand to South Africa, with Ireland, Poland, France, Italy, the Netherlands, United States, Wales, Scotland and England all being in the mix.
Temperatures were hot not only in the line up, but also with the weather and the Lake District was showing herself off with blue skies, perfect sunshine and hot hot running conditions.
In the Male race, Spencer Shaw from Manchester took the instant lead and smashed his way up Harrison Stickle to keep pushing all the way around the course. On taking the win in a super fast time of 05:03:13, Spencer said he was feeling it all right from the start line, but just kept putting the effort in and it rewarded him perfectly to take home the coveted slate trophy from the mines at Honister Pass. 2nd and 3rd places were fought out by Simon Roberts of Wales and Josh Wade, local to the Lakes. Simon had the edge until the midway feed-station at Seathwiaite Farm and then moved into 2nd place to keep control of that position to the finish back in Great Langdale opposite the New Dungeon Ghyll Hotel, which was the events centre for the weekend. Josh took 2nd place in 05:16:50 with Simon taking 3rd place in 05:24:34.
In the Female Race, Lauren Woodwiss took the win and the coveted slate trophy in a cracking time of 06:18:09, especially due to the heat of the day. Lauren battled with Sophie Likeman, local runner and 2nd place in the end, through the first 4 checkpoints, before pulling away on the 2nd half and more technical side of the whole route, keeping first place from Seathwaite Farm onwards. Sophie Likeman ran a strong race to keep hold of 2nd place in a time of 06:36:14, with Bethan Nadin who had been in 4th place until the summit of England, namely Scafell Pike, where she moved up a gear and took the 3rd place position to finish in a time of 06:44:54.
There were many great battles happening further back in the field outside of the podium slots.
It has been a long time coming and finally, the UK & Ireland have race taking place, the SCAFELL SKY RACE will take place June 5th and it looks like the weather will provide everyone a great day in a stunning part of the world.
Needless to say, the past 12 to 18-months has been a trying time for everyone and although a return to racing is welcome, we must all respect some changes moving forward, at least for 2021.
A Lake District journey that will test the speed and endurance of experienced and aspiring mountain runners, Scafell Sky Race is played out on technical and single-track.
40km of mountain terrain and 3000m ascent make this a classic skyrunning route to be reckoned with. Runners summit England’s highest mountain en-route and traverse some of the most challenging trails in the central Lake District. The circular route allows you to run from the centre of the Great Langdale Valley, with the events centre based in front of the New dungeon Ghyll Hotel.
“With sections of scree and light scrambling thrown in, Scafell Sky Race is a serious test of nerve, skill and endurance. Entries are vetted for race & mountain experience and so to take on this challenge you should be confident moving solo across highly technical mountain terrain.” – Charlie Sproson, RD lakesskytrail.com
“The Scafell Sky Race is the most technical race I’ve ever done … even tougher than Tromso! Emelie Forsberg would love it!” Lucy Bartholomew, 2017.
While the future of the 2021 racing season looks promising, each race in the UK & Ireland Series is currently navigating government guidelines and abiding by restrictions as and when required.
As a runner, please respect guidelines and understand that mask requirements, social distancing and other required protocols are in place for the safety of you, those around you and the racing team that comprises of volunteers who are giving their time so you can race!
We hope YOU ALL have a great day of competition, it’s good to be back!
The 2020 Skyrunner UK & Ireland season concludes this coming weekend with the Mourne Skyline MTR. It has not been a normal year with races cancelled worldwide. It has been a tough year for all. Race directors, Ryan and Justin Maxwell have been with the UK series from the very beginning and their sold-out race has often been flagship event of the series. Gladly, they have been able to adjust and formulate a plan to make the 2020 event happen.
Athletes from 14 countries will toe the start albeit in a different way to the past 6 editions. Ryan and Justin have formulated a Covid-19 operational delivery plan and you are strongly recommended to keep up with procedures and any potential updates via the race website and Facebook page HERE. It is important that everyone involved in the event is aware of and understands what measures have been put in place and how what is expected of them.
In terms those who can and cannot travel. There are no issues with participants from GB coming to Northern Ireland with the UK common travel path / corridor. However, our friends from Ireland cannot travel into Northern Ireland because they have local restrictions in place which do not allow them to leave their county. In relation to those from other countries outside of the home nations – that is based on the government quarantine list.
“For those affected by restrictions later a virtual option has been created to make them feel part of the event and show our appreciation for their support.” – Ryan Maxwell
Race HQ has been moved to GREENHILL YMCA, DONARD PARK, NEWCASTLE. There is NO car parking at Race HQ – participants must park in Donard Car Park and walk to Greenhill YMCA; this is approximately 800m away.
As per our COVID-19 Operational Delivery Plan, your temperature will be checked before you enter Race HQ and you will be handed a surgical mask to wear. Please also use the hand sanitizer just inside the entrance.
Race HQ will be OUTSIDE, so please dress appropriately in case you have to wait. Toilets / Showers / Changing: The Donard Park Pavilion will NOT be open for use as per previous years. This building is closed due to COVID-19 risks. Public toilets are available in Donard Car Park. It is important to note that Newry, Mourne & Down Council plan to open these at 8am. However, we are working hard to have this changed to 7am. However, please be prepared for their opening at 8am should we not succeed in this. There will be NO showering facilities available at the event. There will be NO Changing facilities available at the event. Participants should come to the race ready to compete, and then have enough warm clothing with them to put on until they can get a warm shower and get changed.
The Mourne Mountains and Race
Owned by the National Trust, the Mourne Mountains are an area of outstanding beauty, it includes Slieve Donard (850m), the highest mountain in Northern Ireland and Ulster and as such it provides a perfect location for a mountain race.
Comprised of forest path, fire roads, single track, granite trail and tough uneven broken fell, the race is a tough challenge. Among the more famous features, the Mourne Wall is a key element of this region and a key aspect of the race. In just 35km the course has a brutal 3370m of ascent and no less than 9 peaks, the highest being Slieve Donard at 850m.
Two key names stand out amongst the start list, Brennan Townshend for the men and Kasia Osipowicz for the women. Kasia the UK & Ireland Series champion. Brennan the reigning champion and course record holder.
Ian Bailey and Paul Tierney amongst others will no doubt push Brennan all the way to the line.
Shileen O’Kane is an ever-present in the Mournes and she knows how to run this race with her eyes closed, she will be a hot favourite for the podium along with Ekaterina Crocker.
Ultimately, it will be great to have the UK & Ireland Series conclude in 2020 with the iconic Mourne Skyline MTR race. With its conclusion, we can all look ahead to 2021 and full year of racing!
The sun was shining inDunlewey, Co. Donegal last Saturday for the Seven Sisters Skyline race, a 52k mountain run starting at the foot of Mount Errigal and part of the UK-Ireland National Skyrunning Series. With Covid 19 restrictions the event was primarily an all Ireland event, with International participants unable to travel.
Nearly 180 competitors set out early on a bright, sunny morning to the start line near the village of Dunlewey. The out and back course took in all seven peaks of the Derryveagh Mountains with all but the highest peak, Mount Errigal, being covered twice. With sections called ‘Bridge of Tears’ and ‘Heart Attack Hill’ this was never going to be an easy day out. The competitors had to contend with everything from soft, heathery bog and open mountain to rock and scree, often having to scramble on hands and knees over the loose stone. The 4000 metres of climbing and tough terrain was made even more difficult by the heat on the day with temperatures of 26 degrees C. Not the usual conditions expected for the Donegal mountains.
The first competitor to cross the finish line was one of Ireland’s top endurance athletes and local man Shaun Stewart who completed the 52k in 7:11:13. Grant Mackellar came in 2nd in 7:52:20 followed closely by Aidan McMoreland in 7:52:35.
In the women’s race, Laura O’Driscoll Ireland’s top adventure athlete took first place in a time of 8:22:43, and a top 10 finish overall. With the course 2 km longer this year she obliterated the previous course record set by Kasia Osipowicz in 2019 by over 20 minutes. Ellen Vitting took 2nd place in 8:39:08 with Karalee McBride rounding out the top three in 9:09:32.
With the brutal course and hot conditions around one third of the field failed to finish the official 52km course, making this one of Ireland’s most challenging events.
Due to COVID-19 we have unfortunately taken the decision to cancel this year’s event on the 21st of June. We appreciate this will not come as a shock given all else that is going on at the moment globally, however it is still a disappointment for competitors, the Skyrunner Series and us as an organisation. While we are still a couple of months away from the event itself the cancellation comes now for a number of reasons:
From a planning and logistics point of view there is preparation that would need to be put in place now for us to be able to run the event. The current situation just does not allow us to do this with any certainty and more specifically without the risk that cancellation will ultimately become a necessity in the weeks to come anyway.
We rely on the availability, commitment, support and good will of a great number of stakeholders to run the event successfully and again the uncertainty makes this impossible to plan for.
Lastly but most importantly, is the safety of our competitors. Given the length and technical nature of the route, the need to train and prepare appropriately is key and not something that most will be able to do during this period of lockdown.
What does cancellation mean.
We are not rescheduling the event for later in the year, it is a full cancellation – and the next running of the event will be the weekend of 19th and 20th June 2021.
An option for full refund was considered, however due to cost already incurred, unfortunately it is not possible without threatening the future running of the event. We do hope you understand.
Therefore we plan to make a refund of 75% of your entry fee(s) by 25th April (allowing 3 to 5 days processing time by the banks), but if there are any issues please let us know and we will endeavour to rectify – please bear with us.
In recognition, when we open entries for 2021 we will be inviting all of this year’s cancelled entrants a discounted rate to compensate for the monies lost this year.
Please keep an eye out via our website and social media for details on when our 2021 entries open later in the year. But for now, we hope you and your families stay fit and well and you can get back out on the hills once the lockdown is over.
It is with great regret that the Scafell Sky Race has been forced to cancel the 2020 edition.
A statement has been provided by race director, Charles Sproson HERE
We appreciate that we are all experiencing a difficult time as the pages turn, daily, on this dystopian reality. Businesses across the globe along with individuals are facing unenviable tasks trying to balance health and wellbeing.
We thank you, the skyrunning UK community, for your support and understanding. We will update you as soon as possible on any additional changes for the 2020 UK & Ireland Series.
Due to the ongoing situation globally with the novel virus, Covid-19, it is with regret that that the 2020 edition of SNOWDON SKYLINE has been cancelled for 2020.
Race director, Michael Jones commented on his race website, “Initially I had considered postponing to 12-13th September (the weekend before there are already 3 events on Snowdon!). However, as I started to come to terms with the realisation of how this could effectively pan out for myself and several other Race Directors doing the same, it came to light that this may not be wise. September/October will now be a very busy time for races and all races may see a drop in participation as runners effectively have to choose which postponed races to do.”
Needless to say, it is a tough time for all globally.
The impact on races and race directors will be significant in 2020 and where possible, we encourage you if possible, to follow the incentive outlined in the this article.