Niandi Carmont reports from the first ‘Sky’ race in the newly formed Skyrunner National Series UK.
There were many familiar faces on the start line at the Community School in Buxton as those who had tested themselves at the inaugural V3K on June 28th decided to test themselves on the trails and moors of the Peak District. For many today this race will have been the last long training run before the CCC in France. Race specific, ideally timed and 48km long, the Peak Skyrace is an ideal last long “training run” for CCC or TDS.
78 of the registered 93 runners too part.
The Peak Skyrace takes place in the White Peak area – white for limestone. The course is a combination of moors, gritstone, fell, bracken and purple heather. 48km long with 2000m ascent, it is a tough course and is based around the notorious Peak District Challenge called the Five Trigs Round:
- Axe Edge
- The Roaches
- Shining Tor
- Burbage Edge
The route is extremely picturesque and highlights include the highest village in England Flash, the Ramsshaw Rocks, Three Shires Head (where the 3 counties of Chesire, Derbyshire and Staffordshire meet) and Gradbach Woods. It is technical and hilly and not for the faint-hearted. Shuttlingsloe is also affectionately termed the Matterhorn of the Peak District and today’s skyrunners who made it past mile 18 will tell you why.
The field of 78 was blessed with ideal weather conditions today as opposed to the V3K earlier this year on June 28th. At 8am they were led to and briefed at the start line near the race HQ Buxton Community School under blue skies. The runners started off with an immediate ascent to Solomon’s Temple, a decent back into Buxton and then over to Axe Moor. The pace was quickly set by a leading group of 5 men including Jason Cavil (second at the V3K and who was hungry for revenge after going off course), James Ellis, a talented 21-year old student from London with relatively little ultra running experience but from fell-running parents and Tim Pleijte, a Solomon-sponsored athlete from the Netherlands. Charlie Sharpe was also present but was not racing as he was in “active recovery” from the Lakeland 100 miles where he placed second last weekend and a win in the 250km multi-stage race in Al Andalus.
After the 1st Trig Point at Axe Edge Moor, the course took the runners along the Ramshaw Rocks Ridge and the Roaches Ridge to reach the second Trig Point. The first part of the course is relatively less hilly and “most of the ascent is on the second part” according to Co-Race Organizer Anthony Bethell , hence the need to pace yourself properly on a course like this. Shuttlingsloe is probably the hardest part of the course aka the Peak District Matterhorn, the summit of which is Trig Point 3 and CP 7. The ascent gets more severe at the top with scrambling required before a descent and then on towards the second highest pub in England – the Cat and Fiddle. At this point – CP 8 the front group was still very tight with Jason Clavill and James Ellis battling for first place. Jason was very impressed with James’s strength on the climbs but kept up the pace as fatigue set in for the leaders. The route then led the runners to Shining Tor and Trig Point 4 also part of the famous 160 mile The Hill Ultramarathon. After Shining Tor a rough and fast technical descent through Stake Clough and Deep Clough to the Goyt Valley floor. The course then follows a narrow moorland path to Burbage Edge and the 5th and final Trig Point and at last the long-awaited finish into Buxton.
By this time Jason Cavill had outdistanced James Ellis and looked incredibly fresh as he sprinted the last few 100m through the streets of Buxton to cross the finishing line of this first edition in 4.22. James Ellis finished second in 4.26 and Salomon-sponsored Dutch athlete Tim Pleijte finished in third place in 4.36. The ladies race was won by Sara Fawcett who crossed the line in 5.24. Second place went to Kim England in 5.38 and third was Sasha Habgood in 6.26 who had placed third at the V3K. Sara Fawcett has had a good year so far and been on the podium of quite a few local races and trains regularly in the Dark Peak District. As for Kim England, she has the benefit of training with Jason Cavill her partner for whom she crewed at the V3K.
All in all the feedback of this second UK Skyrace and 1st edition of the Peak Skyrace was a very successful one in terms of the feedback received from the runners post-race. Many crossed the finish line elated, thanking Richard Weremiuk, Billy Craig and Anthony Bethell Race Directors for the organization, course marking and marshalling. The overall consensus was that it was a tough and gritty race but well worth it. 2015 will no doubt see a significant increase in the number of entries.
Many thanks to Skyrunning UK sponsors
All images ©MICKKENYON
- Jason Cavill 4:22:52
- James Ellis 4:26:54
- Tim Pleijte 4:36:54
- Sally Fawcett 5:24:54
- Kimberley England 5:38:13
- Sasha Habgood 6:26:44