“Towering above each other, or lifting themselves in ridges like the waves of a tumultuous sea, and in the beauty and variety of their surfaces and colours, they are surpassed by none.” – Wordsworth
Niandi Carmont provides a preview of the 2016 Lakes Sky Ultra
Lakes Sky Ultra™, a SkyRace™ that addresses the routes of the sport, big distance, soaring ridge lines, rock scrambling & more. 56km, 4500m ascent. Rock & Run!
Well this weekend promises to be full of surprises as the runners registered for the LSU (Lakes Sky Ultra) gather on the start-line to compete in what has become one of the key events on the UK Sky Running calendar. They will be contending with the “waves of the tumultuous sea” as they make their way up and down the mountainous roller-coaster ride founded by Charles Sproson. “Charlie” as he is affectionately called is LSU Race Director. Your paths might have crossed this passionate mountaineer, navigator, fell-runner as he strolls barefoot and disheveled in the streets of Ambleside but make no mistake, although he is no poet, Charlie knows the local fells like the back of his hand and has designed several courses including Marmot Dark Mountains (course planner for 2013, 2015 & 2016), Great Lakeland 3 Day, Rab MM amongst others. As an experienced and accomplished mountain racer, his course planning is entirely from the runners’ perspective. This weekend he promises competitors “56km of Lakeland paths, trails and tussock, 4500m of vertical grind, grade III scrambles, rock chimneys, super-fast descents, knife edge arêtes”. It will be “gnarly, hardcore and awesome”.
Well who are the main contenders? This year the field is stacked with great local talent. With European sky runners preoccupied with the European championships, there are hardly any international participants.
Yes, he’s back! Gareth placed 2nd in last year’s race and is back to settle a score. Gareth is not new to Skyrunning UK. He is the official record holder of the V3K, the first event in the UK Skyrunning calendar, although he could not compete in the V3K 2016 due to a virus. So, he has a double score to settle. Gareth’s training has been consistent and it would seem he is on form so definitely a contender for first place and why not a second record to add to his already impressive track record.
Neil will be giving Gareth a run for his money! He is apparently also very strong and fit and has just won the Wasdale Horseshoe Fell Race, 34km, 2750m+ in a time of 4:11.
Bjorn, Dutch and living in Scotland, has been taking part in UK Skyrunning events since Skyrunning was introduced to the UK in 2014 and has improved his rankings significantly, placing 2nd at V3K 2016. This victory could be partially due to his ski-mountaineering training in recent seasons. Bjorn has plenty experience in UK Skyrunning and this is not his first participation in LSU so the course holds no surprises for him.
Seems blessed with a winning streak at the moment. He has just claimed victory at the Highland Fling and the Keswick Mountain Festival 50, smashing bot course records in the process. It will be interesting to see how he performs in LSU this weekend. Admittedly KMF is graded “hard” but the Highland Fling is much less technical than what he can expect on Saturday.
An up-and-coming UK fell-runner is not new to UK Skyrunning either. He placed 4th in the Mourne Skyline in Ireland last year and if he has one advantage it is his age.
Is a little bit of a dark horse? Very much under the radar, James is a local fell-runner who placed 10th in the Wasdale Horseshoe Fell Race this year. According to Charlie, James is “very strong and vey fit”.
Is another dark horse and relatively unknown and new to Skyrunning? However, he has put all his chances on his side attending training camps and reccying the LSU course with RD Charles Sproson.
Is an experienced and hardened fell-runner and navigator who has proven himself over gnarly, challenging technical terrain so the LSU is going to suit him to a T. Although navigation skills are utterly useless in a Skyrunning event as the course is marked to Skyrunning standards, Lawrence still has an advantage in that he has trained and raced extensively on this type of terrain. He placed 10th in The Dragon’s Back Race™, one of the UK’S most technical and toughest multi-stage navigation races. The endurance is there, but will Lawrence have the speed to keep up with his contenders in what promises to be a fast race?
Is a Raidlight-sponsored athlete from France, who has mainly taken part in French trail races like the Trail Verbier St Bernard (60km), Transju Trail (72km), Sur les Traces des Ducs de Savoie (TDS – UTMB®) which he completed in 16 hours. He has relatively little experience of UK fell-running or technical terrain in the Lake District, which is very different from what can be expected in France.
And last but not least…
Born to run barefoot runner, who won’t be running the LSU barefoot as it is strictly against official race regulations. However, keep tuned as Aleks will be running in sandals after having obtained the green light and blessing from RD Charles Sproson. It is worth noting that Aleks attempted a Bob Graham Round in sandals.
LSU race favorite in the ladies field is without a doubt Sarah Ridgeway. She is the course record holder and defending ladies champion for this second edition and she won’t let a second victory slip through her fingers. Sarah has everything going for her right now. She is at peak fitness level and has been very consistent and very focused in her pre-race training and build-up. Sarah is an experienced UK sky runner and will be looking to place 1st on the podium after having missed her 8:30 objective in the V3K this year due to a virus. This Welsh runner based in Snowdonia, placed third in the grueling and gnarly Glencoe Skyline last year behind Emilie Forsberg and Jasmin Paris in a time of 9:21:44.
Definitely a podium contender, Carol completed the Lakeland 100 in 2015 in a smashing time of 25:47. She has the stamina and pace to play well in LSU.
A contender Sarah will need to look out for as she placed 2nd in the 50km Keswick Mountain Festival Ultra this year and finished 4th in the Hoka Highland Fling in a time of 8:15:04.
Placed 2nd in the V3K this year so definitely a podium contender on Saturday.
Is a regular at the Ourea events like the Great Lakeland 3Day, so another experienced navigator and fell-runner. However, will she be able to keep the pace in a single-day event with very competitive local talent who know the course well?
Placed 4th in the 50km Keswick Mountain Festival
The countdown to the “gnarly, hard-core, awesome and extreme” LSU begins …Here’s wishing all the Skyrunners the best of luck on Saturday. And who knows if the weather holds, maybe the 2015 CR will be broken on 23 July!