It was the Scafell Sky Race at the weekend and it enjoyed some traditional Lake District summer weather!
This race is part of the Skyrunning National Series and as such it’s a highly technical race with sections of scree and scrambling and it packs 3,500m of ascent into 40k. As the name suggests, it traverses the summit of the highest summit in England. In short, it’s a very tough race but the reward for runners is that they’ll experience stunning trails in a beautiful area of the country.
And this year a very tough race was made even more challenging by the weather. The safety team had to make a call about which sections of the route were safe to run. The organisers considered using the ‘bad weather’ course, which is a last resort for very extreme weather conditions. Luckily the forecast was looking up in the hours leading up to the event so the safety team decided just to remove two sections of the route to keep runners safe. With the temperature dropping to 4 degrees, and a wind chill making it feel like sub-zero, Scafell Pike was deemed too risky and this section was removed. The organisers stressed that the safety decisions are not only for the runners, but also for the 20 volunteer marshals, for whom it isn’t safe to stand on freezing summits for many hours.
Here’s a taster of the race from another year when you could see a bit more!
From the start the mens race was dominated by Damian Gielty from Scotland, Jayson Cavill from the North East and local fell runner Matt Reedy. The trio worked hard to push their own limits, setting a fast pace. At the mid-way Feed Station based out if the beautiful Seathwaite Farm by king permission of Peter Edmonson, local to the valley of Seathwaite, Damian saw and seized his chance to break away and pushed hard up Sour Milk Ghyll to take the lead and continue it into the finish taking the 1st place podium spot in a time of 04:20:25, followed closely by Jayson Cavill for the 2nd podium place in a time of 04:25:29 and Matt Reedy taking 3rd place in a time of 04:34:40.
The organisers said “with a high concentration of runners in a pack, it was hard to follow exactly who was winning the women’s race throughout and whilst in the events centre we could see Kasia Osipowicz leading the women’s field, with a slight confusion over race numbers, Jo Stevenson slipped under our radar being listed as a man! (We’re really sorry Jo).”
Jo fought strongly all the way round, taking the 1st place in a fantastic time of 05:24:07, explaining on the finish line that the conditions and terrain had realy played to her orienteering background. Kasia Osipowicz, who will also be competing in next month’s Lakes Sky Ultra, ran an excellent race into the 2nd place podium spot, never faltering and crossing the finish line looking very strong. The 3rd place was taken by Norwich based runner Eva Wilkes, who recently took the 3rd place in the fantastic Keswick Mountain Festival 50km Ultra, who fought a great race against Samantha Rippington, who finished in 4th, to secure that 3rd podium spot.
Out of the 201 starters, 187 finished the race with 14 runners retiring either at the mid way feed station in the valley of Seathwaite or being timed out at Esk Hause, CP7, which was moved from the summit of Scafell Pike to accommodate the adjusted course.
All attention is now focussed on the 2nd race in the Skyrunner UK and Ireland 2019 series for the epic and re-designed Lakes Sky Ultra 2019. The Lake District Sky Trails team are extremely excited to present the ‘new’ course to Skyrunners travelling from over 10 countries around the world for the 5th edition of this highly technical and extreme mountain ultra distance sky race, based out of the beautiful Patterdale Hall, in the Ullswater Valley. While this race is in process, the LDST team will be delivering the ‘all new’ Pinnacle Ridge Extreme Race to a select group of hardy mountaineers who will tackle 3 graded rock scrambles on a circumnavigation of the 3rd highest mountain in England over very extreme and technical terrain.
Here’s a teaser for the Lakes Sky Ultra: