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Sky running meets the Lake District fells

by Press Release
Tuesday 15th September 2015

Race report: True Mountain Lakes Sky Ultra - September 12, 2015

True Mountain Lakes Sky Ultra - September 12, 2015

The inaugural True Mountain Lakes Sky Ultra kicked off on the 12th September at 07:00 in the morning from a very wet Ambleside. After 10 days of perfect weather, the gods decided to give the runners plenty of great Lakeland cyclonic systems smashing into the west coast. 

With winds reaching 65kmph on the tops, the runners headed up the long ridgeline of Low Pike, High Pike and Dove Crag to receive a royal battering across the tops of Hart Crag, Fairfield and the Helvellyn Massif.

Eirik Haugsnes from Norway (Winner of the 2014 Tromso Skyrace) fought steadily with Paul Tierney (Lakeland 100 winner 2015) ,Gareth Hughes (V3K Sky Race 2015) and Jim Mann (Dragons Back Race winner 2015). As the runners crested Helvellyn and started the rocky descent of Swirral Edge they chivied for first place to the summit of CatstyCam.

The grueling descent of CatstyCam saw Gareth Hughes take the lead, but not for long, as Eirik was hot on his heals with Paul in close pursuit.

The Ladies race was dominated from very early on by Sarah Ridgeway (ladies Snowdon Horseshoe recored holder) with Beth Pascal (second lady in the Dragons’ Back Race 2015 and fourth overall)  keeping close on her tail.

Joe Faulkner and his Nav4Adventure Safety team were out on the course early, with instructions to make the on the spot decisions about the course. With high winds and plenty of rain it was pretty audacious for the race directors Andrew Burton and Charles Sproson to keep to the full course, but with such a strong and experienced field of runners, both of them agreed with the fell top safety team, that the race should stand as is. With the risk of injury on Pinnacle Ridge, the crux climb of the course, the Nav4 safety team made the call to remove this section from the race, completely backed by Andrew and Charles.

True Mountain Lakes Sky Ultra - September 12, 2015

This allowed a faster ascent of St Sunday Crag, bringing the runners to the col between Birks and St Sunday slightly quicker.

It was through this section that Haugsnes made his break and started to really put the pressure on. Watching Open Tracking was really exciting as Eirik literally streaked away from Gareth and Paul to put in an amazingly fast second half of the race, but with no-one chasing him hard, he slacked slightly on the ascent and descent to and from Red Screes, missing the 'Super Stages' first place prize.

Jim Mann now started to put the pressure on and moved from fourth place into third, chasing Gareth Hughes down as fast as he could. That Gareth only made it through the Kirkstone Pass checkpoint five minutes before him gave Jim an extra boost (he had made 15 minutes up on Gareth over the second half of the race). Really flying now, like his shorts were on fire, Jim Mann put in the most amazing effort up Red Screes to win the uphill ‘Super Stage’ and continued this effort to make three and a half minutes on Gareth and win the downhill ‘Super Stage’ and come in a close third place.

In the ladies race Sarah Ridgeway continued to stay in front of Pascal to scoop the first place in the ‘Ladies Open’, Beth coming in second and Zoe Salt came in later in the race to take the ladies third place.

In the Male Vet’s 45 Mike Robinson, a Dark Peak club-member, put in possibly the best effort of all the competitors to cross the line in first place (fifth overall), looking completely battered, but very happy indeed. He claimed the course to be second to none. Second place went to Little Dave Cumins, a Dragon’s Back Race 2015 finisher, who is quoted with saying “its been my best birthday yet’! Third place went to Phil Clayton, a Black Combe fell runner. 

Steph Scott (Northumberland Fell Runner & Ultra-Runner.com Trail Team member) took the Ladies Vet’s 45 title. No other lady vet finished the race to claim second place.

Eirik Haugsnes claimed the course to be hard, very hard, as hard as the European equivalents like Tromso Sky Race (Norway) and Trofeo Kima in Italy. He commented on the extremely technical nature of the course and found the ascents very steep, saying “it was not possible to run the hills, I had to walk”

Sarah Ridgeway was blown away by the route and organisation of the whole event, commenting it was one of the best courses out there. She was extremely please to take the second of two first position podium places in the series of six Sky Races now available in the UK.

Gareth Hughes – V3K Sky Race male winner: ‘Quite easily the hardest race I’ve done so far, an audacious undertaking for the race organisers. Classic fell running combined with technical ridgelines made for a daring concept when faced with severe rain and gales on the day. As a climber I felt at ease on Swirling Edge and Striding Edge and felt the greatest challenge had to be the technical descents such as that off Nethermost Pike, with the added thrill of river crossings and steep grassy slopes that could only be ascended with large clumps of grass in hand it made for a truly unique experience’

True Mountain Lakes Sky Ultra - September 12, 2015

Sarah Ridgeway, Ladies Snowdon Horseshoe Record holder: ‘A race that lures you in, then spits you out. You have to look deep into yourself to just finish! The initial gentle climb lulled me into a false sense of security. I was in my element encased in cloud and lashed by driving rain... then the course really showed it's teeth! The scrambling proved a welcome distraction from what really made it so tough: the merging of traditional fell running terrain. Tussock, bog, and steep vegetated climbs that could only be attacked on all fours. Your fight almost exhausts but you reach the aid station at half-way and the atmosphere, support and coffee enliven you to battle on to finally be rewarded with, dare I say, a kind descent to the finish. I'll not forget this race - the hardest in the UK Sky Running calendar so far and a fantastic experience!’

Jim Mann, Dragon’s Back Winner 2015: ‘This course has it all, steep climbs, fun scrambling ridges, technical terrain and fast runnable descents - I will be back for sure’

Find out more at: www.lakesskyultra.uk
Facebook: LakesSkyUltra
Twitter: @LakesSkyUltra
Instagram: LakesSkyUltra

Men's results

1 Eirik Haugsnes (Inov-8) 07:16:50
2 Gareth Hughes 07:31:22
3 Jim Mann 07:32:38


Women's results

1 Sarah Ridgway 09:13:04
2 Beth Pascall (Team Raidlight UK) 09:20:19
3 Zoe Salt 11:15:27


Click here for full results


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