Seb Batchelor and Eleanor Davis were among the winners at the Salomon Skyline Scotland events in the Scottish Highlands last weekend. Thousands of runners gathered in Kinlochleven for the two-day festival of races, talks and live music.
Batchelor crossed the line first in the 29km Salomon Ring of Steall Skyrace, accumulating 2500m of ascent in the process as he came home in three hours 34 minutes four seconds.
Batchelor led nearly the whole way as he beat runner-up Tom Adams (3:53:04) by 19 minutes.
The runner who has competed for Britain at the Trail Running World Championships said: “I am very happy to be here and to win. I just went out there and ran my own race. I actually enjoyed it. Tom and I pushed each other to start with and he caught up with me at one point but then from about half way, where there was a big climb, I pulled away and kept some distance. It’s really great to be back racing and to have won.”
Adams had the consolation of gaining a place in the Salomon Golden Trail National Series final in Azores, Portugal, in October as he has scored highly enough in the previous races.
Also qualifying is Davis, who finished fifth overall in 4:16:39. She was less than a minute in front of Isobel Oakes (4:17:14). Linda Duncan was third in 4:39:28.
The route incorporated two lofty ridges within the Mamores, including the Devil’s Ridge, with Glen Nevis visible ahead, a yawning drop far below, and Ben Nevis towering beyond and above.
Davis, a 2:33 marathoner, said: “That was probably the hardest race I have ever done. I have bad leg cramps now. It was good to have Isobel’s company and we pushed each other. It was a bit cat and mouse and good fun. We also really enjoyed picking off the men one by one.
“I am very scared of heights and I was worried about the ridges. I wasn’t even sure I wanted to do the race. It was a technical course for me. But I managed it and I am pleased. I just tried not to look at what was below me. I am glad I faced my fears of the heights in this race. It was worth it for my trip next month to the Azores.”
In the Salomon Mamores VK, Alastair Thomas (51:05) won the men’s race, with Jacek Cieluszecki (53:28) second and Tom Smith (53:52) third. The women’s race was won by Rachel Smith in 57:38, followed by Celia Waring (64:30) and Rachel Normand (68:50).
The Salomon Glen Coe Skyline over 52km with 4750m of ascent, was won by Andrew Fallas (7:56:11) and defending champion Georgia Tindley (8:43:10). Tindley said: “It was a good day out, but it was also really tough. It was very greasy on the rocks and it was cold and windy. It was much harder than last time.”
Meanwhile, the Salomon Ben Nevis Ultra, which was also 52km and with 4000m of ascent, was won by Alan Hilley (7:40:29) and Anwen Darlington (8:47:00).
During the prize giving ceremony in the event village on Saturday afternoon, donations collected from entrants in the Salomon Skyline Scotland 2021 races were handed to two local mountain rescue teams, Glencoe MRT and Lochaber MRT. Each team received £3000.
Andy Nelson of Glencoe MRT said: “The donation is significant for us because all rescue teams in the UK are staffed by volunteers and they rely on donations. A fraction of the finance to run our services comes from government and other organisations, such as the police. Donations from the public are vital to be able run our service. We are grateful for the money from runners in this event.”
Mike Smith of Lochaber MRT added: “Our team needs about £85,000 annually on average to run and we only receive £24,000 funding so every other penny of that comes from the public. We could not do what we do without that. This money is super kind. I hope that participants will remember, too, that all their local mountain rescue teams across the UK need donations like this to keep going.”
PIcture: Eleanor Davis, Ring of Steall women's winner. Credit: No Limits Photography