Lakes Sky Ultra
Sat 23 July 2016
Distance 54k Ascent 4300m
Trails Soaring mountain ridge lines, rock scrambling Hills Mountainous
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LAKES SKY ULTRA
Sat 23 July 2016
Billed as “one of the spiciest races in the country” Trail Running gear tester Sim Benson reports on an epic day in the Lake District
The Lakes Sky Ultra takes on 54km of extreme running across the crests and ridges where the mountains meet the sky. It’s a tough route requiring endurance and mountain skills, with over 4500m of ascent and some exposed grade III scrambling. I was invited to run by headline sponsors Salewa to report on the race and test out some of their new running kit. I wore the Ultra Train shoes which gripped rock exceptionally well, the stylish Pedroc shorts and the brand new Lite Train 14 bag. The bag will be reviewed in the November issue of Trail Running magazine - how’s that for a gear test?!
The course is scenic but serious, passing through some of the most dramatic Lakeland fells. Starting in Ambleside it traverses the Helvellyn massif before dropping down to a well-stocked aid station in Patterdale. It’s a race of two halves, with two-thirds of the ascent packed into a technical first half. The rest is far more runnable, if you still have any legs left. The long climb up to High Street, the descent to Haweswater and then back to the final check point at Kirkstone Pass really showcase the breath-taking beauty of the area. Finally a race up Red Screes and the welcome descent back to Ambleside awaits. It was a tough day for me, with plenty of miles but not enough of them in the mountains. Despite pushing me to my limits it was an incredible experience, and I’ll definitely be back.
A big thanks to race organiser Charlie Sproson and his team of excellent marshals. The route, waymarking and support was superb. The next Lakes Sky Ultra is the 14th-16th July 2017, entries open on 1st September 2016.
Top 3 tips
1 Train for long mountain days
Race organiser Charlie Sproson says, "We expect aspirant runners to have completed SEVERAL MOUNTAIN RACES OR MOUNTAIN RUN'S within the last 5 years, OF A SIMILAR SEVERITY TO LAKES SKY ULTRA with a minimum distance covered of 30miles/50km - e.g. Lakeland50, Keswick Mountain Festival 50km; 3x3 80km, V3K, Glencoe Skyline etc.50km; 3x3 80km, V3K, Glencoe Skyline etc."
2 Practice your scrambling/rock climbing
Charlie also says, "Further to this, you must demonstrate your scrambling/rock climbing experience and ability. Please understand, when we say scrambling/rock climbing ability we actually mean hands and feet on rock, 3 points of contact, full rock climbing experience. If you are unsure, please email the race director before putting in your pre-race entry."
3 Hone your mountain skills
Competitors must take responsibility for themselves, and fellow racers, during the race. The ability to exercise Sound Mountain Judgement is vitally important. Small incremental errors can lead to disaster.