Participants brave challenging 56km of mountain running and rock-climbing with 4500m of ascent at the Lakes Sky Ultra in Cumbria. Andrew Berry and Catherine Slater take wins - race report
Andrew Berry and local runner Catherine Slater were on cloud nine at the weekend after scaling the heights of success at the Lakes Sky Ultra in Cumbria.
The pair came out on top among participants from all over the world, who descended on the Lake District for the 56km race, which combined mountain running with rock-climbing.
Berry and Slater coped best with the extreme terrain, 4500m of ascent and persistent rain, coming home in eight hours 34 minutes 24 seconds and 10:30:27 respectively.
Runners were vetted to ensure they had sufficient levels of experience in the mountains for this event, which was part of the UK Skyrunning Series. Runners reported "20k of horizontal rain", while low, heavy cloud also made the technical course even more slippery on rock, grass and mud.
Race organisers Mountain Run Events faced an additional test when, just before the start, it was discovered the rope needed to make Pinnacle Ridge safe for runners was missing. Competitors were still able to traverse the exposed, technical, grade-three ridge, but had to skip a more demanding corner of it.
2016 Skyrunning UK champion Bjorn Verduijn set the early pace, with Andy Bryce and Berry, who recorded the second-fastest-ever winter Bob Graham Round this January, in pursuit. In the women's race, Lauren Woodwiss (GBR) created an early advantage on pre-race favourites Slater (GBR) and Ireland's Jacqueline Toal.
The first half of the course includes around two thirds of the 4500m of ascent and the majority of the technical ridge running, with the second half being faster, more runnable terrain.
After a quick transition at Patterdale, third-placed Berry started to close the gap on the leading two, finally passing Verduijn, who had led the race for seven hours, and arriving first back in Ambleside.
“That was good fun,” said Berry. “The weather was pretty full-on at times. I feel sorry for the people up there all day. But it was fun!” Verduijn was second in 8:40:00 and Bryce was third in 8:59:56.
Similarly, in the women's race, Slater caught Woodwiss, and finished more than 27 minutes clear. “In a weird way, I thoroughly enjoyed that!” said Slater, from Staveley.
The race awarded prize money, as well as prizes from race sponsors Salewa, Leki and Mountain Fuel.
Images: Guillem Casanova / guillemcasanova.com