“The Salomon Glen Coe Skyline™ follows in the finest tradition of the most prestigious Skyrunning races, fusing mountain running and alpinism in a pure test of speed, endurance and skill on an uncompromising, world-class course.”
“The route features long and sustained sections of scrambling terrain, which is roughly equivalent to moderate standard rock climbing. In addition, the race traverses high and remote mountainous terrain, which is at times impossible to retreat from and may be subject to severe and rapidly changing weather.”
So said the website, and after more than 11hrs of running round that world class course I’d have to say they got it right.
Apart from the first 9km which was fairly gentle, this has to be the biggest mountain day I’ve ever done. Not often the Devil’s Staircase is described as gentle, but in context with what was to come it was certainly a modest start.
Curved Ridge on Buachaille Etive Mòr, punishing descents on wet slippy rocks, deteriorating weather and a relentless gradient; it lived up to the hype and the challenge it claimed to be.
As someone who organises events and plans race routes, I appreciate the psychology of route planning – so 7hrs in, multiple summits in the bag, huge descent back down to the road aid station, what next? Surely time to head home. Nope, lets send it right back up into the clouds, up the unmarked near vertical ascent to the Aonach Eagach. And then lets do the technical ridge, over the pinnacles, and then over loads of blind summits in the mist before the homeward leg. Yep, that should do it. It certainly did! Kudos to the organisers for having the guts to put this whole thing on, the course was magic, hard, but that’s what it was supposed to be. The punches were definitely not pulled. Respect to all who finished that day, and a fantastic job from all the marshals, volunteers, supporters and officials.
It took me 11hrs25 to do this, I finished 108th out of 216 starters, and 160 finishers. So not a finish that’s up there, but finish was really the only goal. Even that was hard work. Lots of runners got pulled off the course at that aid station, so perhaps a goal for them next year. But for me I’ll stick with Tiree hills, beach and machair. No intention of adding the cliffs of Kenovara to the Tiree Ultra course!
And four days after finishing, my legs still feel wrecked. Fortunately the postman has just bought me a letter, oh it’s my race number for next weekends Chester Marathon. How exciting. Here we go again!