Any views on the The Salomon Glen Coe Skyline Race. A few thoughts !

Many will be aware that there is going to be an extreme hill race over some of the Glencoe Peaks that includes the famous Aonach Eagach  (a heart stopping ridge in places if you are not used to the exposure) and Curved ridge an easy rock climb /scramble on Buachaille Etive Mor It has caused some controversy with reports in the papers the odd Radio phone in and threads in the mountaineering press.  I have been asked my views and there are many pros and cons. to me.

I loved travelling light on the hills when I was fit and for a long spell in the 80’s I used fell running shoes. (the famous “Walshes”) I did many of the classic long Scottish hills days and was at times scorned by many of my mountaineering mates. It was “light and slow the way to go”  for me. I was always in awe of the small amount of hill runners I met on the hills. Most unlike me were so graceful on the hill another breed who loved and enjoyed the mountains.

On the An Teallach Ridge light and slow!  The famous Walsh running shoes - past days!!

On the An Teallach Ridge light and slow! The famous Walsh running shoes – past days!!

They ran past us on many occasions us with all the gear and them in shorts and a bum bag on some of Scotland’s great ridges and were a big part of the mountaineering fraternity.  I had a few great days and managed a few of the mountain marathons  I also attended a few sad call – outs when it went wrong  we were called in for a search in Glencoe and Ben Nevis.  Hill running especially on the narrow ridges allows for few mistakes but in general there are very few accidents over the years.  After Lockerbie in 1988 I ran out to Ben MacDui with my dog to clear the mind on an icy Cairngorm day it was a day I will never forget.

I loved hearing the tales of the early days of these mountain marathons Phillip Tranter and his Lochaber  Kintail Traverses and of course the more recent incredible feats in the mountains the Ramsay round and many more. In summer and winter these are amazing feats. In Wales we did the Snowdon Bike Race for charity across Crib Goch ( as wild as the Glencoe Ridges) until it was stopped for Health and Safety reasons.

1979 Dave BOOTH Snowdon bike race-001

1979 Dave Booth Snowdon bike race- wild days before Health and Safety!!

I have always been an admirer of these events and even though I am a lot older have been on many races events as an unpaid marshal over the years. The, Ben Nevis Race Mamore Hill race, Cairngorm, Slioch , Highland Cross  and many more until my recent health problems on early races a couple of the Ben Nevis races we were very lucky as the weather caught several out and we had multi – casualties to be moved quickly even with Lochaber and the RAF we were very lucky to have no fatalities . We had some other epics but I have enjoyed these days and the amazing friendliness of these events so few competitors pass without saying thanks. These are good people with a great attitude and would put some of our so-called Sports superstars and their egos to shame.

The now World famous “Celtman” held in Torridon mountains is an extreme Triathlon that finishes on the two Munros of Beinn Eighe after a grueling day in the water on the bike and running. This is an extreme event that I was privileged to assist my local Torridon Team Mountain Rescue in safety cover for the first and second event until I got ill. The mountain Stage is remoter and as wild as Glencoe and now is a huge part of the highland Calender. We learned lots from the early events and these are long days for all as it starts at first light and many finish in the dark. I wrote and gave advice to assist/improve our cover after the first year in the event of an accident. These are risky races but those who take part are fully aware but accidents can happen. The race covers a huge area and will never be risk free but to watch it on the roads, mountain or loch or see the film it is some event for all involved. As I said  before friendliness of the competitors both elite and amateur is  heart warming and it brings in many visitors for the weekend to the area.

For years I have followed some of our local runners incredible efforts as records  tumble. The Skye ridge record is now down to 3 hours and with new lightweight gear and training things will continue to improve. This is not new as even in the RAF teams the mountains days were competitive even in the 50’s.

 

 

1954 Skye ridge times -"Soaring ridges, exposed traverses and precipitous drops. Fast and light over rough and technical terrain. A fusion of alpinism and mountain running. Welcome to Skyrunning." jUNE 2015

1954 Skye ridge times -“Soaring ridges, exposed traverses and precipitous drops. Fast and light over rough and technical terrain. A fusion of alpinism and mountain running. Welcome to Skyrunning.”June 2015

I have never been a “Mountain Policeman” on the hills even though nearly 40 years of Mountain Rescue I have seen more than most of the joys and sadness that the mountains can bring. I give Mountain Safety talks and try to pass on my adventures and mistakes over the years. What is experience but learning from your mistakes?. I am amazed at what people can do nowadays and I hope that all goes well on the big day for race on the 22 August 2015. I pray for good weather and dry rock and no accidents but I am sure those involved will do what they can to make this event as safe as possible.

I leave you withe the foreword I did for a pal Manny who ran all the Corbetts and wrote a great book on it. I feel it sums up those who run on the mountains at all levels:

Manny Gorman Running the Corbetts

Manny Gorman Running the Corbetts

“In my life I have been so lucky to meet some amazing people and Manny Gorman is one of them. I   went to a lecture in Boat of Garten near Aviemore and I met Manny he was talking about his incredible trip “The Corbett’s in 70 days.  I had met him before on the hill and as hill runner and he is one of its celebrities, they are unassuming men and women with no egos. Today’s sports superstars could learn from these people.  “Manny “is of a breed of these unknown athletes, he is a passionate hill runner and he is one of the finest amongst this unique band of people. They are very private people, they are a “family” and this book gives an insight into this incredible sport, their life, the pain, the suffering but the joy of moving fast through wild land.

His talk took you on an incredible journey through Scotland Corbett’s and was a magic tale. It was not just a list of mountains but a journey through Scotland’s wonderful wild land. He told a great story of the highs and lows of the trip, the pressures, support of family, friends and work but he also incredibly took some fantastic photos of the mountains and the wildlife.  I was riveted by the story as were the audience that night in Boat of Garten. He said after the lecture he would try to write a book about this and share an incredible trip with the public. This is now complete.

 

This book will take you on a journey through a Scotland away from the “honey pot hills” and is a book with a wonderful insight into this amazing sport and its incredible people.  Manny is such a man this was a special trip and when you read this book you will be taken into the world of marathon hill days but also a connection with the people and the wild places which are very special.  His family support was incredible, this is a man blessed by great fitness and an incredible drive.  I am sure all lovers of the mountains and the wild will love this book as I did; it keeps going right to the end, there is a sting in the tale enjoy!” It may help you understand a bit about this band of people?

I would be interested to see any comments on this race and wish all involved a safe and enjoyable event. I am sure all safety precautions will be taken and pray the weather is kind.

This is from the Salomon Website http://www.glencoeskyline.com/

Salomon website

Salomon website

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 proposed route features long and sustained sections of scrambling terrain, which is roughly equivalent to moderate standard rock climbing. In addition, the race will traverse high and remote mountainous terrain, which at times is impossible to retreat from and may be subject to severe and rapidly changing weather.

The Salomon Glen Coe Skyline™ will take place on Saturday 22nd August 2015 and will be part of the UK Sky Runner Series. The event is only suitable for highly experienced competitors and all aspirant entrants will be vetted for experience. Entries are limited to 200 max. 

Es Tresidder and Finlay Wild, the two leading British ridge runners of their generation, have confirmed that they will race in August.

June 2015 Course Update
We would like to draw your attention to the following updates to the course (5th June 2015).

  1. The route will no longer ascend to Stob Dubh but rather it will pass straight through the Buachaille Etive Beag col. This is because we were not happy with the risk to competitors of stone fall on the orginal descent proposed from Stob Dubh.
  2. The route will ascend Stob Dearg (Buachaille Etive Mor) via the exposed Grade III scramble (a ‘Moderate’ graded rock climb) of Curved Ridge.
  3. There will be no fixed ropes to safeguard sections of the course.
  4. These updates are reflected in the GPX data (here) and Map (above).
  5. There will be a ‘King of the Mountains’ prize for the fastest combined time from CP5-CP6 and CP9-CP10 for both men and women.

Route Description Statistics
45.6km / 4,139m

Curved Ridge
The route will ascend Stob Dearg (Buachaille Etive Mor) via the exposed Grade III scramble (a ‘Moderate’ graded rock climb) of Curved Ridge.

Aonach Eagach Ridge
The route will complete a full traverse of the Aonach Eagach ridge, which includes exposed Grade II scrambling. The entire ridge is inescapable and once committed competitors must either complete the traverse or reverse back to Checkpoint 10 on the summit of Sgorr nam Fionnadh before returning to the valley bottom.

Fixed Ropes
There will be no fixed ropes to safeguard sections of the course and competitors must be confident to move safely over Moderate rock climbing terrain in all but the most severe weather conditions.

Cut Offs
There will be a cut off at Checkpoint 9 as competitors cross the A82 and before ascending to begin the Aonach Eagach ridge. Checkpoint 9 is 26.5km (with 2,656m ascent) into the course and the cut off time is 15:00. Competitors must have departed Checkpoint 9 by 15:00. This cut off will be based on a desire to have all competitors safely off the higher sections of the course before dark; we are happy for slower competitors to be returning via the West Highland Way footpath as it gets dark. The cut off will be strictly enforced. The 15:00 cut off time is based on approximately an overall 14-hour completion time for the entire route. Experienced but slower competitors are very welcome at the race. The course closes at 21:00.

GPX Course Data
The GPX file of the route has been plotted from mapping software and ONLY SHOWS THE ROUGH ROUTE i.e. do not actually follow this GPX route on the ground, instead use it to familiarise yourself with the overall course. Due to the exposed and technical nature of the terrain we are not attempting to provide a detailed GPX file that competitors can use to follow a route precisely. Competitors must follow the race signs on race day and NOT rely on their GPS for the route. The organizers retain the right to alter the race route at any time.

Support Points
The will be 14 marshalled support points along the route. These will be a combination of low-level support points (Checkpoints 1/14 and 9) where food and water will be available to the competitors and high-level support points (Checkpoints 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 and 13) where no food or water will be available but emergency aid from the event team will be possible. Due to the remote nature of the course competitors will need to carry safety equipment, food and fluids as the support points will be far apart.

Family, friends and members of the public are welcome at any of the support points and hot drinks / cold drinks, food etc (at the low-level support points) will be available for competitors and supporters alike.

The race route traverses high and remote mountainous terrain. Once committed to many sections of the race route it is impossible to retreat. Any competitor retiring from the race is likely to face a long walk back into the valley. Competitors should expect long sections of the route to have no marshals and where they will only find signs marking the route.

Detailed Route Description
With a route that dances along the jagged and lofty mountainous horizons above Scotland’s most famous Glen and Pass, and with airy ridges to negotiate, there is no doubt that this race has a licence to thrill. Glen Coe has long-held travellers in awe. It is described and known by the characteristic shapes of each individual mountain along its length, and by the essential and ancient passage of the roads below. The mountains dominate and tower over anyone that stands below them, or who passes along the present A82 road, necks craning to see the tops.

Any views?
From a pal who is doing it

Yes, I am doing it and can’t wait. I put up some photos of a recee at the weekend. There is a load of hype and media b*&^&&t about it – which is all good advertising for the organisers. Also, the climbing and walking sites have been full of a mix of good and bad comments. Quite simply, it will be the tough due to the difficulty running bits of it. There is vetting of applicants which is sensible so some self selection is going on. There are ~160 entrants so far, I guess ~130 will turn up on the start line and I recon if 100 finish would be impressive, less if raining. The recee took 10hrs 40 and we missed the WHW start/finish and SCN Lochain (15km and 300m ascent). Curved ridge is about 9km after the start and 400m ascent. By then the field will be well spread out. We start at 7am so best if non-racers avoid the foot of CR from 0800-0900.. CR is quite airy in paces. Some won’t like that but is is best to keep going up! After that – the hills are big with a tough climb to Sgeamhach. Some won’t like that! The descent of Bidean (1100m) and ascent to the Aonach Eagach (900m) is a killer. Some won’t like that! The AE is quite airy in paces. Some won’t like that! At the end or the AE there is 12km and 700m descent. Some won’t like that! I can’t wait. It’s a great idea some talented people racing. Willl be a tough gig.

About heavywhalley.MBE

After dinner speaker Lecturer and Mountain Rescue Specialist. Environmentalist. Spent 36 years with RAF Mountain Rescue and 4 years with a civilian Team . Still an active Mountaineer and loves the wild places.
This entry was posted in Books, Corbetts, Enviroment, Equipment, Films, Friends, Gear, Hill running and huge days!, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Recomended books and Guides, Views Mountaineering, Weather. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Any views on the The Salomon Glen Coe Skyline Race. A few thoughts !

  1. John D says:

    To state the obvious, the route takes in some very popular scrambles. Do you know if the athletes’ times of arrival on Curved Ridge and Aonach Eagach will be arranged to avoid interactions with slower tourists? I cannot help wondering what will happen if someone’s podium place or cut off is jeopardised by finding themselves behind a nervous, novice scrambler.

    Liked by 1 person

    • heavywhalley says:

      No clue I would imagine that marshals will be there and I think curved ridge is planned for early morning! It may be on the website worth a look ,

      Thanks for the comment!

      Like

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