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Lakes Sky Ultra

13-Jul-2019 Ambleside, Lake District, UK (England)

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7 REVIEWS
Mountains Race Race Terrain
53KM / 33Miles
1 Day - 100 Runners

DIFFICULTY Race Difficulty Brutal  

Entry From £75 GBP

Elevated ridgelines, breathtaking exposure, fast travel on technical mountain terrain. Definitive Lakeland vistas. Classic Lakeland scrambling. Fell running on additives. This is Skyrunning™. This is Lakes Sky Ultra™.

Lakes Sky Ultra™ is going to be one of the spiciest races in the country. Over 50km of Lakeland paths, trails and tussock, 4300m of vertical grind, grade III scrambles, super fast descents, knife edge arêtes - this race has it all. It is not for the faint of heart, and racers will need to be competent on steep rock sections. It will be extreme. It will be gnarly. It will be hardcore. It will be awesome. You know you want to..............

The route

Starting on the streets of Ambleside, you will climb up to Fairfield via Dove Crag & Hart Crag, before dropping down across the scree slopes to Grisedale Tarn (CP1) and then traversing the Helvellyn massif. One of the best descents in the Lake District, Swirral Edge (grade 0.5 scramble), gives way to the classic mountain top of Catstycam before plunging down the north-west ridge to the valley floor below (CP2). Climbing back up, onto Birkhouse Moor (CP3) will give racers the joy of running the whole length of Striding Edge (grade 1), before the route tops out back on the Helvellyn massif. Countouring around the top of the headwall of Nethermost Cove, leads onto the lesser-known line off Nethermost Pike (CP4), dropping into Grisedale. A short & very sharp uphill slog onto the Grisedale face of St. Sunday Crag (CP5) will ensure the heart is beating hard before you commit to the exposure and steepness of Pinnacle Ridge itself (grade 3). Tasty!

The crux of the race complete, a fast descent into Patterdale (CP6) and the chance for a refuel at the supplied aid station before climbing once again onto the high tops to visit Angle Tarn Pikes, The Knott and High Street (CP7). Another bone shaking descent off Long Stile to Blea Water and straight back up via Piot Crag. Your lungs should be burning by now, but some fantastic undulating running over Caudale Moor back to Kirkstone Pass via St Ravens Edge will carry you to the final resupply point outside the Kirsktone Pass Inn (CP8). One last climb - up Red Screes (CP9), a real corker and part of our 'super stages', and then the fast 5km descent back to Ambleside. The 'super stages' will be a timed ascent to Red Screes from Kirkstone Pass (between CP8 AND CP9) & a timed descent to the finish (CP9 - FINISH), races within a race!

The route will be fully marked and flagged. There will be no navigational experience required. 

Read the Ian Corless review of the 2015 edition HERE.

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Beginner

Elevation: Very little change < 500 metres. Benign running terrain, not technical.

Suitable for: First ultra runners completing a marathon or doing regular long distance running in the last six months.

Intermediate

Elevation: Increase of up to 1000 metres

Suitable for: Runners who have completed at least one ultra distance race (or similar event) or are doing long distance running (>26 miles) regularly, with elevation shown.

Advanced

Elevation: Increase of up to 1500 metres

Suitable for: Runners who have completed several ultra distances or similar events, or are doing long distance running regularly, with elevation shown.

Expert

Elevation: Increase of up to 2000 metres with some challenging climatic conditions (e.g. ice, snow, humidity or heat) and or technical terrain

Suitable for: Experienced runners who have completed at least regular ultra distances in last 12 months, or are doing regular long distance running (>50 miles) with elevation and conditions shown (where possible). Admission to these races may be subject to evidence of recent qualifying race participation and recent medical examination certificate. Check with the race organiser regarding entry requirements.

Brutal

Elevation: Increase of up to 2000 metres with very challenging climatic conditions (e.g. ice, snow, humidity, heat or at high altitude) and or technical terrain.

Suitable for: Very experienced long distance ultra runners (min 3 years’ experience) or are doing regular long distance running (>50 miles) with elevation and conditions shown (where possible). Admission to these races is often subject to evidence of recent qualifying race participation and recent medical examination certificate. Purchase of specialist kit is often recommended for these races.

Endurance - Multi-activity

Type: An ultra distance race including at least two of the following activities such as running, swimming, cycling, kayaking, skiing and climbing. It may also include different climatic conditions (eg ice, snow, humidity, cold water, mud or heat).

Suitable for: Experienced multi-skilled athletes who have trained for the different activities included in this event. Admission to these races may be subject to receipt of a recent medical examination certificate. Check with the race organiser regarding entry requirements and any specialist equipment required such as a wetsuit, skis or a mountain bike.

Global - Virtual

Type: A virtual race which can be run at any time shown on the dates shown, on any type of terrain in any country.

Suitable for: For runners from beginners to experienced as you choose your own course and challenge based on the guidelines and options set by the virtual race organiser.

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hamerr

12:14 01-08-16

I didn't, and won't ever, run the Lakes sky Ultra but I was a marshal at this year's (2016) event. Here's a few thoughts:

My work started the day before the race, at just after 9.30am from race director Charlie Sproson’s house next to YHA Helvellyn. Working alongside recently retired ex-RAF man and mountain goat Colin Harding we were both equipped with 40 litre backpacks filled with small red marker flags, wooden stakes and pointer signs for setting out the section from Keppel Cove to Striding Edge; Nethermost Pike; Eagle Crag, including the descent to Grisedale Beck that had been specially roped for the event; and then up to Pinnacle Ridge.

There fatigue and an ongoing ankle injury got the better of me and I took a short cut just below the ridge to meet Colin near Birks Fell, where I finished the last of my energy drink and ate my final Eccles Cake while I waited for him.

From there we headed to Trough Head and Arniston Crag, and on the descent to Patterdale my IT bands started to play up (yet another injury) despite using walking poles since Birks, and then back to Charlie’s house for 8pm. It had been a walk of around 12 miles with 1,300m of ascent, meaning I’d pretty much done Ben Nevis.

We then headed to the University of Cumbria in Ambleside where the race headquarters was, and where we were both staying in student accommodation. After a bag of chips in town we made our way back to the HQ for a marshal’s meeting at 9:30 and then for a couple of pints in the Golden Rule pub.

The next morning I was up at 5:30, Colin even earlier as he was on the Swirral Edge checkpoint, and my first duty of the day was checking the kit of the runners that hadn’t registered the previous evening. The start was at 7am and despite 105 people having entered, 91 turned up on the start line.

I then drove to Patterdale Primary School, which was the first feed station on the course and had breakfast (corn flakes and a double fried egg sandwich) and then walked along Grisedale Beck to marshal at the bridge in the valley bottom that had taken me between Eagle Crag and Pinnacle Ridge the previous day.

The walk was about 45 minutes and I’d aimed to be there for 10am in time for the first runner at 10:15. I got there five minutes early just as Donnie Campbell (the eventual winner) came bounding through. It took two hours for everyone to pass over the bridge, with many taking advantage of the beck to clean the debris out of their shoes (Eagle Crag is part scree and part soil/slag from the old mine workings) and, to refill their water bottles and pour water over their heads.

When the sweep arrived I then returned along the valley to Patterdale and helped out at the school until the final competitor was through (although they’d been timed out) and then took an injured runner to Ambleside, one of his IT bands had gone so I had lots of sympathy. While I was there I grabbed a fleece from room and then took up my next post at a breezy Kirkstone Pass.

By then the runners only had about 5 or 6km left, and Red Screes to go up with an optional timed ascent; and even though some at the end of the field could have been timed out Charlie made the decision to allow then to continue. The final runner was through just after 8pm and the checkpoint was dismantled and packed into a van.

Back at the HQ, there was still a crowd waiting to cheer on the final runners as they somehow found a last bit of energy to take them up the steps (very cruel) and through the finishers arch.

For me it was an eye opening, lung bursting, adrenaline fuelled, exhausting but truly magnificent weekend. Hats off to Charlie and the rest of the team of around 45 volunteers (many of whom had travelled from far and wide) for what, I think, was a smoothly run event which was greatly aided by sponsorship from Salewa, Leki, Mountain Run, Team Nutrition, Wild Country, Climbers’ Shop (Ambleside).

If you’re reading this and you fancy and eye opening, lung bursting, adrenaline fuelled, exhausting but truly magnificent weekend then how about getting involved next year?

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Donnie84

09:31 28-07-16

Great race, superb route, well organised and is definitely one for the bucket list!! Thanks Charlie and Team for a great weekend and I might see you again next year depending on my race schedule.

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Sophieamygrant

08:28 28-07-16

I had so much fun running this race, it is awesome!!! The route is challenging, thoughtful and exceptionally well marked and marshalled. I can't recommend this race enough if you ever get the chance DO IT! (Run in 2016)

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Konstantin

12:20 28-07-16

I signed up to the Lakes Sky Ultra 2016 because moving fast on difficult mountainous terrain is exactly what I enjoy doing. The event is vetted for good reason as some sections on the course are potentially dangerous if you don't have the required experience.
The race organisation was excellent. Very friendly and helpful volunteers everywhere (at registration, safety briefing, aid stations, checkpoints). The course marking was incredibly good, with little red flags marking the course every couple of metres in the technical sections. An incredible feat considering the course is 56km long.
Can definitely highly recommend this race as one of the toughest but most awesome races I've done!
The atmosphere on race day was great, a lot of the check point volunteers had brought out drums and bells to cheer the competitors on. Great camaraderie amongst the runners too.
For more indepth information on my race see my blog: http://guidiary.com/2016/07/26/lakes-sky-ultra-race-day/

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mudchalkandgears

10:28 18-09-15

Entering this race (2015) I was worried I had not got enough experience - I am a confidant climber but relatively new to the running side of things. However a good chat with the RDs soon established although this would be a massive challenge I had enough skills and experience to enter. I also decided it would be a good idea to pop along to the mountain skills/Recce weekend. I was so glad I did - I picked up loads of tips and this really gave me the confidence I needed on race day.

The race itself was one of the hardest things I have ever done - but I loved every bit of it! Everything was really well organised and you could tell a lot of hard work had gone into putting it on. The marshals were amazing - stood in the driving rain and 50mph winds all day they were still so enthusiastic and did a great job of cheering us on (cowbells were a great touch)! Phil Clayton mentions using poles in the post below - I would certainly second this. I am afraid I have little to compare it too having not run anything like it before - it is a tough course with some super technical sections and you will have to dig deep but if you are looking for a challenge don't hesitate to give it a go, it's an awesome day!

For a more lengthy report feel free to check out http://www.mudchalkandgears.com/lakes-sky-ultra-race-report/

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Philclayton

12:18 14-09-15

Lakes Sky Ultra 2015, my longest race to date. Driving rain, gale force winds, thunder on the highest summits, making an excellent potential lighting conductor with poles on my back! Good call not to ascend Pinnacle Ridge though by the time I got there was well ready to give it a go. Used to steep climbs living in the lakes, but they were tough, would recommend walking poles, a first for me but helped tremendously. Great technical sections, local knowledge is useful to pace yourself. Excellent support all the way round, well marked. Feed stations great, although I did carry my own pasta to Paterdale! Gets easier after Paterdale, you've already done 18miles by then, but still 3 big climbs left to do. Nice run in from red screes summit, excellent. I'd recommend this to 30 plus milers but make sure you've got the ascent experience, 13000ft is a long way to climb. Amazing organisation, hats off to the stalwart marshals in such terrible weather. Good prep essential, eat regularly, I did every 30mins or so. I have felt more fatigued doing Wasdale, which is only 20 miles.

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RunSnowdonia

11:49 14-09-15

Toughest race I've done so far in the Sky Running UK series (following Glencoe and V3K). The weather was relentless in what is the first year of running the race (2015), with driving rain and high winds, resulting in the sensible decision to not include Pinnacle Ridge (Grade 3 scramble). The start is sublime - a runnable long ascent to Fairfield after which the technicality builds in - tough steep climbs, rocky ridge lines and a considerable amount of fell running terrain through bog and tussock. Once passing the halfway point at Patterdale it becomes considerably easier with good trails then grassy ridge running, mixed with brief technical sections until the final road support. The final climb is brutally steep - just remember it's a chance to do a timed ascent and win a prize. The final descent is sublime (dare I say kind for an ultra): Long grassy slopes to let yourself lollop down - this is also a timed descent for a chance for a prize for the fastest. Overall the event is fabulous - the organizers are very passionate about it, the supporters, marshals and other crew where absolute gems and the aid stations well stocked - there was even proper coffee! Be prepared for very very tough and moments of look deep into yourself for some very tough sections underfoot.

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