Skyrunning World Championships
September 19, 2108
Yearly I like to have a main race to build up to and this year it was The Ring of Steall Skyrace and what a choice! Thank you to Donald Sandeman who convinced me I could do it after many said WHAT!!
After running the Glenshee9 in 5hrs 35 mins I predicted between 6hrs 30 and 7hrs max to complete relying on others’ recces for insights to the terrain, all I knew that it was 2500m, 4 Munros including one Sgor an Iubhair recently downgraded from a Munro to a subsidiary of Sgurr a Mhaim.
The world’s finest mountain athlete was at the front of the start-line, Kilian Jornet, who took 20 mins off the previous record finishing in 3:04 when I was still on my way to Checkpoint3 at Glen Nevis! I wrongly started at the very back of the pack and with the race boasting over 700 participants creating a huge bottleneck at the WHW entrance which did not thin out until I reached Checkpoint#3.
This was my first experience of mountain running following the route with red flags, even I could not get lost on this Salomon 29km steep, rocky, boggy, airy ridged Trail. Although I do not have a fear of heights I ran with the attitude of keep going, don’t look down as when I did I stumbled every time I took my eyes off the path. At some point ascending someone was yelling Rock and I was thinking someone answer him! then a large rock tumbled past me! I passed many on the ascent then many passed me on my tentative descent.
Skyrunning along a Ridge – line is where you realise your shoulders are under yours ears, the one that spooked me was a climb up a ‘vertical rock’, I saw the orange flag above it and the queue in front all pondering how to climb safely as there was only a 3,000ft drop if you misjudged it, so left foot firmly planted, right foot firmly planted, left hand gripped securely but right hand I could not get a good grip but managed by gritting my teeth and pull up – phew!!
I had to stop and photograph what I’d accomplished and fortunately the cloud had lifted to reveal an amazing view of The Devil’s Ridge.
The Glen Nevis Support point was welcome, the boiled potatoes and salt were such a hit which saved me bonking in the second half, onward and upwards again towards to the easier munros’ of An Gearanach, Stob Choire a Chairn and Am Bodach back to meet up with the WHW to the finish line.
Karl Zeiner 5:54 Fiona Zeiner 6:43 Catherine Fraser 6:51 Carole Fortune 7:15 Ian Smith 8:00 Kirsty Stoddart 8.53