The provisional route starts at the Glencoe Mountain Resort and, via the West Highland Way, reaches and ascends Buachaille. A full traverse of Bidean nam Bian ensues before dropping down into Glen Coe to then climb up to Sgorr nam Fiannaidh. There is then an extended traverse of the entire Aonach Eagach ridge, before rejoining the West Highland Way and descending into Glen Coe Pass via the Devil’s Staircase and back to Glencoe Mountain Resort.
The route statistics are approximately 45km with 4500m of ascent.
Race planner Gary Tompsett
As many experienced hill walkers and climbers have pointed out, this route covers some of the most challenging mountain terrain in the UK with long sections of exposed and serious moderate standard rock climbing.
Race Director Shane Ohly explained: “I am not trying to create another fell or trail race, but bring to the UK world class Skyrunning and a course that has world class challenges. It is not meant to be easy, and a course of this caliber has inherent risks.
“We are not creating another mass participation running event, rather, a race for experienced and competent participants. The Glen Coe Skyline™ is a fusion of mountain running and alpinism where competitors need to be skilled at both disciplines to be eligible to take part.”
Indeed, there has been a hotly debated forum thread about the Glen Coe Skyline on the popular UKClimbing/UKHillWalking website, and in response, Shane has provided a detailed Q&A about the race, which is available here.
Leading British Skyrunners were quick to endorse the route, with Tom Owens from the Salomon International Team saying: “Wow. This will be a seriously brilliant and challenging route.” Teammate Any Symonds said: “Excellent! Glen Coe Skyline. Couldn’t get much of a better setting and route for a Sky Race in the UK.”
Shane said: “The Glen Coe Skyline follows in the finest tradition of the most prestigious Skyrunning races and competing on such challenging and technical terrain is not without precedent.”
For an event that has not even happened, the Glen Coe Skyline is already one the most talked about races on the UK calendar and it is clearly challenging many observers’ perceptions of what mountain running is.
Ian Corless, of Skyrunning UK, said: “The UK may lack high mountains but we have unique terrain and what we lack in altitude can be compensated for with challenging routes as we have seen at the V3K and the Mourne Skyline MTR.
“The Glen Coe Skyline™ however takes Skyrunning UK to the next level. Having experienced the iconic Trofeo Kimain Italy in 2012 and 2014, I was inspired to extend that experience to a UK and worldwide audience but on UK soil.
“Shane and his team have put my dream into reality. The Glen Coe Skyline will arguably be the toughest race in the UK and takes it inspiration from the Skyrunner World Series races such as the Dolomites, Zegama-Aizkorri and Tromso SkyRace’s.
“The Glen Coe Skyline will not be for everyone though; it is a challenging race over a tough and technical course. It harks back to Marino Giacometti’s vision of Skyrunning that was created on the slopes of Monte Rosa in the late 80s.”
The organisers have been careful to consider the impact the race may have on other recreational users of Glen Coe and have been working with the National Trust for Scotland who are the major landowner.