Glen Coe Skyline: ‘It was like watching an adventure movie’
The G-Force was buzzing when he called me mid-afternoon on Sunday. He told me it was like something out of an adventure movie.
“It was absolutely amazing,” he said. “I was watching Stewart coming down the mountain in Glencoe through my binoculars. He was making good progress and I could see him overtaking lots of people. But I was really worried he’d not make it in time.
“He seemed so determined and I was willing him on but he was getting so close to the cut-off time.”
G’s good friend, Stewart MacBroom, of Cumbernauld, was taking part in his first ultra distance running race, the 2016 Salomon Glen Coe Skyline and he needed to reach checkpoint 11 by a set time to be allowed to finish the race via the famous Scottish mountain ridge, the Aonach Eagach. G was his support for the event.
As the minutes turned to seconds, the countdown to the cut off drew scarily close and G could focus on nothing else. He hoped, seemingly against hope, that Stewart, 47, would find the energy to make it.
“And then he did!” said G, with excitement. “He raced towards the checkpoint with just 10 seconds left until cut off. Someone was smart enough to help him to dib in and then we quickly walked him on towards the next stage.
“It was incredible. It really was.
“I was so thrilled for Stewart because I know how much he wanted to make this final cut-off and although it was his first try at this event he had trained hard for it and he was so determined.
“Seeing him able to carry on, even if he still had a long way to go to the finish line was quite emotional. I have huge respect for Stewart making it.”
Stewart’s brother Graham was also racing. It was Graham’s second time in the Glen Coe Skyline and he was about 15 minutes ahead of Stewart at this point.
What is the Glen Coe Skyline?
The 2016 Salomon Glen Coe Skyline took place in the Scottish Highlands for the second time this weekend.
This year, the race was the finale of the three-race Skyrunner World EXTREME Series. It’s acclaimed as the toughest race in the Skyrunner World Series.
The 55km course includes a punishing 4,750m of vertical height gain over very technical terrain. It includes a climb of Curved Ridge on the Buchaille Etive Mor and a traverse of the Aonach Eagach, as well as many other well known Glencoe mountain climbs.
The EXTREME Series was introduced by the International Skyrunning Federation for 2016 to showcase the three most technical Skyrunning races in a stand-alone circuit: The Tromsø SkyRace® in Norway; the Kima Trophy in Italy; and the deciding finale, and Scotland’s first international Skyrunning race, the Salomon Glen Coe Skyline.
Jonathan Albon wins the race
The race – and the 2016 EXTREME Series – was won by Londoner Jonathan Albon, 27, who lives in Norway.
Spectators said he appeared to cruise effortlessly over the rugged and demanding terrain to finish in an incredible 6 hours 33 minutes 52 seconds, taking almost an hour off last year’s course record, on a longer and tougher route than the 2015 edition.
Jonathan said: “The course was a mix of scrambling, hiking, running, amazing views, nature… and weather. I’m really happy with the title.”
Men’s race favourite and ranking leader Tom Owens led for most of the race. Although he was plagued by foot pain, which eventually cost him his crown, he finished just four minutes behind Jonathan.
Switzerland’s Marc Lauenstein (winner of the SKY Series’ Ultraks 46K) was third.
Jasmin Paris is first lady
The women’s field was a different story with 32-year-old Briton Jasmin Paris, the Tromsø race winner, leading the race comfortably, especially on the technical sections. She finished in 8:15:56.
She said: “It was a great, great race. I loved the race and the series. I really like that scrambling, technical stuff. I don’t really like trail, flat running.
“I wasn’t feeling that confident as Ruth caught me at the end of the trail in the valley and I could see Malene behind me. I couldn’t really sit around and wait so I pushed and joined a couple of guys who ran with me to the end where they dropped me.”
Jasmin also took the title as the EXTREME Series Women’s Champion.
Stewart’s joy at finishing
Of the 217 competitors that started the race only 158 made it through the cut-off times to finish the race. For most of the runners it was an extremely tough race that lasted many more hours than the front-runners.
Stewart crossed the line at Kinlochleven in 13:24:24 ahead of two other people. Graham, 41, was some 34 minutes ahead of his older brother.
Stewart describes the race. He said: “It was a great experience for my first ultra and I enjoyed nearly every minute of it. The highs included standing in the start pen with word-class athletes and then making checkpoint 11 at 33km with 10 seconds to go to cut off time.
See Glen Coe Skyline
UK’s first Vertical Kilometre
The Friday before the Glen Coe Skyline, I the organisers held the UK’s first VK race, the Salomon Mamores VK.
The 1000m vertical climb was over a distance of 5km that was neatly split into three distinct sections.
The first third was runnable trail before a wall of vertical fell with no path and just a line of orange flags leading to the sky.
As the fell summited out, an arrow pointed left and the final section was a rocky ridge that lead to the summit at 1000m+.
Race Director Shane Ohly, said: “In our course design, we did not try to replicate a European style VK. Instead, we offered a very Scottish mountain experience that is in keeping with the ethos of the other races that make up the Skyline Scotland weekend.”
Experienced Skyrunners, Stian Angermund (VK World Champion), Alexis Sévennec and Francois Gonon took the top three spots in 42:17, 42:25 and 44:48 respectively.
Georgina Tindley pipped Stephanie Provan to the top slot by 33 seconds, finishing 54:34 and 55:01 respectively. Zoe Procter was third in 58:45.
Salomon Ring of Steall Skyrace
Then on the Saturday it was the Salomon Ring of Steall Skyrace, including ridges, scrambles, steep ascents, boggy ground and plenty of technical running.
The inaugural Salomon Ring of Steall Skyrace has been touted by all who run it as some of the toughest 29km they have ever run.
Winner Stian Angermund said: “That was one incredibly tough and beautiful race. Wow, so technical and relentless. The ridges were long and challenging and the climbing kept coming. It really is an incredible race and one that I loved.”
Stian finished in 03:25:28. Alexis Sévennec (France) was second in 03:29:04, while Adrien Perret (France) was third in 04:00:51.
In the ladies’ race, Georgia Tindley did the “double” by winning the Salomon Mamores VK followed by a stunning Salomon Ring of Steall Skyrace victory in 4:39:20. GB Orienteering teammates Hollie Orr and Jessica Tullie were second and third in 04:51:53 and 04:52:29.