Top tips for Sky Racing from Girls on Hills
Are you excited for some epic Sky Racing at Salomon Skyline Scotland?
Here are Girls on Hills’ top tips for racing the Skyline Scotland skyraces this September…
RING OF STEALL SKYRACE
DOWNHILL. The first major descent in this race is Sgurr a’ Mhaim. This is no flowing trail but a long and rough drop over varied terrain. Don’t underestimate what a descent of over 1000m will do to your quads! You’ll be looking forward to the aid station at the bottom but don’t rush it and risk jelly-legs so early in the race.
PACE YOURSELF. It’s all too easy to think of the aid station as halfway through (since half of the high-level ‘ring’ has been completed). But actually, it is more like a third of the way through the course. The majority of the hard work is in the latter stages (3 out of the 4 Munros), so keep plenty in reserve!
THINK TWICE. The race route climbs twice up onto the ‘classic’ Ring of Steall ridgeline. The second climb (An Gearanach), will hit those tired legs HARD. It is long and very steep in its upper half. It is however, a physical and psychological barrier that you can be prepared for. Fuel and hydrate properly, climb steadily and don’t feel disheartened if you feel rough (everyone does). Stick in there! The good news is that you will feel great on the summit, knowing the hardest section is now behind you.
Are you ready for the iconic Ring of Steall? ©No Limits Photography
GLEN COE SKYLINE
- BE PATIENT. Expect a bottleneck at the bottom of Curved Ridge. Only the front runners will avoid this, so make sure you run your own race on the approach. Overtaking is not permitted on this section of moderate graded rock climbing, so be patient and use your time wisely to fuel and hydrate for the long day of technical running ahead.
- FAST FEET. As you descend Coire nam Beitheach (the last descent before the road crossing/aid station), you will come across a section of stone steps. These can be very slippy when wet and require some nimble footwork – not always easy when your quads are trembling! If you’re racing the clock to get inside the cut-off, then be extra cautious here. Nothing will slow you down like a nasty tumble.
- IT’S NOT OVER YET. Once you have completed the Aonach Eagach traverse, you may be fooled into thinking the race is nearly over. Actually, the ridge’s grassy continuation and rough descent will keep you on your toes. If wet, you’ll benefit from some good grip over this boggy/tussocky section. Once you hit the West Highland Way, there is still 6km of fast trail back to the finish.
The Glen Coe Skyline is a tough challenge! ©No Limits Photography
BEN NEVIS ULTRA
- GET A GRIP. The race route from the foot of Binnein Beag to the top of Coire Giubhsachan is over soft ground – most notably through Glen Nevis where it is very boggy. Good grip and running poles can be a real benefit here. The trickiest section is the slippy hillside below Binnein Beag (bonus points if you manage to stay upright here)!
- LAYER UP! Once you leave the shelter of Coire Giubhsachan and begin to climb Carn Mor Dearg you will likely begin to feel the force of any prevailing weather. Take time to layer-up here and make sure you are feeling comfortable before tackling the Carn Mor Dearg arête. You may be moving more slowly and become too focused to notice that you’re feeling cold. Most people move better and scramble with more confidence when appropriately dressed for the conditions.
- THE BEN PATH. The descent down Ben Nevis is long and unforgiving. There is also, a lot of the race still to come! Descend with as much fluidity and efficiency as you can to save those knees - as you’ll definitely need them for the flatter trail running up Glen Nevis that follows. Keep your foot on the gas beyond the aid station, to beat the last cut-off.
Enjoy epic views on the Ben Nevis Ultra Sky Race ©No Limits Photography
For more training preparation, you may like to check out the awesome recce events and workshops organised by Girls on Hills.
Ready to take on the challenge this September?
Entries are still open for Salomon Skyline Scotland... don't miss out on the UK's largest festival of sky running and trail running!
It's going to be an epic weekend ©No Limits Photography