Here is the great sky running session with Keri Wallace from Girls on Hills. Lots of tips including:
- How do I train for sky running?
- What do the scrambling grades mean?
- Which sky races are best for beginners?
- What is a vertical kilometer?
- How fit do I need to be to do a Sky Race?
- What kit do I need for sky racing?
- Do I need to navigate on sky races?
Also below my own experience with my first sky race back in June 2019 - Scarfell Sky Race in the Lake District.
Scafell race day, a drier part of the course
Scarfell Sky Race - Lessons Learnt
Tough day in the lakes at the Scarfell Skyrace. 36k and 2,400m ascent over several peaks. Not my finest work!
We started at 7:30am, first climb straight up Harrison Stickle then again to, High Raise doing almost 1,000m vertical climb in the first 8k of the race. I'd made two rookie errors at the start. One being lazy and not getting a good place over a bottleneck stile which put me back 20 minutes and stuck behind slower groups and two not putting my gloves on from the start...
Glen Coe with Keri and Girls On Hills 1:1, Sep 2019
When we reached the peak of Harrison Stickle the weather was crazy. Driving rain, strong winds and 20m visibility. I think this shocked a lot of people who hadn't done this type of thing before. My hands were cold and wet and I couldn't get my gloves on properly which doesn't seem like much but is a right pain in that situation.
Running across from Stickle to High Raise was a bit like the swamp scene from never ending story. Rocks, streaming rivers, mist. Descending the full length again was hard, the paths had turned into waterfalls but there was some grass at least to give some grip. The first half was easy going.
Keri, bossing the downhills...
I stopped for a while at the feed station changing items for dry kit. Because there was only one place you needed to carry a lot of supplies. I had 2 litres of water, food, dry kit, survival essentials. All the weight adds up and makes things harder.
My gloves had let me down, the rain had got in and made them soaking. You also have the conundrum of whether to take them off to get into your food or leave it a while longer. Not easy when you are running with Nordic poles, it's throwing it down and you are tired, it's all extra effort but you have to eat and drink whilst moving or you crash.
Views to ease the pain
We then went straight up to Windy Gap, another 750m vertical climb. I overtook a lot of people here because it wasn't a single track and I could get going. The organisers had diverted from going up to scarfell due to the weather. I think I could have done another climb but not a hard descent. We traversed Green Gable and Great Gable. It was loose rocks and skree, sheer drops and some climbing involved.
At one point a marshal appeared with the job of holding people's poles whilst they scrambled onto the 2m ledge above them. I cut my hand open on something sharp, lots of blood for the rest of the course. I had a first aid kit but I didn't want to stop moving. Especially up there.
Bow Fell... everyone has their worst parts of a long race and this was mine. A boulder field to scramble over that took forever. You had to try and not slip in the rain and trap your ankle. It was frustrating to go so slow but I didn't want to risk any injury.
The final descent was on a tourist path into great Langdale, it was flag stoned and slippery. Proper Fell routes are so much better because you can slide down skree or grip on grass but this was a nightmare.
I finished around 17th in the ladies category. A lot of people didn't manage the course and retired early. There was not much sky running going on, just plenty of hiking, scrambling, wading and trotting.