‘More sky, less cloud’

Last weekend could not feel further away. The contrast between sitting in my parent’s garden with a cup of tea vs. nearly 9 hours of mountain running in the Scottish Highlands navigating bog, rivers and knife-edge ridges.

The Salomon Ring of Steall Skyrace is part of the Migu Skyrunner World Series and one of the four races finishing in Kinlochleven that weekend. Skyrunning itself, though people have run in the mountains for 100s of years, as a sport has existed since the early 90’s. The Ring of Steall skyrace is an un-vetted race billed as,

follow[ing] in the tradition of Skyrunning, which consists of uncompromising mountain running, such as scrambling along mountain ridges with steep ascents, traverses and descents on technical and challenging terrain.

At the time of entering I had not run in any mountains, or really even hiked much in them. After receiving my place I felt the weight of this undertaking, 30km with over 2800m ascent, and a 9 hour cut off. To make it to the start line for such a race both Max and I needed to buy some new kit and re-think how we ran. Our first purchase was a 3-door 1litre secondhand Pugeot, lovingly nicknamed ‘Pug Mountain’ and our Challenge Peak dream was born. In the lead up to this race Max and I needed to get out into the mountains, not only for fitness, but to learn how to navigate, get confident on exposed ridges, kit test and get comfortable in mountain weather. The plan was to visit a different mountain range in the UK every month to get some ascent in the legs. Since February we visited 7 mountain ranges as well as several trips to the Peak District. We also ran our first ever fell races, timed race and mountain marathon and I also trained for and cycled from London to Manchester. I even won my first race! On top of this I began in earnest to work on strength. Despite all this work in the 6 months lead up, I had underestimated this race.

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