What is Skyrunning and why do I like it?
Skyrunning is a variation of trail running that takes place in some of the coolest and most dramatic mountains in the world. It is similar to trail running in that it involves running off-road through beautiful locations. It is different in that often there actually isn’t a trail, routes have as much elevation as possible, and sometimes scrambling is involved.
The technical definition of a Skyrace is one which takes place over 2,000m with an average incline of 6%+ and sections of 30%+. These rules are sometimes relaxed, however, for routes in the UK where achieving this isn’t possible. Just because our mountains are a bit wee though doesn’t mean our Skyrunnig routes don’t pack a punch! Glencoe Skyline is renowned internationally for its gnarly terrain and the Lake District Sky Trails series director Charlie Sproson is infamous for designing routes that pack real punch!
So what makes Skyrunning so special? It’s the form of running and racing that I return to the most often for a variety of reasons:
In many way I feel it is the purest form of mountain running. The routes aren’t confined by sticking to trails or being near roads for aid stations. Often it is simply about getting to the top of a cool looking mountain by the most direct route. The inclusion of scrambling sections makes it a cross-discipline sport that relies on strength and technique as well as running fitness.
Skyrunning is also a great way to explore new destinations. Whether within the UK or abroad if you sign up to a race you’re sure to travel somewhere remote, beautiful and slightly off the beaten track!
Finally, the people in the Skyrunning community make it a special environment. Fellow competitors are supportive of one another, race directors are welcoming and want to break down barriers to people entering, and the races themselves often rely on volunteers who are simply passionate about the sport. Whilst the races might seem intimidating on paper the atmosphere there is truly relaxed and welcoming.
What skills do you need?
Confidence in the mountains, paired with an awareness of the risks involved, is essential for Skyrunning. You’ll need to be able to navigate, be prepared for all weather conditions, and have the running technique to move across tricky ground.
Girls on Hills run courses specifically aimed at helping people transition into Skyrunning. This year I’ll be attending and I can’t wait to meet all of you future skyrunners!