The Peaks Sky Race is the second race in the newly formed Sky Running UK series. Currently comprising of the V3K (55km) in June, Peaks Sky Race (48km) in August, 3×3 Ultra (80km) in October and Mourne Skyline MTR (35km) in October.
I entered the Peaks Sky Race quite recently for a couple of reasons a) to get a taste of a UK Sky Race and b) as a training run for CCC at the end of August. The Peaks Sky Race had the right level of distance, elevation and timing to fit in with my training plans.
The Peak District is one of the UK National Park’s and while it does not have the same major peaks such as in North Wales, The Lake District or Scotland it does have some fairly well known peaks, Shining Tor & Shutlingsloe as an example.
I have been climbing around the area many years ago as it offers some excellent grit stone to challenge one self on. This time however, it was to do battle with the 29.7mile (48km) course that featured 2,000m of elevation. The race is based around a challenge called ‘The Five Trig Round’ taking in Axe Edge, The Roaches, Shutlingsloe, Shining Tor & Burbage Edge. Just what the training doctor ordered.
My day started early rising from a local campsite at 6AM to head over to the race start. There was none of the fanfare of a large race, this was more of an inter club cross country affair or maybe I was a little too early. Slowly, the organisers filtered through and by 7AM the machine that is a well-oiled race registration started to work quietly and efficiently.
As the race start edged closer the organizers provided everyone with a race briefing and walked us slowly to the start field about two minutes away and our first sight of the climb that would be the first of many to Solomon’s Temple. The race was due to start at 8AM however due to a few late arrivals we were held back by 15 minutes. Not to worry, as everyone was waiting apprehensively in the lovely sunshine that was to be a feature of the day. We were blessed with no rain and a little cloud cover to shelter us from the sun.
We were off and the 78 starters cruised around the start field and began the first climb to Solomon’s Temple. It was great to get moving but with only a 300 metre warm up the heart rate soon got raised within minutes as we pounded up that first climb to hear the dulcet tunes of a bagpiper at the Tower. My approach today was to take it easy and run at a pace that I could last throughout, bearing in mind that the second half looked much tougher so keeping in some reserve.
I will spare you the details of a blow by blow, mile by mile, gel by gel race report because that would be just plain boring. Needless to say I finished in 7hr21.14 and was very pleased that I had completed this with no injuries and with my longest run being only 15 miles since coming back from injury in June, it was just what the doctor had ordered. The finish time gives me some indication for CCC plus or minus several hours!
What were my highlights of this Skyrace? Well, undoubtedly, running along the ridge on The Roaches for about two to three miles, whilst calling it a ridge has a bit of poetic licence to it, as you are not really on the edge of anything it’s quite a wide walkway! I have got to say that the mild scrambling to reach the trig point at Shutlingsloe and running down was also fun as was the running or hiking through head high ferns to Goyt’s Moss, I am only short guy!
What gear did I take? Inov8 Race Vest, a selection of gels (GU/Cliff), walking poles (unused), map & compass (never even required as the route marking was spot on), rain jacket and spare top. Best bit of gear – a) Salomon compression calves – I have no tightness in my calves post race b) Inov8 Race Vest – this was its first big outing and I was impressed with its comfort, the amount you can stash away and the positioning of the water bottles. It’s a serious contender for my CCC attempt.
Should you do this race next year? If you are doing CCC/TDS or something similar at the end of August or in September it is perfectly timed, is around half the distance and elevation gain and the terrain it traverses is similar to European events. Now that the organizers have got this year’s race under their belt, I am sure they will have more time to market this race and entice others to take part in the Sky running experience. They could easily double the field to 150 runners.
Now at the top end of the field the pace was fast and furious that even the organizers were put on the back foot, thinking that five hours was about the pace. The men’s race was hard fought between the top two with Jason Cavill just outdistancing himself near the end to edge James Ellis into second by a four minute margin. The winners were:
All images are copyright – Ian Campbell – Photography