The organisers of the Glen Coe Skyline race have announced that leading hill runners Es Tresidder and Finlay Wild will compete in the August event, which is being billed as the most technical and hands-on British hill race ever staged. In addition it has been confirmed that, as speculated, Curved Ridge will feature as part of the course.
The grade 3 scramble will push the route, which also includes the traverse of the Aonach Eagach, firmly into the sky running category - a fusion of mountaineering and running sometimes seen on the Continent but never tried before in the UK (for more on what it all means see this recent interview). No fixed ropes are going to be in place on this section.
Fort William-based Finlay Wild, current Cuillin Ridge record holder (with a hard-to-grasp time of 2:59:22 - interview here), said:
'I'm really excited about this race. The European Skyraces look like a fantastic mix of technical running and scrambling, and Scotland certainly has loads of suitable terrain. Running the Salomon Glen Coe Skyline includes some of the best scrambling in Lochaber.'
'The Aonach Eagach is one of the most famous ridges in Scotland and is well suited to running as the more technical sections are short-lived and relatively easy. Of course much of the route is hugely exposed and should attract only confident scramblers. It's not going to be everyone's cup of tea but for runners who relish moving fast on rough mountaineering ground this route is totally inspiring. Although not as rough as the Cuillin, there's a huge amount of interesting technical terrain up there. In fact a large amount of the route is on narrow but very runnable ridges, with fantastic views to the rest of Glencoe and beyond. I love the feeling of being on top of the world that comes with running light and fast along narrow exposed ridges. For me, the biggest challenge will be the sheer length of the route.'
In addition to the two famous scrambles, the round of the hills overlooking both sides of the glen is a challenging 45.6km in length, with over 4000m of ascent.
Es Tresidder, himself no slouch as the previous Cuillin record breaker and current holder of the Snowdon Horseshoe record (1:25:08), sounded similarly keen:
'I’ve always loved exploring that line between running and mountaineering' he said, 'and ever since running my first Skyrace, the legendary Sentiero delle Grigne in Italy, I’ve wondered about whether you could do something similar in the UK: very technical, fully marked so as not to offer too much advantage to locals, very long and very aesthetic. Until now this sort of ground has been the reserve of solo records such as those on the Cuillin ridge or Snowdon horseshoe, but it will be awesome to have a race over such technical terrain. I’m planning on making this race one of my main objectives for the summer.'
And here's Race Director Shane Ohly explaining the delay in his final decision to include Curved Ridge, unroped, the bit that arguably really pushes the route up to another level:
'From the start we wanted to included Curved Ridge but were unable to confirm this 100% until completing a series of risk assessments on the route in different weather conditions and consulting with independent experts on our plans to manage the runners on the route. The winter snow stayed on the higher parts of the route longer than expected so we had to delay this announcement until the route and our management plans could be site assessed in snow free conditions. I am happy that we have now done this.'
- The Salomon Glen Coe Skyline will take place on Saturday 22nd August 2015 and will be part of the UK Sky Runner Series.