Glencoe Skyline, Glencoe, Scotland, Sunday, September 22, 2019

51km/4750m

Fiona Brannan

Old Military road home

‘And now, time for something completely different!’

I’ve just always wanted to say that.

Glencoe Skyline, the abridged version; I did a not-that-long (by ultra standards!) but somewhat hilly run. I had to pass a vetting process to make it to the start line (climbing, scrambling and mountain running experience)


I averaged almost 20 minutes per mile, or 3 mph. There was nearly 600ft/ mile (>100m/km) of ascent, and a distinct lack of ‘runnable’ terrain, unless you are a mountain goat (I am not). I ate a lot, drank more – mostly from streams (yes, it’s ok, I survived) and finished 6 seconds under 11 hours, 11th/24 ladies, 78th/142 finishers (180 starters).

33 miles, 16,000 ft. (51 km, 4750m), a grade 3 and a grade 2 scramble. Some ‘character building’ moments in the rain and fog. The course may be flagged, but a trail race this is not.

There were outstanding views, lots of rocks and a few bogs. I even saw a spectre! It seems in this instance my good weather dance worked and saved all the rain for this week; for those starting the cross country season – I don’t apologise at all!

Aonach Eagach Pinnacles

And since my original post about this, some ‘frequently asked questions’, answered!

No, it isn’t a knife edge and we weren’t at risk of ‘falling off ‘, however yes, you do require climbing experience.  The climbing is not technically difficult, but you need to be confident on ‘moderate rock climbs’ with no ropes or rock shoes in any conditions.  There are sections where a slip or trip could be serious and you need to be competent here, but more seriously, participants cannot get ‘crag-fast’ (where one becomes too scared to move), which can then become more dangerous for themselves, other participants and those who would need to rescue them.

Curved Ridge

No, there weren’t queues on the scrambling sections (for those ‘in the know’, particularly referring to Curved Ridge), at least where I was in the race there weren’t – but I suspect with only 180 starters and the run over the WHW at the start (not flat) that few people had to wait.  The mountain safety team were very good at ordering people to wait until the top to overtake!  There were after all a further 25 miles to do so…

Yes, it was hard!

Yes, I found something that tired me out.  I even took (nearly) a week off afterwards.

Yes, it was fantastic and I got lucky with the weather, the race taking place towards the end of a period of high pressure (an hour or so of rain, some atmospheric cloud and generally mild).  The views were spectacular, all captured on my internal camera.

Yes, despite some comments of ‘don’t you have any more clothes with you’, I do feel the cold!  But really, it was rather mild.  I put a Buff on at one point (yes, my hat was in my bag!).

No, I might not do it again, I’m not in the habit of doing things twice – but I’ll still be back, and I would absolutely recommend the races (hard sell from someone who thinks £10 is a lot for a fell race!).  The event is well organised and the money is spent where you want it – on mountain safety teams, maps, proper catering… I find racing really quite stressful, but rather enjoy setting out the courses and standing around in the rain annoying participants by ringing cowbells and shouting ‘honestly, only a few more hills to go…’


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