Skyline Scotland Event Success for VOOM athletes!

Skyline Scotland is one of the biggest weekends of trail running and skyrunning in the UK held annually in the village of Kinlochleven on the...

Callum Robinson
By Callum Robinson

25/09/23

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Skyline Scotland is one of the biggest weekends of trail running and skyrunning in the UK held annually in the village of Kinlochleven on the West Highland Way.

 

An aerial image of the village of Kinlochleven while the Skyline Scotland event area is set up

 

 

The 2023 edition features a Golden Trail National Series race (the Salomon Ring of Steall Skyrace™), a Skyrunning series race, the Ben Nevis Ultra, five of the toughest trail races in the UK, and the truly iconic Salomon Glen Coe Skyline, set to be the final edition.

 

2023 will be the last from the iconic location in Kinlochleven, before the event takes a hiatus in 2024 and returns bigger and better than ever in 2025, from an as yet undisclosed location!

 

Day 1 Highlights:

 

 

It was a very competitive field at the Salomon Ring of Steall Skyrace, with over 500 runners taking part tackling some of the most exciting ridge running in Scotland under glorious sunshine. 

We caught up with VOOM athlete and Ring of Steall winner, Gavin Dale on how he found the race.

 

 

Was this your first time at Skyline Scotland and if so what attracted you to the event?

 

Yes it was. I've looked at it a few times before now, and came into it this year as part of the Salomon Golden Trail National Series.

 

Photo credit: Gavin Dale

 

What sort of training did you do in the lead up to the race?

 

A real mix. I'm lucky to live in the Lake District so hills are easy to come by! I tried to get plenty of elevation in each week whilst also keeping some flatter training in there to focus on form and speed.

 

What kit did you take out with you?

 

The mandatory kit list covers most bases to be honest. I didn't take poles, and it was warm enough to only need a singlet for the duration. 

 

Photo credit: No Limits Photography

 

What was your game plan going into the race?

 

I knew the second climb was the real decider for the race, so the plan was to make sure I had enough in the tank to try and open a gap up here. The guys behind me were very strong descenders so for me it was all about the climbs in the second half and using those to put as much distance between us as possible!

 

 

Photo credit: No Limits Photography

 

What were the biggest challenges and how did you take them on?

 

The climbs and descents are massive. 2500m in just 29km means a lot of big hills. I tried to break each climb and descent into sections and not look too far ahead - just keep pushing until I hit the next landmark, then find another one to aim for.

 

How did you fuel your race?

 

I went for the full VOOM assortment. The Electro Energy early on, before bringing out the Caffeine Kick later on to give me a boost in the later stages of the race. Then I used a weaker mix of the Fusion Fuel in my soft flask to keep a slow drip of carbs coming in. 

 

A female mountain runner heads over rough terrain during Skyline Scotland trail running weekend.

 Photo credit: No Limits Photography

 

What were your favourite parts or aspects of the race?

 

The ridgelines were stunning. I regret not having time to look around more, but what I saw was just incredible. The event village too was amazing, it was such a brilliant atmosphere throughout the weekend.

 

VOOM runner Gavin Dale takes the finishing tape winning the Ring of Steall Race at Skyline Scotland 2023

 Photo credit: Callum Robinson

 

What would your three top tips be for someone taking on a Skyrace?

 

Tip 1: Train on hills! Get up your nearest hill and do reps. Practice different techniques - running, hiking, descending. If you can get out to somewhere technical for a few days, even better - it's good to feel reasonably comfortable on the sort of terrain you'll be racing on. I spent a few days in Snowdonia to run a few ridgelines and practice a few scrambles.

 

Tip 2: Find the right shoes for you. I think what's most important is something that you feel comfortable and confident in. Make sure you've trained in it and know how it reacts to dry or wet conditions, muddy or rocky terrain. Good grip and stability is super important for a SkyRace.

 

Tip 3: Get the fuelling right. This goes for any race! But in a SkyRace it can be hard to work out when is best to get something in. The climbs are punishing and the descents require constant focus. All my fuelling was done on flats or on more consistent climbs where hands weren't required. So it's important to know what you're fuelling with, and that it's something you can take on quickly and easily without too much hassle.

 

Day 2 Highlights:

 

Some classic stormy Scottish weather put an early end to the Glen Coe Skyline, with the course finishing early at Checkpoint 9. However runners still got to take on one of the most famous ridges in the Scottish highlands; Curved Ridge, and it was a tough day out there for our incredible participants. Congratulations to Philip Rutter and Naomi Lang for winning the last ever edition of the Glen Coe Skyline! 

The Ben Nevis Ultra was unfortunately also affected by the weather. The route was cut to the bad weather route after runners hit Glen Nevis, meaning a return along the West Highland Way back into Kinlochleven. VOOM's George Fisher finished an impressive 2nd position in the event which secured his title winning the Uk and Ireland Sky Running Series for 2023. We caught up with him after the race...

 

Was this your first time at Skyline Scotland and if so what attracted you to the event?

 

Glencoe Skyline 2 years ago was my first skyrunning event and first Ultra, so I have fond memories of the weekend. It's also local for me, so I was very excited to race.

 

 Photo credit: George Fisher

 

What sort of training did you do in the lead up to the race?

 

I was lucky enough to be able to spend a lot of time on the course training specifically for this race, so I knew the course really well.

 

What kit did you take out with you?

 

RAB vest, inov8 shoes, VOOM Fusion Fuel and Pocket Rockets, and I tried LEKI poles for the first time.

 

Runner George Fisher runs a trail beside a small tarn during Ben Nevis Ultra

Photo credit: No Limits Photography

 

 

What was your game plan going into the race?

 

I had a schedule that I wanted to stick to with the aim of running 7:30. I planned to run my own race and stick to that.

 

What were the biggest challenges and how did you take them on?

 

The course change! Had to change my nutrition on the fly as the remainder of the race was now going to be at a higher intensity with it being shorter and much more runnable along the WHW. I started prioritising fusion fuel and the caffeine bars - worked a charm!

 

A trail runners pack hangs open down beside their legs showing VOOM energy bars and Leki running poles inside.

 

Photo credit: No Limits Photography

 

How did you fuel your race?

A mix of Fusion Fuel, Caffeine Kick and Electro Energy bars to get 90g/hr of carbs.

 

What were your favourite parts or aspects of the race?

I love the CMD arete (even in those conditions!)

 

Runners in the distance struggle over rough terrain on a bleak, cloudy Scottish landscape.

Photo credit: No Limits Photography 

 

For anyone looking to take on a Skyrace, what would your three top tips be?

 

Tip 1: Spend some time on technical ground beforehand so it's not a shock on the day (hire a guide if needed, there are loads of great providers!)

 Tip 2: Enjoy your snacks while the going is easy, it can be tough to eat on the rougher bits of the course.

 Tip 3: Build confidence on the descents. The climbs seem so much more worthwhile if you can look forward to descending!

 

 

Photo credit: No Limits Photography

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