First, it was marathon running, then ultrarunning and now skyrunning; the newest running phenomenon capturing the imagination of runners looking to test their bodies and explore the limits of the mind.
It’s certainly not for the fainthearted but it seems that it is one for the ladies! Guided trail running company Girls on Hills Ltd, based in Glencoe, Scotland, launched the world’s first women’s-only skyrunning course this New Year’s Eve – only to find it sold out in just 24h!
“We were both shocked and thrilled in equal measure to find that so many women are excited about getting into the sport of skyrunning. We think this says something important about the appetite for adventure in the women’s running community at the moment. Our ladies are enthused about learning new skills and setting new and challenging personal goals, rather than being intimidated by what might seem superficially unreachable” says Keri Wallace, guide and company Director.
Skyrunning is a relatively new discipline and is defined as ‘mountain running above 2000m over extremely technical trails’*. The idea was first conceived by Italian mountaineer Marino Giacometti, who pioneered races on Mont Blanc and Monte Rosa in the Italian Alps in the early 1990s. Since then, the sport has gained significant popularity and there are now over 200 races worldwide. With the exception of the Vertical Kilometre category, these ‘skyraces’ generally traverse technical and exposed mountain terrain, including scrambling sections and in some cases Moderate grade rock climbing.
Following on from the continued growth of skyrunning worldwide, the Skyrunner ® World Series (Skyrunning UK) has expanded this year to include five races in four locations across the UK. These races attract a world-class field of skyrunners to some of the most exciting mountainous terrain the UK has to offer.
Glencoe is the home of Scottish Skyrunning and in September each year hosts the UK’s biggest weekend of mountain running (Skyline Scotland), this year featuring a Golden Trail World Series race, the world’s best mountain athletes, and the iconic Salomon Glen Coe Skyline®. These races are part of the UK Skyrunning Calendar and, last year, the World Skyrunning Series.
Being based in Glencoe itself, Girls on Hills’ guides have competed in the UK Skyrunning Team, raced the Glencoe Skyline, Ring of Steall and Mamores VK races, and know these mountains ‘inside out’, not only as locals and as runners but also as Glencoe MRT members. The ladies bring experience of other Skyraces in the UK too, as well as extreme mountain events such as the Celtman and Ben Nevis race and triathlon.
Girls on Hills Ltd. will be releasing more dates for their Introduction to Skyrunning courses later this year.
*In countries (such as the UK) where the altitude does not reach 2000m, the courses should have a minimum average 6% incline over the total distance and reach the highest points. A 5% tolerance is admitted by the International Skyrunning Federation (ISF).