Skyrunning: Brutal long-distance races coming to a peak near you...

 

You have been warned: Skyrunning is coming to Britain. But don’t worry; it is not, despite anything the name might imply, a prog rock supergroup.

Rather it is a series of brutal – and lucrative – long-distance running races over altitude which take place in the United States, the Canary Islands and the French and Italian Alps.

Skyrunning has transformed the niche sports of ultra-running and trail-running, whose races traditionally offer little more than a cuppa and a medal for runners’ efforts – no matter how long the race or where in the field they finish.

Instead athletes can bag up to $200,000 (£122,000) worth of cash and prizes if they win the Skyrunning ultra world series, which is contested over five races of ultramarathon distances of up to 50 miles .

On 4 October the first British series will begin it was announced yesterday, with the 3x3 Ultra in the Lake District, home to some of the toughest fell races – jaunts over muddy, rocky and downright steep terrain in often grim conditions.

But unlike the traditional fell-running events that have been taking place in Cumbria for almost 100 years, which tend to involve courses up to marathon distance and a single peak, the 3x3 Ultra will be almost 50 miles long and take in three mountains, including Scafell Pike, the tallest in England, with a total elevation of almost three miles.

The prize-money is yet to be finalised and, though organisers say it will not be of the calibre of the world series, it will be worth the trip. But the winner of the UK series will then be invited to compete with the big boys (and girls) in the global event. And as any fell-runner will no doubt agree, any money is better than nothing.

Race director Ian Mulvey also hopes the 3x3 Ultra and national series will take trail-running beyond its current image of slightly addled runners battling through sleet and mud for a souvenir T-shirt.

“Having raced in Europe I can see the potential of bringing Skyrunning to the UK,” Mulvey said. “In terms of raising the profile of UK ultra-running, I think this will take it to the next level and give us recognition on an international scale.”

The circular course, which starts in Keswick, has been designed by Ricky Lightfoot, the current world trail-running champion and a Cumbria native. And although the Lake District cannot offer the altitude of the Rockies or the French Alps, elite athlete Tom Owens, two-time winner of the eight-day, 142-mile Transalpine race through Germany, Austria and Switzerland, believes the difficulty of the terrain will more than make up for the lack of height.

“We may not have the required altitude that a Skyrunning race would require in Europe,” Owens said, “but this is compensated for with the amount and steepness of climb that we can accumulate over distance.”

Sport
Club legend Paul Scholes is scared United could disappear into 'the wilderness'
football
News
A model of a Neanderthal man on display at the National Museum of Prehistory in Dordogne, France
science
News
Dawkins: 'There’s a very interesting reason why a prince could not turn into a frog – it's statistically too improbable'
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
Dinosaurs Unleashed at the Eden Project
travel
Arts and Entertainment
music
Sport
football
Life and Style
This month marks the 20th anniversary of the first online sale
techDespite a host of other online auction sites and fierce competition from Amazon, eBay is still the most popular e-commerce site in the UK
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

EYFS Teacher

£120 - £162 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Randstad Education require an ex...

Year 3 Teacher

£120 - £162 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Year 3 primary supply teacher ne...

SEN Teacher

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Bristol: Supply special educational ne...

Regional ESF Contract Manager

£32500 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Birmingham: European Social Fund...

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home