Monday, January 13, 2014

Skyrunning UK announce the 3x3ULTRA

A new year and what better way to start than with the announcement of the first race in the new Skyrunning UK ‘Skyrunner® National Series’ – the ‘3x3ULTRA’ by High Terrain Events.Over 4000m (13,000ft) of ascent await participants of the 3x3Ultra. “It’s an opportunity to cover three classic Lakeland peaks in an accumulative distance of 80km’s”, says High Terrain Events race director, Ian Mulvey.

Salomon athlete, Ricky Lightfoot (IAU World Trail Champion 2013 and Otter course record holder) has been instrumental in combining his skills and knowledge in designing a course that will bring Skyrunning UK an event that ultimately will create the perfect flagship for the Skyrunner® National Series (SNS) within the UK.

Based on the classic ‘Lakes 3000’s’ the 80km route will include Scafell Pike, Helvellyn and Skiddaw. An amazing circular route over the best mountains available within the UK, it promises to be a tough challenge.

Lauri van Houten, executive director for the International Skyrunning Federation (ISF) has been instrumental in providing the backing and support to enable Skyrunning UK to become a reality. When asked about Skyrunning in the UK, Lauri had this to say:

“Some of the world’s top athletes come from the UK! Andy Symonds, Tom Owens, Ricky Lightfoot, Robbie Simpson, Tessa Hill, Anna Lupton and past SWS (Skyrunner World Series) Champions Angela Mudge and Rob Jebb... British races are known for being tough and challenging. Skyrunning captures the spirit and tough technical challenges runners are looking for today. That’s the ‘feel’ we’d like to bring to the UK.”

The race route combines all the elements of a classic Lakeland run with aspects of European racing. “Skyrunning UK offers a great opportunity, we already have the main ingredients; technical terrain, beautiful mountains and hills” said Tom Owens (UK based Salomon athlete) “The UK has brilliant and committed athletes who love racing. We may not have the required altitude that a Skyrunning race would require in Europe but this is compensated for with the amount and steepness of climb that we can accumulate over distance, the 3x3Ultra is a great example of this.”

No stranger to Skyrunning, Salomon International athlete, Andy Symonds has performed with the best-of-the-best all over Europe, his podium finish at Transvulcania La Palma in 2012 a particular highlight also offered his approval of the 3x3Ultra:

"Skyrunning is about running high up on rough ground. Getting up, over and along big mountains with big views. The 3x3Ultra does just that and it's great to see it finalized on the all new Skyrunning UK calendar, it’s an exciting time".

The Skyrunner® National Series will bring a new race series to the UK. Made up of five races in each category (Sky and Ultra), runners will accumulate ranking points by competing in at least three out of five races over the SkyRace® and Ultra SkyMarathon® distances. Respective male and female winners of the ‘SNS’ in 2015 will be rewarded with the ultimate prize; not only they will they be crowned champions of the ‘SNS’ but they will also receive the opportunity to race in the final of the Skyrunner® World Series.

Ian Corless, director for Skyrunning UK has been working for months in conjunction with the ISF Athlete Commission to bring this moment to fruition, “It’s about progression and development. Having witnessed Skyrunning from every level for the past 2-years and seen the growth, the excitement, the opportunities; to not be part of this in the UK would be a shame. The sport is growing at all levels. In time I hope we will have a series of UK based Skyrunning teams similar to the model that inov-8 have created. A Skyrunning National Series will provide not only a great structure for the sport but it will also provide a springboard for UK athletes to race in other countries but equally, we hope to attract foreign athletes to race on home soil. The announcement of the 3x3Ultra clearly states our intentions for what a Skyrunning event should be in the UK.”

Lauri van Houten continues, “The only setback has been the difficulty in finding the right person to represent Skyrunning in the UK and bring it in line with other countries. It’s been hard to find a replacement but Ian Corless has embodied that and with his contacts and know-how we’re confident he’ll pull a great movement together.”

The stage is set for the 3x3Ultra.

Ian Mulvey, race director for the 3x3Ultra explained his thoughts and vision:

“It will showcase what we have to offer in the UK and hopefully attract international runners enabling the top UK athletes to race against the world's best on their home terrain.”

When asked about the benefits Skyrunning will bring to the UK race circuit, Ian replied:

“Having raced in Europe I can see the potential of bringing Skyrunning to the UK. In terms of raising the profile of UK ultra running, I think this will take ultra running to the next level and give us recognition on an international scale. Now is the perfect time for this type of event, runners are looking for tougher challenges to strive for. Being part of the Skyrunning UK series I hope will raise the profile of the event & attract international athletes.”

Seize the opportunity now and sign up for what will become an iconic Skyrunning UK event.

Enter online here:

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Chairman's Report - 2013

What an amazing year 2013 has been for South African skyrunning. As we move forward into 2014, I'd like to reflect on some of the exciting developments that have dramatically changed the landscape and have set the South African Skyrunning Association (SASA) up for an exciting future on the local and global stage.

Earlier this year, due to the increasing interest in the sport globally, local and international media outlets began avidly profiling the prospects of skyrunning on the African continent, allowing the association to gain some fantastic momentum amongst the local off-road running community in the build up to the first sanctioned event on the calendar, the Matroosberg SkyMarathon®, in late October. With the resounding success of South Africa's first SkyMarathon®, the focus then shifted to the Lesotho Ultra Trail in November, Africa's first Ultra SkyMarathon®, and the imminent announcement of the 2014 national skyrunning circuit shortly thereafter.

We also had the launching of two newly sanctioned races, the Ingeli SkyMarathon® in KwaZulu-Natal in April (organised by KZN Trail Running), and the Hogsback SkyMarathon® in the Eastern Cape in May (organised by Backyard Adventures, more details coming soon), the 2014 national skyrunning circuit will include 4 events offering runners the opportunity to compete in a minimum of three of these races to gain valuable ranking points on the road to crowning of the national skyrunning champion at the end of the season.

Much like a Formula 1 drivers championship, skyrunners will receive ranking points at each race they participate in. A maximum of 100 runners in 2014 will receive these points with the top male and female skyrunner claiming the ultimate prize, the national skyrunner champions crown and the chance to compete in the World Skyrunner® Series finals amongst some of the best skyrunners in the world.

On a corporate note, I'd also like to welcome Trappers as the association's official retail partner on our member benefits scheme from 2014. Look out for great deals and discounts when you join as member in 2014 and beyond.

Coupled with the local developments, the International Skyrunning Federation (ISF) have also been hard at work preparing for the upcoming SkyrunningWorld Championships in Chamonix, France which takes place in June next year. Through the inclusion of South Africa into these championships, the Ingeli SkyMarathon® has been announced as the national selection race to send a four-person team (one male, one female) to compete in the SkyMarathon® event.

In closing, I'd like to thank all of the people who have shown their support of SASA in 2013, especially to Andrew Booth (KZN Trail Running) and Ghaleed Nortje (Running The Cape) who have embraced the skyrunning concept and produced two world-class events this year, as well as to the SASA board for their ongoing committment to the association.

To all the runners out there interested in being a part of #SkyrunningMzansi, all I can say is look out for our members applications opening soon and get ready for an exciting 2014 ahead. 

We'll see you in KwaZulu-Natal in April.

James Hallett
SASA Chairman