Sky Run 2010 my experience

A year after my biggest trail adventure I find myself back in Lady Grey with Neil, Roger and Kylie. Quite a few things have changed in the past year.
I find myself as part of a group of 35 runners who are wearing red bibs to indicate that we have completed the course before and should know what we are doing, ha!
4h45 after John-Michael Tawse blows the starters horn we arrive at the first water just after Snowden. Roger fills up quickly and continues to move forward- relentless forward motion!
I hurry to catch up and feel like a leach as I have not really been able to contribute much on the navigation front. I hope that later on this will change. I hope that my mountain experience will help.
Roger, Jayde and I have been running in an informal group. Joking and singing. Jayde: Abba, Durran Durran and beach boys. I briefly try to include some Dylan but is lost on the youth.
Jayde is slower at the refreshing stream and is off the pace. We push on and run with real and virtual friends for a while. Dom Wills joins us and his company is great. Avoca, Skiddaw and then down the valley to Balloch.
There is a real festive atmosphere going on under the trees and I don’t want to tear myself away. The Red Bull girls offer us refreshments but I turn them down.
“You good to go?” Comes the reply
And we are off.
Balloch wall awaits. It is hot and steep. We choose a line further right and it works well.
Up in just over an hour. We stumble down the other side.
Dom, Roger and I push on the road. We walk the ups (there are always more when you are tired) and jog the flats and downs. One of us will up the pace to a jog, the others fall into step without a word.
Our running pace is painfully slow at 8km an hour and I push the walks to over 6km/h. I find it more efficient to walk so my motivation drops.
River crossing at Wildfell with shoes off is a relief. I won’t make the same mistake as last year by blowing it on the Bridal Path. I smash a caffeine gel and it does not take long to kick in.
I feel strong and am able to push the pace towards darkness and CP Turn. The fires, warm tea and friendly faces are very welcome. We know we are on the home stretch. I also know that we probably have the trickiest section to go as far as navigation is concerned.
GPS in one hand and map in the other we forge on into the warm night. We do not talk much. We both know. The vague outlines of mountains help. I make some wrong turns but we keep forward momentum going so all is good.
Halstone Peak and Tatum and co catch us.
I sit down briefly to send a text msg to Mel as there won’t be any reception for the entire next day.
I jog to catch up. Less than 5 km from the finish and we all can’t wait for this to end.
Fences, short climbs, cliffs, prickly bushes and a river crossing within site of the banners stretch us.
We finish in a group. Time and place irrelevant.
We are Skyrunners!
I will post a “How to info” for Skyrun in the next couple of days.


The big question in my head for the past week has been what to focus on for the rest of the year. It was always going to be to get strong and try to regain some speed. I have not run anything fast and unencumbered by a heavy pack for 8 months.

I intended to take a Flowin class at Mark Suerings sparc studios for some time but did not want it to interfere with my training for UTMB. I am glad that I held off until now. So on Wednesday I went to a class. Part of me nervous, part feeling a bit cocky and wondering how hard this could really be. Well all that I can say is that two days later I am sorer than I have been this entire year. My core and arm muscles are in pain. I am shocked how I have ignored this area in my training.

To be honest I am still sceptical as to how the many plank type exercises will help with running. But the standing, running, skating, lunging type exercises will be pretty good. Well let’s see. I certainly hope that they get easier with time!

So what is on the menu for the rest of the year?

TMC: I have previously two legs of this race. But am super psyched to push it and see how things go. To be honest though I have not been focused since France so I will have to be careful not to go out too fast!

Skyrun: Yes I will be there. Let’s see if we have another stella day like last year. I am psyched for a superb quality day in the hills.

In-between I want to run some halves on the road and then see how that goes. I am psyched for the rest of the years’ running!

Gear Choices for the Skyrun 2009:

Essential Gear used:

Merino Wool Buff: Rapidly becoming my favourite cold weather headwear option. I only ended up wearing this when the pace slowed down or when we stopped at Breslins. Will def be in the pack for emergencies.

Julbo Instinct Zebra: I have used these for a really long time and they do not scratch or break. The most hardcore sunnies I have ever owned.

Montrail Running Cap: I love this cap however it did not provide adequate cover (especially for the back of my neck). I will look at other options for this summer and for events which go on into the mid day sun.

CAPESTORM Running T and A3 shorts: These are faithful companions. We had to wear a race bib over the top of this with our race no’s and sponsors logo on them. This made it quite hot. At the Otter I decided to not wear my normal T shirt underneath in order to keep as cool as possible. Due to being exposed to more UV for the whole day I erred on the side of caution here.

Mountain Hardwear Fluid 18: Sample Pack about to be launched in early 2010. It is a bit heavier than other packs but I find it super comfortable due to the frame sheet in it. Has plenty of compartments and pockets to store all the essentials.

Mountain Hardwear Epic Jacket: Lightweight (413g) and no frills. I wore this once on top of the Bridal path when dark. I thought that it would not be breathable enough to deal with fast walking but it worked perfectly.

Helly Hansen Base layer. There is no other base layer which wicks as well as this. It is also surprisingly cool in hot weather. A favourite. (If conditions were cooler I would take a second base layer. This is ligther, warmer and more versatile than a thin fleece. Conditions were very warm so I decided not to take this.)

Sunscrean and UV lipbalm: Absolute must. I got burnt despite reapplying frequently.

Bodyglide Sun Formula: anti chafe for feet, thighs, underarms. Works great. I only got blisters on my feet where I did not apply before the event.

Garmin Fortrex 401: Only user replaceable battery operated running unit. On long events like this you will need it most when it is dark, you are tired and you have been running for 15+ hours. No other unit would work here. (The battery life on all these units is rather optimistic especially if you are using the navigation functionality.)

Black Diamond Headlamp: Buy the best you can afford. The brighter the beam the more time you save in tricky situations.


Gardening Gloves: A tip from fellow runners. I found mine to be super sweaty so I ended up taking them off continuously between fence crossings. I would definitely take these again. Possibly consider cycling gloves. Either way you want to cover your hands against the nasty rusty barbs.

Gear not used but essential:

First Aid Kit:

• 4 Myprodol (My thoughts are that you can pop a couple of those and either suck it up and walk out of there, or you need a copper anyway.)

• Loo paper (loose and in a zip lock bag)

• A pair of Surgical Gloves. Just in case of real blood.

• Space blanket

• Selection of Plasters

• Whistle

• Super glue. In case you really get cut badly. That is the theory anyway. Not sure if I would be brave enough to glue my leg together. It only weighs about 2 g.

Compass: Would def pack a med sized compass if conditions were threatening. I have a GPS with built in compass so this would just be a backup.

GPS with last year’s route programme in or at very least coordinates for check points. In future this will help to choose a reasonable route. And yes there are improvements to be made on the route I took. There will be improvements in the future…

For Transition:

Spare socks: The only time I really got my socks (and shoes) completely wet was a few hundred meters before Balloch. I did not want to change shoes here but changing socks only was good enough to keep my feet relatively comfortable. Having said this I did get some blisters on my heels (the wet definitely contributed to this). I also did not wear the ideal socks for the second half.

CAPESTORM Motion tights: some warmth for the legs. Not used.

Black garbage bin bag : Just in case we need to sit down in bad conditions. This in combination with my waterproof and space blanket will give more shelter from wind and worse. Weighs nothing. Also helps waterproof warm layers in case of inclement weather.

As a result I did not get a chance to test and become familiar with my Garmin. I am playing with it now and will work it out for myself before next year’s event. I am psyched to use this great gadget going forward.

Nutrition and Hydration:

Pre Race Nutrition: Peanut Butter Sarmie. I had to force this down way early in the morning. It just sat in my stomach for a few hours.

Race Nutrition and Hydration: First 4 hours I used some Hammer Perpetuem. I could only stomach the taste for that long. In fact even that was a push. Then came the Mule Bars. I carried much more than I needed here (12 hours worth on both legs- I would do the same in future). Altitude definitely played a part in suppressing appetite. I planned on 1 every hour (split into two halves every 30 min). I love the variety of tastes and hence do not get bored and actually look forward to the next bite.

Cashew nuts mixed with jelly babies and speckled eggs. Really great trail mix. Salty and sweet together just cleans the palate. I snacked on a ziplock of this coming down towards Balloch as my appetite returned with the lower altitude.

Camelbak 3l bladder: I filled this to 2,5L at each refill and dropped two Zym Lime tabs into it. I also carried 600ml water/Zym Catapult mixture in a water bottle. I still feel this really kicks. As a result I sipped the Catapult while drinking from my bladder in order not to get too much of a spike and drop afterward. I had a spare bottle once I had finished my Perpetuem just in case filling up at streams was going to be an issue. In future I would seriously consider carrying a straw if conditions were looking dry. 2L bladder size is the minimum volume that I would go with here. I ended up drinking about 10l of this mixture throughout the event. This was about right.