Trail Run race (Sky Run 2020) 16:39:51  99.8 km (10:01 / km) +4652m 8:07 / km
weight:79kg shoes: Kalenji XT7 Nov2020
What an epic race! Its’ been on my bucket list for years, but I have just never gotten there... this was finally the year to attempt my first Sky Run.
Having only decided a month before the event to enter, I was a bit apprehensive, but planned to just give it a shot anyway.
I had done a ton of homework on Google Earth, topo maps and chatting to many people who have run it multiple times. Jock’s advice kept ringing in my ears the entire time: “The race starts at Balloch”.
Jock also impressed on me how important it was to get onto the right path as you leave Lady Grey, so I scouted the paths with my GPS on Friday, and confirmed the correct one 100%. So off we all went at 4am on Saturday, and I was in about 7th place as we got through the gate and over the dry river bed. Jock was right in front of me. Everyone went far right and I stuck to my guns and went on the middle path. I even shouted to Jock, who looked at me and clearly decided I had no idea… He won’t live that one down!! So I found myself alone out-front with a 50m lead… it was a good 5 minutes before Stew came past, then Ruan, and then a few others. Was nice to lead for a while! :-)
I didn’t aim for any specific time into any checkpoints, but I was aiming for about 8 hours at Balloch. Apart from that, I ran/ hiked as fast or slow as how I felt at the time, without burning my legs, which I knew would catch me out later if I burnt them too often!
I settled into a comfortable pace, hiking all the ups and not trying to stick with the leaders at all. Malcolm joined me before CP1 and we ran together all the way to just before Avoca. It was great to have company. We never pushed it too hard, and power hiked all the up hills. Malcolm fell off the pace a bit going up Avoca, and I was then joined by Chris Biley. I was drinking a lot of water and ran out before Skidaw. Chris gave me about 200ml and thank goodness for the river a couple of km’s past Skidaw. I could feel I was getting a bit dehydrated though. Chris pulled away about 3kms from Balloch. My feet were on fire. No blisters, but just very tender. Also wasn’t feeling too great and knew I was a bit dehydrated. The doctors at the Balloch medical picked that up too, without me saying anything! Lost 3kgs too from the registration weigh-in (down to 76kgs).
A proper portion of spaghetti bolognaise, 1L of rehydrate, 1 coke, 2 Super M chocolate milks and 2 Myprodol sorted me out. I left Balloch with some vooma!
Malcolm had a good run into Balloch and was through before me. Chris also flew through. I caught and passed Malcolm on the lower slopes of The Wall, he was taking a bit of strain. I found a solid walking stick and pushed on. I felt really good going up and over the Wall. I hit Edgehill road with Stew Chaperon in sight (time check about 3 mins ahead), so I tried to push a bit there. I passed Chris, Kennedy and 1 other coming down the Wall (they took a slightly different line), but then Chris pushed hard to catch me again. He caught up while I was at the Edgehill aid station. We left together and slogged it out on the Edge Hill road towards Bridle Pass. We found Stew taking some time-out at the river before going up Bridle. Stew didn’t have a great first half, and spent 30mins on a drip at Balloch. We all then stuck together for a hard hike up and over Bridle Pass. We pretty much decided then that we would stay together all the way to the finish. It was great for motivation!
We probably could have gone a bit faster towards The Turn, but we were all a bit sore by now. Stew had a low patch and I ran out of water (again), and had to suck on a small shallow pool in the rocks about 2kms from The Turn. Not ideal.
We stopped for soup and a refill at the Hut. Kennedy came out of nowhere and arrived at the Hut as we were leaving. He didn’t stop for long and caught up about 3kms towards Halstones. He stuck with us for 10 mins before running away. We agreed to let him go, we were all in no mood to chase hard! We probably dawdled a bit though… It got dark on the final approach to Halstones peak.
Approaching Halstones we saw another light coming up behind us. It was Cornel van Heerden. He didn’t seem in any mood to race, so he joined us to the finish! I stuck on the GPS line all the time on the way down, as everyone else’s GPS had died.
Eventually crossed the line in tied 7th with Stew, Chris and Cornel in a time of 16:39, which I am super stoked with! I was thinking about 17-18 hours would be ok, but super happy with a sub-17, and a top 10. With such a stacked field this year, top 10 wasn’t even a consideration. Super happy with my run, especially after Balloch, and a negative split for the second half (not quite half way, but I’ll take it!). Ran 8:14 into Balloch, and then 8:09 from Balloch to the finish. I was however properly dehydrated. My pee was dark brown for the last 6 hours. Drank 1 litre of water and got 1 litre via drip at the finish at Wartrail, and that sorted me out!
Times and splits between checkpoints:
CP1 Tower - 1:02 (Split 1:02)
CP2 Olympus - 2:37 (Split 1:35)
CP3 Snowden - 3:56 (Split 1:19)
CP4 Avoca - 5:39 (Split 1:43)
CP5 Skidaw - 6:48 (Split 1:09)
CP6 Balloch IN - 8:14 (Split 1:26)
CP6 Balloch OUT - 8:31 (Split 17 min)
CP7 Edgehill - 10:21 (Split 1:50)
CP8 The Turn - 13:36 (Split 3:15)
CP9 Halstones - 15:33 (Split 1:57)
Finish - 16:39 (Split 1:06)