160 sign up for Highland mountain ‘death race’

More than 160 people have already signed up for the event next month, which will see them ascend  Buachaille Etive Mor in Glencoe. Picture: Ian Rutherford
More than 160 people have already signed up for the event next month, which will see them ascend Buachaille Etive Mor in Glencoe. Picture: Ian Rutherford
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EXTREME athletes are risking death by taking part in an endurance race on a Highland mountain peak – and that is according to the organisers.

Only competitors who are highly experienced in mountain racing and alpinism are being accepted to run the Glen Coe Skyline race, including an ascent of the Munro peak Buachaille Etive Mor.

It will be a full-on adventure and a great showcase

Mountain runner Tom Owens

More than 160 people have already signed up for the event next month. The majority are from the UK, but there are also entries from France, Germany, Belgium and Spain.

The 45km route has proved controversial because it includes routes which are normally only tackled by climbers. It will involve racing over some of the most dangerous parts of the peak, including mainland Scotland’s most famous mountain ridge, the Aonach Eagach, which includes more exposed scrambling.

Global sports brand Salomon are title sponsors of the new event and marketing manager Paul Griffiths described it as being at the cutting edge of skyrunning – an extreme sport of running above 2,000m.

Race director Shane Ohly added: “The Glen Coe Skyline is a fusion of mountain running and alpinism where competitors need to be skilled at both disciplines to negotiate the course.”

Potential competitors will need to provide evidence of their mountain running experience and agree to an extraordinary declaration that pulls no punches when it states that there is a “risk of serious injury or death whilst participating”.

Glasgow based mountain runner Tom Owens, who is a member of the Salomon International Team, said: “An extremely challenging circular route with heaps of scrambling, ridge running, vertical and exposure – it will be a full-on adventure and a great showcase for the Scottish Highlands.

“The proposed route is creating a real buzz in the skyrunning community and I’m sure it will attract skyrunners from around the world in the future.” The Mountaineering Council of Scotland has suggested that “seekers after solitude and quiet contemplation” avoid that day in the glen.

A spokesman said: “It’s an event which fuses mountain running and alpinism in a pure test of speed, endurance and skill on an uncompromising, world-class course. Targeting highly experienced competitors – who will be vetted before acceptance – the race will take a route over long sections of scrambling terrain, which is roughly equivalent to moderate standard rock climbing.”

Competitors, who are warned “the challenge is very severe and there is a risk of serious injury or death whilst participating”, are told that the route “will traverse high and remote mountainous terrain, which at times is impossible to retreat from and may be subject to severe and rapidly changing weather”. “Competitors are reminded that they will not be the only ones on the route.”

The rules state: “Competitors have no right of way over other recreational users and must announce themselves when approaching, leave plenty of room when passing and always remain polite and courteous.

“Some may wish to avoid the hills and enjoy them on a quieter day.”