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Race Directors Report - Rab Scafell Sky Race 2024

A round up of the weekend at the Rab Scafell Sky Race from our Race Director and Race Creator, Charles Sproson

in Race News

Carmine summit
Start SSR 2024
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Race Directors thoughts for the Rab Scafell Sky Race 2024: 

I won't lie, I have struggled through the LDST events for the last couple of years, with one life hitch or another and sometimes I have sat behind my screen, trying to workout why I do this and wondering what its all about and also why I get myself involved in such endeavours by putting on some of the hardest mountain races in the UK. 

When the event Rab Scafell Sky Race was finally here to kick off this season of skyracing for the Skyrunning UK and Ireland Series 2024, it has been like a dream unfolding and a few things happened this year to make that dream of the 7th edition of the Rab Scafell Sky Race really very special. 

We all suffer self-doubt. I hear it from runners all the time, I coach runners with skills and help them unlock their abilities that they have allowed to shrink back and need a helping hand. We all need a helping hand every now and again. Thanks to those who have leant the helping hand. 

Running for me in the mountains came easy, I obviously put the work in, but fear in the mountains is not something I generally suffer with, it all seems plain and simple to me. 

Delivering races that are; highly complex, have many moving parts, can be perceived as dangerous, rely on volunteers to make them happen and have an employed core team who work on many different events, meaning no one is in the same place, at the same time, unless we are all together on the event weekend and making these things happen; can be quite stressful to say the least. However, we all know that the whole is made up from the sum of its parts and for me, this is the most important factor. Knowing your weaknesses as a runner is the key to your successes. Knowing your weaknesses as an RD is exactly the same. What I am trying to say is that I can conceptualise and come up with ideas, but those around me supporting, volunteering, working, delivering and running/racing are the reason our races are so special, not just for me but to all involved, whether running in them or helping make them happen. 

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SG650 2024 - a serious test of lungs and legs ©TanyaRaab

SG650 Kicks it all off: 

Friday night saw the weekend kick off with the SG650 which is the typical format for skyrunning and racing across the planet. 

The SG650 is the Stickle Grind 650. An vertical/uphill only race from the new start location at the New Dungeon Ghyll Hotel to the summit of Harrison Stickle. Uphill only does mean lungs hanging out and legs on fire ascent to the summit. If you snooze, you loose, its as simple as that. The runners who attended love that burn and they are a small crew who just love this European form of racing. It comes from the Vertical Kilometre series by the International Skyrunning Federation but in the Lakes, we do not have the height gain to put on a true Vertical K

We had a small start list, but no flies on any of them. We start it time trial style and its based around the simple idea of fell running, but without the descent. 

Ben Mouncey took the win for the Male race and Katie Lord took the win for the Female race, coming 4th overall in an almost equal split male/female entry list and also setting a new Female CR in the process. 

Men's and Women's top 3 places: 

1st

21Ben MounseyUphill RaceMale 18-39Male00:26:58
2nd


13Owain ClarkUphill RaceMale 18-39Male00:29:29
3rd


24Andy EadesUphill RaceMale 18-39Male00:30:46
4th1st

7Katie LordUphill RaceFemale 18-39Female00:31:48
6th2nd

8Kirsty HallUphill RaceFemale 50-59Female00:33:23
9th3rd

6Holly GordonUphill RaceFemale 18-39Female00:34:32

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Holly Gordon [Female 3rd] ascending the SG650 Vertical ©TanyaRaab
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Ben Mouncey [Male 1st] in full flow on the SG650 Vertical ©TanyaRaab

The RAB Scafell Sky Race - Edition #7

Saturday saw an early start and fantastic weather, yet again. Not as hot as 2023 and there was a breeze on the tops with a northerly flow to it, bringing cold air with it to keep it cool. 

We tried a new method of putting GPRS trackers on in the morning and whilst there were some minor hitches, we feel it worked well. Kit checks were done, instructions were shouted, the low level marshals deployed to keep everyone on track until the 'actual' ascent from the last fell wall, keeping everyone on the route in an anti-clockwise direction. 

There were many faces I know well from our events and the skyrunning scene and there were many faces I didn't know. Skyrunners who were doing the race for the 5th time and some doing it for the first time, I asked the runners who have come back multiple times, WHY? Why come back again and again and the answer they all gave was; #1 the Rab Scafell Sky Race course/race route design and #2 the whole feel of the event and this second factor for me was what we really developed for 2024.

The New Dungeon Ghyll Hotel, was the perfect back drop to start this extremely tough skyrace. This location, even though its just a easy stones throw from where it has been in the last couple of year, really made it feel special and feels like the perfect location to continue delivering the Rab SSR for many years to come. 

The field of skyrunners was strong in both the ladies and mens races, with notables like local runner Richard Keefe and Steve Hopwood [mountain run guide and instructor],Karolina Woloszczyk [local MRT member] and Natalie Beadle and many other unknowns to us. We were super pleased that Kieren Dsouza came all the way from Manali, high in the Himalayan mountains of India, to race in the Lakeland Fells on the Rab SSR race route. 

Richard Keefe very quickly took the lead in the overall race and led the male race throughout, only letting Chris Pocock & Keiren Dsouza catch up, but not pass him, as he crested Scafell Pike, the highest point in England and on the Rab SSR route. 

Leah Williams dominated the ladies race, keeping ahead of Natalie Beadle throughout and taking the win around 25 minutes ahead of Natalie. Karolina Woloszczyk took the 3rd podium spot, not far from Natalie Beadle. 

Men's and Women's top 3 places:


Male 1st, 2nd and 3rd at the Rab Scafell Sky Race 2024 - ©CallumRobinson
Male 1st, 2nd and 3rd at the Rab Scafell Sky Race 2024 - ©CallumRobinson

1st1st246Richard KeefeMaleMale 18-39MaleFinish05:15:01
2nd
2nd134Chris PocockMaleMale 18-39MaleFinish05:16:40
3rd

3rd199Kieren DsouzaMaleMale 18-39MaleFinish05:22:40
Female 1st, 2nd and 3rd places 2024
Female 1st, 2nd and 3rd places 2024 ©CallumRobinson

12th

1st203

Leah WilliamsFemaleFemale 18-39Finish06:09:49
18th

2nd230
Natalie BeadleFemaleFemale 18-39Finish06:35:41
19th

3rd190

Karolina WoloszczykFemaleFemale 18-39Finish06:42:18

Food at the events centre: 

Last year we brought in external companies to deliver food to you for the weekend. This year, with our new events centre support from The New Dungeon Ghyll Hotel, we kept all catering in house and whilst we felt this worked well, there were some holes and these will be covered for 2025. 

No coffee or snacks in the morning and no change in the food from Friday to Saturday. If I am honest, both myself and the NDG tied everything up a little late and this is where the holes developed. We hope this did not spoil your enjoyment of the weekend of running. 

We also missed ice-cream. 

All these things will be remidied for the 2025 edition of the race. 

Food SSR 2024
Food by the New Dungeon Ghyll Hotel - ©CallumRobinson

Music at the events centre:

Back in 2019 we had music from Katus Young, then 2020 happened and now we are back to it all in 2024! 

3 sets, 2 acoustic and one at the end of the day with an amp and power by the awesome Freyja E, local folk singer. 

Freyja's music set the vibe of the weekend we want to deliver and we hope you enjoyed the chilled live vibes on the day. We will definitely be developing the music side of our races to make folk music synonymous with the LDST series of races. 

You can check out Freyja at the Grasmere Guzzler live in the clip below [recorded in 2014]: 

Music at the Start and on the Mountain:

In the running scene, its always blown my mind how many of us give up our free time to come and make something special. Personally I have given many many hours to friends and acquaintances in the mountains on Bob Graham Rounds. I've met many people and some have become friends. 

Carmine De Grandis is one of those people, selflessly giving his time to those he calls friends and I can say I am very glad to be friends with him. 

Carmine is known for his Italian exuberance and to have him play the LDST events for the last few years has been wonderful. 

You all know him, if not before, you do now and I think you will all agree that he is quite some guy. 

Carmine played his accordion; at the start of the SG650, then he raced to the summit. It was played a 'little early' at the start of the SSR, we got asked to shut up at 07:00 by a guest at the hotel, so at 07:30, he warmed up the racers and then the Rab SSR was underway, but not to be just done with the start, Carmine headed up to CP8, the summit of Bowfell with the beautiful Norman [one of his many Spaniels] and played his heart out to marshals and competitors alike. 

I think we can all agree that Carmine De Grandis is a very lovely man and brings something to the event that is hard to match. 

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Carmine De Grandis and Norman - ©TanyaRaab
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Carmine De Grandis and Norman - ©TanyaRaab
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Carmine De Grandis and Norman - ©TanyaRaab

Earth Runs Medals: 

Many of you who have taken part in the Rab SSR will know my thoughts on medals. I am not one for producing landfill trinkets and in my mind ultimately this is where they will end up, once you are done with them. I don't see it as war medals that will be kept through generation to generation. I don't see them as Olympic Gold, Silver and Bronze medals that will be kept and then sold off when no one wants it anymore. I just see them as unnecessary event waste and I'm not one for adorning to this type of thing. 

In the first few years we used to make cider, bottle it, give it a special label and then give a bottle of home brewed cider that we have made, in a bottle that can be re-used or recycled if needs be. One competitor made himself a lamp from the bottle and we love this type of thing. However, life got busy and my brother in law, along with myself, found we no longer had the time to make cider and bottle it anymore, then 2020 hit and now we are away from that too, we figured that as many do hold value with a medal, we would find something that really creates no waste and if you do not like it, it can be thrown away and rather than increase the landfill problem of this society we are faced with, instead it will grow beautiful flowers and that seems ok to me. 

The medals are handmade by Earth Runs, a Community Interest Company based in the SW of the UK, where they employ learning disabled and disadvantaged people. We really like this story and we know its the right thing to do. Read a little about the medals below: 

About Earth Runs medals:

Earth Runs medals are:

  • 100% Biodegradable
  • Plastic free
  • Made from recycled materials
  • Use sustainable and biodegradable ribbon
  • Filled with wildflower seeds so they can be planted and enjoyed by bees for years to come!
  • Each one is lovingly handmade by Social Enterprises providing commercial working opportunities for learning disabled and disadvantaged people.

For me and my organisation this is the perfect partner for our medals. I know some of you may be a little upset by this, as you value the medal highly, but please remember - if you do not like it, plant it in a pot and grow yourself some wild flowers, be in joy that the bees love it and pollinate them, feel happy with yourself that you are part of something that we definitely need to happen and each medal we have given out will have a tree planted, which is another of the major issues we face, deforestation not just in the rain forests, but the UK was de-forested many hundreds of years ago and this needs to change. 

I am not one to write up a sustainable policy, claim our company is carbon neutral, try to off-set energy that has already been spent [this seems like green-washing to me and not possible to ever offset anything - once its done, its done] neither am I one to harp on about climate change, however I have for most of my adult life tried to create as little waste as possible, re-use everything I can, recycle or up-cycle as much as I own and try to keep my purchasing to a minimum. 

We create waste, all of us and any event out there is creating waste including our own, creating pollution, causing problems, but the more we can do to limit our waste, the better for all of us. 

This is nothing new, its how we have operated since 2015, when we delivered our first race, The Lakes Sky Ultra. 

The Artwork: 

We had the tee-shirt design created by Thomas Beaumont who runs Running Ink, designs based around running. 

We try to make the tees the best we can and make them different each year so those of you that value a tee shirt can purchase something that is bespoke and specific to that event. 

The design was so good, I wanted to use it for the medals, however when it came back from the printers, I realised my error, as it was now a micro design and so it lost its impact in being so small. 

So I guess its an apology from me for the design being so small, but hopefully those of you that treasure medals, feel this is a great medal to keep and as always, if you don't like it, put it in the ground and beauty will follow. 

SSR SAFETY BRIEF MALE IMAGE 1
Running Ink Medal and Tee design - Male - by Thomas Beaumont, Running Ink

Water on the course: 

For years we have had issues with water on the course and finally we had a big enough team to account for this in some way. 

The weather gods were kind to us and delivered water to the mountains the weeks prior to the event, this meant streams were flowing and flowing water filtered by the mountains is good to drink [we always advise you treat it, we drink it pure - the choice is then yours], however the Rab Scafell Sky Race is notorious for lack of water and we have over the last few years put in a water station at the bottom of the descent from The Band, at Stool End Farm. 

This year we also managed a subsidiary water stop mid way through the 2nd half of the course at the Sty Head Tarn MRT stretcher box. Comments from competitors and pictures taken by our awesome photographers meant that this has been well received and we will continue to make this happen, building it into the events plan year on year. 

I have also decided we will have a new water station, with more goodies like Electrolytes powers and bars from Voom Nutrition and some fruit to help you with the last few km's back to the event finish line at the New Dungeon Ghyll Hotel. 

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Gary Tompsett enjoying the 'Water Stop' at Sty Head Tarn stretcher box - ©TanyaRaab

Wrapping it all up: 

Overall, I feel we delivered one of the best Scafell Sky Race's to date, created a fantastic atmosphere and did the best job we could do. 

The weather was perfect, not only in the events centre but also on the mountains as the sun shone and the wind blew enough to keep everyone slightly cooler than in the last 2 years. 

Events are a continual development and we strive to make ours better year on year. We hope you agree, that this was a good one.

I would like to thank all of you who help to make these events continue to happen and in no particular order its down to the whole team and competitors, stake holders and businesses that support us.

So thanks to: 

  • Rab Equipment - Headline Sponsor
  • Scarpa UK - Supporting Sponsor
  • Voom Nutrition - Supporting Sponsor
  • The New Dungeon Ghyll Hotel - Event Partner
  • The National Trust
  • Our awesome volunteer marshals team - without who no events would ever happen
  • Our Core Events Team and our Safety Team out on the fell
  • Our competitors - who if you did not book, there again would be no event
  • Skyrunning UK and Ireland Series for bringing it all together in a fantastic format for us all to enjoy. 
  • Anyone I may have missed, these events exist because we all love to make them happen. 

Why I Run Rab SSR 2024
Events Centre Montage - ©CallumRobinson

Whats next? 

June 2024: 

As we wrap this up, we move next to Northern Snowdonia for the newly added to and name change - SkyRun Eyri with the Fairy Trail, Copper Sky Trail, 14 Peaks Ultra and Snowdon SkyRace due to be delivered on the 22nd June. 

Entries close on the 14th June at Midnight, so if you are keen, get your entry in now! 

Enter Here: SkyRun Eyri

July 2024: 

Back again for its 9th years, with the same 'format' we followed for last year is the Helvellyn Sky Ultra weekend on the 19th to 21st July. 

Over the weekend there is the SG850 Vertical Race, Rab Helvellyn Sky Ultra, St Sunday Mountain Race, Place Fell 15km and the uber technical Rab Pinnacle Ridge Extreme. 

Entries close for all the SkyRaces on the 30th June 2024

Entries close 'online' for the SG850 and Place Fell 15k on Wednesday 17th July 2024 - with entries available on the day for both races. 

Enter Here: The Rab Helvellyn Sky Ultra Weekend

September 2024: 

The very wild Seven Sisters Skyline by Excel Sports will happen again on the 21st September where you can chose to run the full 55k over Errigal and back, the 30k or the new 16k Castle Altan Trail plus much more going on over the weekend as Excel develop a trail and mountain running festival weekend. 

Entries close on the 19th September 2024

Enter here: Seven Sisters Skyline Festival

October 2024: 


This brings a close to the season of Skyrunning in the UK and Ireland with the all newly re-vamped Morne Skyline and Ultra at the SkyRun The Mornes. 

2 fantastic races, one a classic, the new one a classic in the making. 

Entries close on the 7th October 2024

Enter Here: SkyRun The Mornes

Thanks for joining in and taking part in the Rab Scafell Sky Race. 

Look out for announcements of how we are growing this epic event weekend for 2025 - think Ultra, Trail and Extreme..... TBC.... 

See you at the next event, 

Yours in Skyrunning, 


Charles Sproson [RD and Race Creator]

Thunderstorms hit the north of England for the Rab Helvellyn Sky Ultra weekend

Thunderstorms hit the north of England for the Rab Helvellyn Sky Ultra weekend

Generally, I ignore the weather until the Wednesday pre-event weekend, but keeping an eye on it all the same, as being

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