Friday 20 September saw 330 runners from almost 40 countries worldwide compete over a challenging Highlands course of 52km. The mountain course took in a total ascent of 4000m and included an airy traverse of one of Scotland’s most famous ridges, the Càrn Mòr Dearg Arête, leading to the summit of Ben Nevis.
Murray Strain, from Tranent, East Lothian, was the first to cross the line in Kinlochleven, Lochaber, after 7 hours, 51 minutes and 31 seconds of running. Despite breaking a rib earlier this summer, the 36-year-old ran a well-paced race finishing more than nine minutes ahead of Spanish runner up Francisco Javier Cabrera Valdes (8:00:54).
In third place in the men’s race was Vincent Richrath, of Germany, in 8:14:56, although he was not quick enough to beat Katie Kaars-Sijpesteijn, the first female and third overall.
Murray, who relocated to Cambridge, England, recently, said: “This win feels like a great success for me, especially after this summer's injury. “It’s also been difficult to find the right terrain for training now that I live in Cambridge. I am happy today.”
Murray an orienteering specialist is no stranger to the mountain racing podium, with wins including the Three Peaks Race in the Yorkshire Dales and the Snowdon Race in Wales.
In 2018, he scored a top 10 in the World Long Distance Mountain Running Champs. He added: “Winning the Salomon Ben Nevis Ultra race today is especially nice because I wasn’t sure how it would go and because it’s part of the internationally renowned Skyline Scotland series.”
Katie, 35, said: “It was exactly the sort of race course that I wanted and I thought the weather was perfect. It was a brilliant and absolutely awesome route and third place overall is a nice result.”
Katie is a regular on the mountain racing podium, taking third place in the Yorkshire Three Peaks this year and she is a previous winner of the Lakeland 50 and Lakes in a Day. She has also represented Great Britain in two World Trail Championships.
Katie revealed that she felt ready to run in Scotland’s mountains, saying: “I was raring to go this morning and my legs felt fresh. I'd had a bit of a break from racing beforehand.
“I knew I was in sixth place, then fifth place and then some guys appeared in front of me so I chased them. It was great to chase down the boys!”
What is Salomon Skyline Scotland?
The three-day Salomon Skyline Scotland plays out every September in Lochaber, in the mountainous heart of the Highlands. Friday saw more than 600 athletes compete in the Salomon Ben Nevis Ultra and the Salomon Mamores Vertical Kilometre (VK).
Saturday’s headline race is the Salomon Ring of Steal Skyrace, which is part of a fiercely competed Golden Trail World Series, and, on Sunday, it’s the flagship Salomon Glen Coe Skyline race.
There are also three new trail races – 5k, 10k and 18k – launched for the 2019 edition of Skyline Scotland.