Runners traverse Striding Edge during the race. Photo: Guillem Casanova/guillemcasanova.com

Runners traverse Striding Edge during the race. Photo: Guillem Casanova/guillemcasanova.com

Britons claimed victory in the tough Lakes Sky Ultra Race, which attracted an international field.

Andrew Berry finished first in the event, with Catherine Slater taking the women’s honours in the 56km (35-mile) race on Saturday.

A total of 100 runners started the race, with the route taking in 4,500m (14,764ft) of ascent over extreme terrain in the Lake District. Skyrunning is a combination of mountain running and alpinism, where scrambling and rock-climbing skills are needed.

For the Lakes Sky Ultra runners are vetted to ensure they have appropriate levels of experience in the mountains. The race is part of the UK Skyrunning Series.

Runners from South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Poland, the Netherlands, Ireland, France, the US and Belgium took part in the race, in challenging conditions of drizzle, rain and heavy low cloud, which made scrambling sections slippery.

Organisers faced an additional test when in the morning when they discovered the rope needed to make Pinnacle Ridge safe for runners was missing.

Competitors were still able to traverse the exposed, technical, grade-three ridge, but had to skip a more demanding corner of it.

The race started in Ambleside at 7am, and 2016 Skyrunning UK champion Bjorn Verduijn set the early pace, with Andy Bryce and Andy Berry, who recorded the second-fastest-ever winter Bob Graham Round this January, in pursuit.

A runner ascends Pinnacle Ridge on St Sunday Crag. Photo: Guillem Casanova / guillemcasanova.com

A runner ascends Pinnacle Ridge on St Sunday Crag. Photo: Guillem Casanova / guillemcasanova.com

In the women’s race, Lauren Woodwiss created an early advantage on pre-race favourites Catherine Slater and Jacqueline Toal.

The first half of the course includes about two-thirds of the 4,500m of ascent and the majority of the technical ridge running, with the second half being faster, more runnable terrain. Though the weather eased for a while, there were reports of 20km of horizontal rain from some runners.

After the Patterdale checkpoint, third-placed Berry started to close the gap on the lead pair, finally passing Verduijn, who had led the race for seven hours, and arriving first back in Ambleside in 8hrs 34mins 24secs.

Berry said: “That was good fun.

“The weather was pretty full on at times. I feel sorry for the people up there all day. But it was fun.”

Verduijn was second in 8hrs 40mins 00secs, with Bryce third in a time four seconds short of nine hours.

Similarly in the women’s race, Slater caught Woodwiss, and finished in 10hrs 30mins 27secs.

Cat Slater said at the finish line: “I’m knackered.

The Helm Hill runner, who works as a physiotherapist in Staveley, added: “In a weird way, I thoroughly enjoyed that.”

In addition to prize money, top runners were awarded prizes from race sponsors Salewa, Leki and Mountain Fuel.

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