Skyrunning is an extreme sport that spans the great outdoors across the world’s mountain ranges that is now gaining interest in India.
“Once you have tasted the taste of sky, you will forever look up” – Leonardo Da Vinci.
Skyrunning is an extreme sport that spans the great outdoors across the world’s mountain ranges where runners reach the highest peak in the shortest time from a village or a town. Started by an Italian Marino Giacometti in 1992, president of the International Skyrunning Federation that governs the sport, defines skyrunning as “running in the mountains above 2,000m altitude, where the climbing difficulty does not exceed II° grade(*UIAA) and the incline is over 30%”.
If you’re thinking of trying something different and haven’t explored running in the mountains, then skyrunning is one that takes you through the most spectacular landscapes and sceneries, majestic view of the mountains and running across diverse terrains (boulders, mud, river crossing, gravel, rocks, snow) that puts to test your mental and physical strength.
India is a land of diverse terrain that ranges from the rocky faces of the Himalayas to the forest slopes of the Sahyadris and the Western Ghats, offering gruelling and challenging race routes.
Although the concept of skyrunning in India is still very new, we do see a rise in the number of participations in these races every year.
Here is a list of sky running races organised across India which are ITRA (International Trail Running Association) certified and will award points to finishers. They are also UTMB( Ultra-Trail Du Mont- Blanc) qualifying races and the participants are assigned the corresponding UTMB points based on the distance run.
Solang SkyUltra – The Solang SkyUltra is a mountain trail run that covers the mountainous region of Himalayas around Solang valley in Himachal Pradesh, India. The race surely tests your true endurance as its brutal and gruelling route goes through the rugged, jagged and mean single-track technical trails of the Solang Valley. Apart from a UTMB qualifying race, it’s also an Asia Trail Master candidate race for 2020. The various distances in this event are as below-
30Km – 1750m elevation gain – 6hrs cut-off- 1 UTMB point.
60Km – 3750m elevation gain – 14hrs cut-off- 3 UTMB points.
100km – 6260m elevation gain -30hrs cut-off- 5 UTMB points.
SRT Ultra -This ultra-marathon is quite an exhilarating race with runners passing through the dense forests, evergreen mountains with an abundance of flora and fauna.
It is a point to point route that connects Sinhagad-Rajgad-Torna (SRT) forts and is held in December every year. Due to its historic and aesthetic importance, this route has become the magnum opus of mountain running routes in Pune. The route is quite challenging and comprises of rocks, mud, technical trails at an average altitude of 1000m. The race is not just about mountain running but also involves runners to climb a considerable amount during the race. The SRT has distances of:
25Km – 1296m elevation gain – 6hrs cut-off – 1UTMB point.
53Km – 2540m elevation gain – 12hr cut-off – 3 UTMB points.
The Coffee Trails -This ultra-event is set to happen in Coorg towards the end of August every year. Coorg is popularly known for its verdant coffee estates, lush greenery, hills and the warrior community of Kodavas. It’s also well known as the “Scotland of India”. The race will see runners running through well-known peaks Thadiandamol (the tallest peak in Coorg), Kabbe and Chomakund and the terrain is said to be ranging from comfortable to downright bad with muddy trails through the coffee plantations, grassy areas on the hills and monsoons make the hills very slippery rather making this a tough route to beat. The distances in this race are in a loop system and are shown below:
31km – 1920m elevation gain – 6hrs cut-off -1 UTMB point.
62km- 3840m elevation gain-12hr cut-off- 3 UTMB points.
Deccan Ultra –The route traverses through trails that offer breath-taking views of the Deccan Plateau and is nestled deep in the Sahyadri range. The route is a mix of easy ascent slopes as well as treacherous rocky boulders that overlook the valley. The route consists of the highest peak in Maharastra, Kalsubai at an altitude of 1646m and also the triple forts otherwise known as AMK- Alanggad, Madangad, and Kulanggad in the Sahydri range. The race is scheduled to happen in February every year and has various distances such as-
110km – 4500m elevation gain – 28hrs cut-off – 5 UTMB points.
80km – 3500m elevation gain – 16hrs cut-off – 4 UTMB points.
50km – 1950m elevation gain – 10hrs cut-off – 2 UTMB points.
30km – 1350m elevation gain – 6hrs cut-off – 1 UTMB point.
Sinhagad Epic Trails – A technical yet thrilling sky race that takes place during the arrival of the monsoon in the Western Ghats in June every year. Singhagad originally known as Kondhana is the most sort after mountain forts in Maharashtra where epic battles have taken place throughout the existence of various civilisations in the fort area. The runners will experience a mix of technical and normal terrains and the race is usually conducted within the limits of Sinhagad Ghera. The race starts and ends at the same point and has 2 distances as mentioned below:
22km – 1220m elevation gain – 5hrs Cut-off- 1 UTMB point.
42Km-2190m elevation gain – 10hrs Cut-off- 2 UTMB points.