A discipline in running started by Marino Giacometti who, with a handful of fellow climbers, pioneered records and races on Mont Blanc and Monte Rosa in the Italian Alps in the early ’90s. Sky running is defined as “A lot of dirt, a lot of rock and a little asphalt: different paths and terrain, between valleys and mountain slopes at heights that can exceed 4,000 meters.”
Skyrunning takes place exclusively in mountains with asphalted stretches that must remain within 15% of the total length. The routes, however, are more demanding and can include stretches to be overcome with the help of ropes or chains, or mountaineering sticks and the height that can be reached can also exceed 4,000 metres. The races are divided into four categories – Vertical, Skyrace, Ultra and Extreme. Sky running is known to put a strain on even the most trained athlete.
Here’s what you would need to start conquering the sky running courses:
Before trying sky running it is important to focus carefully on physical preparation, running a lot – so as to develop excellent endurance – but also dedicating time to indoor training, with toning exercises that aim to strengthen the body muscles. In this sport, in fact, endurance alone is not enough: physical strength and agility are essential to compose a quality triptych, the ideal propeller to reach the highest peaks, running towards the sky.
The right gear can make all the difference in this challenging course. Specialist pair of trail shoes groomed for mountainous terrain, light backpack, windproof jacket, phone, hat, gloves and trekking poles. It is important to have all these gear not just for comfort but also the safety of the runner as a large part of the trail will be desolate or through forests.
Courses are generally unmarked which means you need to study your course map before setting off. Compass and a map are great companions to have and it is important to ask as many questions about the terrain to orient yourself better.
Train on a Hill
Many runners train in urban environments and they rarely find ascending terrains to practice their runs. It is difficult to run a 2000m ascent race with no prior experience or training so its best to find nearby hills to practice your training runs.
Posture is important to avoid injury but especially because if done incorrectly it generates a loss of energy that could be used to improve during your run and especially when thinking about speed or distance. The head must be high in order to keep the nape of the neck aligned with the spine, with the gaze fixed forward and not facing the feet.
It is a tougher challenge than a marathon or trail run but with its breathtaking views and challenges, it is becoming the course of choice for athletes to test their mettle.