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A prestigious weekend of Skyrunning kicked off in the Scottish Highlands today yesterday (Thursday September 13).
With four days of mountain races on the schedule, more than 2,000 athletes gathered in the village of Kinlochleven for a festival of extreme running.
The first race, part of the prestigious Skyrunning World Championships 2018, played out in heavy rain and strong winds.
Some 350 athletes from across the world battled the tough conditions to compete in the Salomon Mamores Vertical Kilometer® (VK) race.
Incredibly, records fell one after the other in the VK race, which challenges runners to climb a total elevation of 1,000 metres over just 5km.
Reigning VK World Champion, Laura Orgué from Spain and Switzerland’s Rémi Bonnet took the gold and crushed the previous records to become VERTICAL Skyrunning World Champion 2018.
Bonnet triumphed in a fastest course time of 39 minutes 23 seconds. The 23-year-old Salomon-sponsored athlete said: ‘It was really cold out there and in the first part of the race I fell into a bog up to my waist.
‘But I enjoyed the course and I love running in the mountains, so I was very happy to race in Scotland.
‘It feels very good to be the winner.’
Spanish runner Laura Orgué beat her own record set last year. The Salomon athlete, who ran 51:34, said: ‘I am from southern Europe where it is much warmer so I found the race very cold.
‘It was a hard course as well but I am happy to finish and I am very happy to be the winner.’
Second placed male was Thorbjørn Ludvigsen, of Norway, who finished in 41:49.
In third place was Stian Angermund-Vik, also Norwegian, who won the VK race last year.
Female runner-up was Lina El Kott Helander, of Sweden, who finished in 52:34.
In third place, just a second behind, was American athlete Hillary Gerardi in 52:35.
They were each presented with their 2018 Skyrunning World Championships medals as part of a celebratory opening ceremony.
The ceremony also featured music and singing entertainment from local school children and a fantastic display of fireworks.
The Skyrunning weekend is hosted by Skyline Scotland. Race director Shane Ohly said: ‘Today’s VK race proved to be a tough but up-beat start to what looks set to be a very competitive weekend of Skyrunning.
‘Scotland’s mountains and weather gave the runners a big challenge, yet records were broken in both the male and female races.
‘This sort of racing showcases the calibre of the athletes who want to race in Scotland’s magnificent Highlands landscape.’