Earlier this year we launched our biggest-ever competition, offering up the opportunity for seven lucky winners to scoop an all-expenses-paid trip to the Lake District – the home of inov-8 and UK off-road running (see image above). Thousands of runners from all across the world applied with seven eventually being picked following a long and thorough selection process.
Now those seven – who will form #TeamGetAGrip – are packing their bags and making final preparations ahead of a five-day experience (June 30th – July 4th) that money can’t buy.
Staying in the heart of the Lake District, #TeamGetAGrip will learn all about the fells and mountains that tower high above, hear stories from those, including the legendary Kenny Stuart, who’ve run incredible record times over their summits and, of course, get out to experience the network of thrilling trails for themselves.
Racing up & down one of England’s highest peaks
They will learn also tricks of the fells and trails from international inov-8 athletes including Ben Mounsey, Ben Abdelnoor and Mary Wilkinson, gain a unique insight into the inner workings of a multi-award-winning running brand and be among the first to test innovative new running products in footwear, apparel and equipment.
One such opportunity will come on Sunday when – armed with our new TRAILROC shoes (available to buy in July/August) – the seven will take part in the Skiddaw Fell Race, organised by Keswick AC, with the support of Kong Adventure and ourselves. This classic nine-mile Lake District event (entry on the day) is run over hard, rocky trails and combines the arts of both trail and fell running. inov-8 ambassadors, such as Three Peaks race record-holder Victoria Wilkinson and reigning British Fell Running champion Rhys Findlay-Robinson, will be on hand to offer advice and tips to #TeamGetAGrip.
Competitors start in Fitz Park, Keswick and run to Skiddaw’s 3,054ft summit (England’s sixth highest) before turning around and coming back down the same way. The record time was set in 1984 when the aforementioned Kenny Stuart clocked 1:02:18. Back then, runners could choose their own race line but nowadays all competitors must stick to the marked path. Due to this, organisers have ruled that this year’s male and female winners will set new record times which reflect this route.
The magnificent seven, aka #TeamGetAGrip
So, who are the lucky seven picked to form #TeamGetAGrip? As part of the entry requirements we asked everyone to tell us their favourite trail running experience. Here’s what our seven told us (editor’s note – prepare to be inspired):
Cat Simpson, UK
We were friends seeking solace from London’s familiar paths. United by a desire for new, crooked paths, we arrived in Aviemore, gateway to the Cairngorm mountains. With minimal kit, via a plane, bus and train. No frills: just enough for three days. Youth hostel beds. Haggis and chips. Rough plans. A handful of routes to explore. Steep climbs, fresh snow, stopping only to soak up panoramic views. Running on a carpet of pine needles. The morning sun streams through the trees, reflecting off the water. We reluctantly return to London and vow to make more time for these unique experiences.
Adel Matanovic, GER
After living abroad for years I travelled home to Bosnia. I hated the idea of this trip; memories of my childhood spent in war and in destituation felt like a burden I’ve been relieved from and didn’t wish to reminisce. On the second day I went for a run in the nearby hills. Moving through the forest (sticking to marked paths because of landmine danger) pushing myself to the limits to release frustration, I suddenly reached a turning point. I understood that this land and childhood made me who I am: A resilient warrior who is grateful for the simple things in life.
Sarah Ostaszewski, USA
Racing Gorge Waterfalls 100k with my newfound trail runner friends. I had just moved to Portland, Oregon, and the first ultrarunner I’d ever met talked me into signing up. I had moved to the West after reading Ultrarunning Lore and learning to admire unlikely heroes’ endeavors through the lush landscape, so I knew this chance was a huge step into a great community. It was my first 100k and now I’m hooked – it’s become my annual race. The climb up (and the descent down) Multnomah Falls is like no other. It’s amazing to be racing through a place that so many only seek to view through a camera lens. The race is iconic to me, with Multnomah having made up some of my earliest impressions of Oregon. I somehow can’t get enough of this race. This year, in 2017, I’m searching yet again for that transcendence that only comes from having pushed past your limits, from spending all day on the green trails.
Jeremy Heath, USA
I’ve participated in many trail races, but the most memorable was when I was just a volunteer. I was helping at a major checkpoint in the Arkansas Traveller 100 when an elite cyclist and female ultra runner came into the checkpoint not looking so well. She was on the struggle bus and didn’t have a pacer or friends/family with her like so many others. Being the friendly runner I am, I told her I’d pace her to the next aid station, to get her a little further along on her challenging journey. Every step was a struggle. She could hardly hold down food. I forget her name but never the experience. Why? Because I knew from that point on I wanted to run ultras. To have that sheer drive to just keep moving, no matter what the circumstances. To others this woman might of looked like a lost cause. To me, she looked like a superhero missing her red cape. I’m still on my journey to my first ultra now, but every time I struggle during a race or long run, I think about her. My nameless ultra runner hero.
Matthijs Kleverlaan, NL
That time when I spent a week in Solden, Austria, last September. The first day I ran to a mountain ridge through mud, forest and stony areas above the trees that I had to scramble to get up. Oh wait, I just made a video about it (watch here). I just like to be out there, running on mountains, scrambling up and down, bouldering and maybe taking in a bit of via ferreta. I then look back down and see the beauty of the view. If you’re lucky, you are not in a rainstorm. Then again that also makes it a great experience – being out there and fighting against the elements.
Alex Garcia, USA
Record setting attempt of Middle Palisade. The record was set in 2009 by Leor Pantilat (7:46). After breaking the Glacier Point record in Yosemite I felt primed to take this 14’er, with 7k gain over 16 miles with no trail. Is just cairns, scree and landmarks! With the forecast showing 0% chance of rain and 52 degrees at the summit, I took little nutrition and minimal clothing. At about 13,000ft and well on pace to break it, a snow storm comes in. I lost track of the cairns and route and ended ascending the wrong mountain. With my body getting cold, I descended the slippery slope to return to base. While I missed the record, this was one of the iconic experiences of my life. I saw nature’s raw power and it awakened me to possibility. I plan to return this year to break it.
Hilary Matheson, CAN
Definitely my most memorable trail running moment is the euphoric runner’s high I got while flying down the last 10km of trail before the finish line of my very first 120-mile (200km) race last fall. I felt invincible, and I couldn’t stop myself from whooping and hollering at the top of my lungs as I counted down the final km’s. The thing about races that long is that you can never count your chickens until they hatch, and the entire race I never let myself think about anything except how far to the next aid station. That moment of giddiness was the one where I realized I would actually finish the race that had taken me almost 34 hours straight to run – and I’ll never forget that feeling. I finished on the podium too, which was pretty incredible considering my number-one goal was just to finish at all.