Spain's Kilian Jornet and American Hillary Gerardi battled the worst of the weekend's weather in the Scottish Highlands to triumph in the Salomon Glen Coe Skyline race. In rain and strong winds, 200 athletes from across the world took on the alternative 32km "bad weather" course through challenging mountainous terrain.
The route, amounting to a total ascent of 2700m, still included the exposed Grade 3 scramble of Curved Ridge on Buachaille Etive Mor.
After crossing the finish line in Kinlochleven in 03:37:17, Kilian said: "I love to do races like this. It was hard and technical, which I like. Although the weather made the course wet and slippery and the winds high up were very strong, it was still such fun race. To win is a bonus."
Kilian won last year's Salomon Glen Coe Skyline and yesterday became the 2018 SKY World Champion at the Salomon Ring of Steall Skyrace, also part of Skyline Scotland's festival weekend of Skyrunning.
For the second year in a row, André Jonsson, of Sweden, was runner up to Kilian. André was also runner up in Friday's ULTRA 2018 Skyrunning World Championships. Today, he came home some three minutes after the dominant Salomon Team athlete in 03:40:33.
He said: "Scotland is an amazing place to run in the mountains. The weather made it wet and slippery, especially on Curved Ridge, but I think I went up faster than last year. I ran the best I could."
Daniel Jung, of Italy, was third in 03:42:33. He said: "It is a dream to race with Kilian and Andre – and to be on the podium. I love Scotland's mountain races."
The race, which is part of the 2018 MIGU Run Skyrunner® World EXTRA Series was forced to use a "bad weather" course. Race officials deemed wind speeds of 100kph on high ground to be too dangerous for the full 52km route, especially as it would include the infamous Aonach Eagach Ridge.
Kilian summed up the day's racing for many athletes, saying: "It might have been a shorter course than many of us hoped to run, but it was still very hard and technical. Scotland's terrain makes these races tough but a lot of fun."
Thrilling finish to female race
After more than 30km of running, first and second place in the female race was determined by a 200m sprint for the finish line. Winning by just seven seconds in a time of 04:17:48, US athlete Hillary Gerardi described second placed Jasmin Paris, of Great Britain, as "a machine on the downhills."
Jasmin, who won the race in 2016, quickly retorted: "Hillary says I am a machine on the downhills but she is a machine on the uphills."
Hillary added: "While I was disappointed that we did not get to run the full course it was the right decision by the race officials. It was cold, wet and very, very windy on the mountains today. I enjoyed the competition with Jasmin and we were so close, with Jasmin stronger than me on the downhills.
"I had asked her what would happen if we crossed the finish line together and she told me: 'That won't happen because we will sprint to the end.' This is what we did and I had to give it everything to win. She is a great athlete."
Jasmin, who had a daughter 10 months ago, said: "It would have been nice to win but I gave it my very best shot. It doesn't feel like I am fully fit yet but there is the incentive to get back out there."
In third place, almost eight minutes later was Brittany Peterson, also from the US, in a time of 04:25:44.