Peak Skyline 50k Race Report – Matt Urbanski

peak skyline 50k
Start of the race on a grass track!

Race: Peak Skyline 50k

Runner: Matt Urbanski

Race Date: 08/05/2018

Location: Buxton, England

Results: 5th, 4:55

Strava Activity Link:

3 Bests – What aspects of the race did you like the most?

  1. I love racing in other countries. The vibe at the race was great, and it was fun checking out the UK racing scene!
    The course was beautiful. Lots of views throughout the entire course.
  2. Challenging. This course pushed me in many ways, and while during the event I wasn’t so keen about this aspect of the race, looking back I’m glad it was a tough run!
  3. The bagpipe player at the top of the first climb. For a foreigner like me, that made this race feel all the more cool!

Not so much – Aspects of the race that didn’t do it for you

That dog! There was one section that I just couldn’t figure out where I was supposed to go. I waited a few minutes for the next runner to catch me. She said she thought we were supposed to cut through someone’s farm property. I followed her to a big gate (not the normal kind we had been going through) and couldn’t help but hear and then see the HUGE German Shepard barking wildly and pulling ferociously at the rope tethering him to a wall. I watched as Beth went calmly through and kept on running. After pausing for a few seconds, I went through after her!

Weird factor – What’s the weirdest thing about this race?

So many fences to climb! I am pretty sure this is the norm here in the UK, but I’m not used to them and I’m not fast at them. The guys I was running with were so quick to be up and over or open and close or whatever method each unique gate called for. I was lucky to not trip and fall!

Highlights of your race – What did you do well and enjoy about your race in particular?

  • I kept pushing. I was feeling somewhat deflated midway through the race. My legs were tired, I had pushed pretty hard early and the second half climbs were tough. Plus, we had these punch cards we had to use at various unmanned check points to ensure we did the entire course. I realized at the 3rd of 6 punch points that I’d missed the 2nd one. I hadn’t been thinking about it and probably ran right past it. I was pretty sure I was getting a time penalty for this so thoughts of being competitive in the race began to take on less significance for me, which didn’t help when things got tough!
  • But I tried to stay positive, I tried to problem solve, I tried to keep running and to keep moving forward. I even caught someone in the last mile and pushed past him. In the end I wasn’t given a time penalty and I still finished 5th despite a good amount of challenges.

Lessons for others – Share your pro-tips on the race to help the next runner

  • Pay attention to the course, listen well at the race briefing, and look for those card punches! I had a hard time navigating the course and went off route and had to retrace my steps numerous times. I think if I’d hung back behind some of the leaders earlier in the race and been more chill, I would have saved energy and had more legs left for the latter half of the race.
  • The second half hills are challenging and the terrain is more technical. Maybe it was because I was tired but the second half seemed all around way harder.
peak skyline 50k
Coming into the 10 mile aid station

Lessons you learned that will help you next time around

Be more relaxed earlier in the race. I was attacking the course more aggressively than I should for a 30 mile race. I hadn’t raced that distance in a long time and 1) it’s a long way, and 2) the course is challenging. I would respect the course more next time and back off on the effort just a tad so I would have more legs in the second half.

Most important course specific knowledge to know about the race

There aren’t any really long climbs, but you’re always going up or down. The climb between the 2nd and 3rd aid station is steep and the descent is fairly challenging (and I had a tough time figuring out where to go). The second half is harder than the first half. It’s all exposed so if it’s sunny and hot, you will feel it – I was really thirsty as the day went on (and as I slowed down!).

Aesthetics – Is it a pretty course?

Definitely. These aren’t huge mountains, but the open vistas are really pretty. The cow pastures and poop weren’t so great, but most of the course was beautiful. We had a sunny day which helped!

Difficulty – Is it a tough course?

Yes, in it’s own unique way. I sucked at route finding. There are tons of fences and gates to go over or to open and close (you don’t want to let the sheep out!). The climbs are relentless; not long, but they just keep going. Some of the course got fairly technical with a good amount of rocks or just tough footing. There were also road sections and really smooth paths which were fast and wonderful!

Organized and well run – Did it feel like a well-oiled machine or were they flying by the seat of their pants?

It was all smooth and easy, from registration, to race day, it was all easy and standard.

Competition – Is there a strong field?

The field was strong and I was happy to have a good group of runners around me all day.

Logistics – Does it require a special handshake, registration a year in advance, hotels all booked? Give us the low down on the nuts and bolts of making the race happen.

Super easy. I think the town of Buxton was tough for getting lodging (our friends that came and crewed had a hard time booking last minute). We stayed in Glossop a half hour away. Packet pickup on race day morning. It was all chill and easy. I do think the race sells out, but I was able to register in late June without any issues.

Aid Stations – Standard fare or anything special to know about the aid stations in terms of what’s available or when?

3 of them. Crew accessible. Sport drink, water, fruit. I didn’t stop at any of them until the last one when I was thirsty and hungry, and they were all really helpful and getting me fueled up and on to the finish.

Peak skyline 50k
Paavo waiting for me at the crew accessible aid station, 10 miles in

Weather and typical race conditions

We had sunny skies. It warmed as the day went on, with a high of 75F. I’m not sure what is typical here though.

Gear – Did you need anything special or is there anything you’d recommend for the next guy?

I used my Nathan Vapor belt with one Salomon soft flask bottle. Had I managed my race better, that would have been fine, but I was thirst between aid 2 and 3 with just the one bottle. A lot of the runners had packs but I didn’t need any additional gear beyond the fluids and some gels.

Spectators – Is this a friendly course for your friends?

Lots of options. My crew as able to navigate the area and get to three spots. I imagine that if you knew the land better, you could get to more spots if you wanted to. And no rules about crewing outside of aid stations – crew could be anywhere. Parking was a little tight for them at most aid stations, but they still managed fine.

How’s the Swag?

Technical shirts for purchase but no kind of race swag package.

The Overall Score – How many stars do you give this race and do you recommend that others run it?

5 out of 5. Solid race. Good training run for me. Great experience racing in another country. It’s not likely to be your “A” race for the season, but if you can fit it into your schedule, it’s a good one to run for sure!

peak skyline 50k
As always, so happy to be done