THE inaugural True Mountain Lakes Sky Ultra took place on Saturday.

With winds reaching 65kmph on the tops, the runners headed up the long ridgeline of Low Pike, High Pike & Dove Crag to receive a royal battering across the tops of Hart Crag, Fairfield and the Helvellyn Massif. 

Gareth Hughes fought with Eirik Haugsnes from Norway, Ambleside's Paul Tierney and Jim Mann before emerging victorious in the men's race.

The ladies' race was dominated from very early on by Sarah Ridgeway.

Hughes said: "Quite easily the hardest race I’ve done so far, an audacious undertaking for the race organisers. Classic fell running combined with technical ridgelines made for a daring concept when faced with severe rain and gales on the day. 

"As a climber I felt at ease on Swirling Edge and Striding Edge and felt the greatest challenge had to be the technical descents such as that off Nethermost Pike, with the added thrill of river crossings and steep grassy slopes that could only be ascended with large clumps of grass in hand it made for a truly unique experience."

Ridgeway added: "A race that lures you in then spits you out. You have to look deep into yourself to just finish! The initial gentle climb lulled me into a false sense of security. 

"I was in my element encased in cloud and lashed by driving rain then the course really showed it's teeth.

"The scrambling proved a welcome distraction from what really made it so tough: the merging of traditional fell running terrain. Tussock, bog, and steep vegetated climbs that could only be attacked on all fours. 

"Your fight almost exhausts but you reach the aid station at half-way and the atmosphere, support and coffee enliven you to battle on to finally be rewarded with, dare I say, a kind descent to the finish."