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Ultra Trail Skills Weekend 2024
Weekend course, based in the Lake District, with night nav experience
Course overview

Ultra-trail events are springing up all over the place, and they seem to fill quicker and quicker. There is a growing pool of keen runners, who are planning on running or signing up for their first ultra, who are looking for a training course in which they can learn key skills to really help them before their first race.
These ultra trail training weekends are based in the English Lake District in Cumbria, as there are hundreds of kilometers of trails to choose from, and a huge variety of terrain to run on. We offer a great balance of running, coaching, runners navigation, race event strategy advice, preparation and top tips.
These courses are open to anyone, but we suggest that you will get the most out of them if you are happy running up to 10km. You don't have to be race fit, as these courses are instructional, and you can't be taught running at full speed! Walking uphill is advised, jog the flats, and run the descents.
The instructor ratio for these weekend events is 1:8, which offers exceptional value and contact, so you are looked after, and get the most out of the weekend. We cap numbers at 8 maximum on any course date. Move quick for spaces! If you are a larger group wishing to book, we can supply multiple instructors.
We designed these courses to provide you the confidence and pre-requisite skills, to have a good chance to finish your first ultra race. Skills covered include; runners navigation, pace planning, night running, nutrition and hydration. You also have the opportunity to run in a longer continuous route on the Sunday.
In terms of terrain, we make the most of the superb variations of scenery in the Lake District, and try to get you experiencing as much different ground underfoot as is possible, to help prepare you for your event. You can run on open fells, well formed trails, bridleways, and even old Roman Roads on the felltops.
Aimed at those looking at any mountain ultra running event, where both running technique, and runners navigation and pacing skills are required. Events where these skills really apply include the UTMB race series (OCC / CCC / TDS / UTMB / PTL), Lakes in a Day, Marathon du Mont Blanc, & Tour de Helvellyn...
Bespoke: as this trip has such small instructor ratios, we can offer it to private groups of 4 people or more at the same price, on alternative dates. Get in contact if you'd like us to organise a weekend for you.
Dates: these are listed in the column on the right, and they show the live availability from our secure online booking system. When you book online, you receive immediate confirmation, your Lake District Course Information Booklet, course specific kit list and invoice.
Icicle signature trip
This is a trip personally designed and led by Kingsley (on the right in photo with Kilian Jornet, just after Kilian had broken the Mont Blanc record Mont Blanc), who is our most experienced trail running guide. He's finished six Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc series races, including the UTMB twice, as well as host of ultra events in Europe and UK such as the Tor des Geants, Lakes in a Day, Zermatt Marathon, Tour de Helvellyn, 80km du Mont Blanc, and Grizedale Ultra. In his own words "I make absolutely no claims to be elite, but over 20 years have gained a vast experience of all the ultra's I've run, which I'm keen to share. I vividly remember how it felt to be on the start line for my first ultra, and all the mistakes I wish I'd avoided".
Epic Weekend - Travel by Train: timings for this trip are such that you can arrive in the Lake District at Windermere just after 9am on the first train from London or Manchester (on West Coast main line), and can depart in the afternoon the next day, so only 1 night of accommodation is required.
Key ultra running skills and techniques that are covered

What to carry in your race day pack
Clothing options to cater for all conditions
Obligatory equipment that organisers check
Adapting running style for distance efficiency
Basic runners navigation skills & night nav
Planning a route, timing cards, and planning
Running techniques for mountain terrain Selection of the most versitile footwear
Diet and hydration before and during an ultra
Running in the dark, and lighting choices
Psycholigical preparation for ultra running
Training and injury prevention for ultras
Items to consider for drop bags in races
Use of running poles on all terrain types
Kit for mountain running
When you book on this trip you'll be set a detailed equipment list. Have a good read through it, as despite the relatively low altitude of the Lake District fells, the weather and conditions can sometimes be challenging. The best investment you'll make will be a decent pair of fell running shoes (e.g. Inov8 Mudclaw / Salomon Fellraiser), for good grip and to keep you low to the ground to reduce the risks of turning an ankle. The fells generally provide good cushioning for your feet, so the priority is traction and stability. Always take a waterproof running jacket, as even on the good days, it can be useful against any wind, and as a warm layer. Taking any running poles is completely optional, but if you do take some, the instructor will teach you how to use them efficiently. We've produced a whole page specifically about mountain running kit, so to view it click here.

Brief Course Itinerary

Below is a good idea of how these weekends are structured, but please note that it's an outline provisional program, but obviously we will adapt it for the prevailing weather, your experience, and what the group wants to achieve. Use the structure below as a good example of what we will typically be able to provide, but as with ultra's, flexibility is key! If you have any particular items that you want to be taught, let us know at the course introductory meeting, and if you have any questions, please sent us an e-mail to discuss your requirements.


Meeting & kit checks - Meet in the Icicle office at 09:00, and get a short briefing on equipment, weather and safety, before setting off on your first run. We understand that people are going to be a little nervous, and it's important to get running quickly to settle your nerves, to put your mind at rest and to get teaching. In this initial meeting, it's a great opportunity to outline what experience you already have, what type of events you have / plan to sign up for in the future, share any strengths and weaknesses to focus on what key skills you want to get out of the weekend.

Morning - Running skills - Set out on an initial run, where the focus is on teaching you a few key skills that will enable you to run more efficiently, which is essential for running ultras. You are also taught ascent, descent and traversing techniques on mountain terrain, and the use of running with poles. During the run, you'll be stopping and starting a fair bit, to get coaching on various techniques and skills to improve your technique on hills and efficiency of movement. Take some snacks to graze on through the day, as the principle of eating little and often is key.

Afternoon - Runners navigation - This is not the 'black art' that many people at first feel that it is. Our aim is to not confuse you with too many techniques, but the key skills particular for mountain running navigation. These include; setting the map, using a compass, pacing, interpreting contours, and route planning. Runners navigation skills are introduced throughout the day, so you don't suffer from a brain overload, and if most participants only plan on running marked races in the future, this element of the course can be reduced to safety basics.

Evening - Night navigation event - We alter the timing of this session to the season, so in the winter it can start in the late afternoon, whereas in the summer months it has to start later for some darkness. This session is typically between 1 - 1.5 hours. We start at a walking pace, and as your confidence grows, we will jog between points. Wearing a head torch and running in the dark is a new experience for many, but don't worry as your instructor will stick with you. The night navigation is done around Orrest Head fell, opposite our office in Windermere.


Meeting & review - Meet at 09:00 at the Icicle office, to have a quick review and refresher of the key points learned the previous day, then it's time for a detailed plan on the longer route you'll be running. This is an opportunity to bring together all the skills and techniques that you have learned. The briefing and discussion will cover the route, conditions, equipment, weather and safety considerations.
There's a short time for you to pack your bag and to get any last minute things together for running. If you are all set, then it's time to study the map to work out the best route.

Daytime - Running route - Your route plan will have a series of identifyable checkpoints. The instructor(s) will be running with or close to you, so don't worry (too much) abour getting lost. Set off with your maps marked up, so you can easily follow your route, and you'll soon find you can relax and enjoy the running. Once the pressures of navigation have gone, you can concentrate on the run, and regulating your pace to the terrain. Depending on the group, in larger groups we might offer a choice of a faster longer course, or a shorter slower route. An instructor would always be with you, and you'll typically be running in the high fells. We encourage all participants to take a share of the navigation element, to spread the workload. It's also a great opportunity to try out all the skills learned yesterday.

Mid-afternoon - Finish running, and then to travel back to the Windermere office. There are hot drinks provided for everyone at the finish to refuel, so there's an added incentive! Debrief of the course over tea and coffee. This is designed to provide you a last opportunity for training points, or any queries about the ultra you are planning to run in the future.
We aim to finish by 15:30 on the Sunday, to give you extra time to travel home, but if you are heading for a specific train let the instructor(s) know, and the timings can be tweaked to accommodate this

ITINERARY NOTES: Where possible we follow itineraries. Mountain adventures are weather and conditions dependant, so occasionaly we are forced to alter the plans. Please use this outline itinerary as a guide to the types of route / activity that you will attempt.

Course Prices
Standard course
2 full days running guiding, 1:8 max ratio
2 days holiday in total, Sunday-Saturday
Live availability
Click on the planner logo to the right to
see the real time live course availability
Latest Availability
Secure online booking system
Inclusions: 1) UIMLA guide for two days (group sizes between 4 to 8 people), 2) Lake District course hosts for logistics & briefings, 3) Pre course information booklet, 4) Equipment discount voucher for UK shops, 5) Road transport in Lake District to running venues each day, 6) Provision of group safety equipment by the leader.
Exclusions: 1) Travel to & from the national park for the weekend, 2) Equipment hire such as poles or waterproofs, 3) Bar / food bills & tips, laundry, telephone calls, 4) Accommodation.
Notes: The scheduled course requires a minimum number of 4 people, and there are a maximum of 8 people per guide. If you would like a private trip on a date of your choice, please get in contact to pick a date. If less than 4 people book on a date, they can have one day of private guiding, or transfer to an alternative date.
Current course availability

Course Dates
Ultra-trail weekend
  • No Dates Available

Price: £149 Book online

Alternative courses
Alpine Skyrunning week
Intro Fell Running weekend
Alps summer trail running
Personal training sessions

Client feedback

I needed some guidance in my training before my ultra mountain event, and this course was perfect in that is was specifically designed to cater for these requirements

Barney F , Ultra-trail course

Thanks for all the tips you gave us over the weekend. I'm actually looking forward to descents now, not dreading the pain they will cause

Jamie W , Ultra-trail course

You deserve a medal for putting up with all my endless questions over the weekend ;-)

Fi D , Ultra-trail course
Press & media
Films & videos
Photo gallery
Icicle signature trip
As course director Kingsley explains; "Everyone is nervous before running their first ultra, and has hundreds of worries and questions. I hope that this trip can answer them all, and give you the skills to both finish and enjoy your first race".
UTMB running to the finish line
"I want you to enjoy your running, and am not elitist in any way. Mountain running is the most inclusive sport, and with the skills you will learn on this course, I hope it opens up this amazing new world to you. For my running, enjoyment is the key, and speed is secondary".
Location data for this trip
The meeting point for these courses is at our office in Windermere in the Lake District National Park. There is easy access by car, and the train station is just 150m from the office door. From here there are a huge variety of trails to run on and mountain terrain to opt for, so we can cater for all weather and conditions. We genuinely believe that the Lake District is second to none with the quality and quantity of amazing fell and trail running opportunities. The UK hills are famed for often providing four seasons in one day, and that is what makes the fell running such a unique and rewarding challenge. Don't forget that it helps to have a great selection of pubs in the Lake Dictrict to enjoy a beer and natter in after the run!
Unique selling points
We believe that we are the only people in the UK to offer preparation courses for people preparing for their first ultra. Many offer training for mountain races, but ours is specific to ultras, rather than UK mountain marathon style events.
The course structure is developed and guided by a very experienced ultra runner themselves, who has competed across Europe and also the UK. The international experience adds to the skills taught.
We aim to appeal to all runners who are preparing for their first ultra. The courses are aimed at teaching you key skills, rather than charging around at full speed. Don't worry about your fitness!
Not only is the course leader a mountain professional, qualified as an UIMLA International Mountain Leader, but also they are a Personal Trainer, to provide a wider skills set that is focused on running coaching.
Free resources

FREE Podcast
Getting into trail running...

Trail running is a fastgrowing sport, and this podcast explains what it involves, how to get into it, and also goes through all of the equipment that is required
Download podcast (3.76 MB)
See all the Icicle podcasts

FREE Resource - Fell &
Trail running kit list...

If you are planning on attending one of our trail running courses, you can see a kit check list of the clothing and equipment that we recommend you take.
Trail running kit advice page
Download the kit list here
Suggested reading and kit
Why choose our trips?
The photo above sums it up. All of these finisher jackets of the UTMB race series belong to our head running leader. We genuinely think that there is no other operator out there who is more credible!
There are several other operators who also offer trail running camps, and we aren't afraid to advertise that fact. Please look at their itineraries to see how they differ from ours.
We don't offer talks from 'celebrity' runners, or go in for the chardonnay in a hot tub 'lifestyle', or quasi-scientific courses. Ours are run by people who do it, not talk the talk.
The effect on our prices is that we can offer you great value. We genuinely believe that you'll spend more time actually running and in the mountains on our courses, than with anyone else.
Anyone who is leading you will be a finisher of one of the iconic trail races, such as the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc, Tor du Geants or Leadville or WS100.
Essential reading and tips
This guidebook has 40 routes in the Lake District, and with free GPX (GPS) files to help navigation. Lots of top tips, and run lengths from an hour or two, right up to 30 mile race routes. Signed copies available.
This book was written by award-winning author Kingsley Jones, who is also one of our lead UIMLA running guide team.

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