Skyrunning has been around for some time. Hundreds, even thousands of years ago mountains were negotiated out of necessity: war, religious persecution, hunting, smuggling, or just out of plain old curiosity. The concept of running up and down mountains for fun is much newer. Take for example the Ben Nevis Race which goes back to 1895, or the Pikes Peak Marathon which began as a bet in 1954 among smokers and non smokers.
The idea of creating a sports discipline, however, was the brainchild of Italian mountaineer Marino Giacometti, who, with a handful of fellow climbers, pioneered records and races on Mont Blanc and Monte Rosa in the Italian Alps in the early ’90’s. In 1993, with the support of the multinational Fila as sponsor, skyrunning took off across the world’s mountain ranges with a circuit of awe-inspiring races stretching from the Himalayas to the Rockies, from Mount Kenya to the Mexican volcanoes. After all, Giacometti’s term skyrunning, as the name suggests, is where earth and sky meet.
Giacometti’s vision didn’t stop there and in 1995 he founded the Federation for Sport at Altitude to address the need for rules to govern the sport and generally manage this fast-growing discipline which currently counts some 400 races worldwide with more than 100,000 participants from 65 countries.
Today, the sport is governed by the International Skyrunning Federation which took over from the FSA in 2008. The principal aims of the ISF are the direction, regulation, promotion and development of skyrunning on a worldwide basis.