TWO leading mountain voices are warning about the impact of an endurance event in Glencoe amid concerns it will temporarily turn the hills into a "race track" and "destroy" the experience of walkers on a once-in-a-lifetime expedition.

They are concerned that Saturday's inaugural 'Salomon Glen Coe Skyline' is being run by a commercial company and not to raise money for charity, and said it could be in breach of the National Trust for Scotland's own guidelines.

The event has attracted more than 170 runners who have been warned by the organisers that it comes with the risk of "death or serious injury".

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It is billed as "fusing mountain running and alpinism" and is being run by Ourea Events, the trading name of Ourea Ltd, with sponsorship from several leading outdoor and running clothing companies.

The route will take competitors on to mountains owned by NTS, whose acquisition of Glencoe in the 1930s was made possible through the generosity of Percy Unna, who was then President of the Scottish Mountaineering Club.

At this time, he provided guidelines for the NTS on managing and access to the wild mountain areas, which became known the Unna Principles.

John Grieve spent 15 years as deputy leader of the Glencoe Mountain Rescue Team and 20 as its leader.

He said the competitors would be going up the Curved Ridge on Buachaille Etive Mor (3,350 feet), with the route waymarked.

"I am pretty sure this is totally against the Unna Principles," he said.

"The runners will then go across all the peaks and then down across the road and up on to the Aonoach Eagach Ridge, a ridge which can be the highlight of the whole walking life of some enthusiasts.

"About 90 percent do it from east to west, but the runners will be going west to east. There will also be people waiting with ropes all the way along. Climbers could have come from the other side of the world for their one day on the ridge, and it will be completely ruined by almost 200 runners coming at them as well as the safety teams.

"It is the same with the Curved Ridge, one of the great scrambles in Scotland, and above that the Rannoch Wall, one of the most popular climbing crags in Scotland. But your one day on them could be destroyed.

"What makes it worse is that, as far as I know, this is not even a charity event but is being done by a private company for profit. I really do think the NTS should have thought a little more before lending their support to this event. What's next?"

Climber, writer and broadcaster Cameron McNeish added: "I have never believed the hills are a race track and if you are on the hill when this is happening it is a shame because you are going to have your day spoiled.

"Charity events are one thing, but if this is a hard-nosed commercial company doing it to make money, I would be inclined to put my foot down and say this is not on."

However Shane Ohly, the event's spokesman, said: "Other recreational users of Glencoe, walkers, climbers, and others , are extremely unlikely to be inconvenienced by the race.

"There is no element of charity fundraising and, if I am honest, I find this question rather odd.

"The race includes many top class athletes including World, European and British mountain running champions. I don't suppose you would ask Mo Farah or Andy Murray when they are competing, which charity there were raising funds for?"

He said that Ourea Events was a member of the "One Per Cent for the Planet' organisation and therefore one per cent of the company's total sales was donated to grass routes environmental organisations involved in the conservation of the mountains.

An NTS spokeswoman said: “Events of this nature take place from time to time the Glencoe area, and where possible the Trust prefers to work with organisers so that any potential environmental impacts can be minimised. Any waymarkers and signage is temporary and will be removed afterwards by the event organisers.

“Clearly, there are many ways to enjoy our stunning mountains, from the sedate to the more extreme. We believe that there is room for all of these interests to be accommodated, provided both the environment and other users are respected."