Pavel Paloncy wins the 268-mile Montane Spine Race

Image ©pavelpaloncy

Image ©pavelpaloncy

Pavel Paloncy from the Czech Republic has just finished the Montane Spine Race; billed as the toughest race in Britain.

Pavel has covered the 268-mile journey fighting fatigue, sleep deprivation and some horrendous weather to not only secure victory in the 3rd edition of The Spine but also in the process set a new course record.


His finish at Kirk Yetholm has yet to have a confirmed official time, however, we have an estimation of 4 days and 14 hours 45 min (110h 45m tbc). The previous record set by Eugeni Rosello Sole of 5 days 4 hours and 52 minutes has been blown out of the water. However, we should note that conditions in a race of this length can vary so much that results and times should be assessed year-to-year. Pavel’s performance is quite remarkable!

Needless to say, Pavel is going to be looking forward to getting warm, relaxing and putting his feet up… I would guess for at least another 5-days!

Pavel has produced an incredible and outstanding performance, however, currently the race still has 35-runners out on the course. Matt Davis is in 2nd-place and has passed Bryness. Third place, Steve Holyoak has also passed Bryness and looks to be less than 2-hours behind Matt. It could all change for 2nd and 3rd. At this stage of the race, anything can happen.

*update 16th Jan 8000 : Matt Davis 119h 26m and Steve Holyoak finished 119h 28m, 2nd and 3rd respectively.

Leading lady and 8th overall is Debbie Brupbacher, however, she still has a long way to go. Her last check-in was at Alston.

Montane Spine

Since the race start on Saturday, 40-runners have withdrawn from the race including last years defending champion. Although the race has had considerably less snow and ice than 2012 and 2013, conditions have been extremely harsh with low temperatures, rain, wind and snow on the high ground.

The Spine is more than a race… far more. Each and every participant should feel extremely proud for even contemplating the challenge.

As for Pavel, he isn’t human!

Who is Pavel Paloncy?

Pavel is an outdoor and sport photography specialist. He is also an adventure racer and ultra endurance sportsman. He is used to low comfort and working under extreme conditions. He is able to photograph and work in remote areas, hard to get to locations and under extreme conditions. Sounds as though he had the perfect preparation for The Montane Spine Race.

Image credit – ©pavelpaloncy

The Spine

The Spine is one of Britain’s most brutal races. The longest, coldest and most demanding mountain marathon in Britain. 268 miles of ice, snow, cold and savage winds. Competitors have 7 days to complete the race.



Ironically, the UK has had a very mild, if not wet, October, November and December. But with this weekend, just as The Spine is set to leave Edale the weather looks to be on the change and as the race says, it may very well be : 268 miles of ice, snow, cold and savage winds.

At 268 miles this is not a multi stage race in a Marathon des Sables style format, this race has a start and a finish. Quite simply, the first one to reach the end wins the race. So this is all about managing your effort and minimising your time resting or sleeping.

The Spine Race was first attempted in January 2012. During this first attempt they witnessed many courageous attempts to finish the 268 mile course. Three athletes would eventually finish. The race was won jointly by Gary Morrison and Steve Thompson, closely followed by Mark Caldwell.

Who is running?

The Spine Race is open to anyone with appropriate experience who wishes to test themselves and compete in a truly brutal race. You will face the most extreme weather conditions England has to offer; deep snow, ice, gale force winds and rain in a gruelling non-stop, 7 day race from Edale to Kirk Yetholm. It’s not just the conditions that are against you – your own body could become your worst enemy with tiredness, fatigue, sleep deprivation and exposure playing havoc with your performance. To finish you must be prepared and willing to push yourself harder than ever before. Entrants list HERE

The route

The Dare 2b Spine Race is a 268 mile, non-stop, winter mountain marathon encompassing the entire Pennine Way. Widely recognised as the most demanding National Trail in Britain, the Pennine Way crosses some of the most beautiful, difficult and challenging terrain found in England, including; the Peak District, Cheviots, Yorkshire Dales and Northumberland National Park – finishing on the Scottish Borders.


There are 5 checkpoints that you must visit along the route to complete the race. The CP’s are distributed evenly along the course and it is here you will receive hot food and water, resupply, beds and showers (available at 4 of 5 CP’s) and medical attention should you require it. These checkpoints run from the start to the completion of the event. The CP’s are staffed 24/7 to provide as little disruption to your race as possible. They provide a haven from the sometimes hostile weather.

Checkpoints are located at:

  • Hebden Bridge
  • Hawes
  • Middleton-in-Teesdale
  • Alston
  • and Bellingham

A resupply/ drop bag is moved by the RD for you to the next CP as you progress through the race.

Spine Map

The longest day on the race is the second day. This is the longest section of the course between CP’s (approx. 60 miles). In 2012 the average completion time for this section was between 22 and 30 hours. Most competing athletes withdrew at this point of the race.

The Spine Team also monitor the course 24/7 to ensure competitor safety and our support vehicles carry additional hydration for competing athletes (minimum 2 litres per athlete per day). Along with the course monitoring you are permitted the use of a personal support team.

Route Profile

410.5 – 431 Km (255.1 miles – 268 miles dependent on route)
11,195 m (36,729 ft) ascent
890 m (2,920 ft)  maximum height

Spine Profile


Entrants & Updates

You are able to see a list of entrants and follow the leader board HERE

Currently they have 31 participants listed.

Additional Race – Spine Challenger

The Dare 2b Spine Challenger is a 108 mile, non-stop, 60 hour, winter mountain marathon between Edale and Hawes. This challenging and extremely technical section of the Pennine Way is not just the baby brother to the Spine Race – it is a physically and psychologically demanding route that demands concentration and respect.

The Spine Challenger is a wickedly difficult event. From appearances 60 hours looks like ample time to easily complete this course; however, appearances can be deceptive. The rugged and very technical nature of this race is mentally taxing as you have to constantly be aware of foot placement. Coupled with the limited daylight hours, and the necessity to run in the dark, you can start to build a very clear picture as to why we had only 1 official Challenger finisher in 2012.

  • RACE WEBSITE available HERE
  • Follow on Twitter HERE