The Spine sponsored by Montane – Britain’s most brutal race

Montane_Spine_Logo

January 11th – 18th 2014

The 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.

Competitors have 7 days to complete the race, cut-off 168-hours.

Spine

Ironically, the UK has had a very mild, if not wet and windy, 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; temperatures are looking to drop with lows of -6 deg and highs of 7 deg. It most certainly looks like a different race to last years extreme cold, ice and snow. Will the conditions make the race faster?

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; 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.

In dramatic circumstances the 2013 Dare 2b Spine Race was won by Eugeni Roselló Sole in an incredible 5d 4h 52m setting a new bench mark for the race and the distance in extreme Arctic conditions. Annabel Gates completed the race as 1st Female in 7d 4h 59m.

2013 finishers:

  • Ian Bowles
  • Jin Cao
  • Mark Cooper
  • Gregory Crowley
  • Paul Dickens
  • Thomas Emke
  • Annabel Gates
  • Richard Lendon
  • Gary Morrison
  • Brian Mullen
  • Eugeni Roselló Sole

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.

As Scott Gilmour (RD for the race) says, “Runners will face the most extreme weather conditions England has to offer 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 runners must be prepared and willing to push themselves harder than ever before.”

Ones to watch in 2014 (alphabetical order):

  • Mimi Anderson – multiple world record holder and really experienced at long distances. Mimi will test the men in the field and push them all the way. “I’m under NO illusions about the difficulty of this event.  I’m looking at it as an adventure rather than a race as it’s about managing yourself properly, getting enough sleep but keeping yourself moving.”
  • Anthony Bethell – relatively new to ultra running but Anthony finished Tor des Geants and is an accomplished fell and mountain runner with a recent top placing at the Tour of Helvellyn.
  • Neil Bryant – Neil is somewhat of an endurance machine. He loves long distances and has won the Viking Way ultra and completed Trans Euorope. Now living in Chamonix he has become used to the cold, snow, ice and mountains. He will do well at the Spine.
  • Annie Garcia – regular long distance competitor with plenty of grit and determination.
  • Mark Hines – Possibly one of the most experienced athletes in the field and plenty of cold weather experience. He knows how to put his head down and keep moving forward. His experiences in the Yukon will put him at a great advantage at the Spine if the weather turns particularly bad.
  • Richard Lendon – Third time at the Spine for Richard. He finished in 2013 and knows what is required to get the job done.
  • Moses Lovstad – Moses finished Hurt100, Transgrancanaria and Tor des Geants in 2013. That puts him in a great place for the Spine.
  • Andy Mouncey – Raced at the Spine in 2013 but DNF’d, pretty sure he is going to be at this years race with more focus. He said on his blog, “This one’s been twelve months in the making, I think I’ve got the leverage this time, but the only way to know is to do.”
  • Eugeni Roselló Sole – last years winner. Enough said!
  • Charlie Sharpe – Another regular competitor at all distances. Moved up a level with his Lakeland 100 performance in 2013 but this race will be a new challenge and test.
  • Charles Sproson – Montane athlete, Charlie is very accomplished and has some notable achievements that will put him in a great place for the Spine. He’s completed the OMM multiple times, done the Bob Graham solo and more importantly completed the Dragons Back in 2012.
  • Others?

Full entrants THE SPINE HERE

Full entrants THE CHALLENGER HERE

The route

Nav

The Montane 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

Live Tracking HERE

Additional Race – Spine Challenger

The Montane 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 @thespinerace

About Montane

MONTANE-2

For over 18 years now Montane® has worked closely with serious mountain professionals working in hostile conditions across the globe as a proving ground for garment design. From the British Antarctic Survey to Langdale Ambleside Mountain Rescue, the busiest Mountain Rescue team in the UK. Professionals who demand tough credentials from their clothing equipment choose Montane®.

The Twelve Labours of Hercules

Another publicity poster

Ultra running is growing and growing. As a race director do you follow a tried and tested formula and offer a race at one of the classic distances such as 50k, 50m, 100k or 100m or do you go off piste, have a random distance and shake things up a little.

Richard Weremiuk has done just this and then some with his new race ‘The 12 Labours of Hercules’.

Hercules Transparent

You are already interested aren’t you… what could this enticing name offer?

In Greek mythology, the twelve Labours of Hercules (Greek: δωδέκαθλον, dodekathlon) were a series of episodes carried out as a penance… oh dear, penance, what did Hercules do?

Hera, the wife and one of three sisters of Zeus, apparently drove Hercules mad. So mad, poor old Hercules killed his own six sons! She really must have driven him mad! Somewhat drastic eh. With a lack of a decent judicial system, Hercules pulled himself together and sought purification from King Thespius. To atone his actions he was asked to reside with King Eurystheus for 12 years and to complete 12 Labours. In return he would be rewarded with immortality.

So there you have it. But what on earth could the race entail…. 12 years running with 12 tasks? Of course not!

The Race

On July 20th / 21st 2013, participants in ‘The Twelve Labours of Hercules’ will have just 24 hours to cover between 1 and 78 miles, tackling as many ‘Labours’ as you can. The race offers 3 UTMB points for solo finishers of the full distance.

CourseQualificative2014_EN-150x150

It’s a great concept and the format makes the race inclusive for all abilities.

A ’labour’ will be completed by visiting one of twelve chosen control locations in the Peak District and then returning to HQ at the Victorian Gothic Mansion Losehill Hall, Derbyshire.

All Labours will be different. For example, some Labours may require the collection of a small item, which will then need to be returned to Losehill Hall.

Other Labours will only be revealed upon visiting the control point where participation in a task may be required!

Race director, Richard Weremiuk says “If you know us, then you know you should be prepared for anything when you arrive at a location. Be prepared for a few surprises.  All 12 locations within the Peak District have been carefully chosen. The name, or location is specifically or critically tied to one of the mythical Labours.”

The Route

To add spice, the route for the race is under wraps and being kept secret.

Richard says;

“Giving out the route would give away some of the surprises. All we will say is that the route will be held within the borders of Hope Valley in Derbyshire and cover 96 square miles”

Hercules Location

HQ for the 24 hours event is the Victorian gothic mansion, Losehill Hall in Castleton, Derbyshire. This location does offer overnight accommodation too.

Image YHA.org.uk - Andrew Bingham

Image YHA.org.uk – Andrew Bingham

Participants will be issued with a map of the area at ‘check-in’, which will show the 12 suggested routes to the ‘Labour’ locations.

It’s possible to take part as a solo, pair or team (up to 6) and you will be issued with one electronic timing chip supplied by Sportident to track your individual or team progress.

It’s an interesting format and as an alternative to ‘just’ running an element of tactics will come into play. Participants decide which control to visit and in which order. When at a CP they either dib in, perform a task (Labour) or retrieve an object. Each time your return to ‘Olympus’ (or as is most commonly known, HQ). Zeus will be waiting!

In contrast to solo competitors, pairs or teams can pass on the ‘timing chip’ when they have returned to Olympus and then a teammate can complete the next labour and so on.

Sounds simple eh! Well not quite as simple as you think, you see, certain ‘Labours’ must be completed within certain hours, so, this will need to be factored into your planning.

Ultimately, you decide how many Labours you go for BUT you must finish within 24 hours.

Outside the time limit? Every minute incurs a stiff penalty!

The Challenge

Unlike any other race, the twelve Labours of Hercules offers a new exciting perspective to the ultra running format.

As Richard says:

“It is as tough as you want to make it. Complete just one labour or you can choose to complete all twelve which will ultimately mean approximately 80 miles”

The format of solo, pair or team does mean that if you are new to ultra running or basically if you are just after something different, this race may very well tick all the boxes.

Taking place over 24 hours it does mean that night running will be involved. So be prepared.

The race route is by no means easy. It does have plenty of ascent and one control point is underground.

The Hades Cave Control

One area that may worry many is navigation. I asked Richard what skills are required to participate:

“Runners are supplied with an OS map on which will be suggested routes to each CP. CP’s can be reached by road, footpath but others by just footpath. The course is not marked because part of the challenge is choosing how to get to the CP’s in the quickest way possible.”

Richard continued:

“Although expert map reading may not be required it certainly would be prudent to be confident with some elements of map reading in particular identifying your location on a map and being able to take a bearing from a compass. Remember, some of this event will be in the dark”

Participants are allowed to GPS but as Richard says, “this should not be because you don’t know how to map read. A GPS is really a back-up device”.

So, all in all, a tough challenge and not one for the feint hearted. But Hercules wouldn’t want it any other way, so why would you?

Grab your sword and shield…. Sorry, I mean your shoes and backpack and test your self against ‘The Twelve Labours of Hercules.’

Special Offers:

  • A 10% discount is offered on race entry if you contact Richard directly by emailing: info@beyondmarathon.com
  • In addition, the first 10 entries to mention ‘Talk Ultra’ will get a ‘Beyond Marathon’ technical T shirt

Info & Links

  • Official race website is HERE
  • Facebook page is HERE
  • If you are interested in the history of the Twelve Labours, the images below contain a link to inform you of what Hercules endured.

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.

spine

 

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.

spine1

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