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

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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

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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®.

Spartathlon 2013

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SPARTATHLON is a historic ultra-distance foot race that takes place in September of every year in Greece. Arguably, it is one of the most difficult and satisfying ultra-distance races in the world because of its unique history and background.

The Spartathlon revives the footsteps of Pheidippides, an ancient Athenian long distance runner, who in 490 BC, before the battle of Marathon, was sent to Sparta to seek help in the war between the Greeks and the Persians. According to the ancient Greek historian Herodotus, Pheidippides arrived in Sparta the day after his departure from Athens. Inspired by the report of the Greek historian, in 1982 five officers of the British Royal Air Force (RAF), who were also long-distance runners, traveled to Greece, led by Colonel John Foden. Their purpose was to ascertain whether it was possible to cover the 250 kilometers separating the two towns in one and a half days. The enthusiastic British team showed that the report by Herodotus was entirely plausible.

A man is indeed able to cover 250 km in less than two days and in fact in less than 40 hours. After the success of the project, the architect of the feat, John Foden, began to envision the establishment of a race that would bring long distance runners to Greece from around the world to run on the trail of the ancient runner Pheidippides. The next year a multinational team of British, Greek and other enthusiastic supporters of the idea, led by Michael Callaghan, a philhellene, organized the First International Spartathlon (Open International Spartathlon Race), wherein the name for the race combines the Greek words for Sparta and Feat.

The race was held with the approval and supervision of the Athletics Federation with the participation of 45 runners from 11 countries and included the participation of women. The organizational success of this inaugural race and its broad appeal were decisive to the subsequent establishment of the annual race.

Accordingly, in 1984 the International Association “Spartathlon” was founded. Since then a yearly race has been organized each September. Why September? Because that is the time reported by Herodotus for Pheidippides run to Sparta.

Information taken from http://www.spartathlon.gr ©Spartathlon.gr

The Race

The 2013 edition of the race will start on Friday 27th September with 350 participants and for any last minute dropouts; this entry list will be topped up from a waiting list of 160 runners.

UK entrants:

  • Mark Woolley
  • Robert Pinnington
  • Lindley Chambers
  • Claire Shelley
  • James Adams
  • Drew Sheffield
  • Martin Ilott
  • Philip Smith
  • Mathew Mahoney
  • Mimi Anderson *
  • Paul Ali
  • Mike Blamires
  • Cat Lawson
  • Steve Scott
  • Pat Robbins
  • Martin Bacon
  • Mark Hines
  • Laurence Chownsmith
  • Robbie Britton *
  • Jonathan Hall
  • Peter Johnson
  • James Elson

Countries represented:

Sweden, Poland, Australia, Japan, Germany, Italy, Hungary, Denmark, France, Spain, Netherlands, Finland, Argentina, Portugal, China, Malta, United States, Uruguay, Belgium, Austria, Brazil, Mexico, Czech Republic, Faeroe Islands, Switzerland, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Hong Kong, United Kingdom and of course Greece.

Spartathlon, for many is a bucket list race. It has a magic that cannot be found at other races. The distance, strict cut-off times, the heat and so on all add to the drama. The course is conducted point-to-point and elevation ranges from sea level to 1,200 meters (3,937 ft), over tarmac road, trail and mountain footpath. Aid stations are placed every 3 to 5 km and are provisioned with food, water and other refreshments as well as the runners’ personal supplies. The race is run under police and medical supervision with doctors, physiotherapists, and emergency vehicles being on call throughout the 36-hour race duration. The race is very demanding.

The course is not the most spectacular and 153 miles of roads may not appeal to many, particularly if coming from a trail or mountain running background. However, I’ve yet to meet anyone who has run this race and not loved it. For sure, the Greeks, French, Japanese, German and now a growing UK participation love this race and demand is continuing to grow.

Lizzy Hawker raced in 2012 and not only won the ladies race in 27:02:17 but placed third overall. The outright winner was Stu Thoms from Germany in 26:28:19.

For the 2013 edition of the race, all entrants are of interest. For many, Spartathlon is a journey about completion and not competition. However, two people are of interest and for opposite reasons. Firstly, Robbie Britton from the UK is coming to Spartathlon for the first time but he is potentially an exciting prospect for the overall with a solid 100-mile result at the South Downs Way 100 in a time of 15:43:53 and 239.008km at the World 24-hour championships. Robbie has said in his blog, “I’m right excited about getting to Sparta now and can’t wait for the great challenge of this historic race. We’ve got a solid British team heading out there; including a few Grand Union Canal Race winners, one of whom is attempting a double Spartathlon and it should be a great atmosphere out there. After a strong showing from the Brits at UTMB and The Grand Slam of Ultra Running, I guess we best put a bit of effort into Spartathlon now too…” Bog here

Secondly, Mimi Anderson will be doing Spartathlon her own way in 2013… she raced in 2011 and surprised herself with her performance. So much so, this year she is coming back to do it twice! Yes, twice.

Mimi’s press release:

‘Marvellous’ Mimi Anderson, the 51 year-old grandmother from Smarden in Kent who is a triple long distance running Guinness World Record holder and already the legendary finisher of several ‘doubles’ of extreme long distance races for which the one-way normal run would be beyond most mere mortals, is about to attempt probably her most daring double – a two-way run of the iconic Spartathlon race held in Greece each year.

Traditionally there are about 20 runners from the UK each year and Mimi first ran the race in 2011 when she finished 3rd lady overall and the 1st UK finisher in 32 hours 33 minutes 23 seconds. She has decided to return in 2013 and having completed the normal race on her previous visit, she will be attempting the double this year (a distance of 306 miles), which is believed to have only ever been done once before. It has certainly never been done by anyone from Britain and no female has ever attempted it.

Mimi’s plan is to do the race first then, all being well, start the return leg at midnight on Saturday night.  She will be running the race itself to achieve the best time she can and then attempting the return leg in in the same tough 36 hours maximum time allowed for the race.

Her husband Tim and friend Becky Healey will be crewing for her during the event and the reason for starting the return leg at midnight on the Saturday is to enable the crew to get some sleep – otherwise it becomes too dangerous for them to be driving safely!

Mimi will be running to raise money for her usual cause – the 10 Million Metres Campaign, which was set up by Alex Flynn when he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease 4 years ago.  People can donate on the Justgiving site at www.justgiving.com/marvellousmimi1

The 2013 event for sure will be exciting for all involved and for those watching. If you would like more information, please go to the race website.

Links:

All entrants can be viewed here

Live Tracking for race day here