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®.

Tor des Geants 2013 – Race Preview

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Today is the day. The Tor des Geants begins and 757 brave souls will depart to tackle 330km’s in an individual way. Sounds funny doesn’t it, an individual way, but you see, the organization do not impose any compulsory stages. You start and it is the first to the finish. The runner who completes the race in the shortest time is the outright winner and therefore, this race is not only about putting one foot infront of the other, it is also about when you stop and for how long. It is a tactical race.

Map

The race is the first of its kind to cover an entire region. Taking place in the Gran Paradiso National Park and the Mont Ayic Regional Park, the route takes in the spectacular paths at the foot of the highest ‘Four Thousanders’ in the Alps.

It is a unique race. It is survival!

Young American, Nickademus Hollon, the youngest ever runner ever to complete the infamous ‘Barkley’ has been specifically training in the area for months and just yesterday he said:

“Tomorrow I embark on probably one of my greatest ultra-running adventures to date. The Tor des Geants. 330km (205miles) and 24,000m (79,000ft) of elevation gain. I’ll be honest with you all, my minimum goal is 72hrs, that’s 4hrs beneath the previous years course record. To do this I’ll need my mind, body and spirit all aligned. Quite like the magic that possessed me during the fifth loop of the Barkley Marathons this year. I’ll be calling on that again shortly. I ask that you all be the wind at my back and help propel me forward : ) This will hopefully be a great leap forward for the United States in the Spain dominant European running world. Thank you all for your past and continued support!”

The Tor des Geants will start on the 8th September at 1000am and the imposed deadline of 1600 hrs September 14th is in place. A maximum allotted time of 150 hours.

Participants must have the following mandatory equipment:

◦       A backpack

◦       A supply of water (1 liter minimum)

◦       ACup

◦       Food supply/reserve

◦       Two torches in good working condition with replacement batteries

◦       Survival blanket

◦       Whistle

◦       Adhesive elastic tape for making bandages or a strapping (mini 80cm x 3 cm)

◦       Water-proof gear for protection against bad weather conditions in the mountains

◦       Running trousers or leggings covering at least the knees

◦       Hat or bandana

◦       gloves

◦       phone

◦       altimeter

◦       warm clothing

The Route

The race starts and finishes in Courmayeur. The route takes place through the two High Aosta Valley roads. Participants, can choose their speed and must complete the race in less than 150 hours. Runners are partially independent and more than 40 supply points are available throughout the route

Measuring 330 km long with 24,000 vertical meters, the route takes the High Road No. 2 to the lower valley. The return is the Haute Route No. 1 to Valdigne and Courmayeur. It crosses in particular the natural park of Mont Avic National Park Gran Paradiso. During the race the runners will pass 25 passes at over 2000 meters, 30 lakes and reach a high point of 3300 meters.

Winning times from 2012:

Oscar Perez 75h 56m 31s

Francesca Canepa 85h 33m 56s

Who should you watch?

First things first. 330km is a long way and anything can happen. 757 runners are listed on the start sheet and of course I don’t know all of them or even pretend to. I have selected several people that I know and who do well over this type of terrain and distance. Without doubt I will miss several names, so, if you know a ‘one to watch’ let us know on the reply form below.

The Men

Last year’s winner, Oscar Perez is back and gets no1 billing. He knows the route, the course and knows how to manage the race, come out the other side and win.

Gregoire Millet, 2nd in 2012 is back and will be looking to go one place higher and top the podium. He was only three hours behind Oscar last year and I am sure he will have been looking at his stretgy and thinking, how can I make up three hours? Less sleep maybe…

Christophe Le Saux at MDS 2013 ©iancorless.com

Christophe Le Saux at MDS 2013 ©iancorless.com

Christophe Le Saux is also back. Like Oscar, he knows the course like the back of his hand and he knows how to manage his effort. He placed 2nd in 2011 in a time of 84:09:46 and 3rd in 2012 in 80:14:14.

Pablo Criado Toca at Ronda dels Cims ©iancorless.com

Pablo Criado Toca placed 3rd in 2011 and returns this year. His time of 89:43:07 is a long way from Oscar’s 75:56:31 but as I keep saying, anything can happen and experience is paramount in a race like this.

Iker Karrera ©iancorless.com

Iker Karrera ©iancorless.com

Iker Karrera is the big name joining the fold and as many of you will know, this Salomon athlete is meticulous in his planning. Iker however isn’t coming to this race fresh. He recently raced and won the Grand Raid des Pyrenees (160km and 10,000m+) in 24:54:56 which was just on the 24th August. For sure, great prep but that must leave you tired? Iker is one to watch and potentially win at Tor.

We have mentioned Nickademus Hollon, he hasn’t raced here before and he has been very open about the challenge ahead. However, he has been in the mountains for weeks and been all over the course. He knows what he is doing! Without doubt, Tor des Geants is as much about the brain as the legs and Nickademus is a master of this. He has proven it with a finish at Barkley. I think we will see Nickademus create a surprise in the Aosta valley.

Arnau Julia Bonmata ©iancorless.com

Arnau Julia Bonmata ©iancorless.com

Arnau Julia Bonmata won TDS last weekend and like Francesca Canepa, he attempts the double! It’s a tough ask, particularly when you look at the competition at the front. He’s a great guy and if anyone can pull something out of the bag, it is Arnau but he is going to feel his TDS efforts for sure.

Of course I have to mention Bruno Brunod. I don’t think Bruno will contest the win but a legend of Skyrunning deserves a tip of the hat. I wonder; what can he do…? I also wonder if we may well see Kilian Jornet pop up on route to offer some support and encouragement.

Stuart Air leading Terry Conway at Ronda dels Cims ©iancorless.com

Stuart Air leading Terry Conway at Ronda dels Cims ©iancorless.com

Finally, a surprise package may very will come from Brit, Stuart Air. Stuart placed in the top 20 at Ronda dels Cims and then Ice Trail Tarentaise. He will be pretty much unknown to all the others in the race but he has grit, determination and he comes to this race prepared. A surprise package for sure!

Other names to watch: Franco Collè, Mario Gazzola and Patrick Bohard.

The Ladies

Francesca Canepa ©iancorless.com

Francesca Canepa ©iancorless.com

Francesca Canepa pulled off the remarkable double in 2012. She placed 2nd behind Lizzy Hawker at the shortened TNFUTMB and then just 7 days later, turned up at Tor des Geants and won in 85:33:56. Francesca has had a great year and her win at the tough Ronda dels Cims is surely a great sign for Tor. However, she dropped from last weeks TNFUTMB. Francesca is odds on favorite.

Patricia Penza placed 2nd in 2011 in a time of 102:25:42 and placed 3rd last year in 97:06:15. It’s all about experience and being able to put one foot infront of the other. Patricia may not be the fastest but she can last the distance and time and sometimes that is all it can take to win!

Giuliana Arrigoni placed 3rd in 2011 and was just a minute slower that Patricia Penza. Pretty sure she will be back to move up the podium and be one place higher than Patricia in 2013.

Sonia Glarey is back after a strong 2nd place in 2012, her time of 96:59:54 was nearly twelve hours slower than Francesca, but if Francesca is not 100% we may see that gap close and a real battle unfold.

Nerea Martinez  ©iancorless.com

Nerea Martinez ©iancorless.com

Nerea Martinez is also on the start list but I had heard rumours of injury. This has not ben confirmed. If she is in good shape and fresh I predict a podium place.

Australian, Samantha Gash is also on the start sheet. This will very much a departure for Samantha. However, she is used to long days and repetitive days on the trails. The Tor course though is something very different to what she has experienced in the past. It may well just be a big learning curve but she does have the grit to push, survive and make it to the front of the race. It’s an exciting prospect and one the Europeans won’t be expecting.

Other names to watch: Moses Lovstad, Giuliana Arrigoni, Cecile Bertin, Fedrica Bifana, Patrizia Cantore and Janet Ng.

Live Tracking: