Spine Race

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The Spine Race is a winter ultramarathon held over a distance of around 268 miles from Edale, England, to Kirk Yetholm, Scotland, along the Pennine Way. Participants are allowed seven days to complete the course.[1] The race has been held annually since 2012. The Spine Fusion is a summer race run over the same route, introduced in 2017. The Spine Challenger and Spine Flare are shorter winter and summer races over 108 miles from Edale to Hardraw, to be completed in 60 hours.

History[edit]

The event was devised by Arctic expedition guides Scott Gilmour and Phil Hayday-Brown.[2] The inaugural race took place in 2012 when there were only three finishers from a small field of eleven competitors.[3]

The 2013 event was promoted as the Dare 2b Spine Race[4] but later that year it was announced that Montane would take on sponsorship of the event.[5]

In the 2014 and later editions, participants carried GPS trackers for safety reasons and so that the progress of the race could be publicly followed online as it took place.[6] Starting in 2016, daily video summaries were made available during the race.[7]

Due to the time of year and race location, the majority of the event takes place in darkness. Snow, ice and strong winds are common.[8] Severe weather was a factor in 2015 in particular, when racers were held at various checkpoints for significant amounts of time until it was considered safe for them to continue.[9] Some competitors that year were also redirected between Middleton and Alston to avoid sections of high ground, including Cross Fell, during the inclement weather.[10]

Participants wear or carry mandatory clothing and equipment over the full course and have access to an additional drop bag which is transported along the route for them and made available at checkpoints.[11] Individual support crews for the runners were allowed in the past but from 2018 were no longer permitted.[12]

The 2019 race received considerable media attention when the overall win was taken by British women’s fell running champion Jasmin Paris.[13]

Route[edit]

The Spine Race closely follows the Pennine Way but involves some slight deviations such as the access to and departure from the Hebden checkpoint. The race route skirts around Padon Hill in the Cheviots rather than following the Pennine Way route closer to its summit, and the runners are not required to complete the out-and-back section of the Way to the Cheviot itself. Racers generally follow the lower-level Pennine Way route option on the approach to Kirk Yetholm rather than the alternative over White Law.[14]

The route has approximately 13,300 metres (43,600 ft) of ascent. The timing points and approximate distances of the main checkpoints along the route are as follows.[15]

Location Distance
Torside
Harrop
Hebden 74 kilometres (46 mi)
Malham
Hawes 172 kilometres (107 mi)
Tan Hill
Middleton 226 kilometres (140 mi)
Dufton
Alston 289 kilometres (180 mi)
Greenhead
Bellingham 353 kilometres (219 mi)
Byrness
Hut 2
Finish 421 kilometres (262 mi)

Results[edit]

The winners have been as follows.[16]

Year Men Time Women Time
2012 Gary Morrison and Steve Thompson 151:02:00 None
2013 Eugeni Roselló Sole 124:52:00 Annabel Gates 172:59:00
2014 Pavel Paloncy 110:45:00 Debbie Brupbacher 153:17:00
2015 Pavel Paloncy 81:34:00 Beth Pascall 90:59:00
2016 Eoin Keith 95:17:00 Anna Buckingham and Zoe Thornburgh 166:38:00
2017 Tom Hollins 99:25:36 Carol Morgan 109:54:00
2018 Pavel Paloncy 109:50:22 Carol Morgan 130:37:22
2019 Eoin Keith 98:18:23 Jasmin Paris 83:12:23

Spine Challenger[edit]

The Spine Challenger is a shorter version of the Spine Race and follows the first 108 miles of the route from Edale to Hardraw. It starts the day before the full Spine Race. There is also a version of the Challenger specifically for members of mountain rescue teams.[17]

The winners of the Spine Challenger have been as follows.[18]

Year Men Time Women Time
2012 Mark Brooks 36:30:00 None
2013 Philippe Gatta 32:18:00 Anne Green 53:38:00
2014 Marcus Scotney 29:01:00 Jacqueline Cooper 42:13:00
2015 Edward Catmur 29:52:00 Annabel Cremin 41:59:00
2016 Tom Hollins 29:25:00 Beth Pascall 30:18:00
2017 Dominic Layfield 28:00:28 Sarah Davies 37:49:50
2018 Wouter Huitzing 25:42:21 Emma Hopkinson 29:39:35
2019 Jim Mann 22:53:28 Carol Morgan 31:47:37

Spine Fusion[edit]

The Spine Fusion is a summer version of the Spine Race, covering the full route from Edale to Kirk Yetholm.[19]

The winners have been as follows.[20]

Year Men Time Women Time
2017 Mark Kromeich and Olivier Lidec 128:54:24 Stephanie Le Men 143:59:22
2018 Mark Denby 78:04:14 Brigitte Daxelhoffer 131:07:13

Spine Flare[edit]

The Spine Flare is a summer version of the Spine Challenger.[21]

The winners have been as follows.[22]

Year Men Time Women Time
2017 Mark Denby 23:53:36 Lisa Wallis 31:33:56
2018 Michael Harrison 27:45:02 Beverley Clifford 35:38:11

References[edit]

External links[edit]