It’s that time of the year again, when the weather turns shite, belly grows larger, pork pie sales spike and we adopt the community based obsession of dot watching. Why head out in severe weather, when you can watch someone else’s tracker slowly progress along a map from the comfort of your own home?
Press Release – Montane
Since its inception in 2012, which saw 11 entrants and only 3 finishers, it has enjoyed a hard-earned reputation as a truly epic challenge and a true test of racers physical resilience and mental fortitude. It is widely regarded as one of the world’s toughest endurance races.
Last years’ Spine was a momentous occasion. Jasmine Paris smashed the course record by some 12 hours and became the first female winner, sending shockwaves beyond the world of ultra-endurance which cracked into the global zeitgeist. The Spine Race – and Jasmine – are now household names.
“Jasmin Paris won the race and drew the eyes of the world by demolishing the existing course record. There was heartbreak for one returning champion which turned into elation for another. There were selfless acts of kindness between runners that epitomise the community spirit around this event. We are looking forward to see what stories we can add to the race’s – and ultra-running’s – history this year.”
However, fame has not tainted or diluted ‘Britain’s Most Brutal’ footrace, and this Sunday sees it return in its trademark uncompromising fasion. It is still a non-stop 268-mile winter ultra-marathon encompassing the entire length of the Pennine Way. Racers are self supported, and aid stations remain few and far between.Conditions are famously one of the many challenging factors contributing to the races’ reputation.
“I’ve always been an avid follower of the race – dot watching is the nation’s favourite pastime around mid-January. Yet, here I am packing and unpacking, repacking and checking the weather forecast 53 times a day. For me it’s the UK’s ultimate test of human endurance. The route is fairly hostile and remote and underfoot conditions are unforgiving to say the least. Throw in January ‘s unpredictable weather, over 16 hours of darkness per day and self-navigation and it’s sure to be the best holiday ever. Right?”
To finish, the 163 competitors will need to be resourceful, competent in a wide range of skillsets and confident in their fitness to endure the challenging conditions and terrain of winter in Northern England. Jasmin Paris’ record stands at 83 hours 12 minutes, in a race with 50% DNF’s, time will tell how insurmountable this record is.
“The Spine Race has become the poster child for human endurance, and rightly so. It is truly in a class of its own amongst ultra-endurance events, everything about the environment challenges competitors to their absolute limit.”
– Matt Hickman, Montane Global Marketing Manager
Alongside the main Spine Race there is also the Spine Challenger, which is shorter at 108 miles, but no less brutal. Sharing the start, exactly the same route, the Challenger and MRT both finish at Hardraw. Completing the complement of races is the Spine MRT Challenge – the same course as the Challenger but specifically for active members of Mountain Rescue Teams.
Amongst those toeing the line at 8am on Sunday 11th Jan in the wind and rain stand the athletes of Team Montane, keen to challenge themselves against the course and Jasmin’s record. To dot-watch, their progress through the race can be followed here.
But who are the members of Team Montane? A hint, its not the office staff looking for an excuse to get outside for a week.
MONTANE ATHLETE | Race #194
Debbie regularly competes in 24hr races at an international level. She has also won and/or medaled in races such as the Montane Lakeland 50 and 100, and finished in the top 20 females at the 2017 Tor des Géants. Her mental fortitude is second to none and comes into her own the tougher it gets.
Tom Hollins (UK)
MONTANE ATHLETE | Race #167
Image Credit – Nadir Balma
Tom won the Spine in 2017 and placed in the top 40 in the 2019 Tor Des Geants, finishing both in under 100 hours. He’s a relentless runner who often seems to get stronger the further into races he gets, and will be a serious contender.
Jayson Cavill (UK)
MONTANE ATHLETE | Race #127
Jayson put in a blazing first-half performance at last years’ Spine, but unfortunately had to retire due to injury. Later that year he won the Montane Lakeland 50 in spectacular fashion and only 20 minutes behind the course record.
Gwynn Stokes (UK)
MONTANE AMBASSADOR | Race #239
A Spine Race Veteran, Gwynn has completed the Spine 4 times – including 3rd and 4thplace finishes in 2018 and 19 respectively. His consistency speaks for itself – his finishing time last year was 20hrs faster than in 2018. A similar performance this weekend could significantly improve the colour of his medal.
Montane Spine Challenger: 08:00 11.01.2019
Montane Spine MRT Challenge: 09:00 11.01.2019
Montane Spine Race: 08:00 12.01.2019
The Montane Spine Race – the original 268 mile / 420km race from Edale to Kirk Yetholm. Total ascent is 13,135m, total descent is 13,255m. Starts 08:00 Sunday 13 January 2019
So, with less than 48 hours till the challenger kicks off and a weather front on queue heading to the UK to batter all who dare take on this beast, it’s set to be another year of attrition against the mind. Keep an eye out for daily updates from Summit Fever Media who will be on course to capture the action as it unfolds.