One of the toughest ultra distance races in Europe - The MONTANE® Spine Race is a brutal 268 mile, non-stop, winter mountain marathon that encompasses the entire Pennine Way. Competitors must cover some of the most difficult and challenging terrain found in England including; the Peak District, Cheviots, Yorkshire Dales and Northumberland National Park. The race finishes on the Scottish Borders.
Over the 268 mile route (431km) from Edale to Kirk Yethom competitors must tackle 36,729 ft (11,195m) of ascent, with the highest point on the course being 2,920ft (893m).
Winter on the Pennine Way presents its own unique conditions: deep snow, ice, gale force winds and torrential rain all add to the physical demands of the race. This along with tiredness, fatigue, sleep deprivation and exposure, mean that to finish the race you must be willing to push yourself harder than ever before.
“The Spine Race is easy apart from:- its dark most of the time; your feet then body will fall apart; the compulsory baggage doesn’t get any lighter; sleep is a luxury; you experience extremes of weather and cold; and finally of course it’s 268 miles long. Many will try to break the Spine but most will become race statistics.” - Mark Caldwell, 2012 Spine Breaker
“Other Ultras I have done before have been much more about the running, this felt like proper wilderness stuff. The solitude and the vastness of the landscape, literally as the field thinned out civilization seemed to be left behind on the later stages. ” - Brian Mullan, Spine Race Competitor
For runners that want to experience the Spine but in a shorter format, there is The MONTANE® Spine Challenger.
The Challenger, although being shorter than the full Spine Race, is a physically and psychologically demanding race that demands concentration and respect. The 60 hour, 109 mile race from Edale to Hawes encompasses a challenging and extremely technical section of the Pennine Way.
At first glance, 60 hours looks like ample time to complete this course; however, appearances can be deceiving. Its rugged and very technical nature is mentally taxing - competitors have to concentrate constantly on foot placement. This, coupled with limited winter daylight hours and the necessity to run in the dark, gives a very clear picture as to why there was only a single official Challenger finisher in 2012.
For more information on the MONTANE® Spine Race click here.