Montane Spine Race 2017 – Day 5
Day 5 – 19 January 2017
Day five of Britain’s most brutal race
Britain’s Tom Hollins wins the 2017 Montane Spine Race in a dramatic finale,with Pavel Paloncý second and Eugeni Roselló Solé third. Carol Morgan looks likely to win the women’s race later tonight, with a new course record. The Montane Spine Race is a 268-mile footrace along the Pennine Way, England’s oldest and toughest National Trail, in winter.
Kirk Yetholm, Scotland; Thursday, 19 January 2017
Montane Spine Race
Tom Hollins, the Yorkshire anaesthetist took the leaders and pre-race favourites by surprise in a dramatic finale, finishing Britain’s most brutal race in provisional time of 99 hours and 25 minutes.
It’s the second fastest time ever recorded on the course, after Eoin Keith’s (IRL) 2016 record of 95:17 and Hollins is the first Briton to win the race since the inaugural event in 2012.
Between them, Paloncý (CZE) and Roselló Solé (ESP) had led the race, sometimes running together, sometimes battling each other for the lead, since leaving Edale on Sunday morning at 8:36am.
At Greenhead, where the Pennine Way meets Hardian’s Wall, 200 miles into the race, they had a five-hour advantage over Hollins. But Hollins, who won the 108-mile Montane Spine Challenger in 2016 had sagely banked more sleep earlier in the race, which paid dividends later on.
As 2014 and 2015 race winner Paloncý and 2013 winner Eugeni Roselló Solé rested at Bellingham, CP5, for around three hours, Hollins took advantage, catching up with them as they left it.
All three ran together for around an hour before Hollins broke away. He had planned to sleep at Byrness, the last check point before the challenging, long final section over the Cheviots, but decided to press home his advantage. He grew his lead to two hours.
But Hollins’ efforts took their toll and by daylight he was reduced to a walk into the finish at the Border Hotel, Kirk Yetholm, Scotland, which he reached at 12:01pm. He was sound asleep almost as soon as he sat on a Border Hotel sofa.
Hollins has never run this distance before and two races this year selected for practising sleep tactics both ended in DNFs. Though he had reccied the whole Pennine Way and 2016 Montane Spine Race winner Eoin Keith has been complementing his navigational skills.
During the race Hollins totalled around nine hours’ sleep to Paloncý’s five and Roselló Solé’s seven. “He does like his sleep,” confirmed partner Sara Keogh. “He planned to have eight hours’ sleep in Thwaite, but I told him if he wanted to do well he had to have nearer six at most!” Sara also commented on how many people seemed to have been inspired to get out running, by Hollins’ efforts and the Spine Race in general.
“I broke all my own rules of running… I kept falling again and again and again. A couple of times I fell over and stayed there long enough that I nearly went to sleep.”
“It was a ferocious race from the start,” said Paloncý, who finished around 90 minutes after Hollins. “Tom just seemed to come from nowhere.” Roselló Solé finished in third place, around 50 minutes behind the Czech.
In the women’s race, Carol Morgan (IRL), currently in the Cheviots, looks likely to win tonight, with a new course record. She looks likely to beat Debbie Brupbacher’s 2014 record of 153 hours and 17 minutes by a considerable margin. Morgan, an advanced practitioner in A&E, has been running with Paul Nelson (GBR) and they’re now joint sixth.
A long way behind her, Gabriele Kenkenberg (GER) is chasing down Helene Dumais (CAN) for second place, currently only about three miles behind, with around 80 miles left to go.
There have been 40 retirements so far.
The Montane Spine Race continues through the night…