Montane Spine Race 2017 – Day 7

Day 7 – 21 January 2017

Britain’s most brutal race concludes

Canada’s Helene Dumais places second woman, with Germany’s Gabriele Kenkenberg third, in the Montane Spine Race. From 113 starters, 63 runners finished the race in unusually mild conditions that caused more foot problems than usual. 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; Sunday, 22 January 2017 

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Image © Yann Besrest-Butler

The 2017 Montane Spine Race concluded late on Saturday night, Helene Dumais (CAN) placing second in the woman’s race with a time of 153:31 and Gabriele Kenkenberg (GER) third, in 156:19.

“The Spine Race was epic and brutal,” said Dumais at the finish line. “I loved it. I learned new things about myself. It was my first time in Britain and the Pennine Way is so beautiful. It’s like Lord of The Rings.”

Dumais has an impressive ultra-running CV. She is the first woman to complete the Survival Run Nicaragua, Devil’s Double Challenge, Survival Run Australia and Dingo’s Double.

“It’s hard to compare the toughness with other races, but the Spine is certainly a very, very tough challenge. And it’s more than just a race. There’s a community, a family atmosphere around it.”

Dumais, along with American husband Tim Puetz, was a late entry for the Montane Spine Race. “I can’t believe it. Three weeks ago, my husband said, ‘Hey, let’s do the Spine Race, I said, ‘Okay’. And here we are.”

Due to leg soreness, Dumais had to have a piggyback out to the finishers’ wall to great Puetz when he came in, where they had an emotional embrace. She spoke inspirationally about pursuing dreams.

“Dreams aren’t going to come to you. You have to chase them. Dream big, or don’t dream at all. Don’t do things half way. I think the Spine Race is a good example. We often think of why we shouldn’t do things. Say yes to things and then figure out how you’re going to make it happen.”

Dumais ran most of the race with John Stocker (GBR). “I trained for this race by running 15 miles a day on a treadmill with my full kit on. All of that was irrelevant once I was out on the Pennine Way though. The race is all about what’s in your head.”

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Image © Yann Besrest-Butler

Germany’s Gabriele Kenkenberg placed third in the women’s race after overtaking her compatriot Yvonne Lehnert on the last day. A record five ladies reached Kirk Yetholm this year.

Despite the blisters, Montane Spiners were in fine spirits at the end, as a party atmosphere pervaded Kirk Yetholm’s Border Hotel, the traditional end-point of the Pennine Way.

The weather, though often well below freezing at night, was relatively kind to the final Montane Spiners, as it has been all race bar the first day, which started in more traditional Pennines winter weather, heavy rain, strong wind and with snow on the ground.

The relatively mild weather brought new challenges however as well-fed bogs and consistently wet terrain meant greater potential for foot problems and several Montane Spiners finished with the use of antibiotics and feet that looked like they belonged in WWI trenches.

The 2017 Montane Spine Race had 50 retirements and 63 finishers.

The race returns in January 2018.

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Image © Yann Besrest-Butler


Summary of race winners:

  • Montane Spine Challenger (M): 28:00, Dominic Layfield (US)
  • Montane Spine Challenger (F): 37:53, Sarah Davies (GBR)
  • Montane Spine MRT Challenge (M): 33:40, Alasdair Cowell (GBR)
  • Montane Spine MRT Challenge (F): 58:18, Ella Corrick (GBR)
  • Montane Spine Race (M): 99:25 (provisional), Tom Hollins (GBR)
  • Montane Spine Race (F): 109:54 (provisional), Carol Morgan (IRL)

WATCH EPISODE #9 of the Montane Spine Race TV daily update:

WATCH EPISODE #10 of the Montane Spine Race TV daily update:

Montane Spine Race Episode 10 video pic

READ THE MONTANE SPINE RACE REPORT FOR PRE-RACE & DAY 1 HERE

READ THE MONTANE SPINE RACE REPORT FOR DAY 2 HERE

READ THE MONTANE SPINE RACE REPORT FOR DAY 3 HERE

READ THE MONTANE SPINE RACE REPORT FOR DAY 4 HERE

READ THE MONTANE SPINE RACE REPORT FOR DAY 5 HERE

READ THE MONTANE SPINE RACE REPORT FOR DAY 6 HERE

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