Spine Race 2019: Pre-Race

The 2019 Spine Race continues to draw international talent, solidifying itself as ‘Britain’s Most Brutal’ ultra-endurance event.

spine race 2018 | montaneA competitor battles driving snow during 2018’s race. (© Racing Snakes).


Montane Spine Challenger:                        08:00    12.01.2019
Montane Spine MRT Challenge:               09:00    12.01.2019
Montane Spine Race:                                   08:00    13.01.2019

The Montane Spine Race is a non-stop 268 mile winter ultra-marathon encompassing the entire length of the Pennine Way, and is widely regarded as one of the world’s toughest endurance races.

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.  On 13th January, over 250 will toe the start line, hoping they have what it takes to run the spine of Britain.

Famed for its adverse weather, this year competitors have spent much of the preceding week trying to plan for the unpredictability of British Winter, the general consensus this year expecting it to be ‘…moist, but not Biblical moist.’  Though whatever the weather, 268 miles of it and an uninterrupted week of no sleep, aching bones, muscles, and exposure will ensure this year’s race willstill live up to its name as ‘Britain’s most Brutal’.

“The Montane Spine Race was born out of a desire to test not just ultra-racing skills, but expedition skills.  We watched as the ultra-distance race trend grew and grew, and wanted to take that challenge to a whole different level.”

– Scott Gilmour, Montane Spine Race Organiser

britains most brutal race | montane

The Pennine Way National Trail is a 268-mile (429km) route from Edale in Derbyshire to Kirk Yetholm, Scotland, tracing the backbone of England.  It crosses some of the finest upland landscapes in the country, from the Peak District, through the Yorkshire Dales, across the North Pennines and over World Heritage-listed Hadrians Wall, before finishing North of the Scottish border in Kirk Yetholm.

“I’m really looking forwards to whatever is thrown at us; the solitude, the like-minded people, travelling through such diverse and iconic scenery and trails while being semi self-sufficient is hugely exciting and at the same time quite daunting.  It will be a great test in all things endurance.”

– Jayson Cavill, Montane Athlete,
2019 Spine Race Competitor

Racers are self-supported, and aid stations are few and far between.  They will need to be tough, clever, and resourceful enough to endure the harsh British winter, and all the rain, hail, sleet, snow, mud, cold, and wind that entails. The fastest time of 95.17 was set in 2017 by Eoin Keith, with many taking over 7-8 days to complete, and it is little wonder over 50% typically do not finish.  One regular competitor reportedly going so far as to say “…it’s the best thing about the Spine, all the DNF’s”.

jen scotney montane spine challenger 2018 | montaneJen Scotney en route to her 3rd female finish during the 2018 Spine Challenger. (© John Bamber).

“The route is the biggest pull of this race for me, growing up near the Pennine Way with tales and photos from my parent’s walk along it in 1974.  Add to that the unpredictability of 100+ miles, the roulette of January Weather, the hours and hours of darkness… this race will undoubtably be an adventure and one I am so happy to be returning to.”

– Jen Scotney, Montane Athlete,
2019 Spine Challenger Competitor

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.


Jayson Cavill (UK)
S P I N E   R A C Ejayson cavill spine race 2019 | montane

Jayson has had a difficult year, struggling to replicate his successes of 2017 which included coming 5th in the Montane Lakeland 100.  An ex-marine, he should be well suited to the expeditionary-nature of the Spine so expect a very strong performance.

Read more about Jayson here:


Jen Scotney (UK)
S P I N E   C H A L L E N G E R

jen Scotney spine challenger race 2019 | montane

Last years’ Challenger kicked off a year of incredible running for Jen. Finishing 3rd Female in the 2018 Challenger, she went on to finish 4th in the Northern Traverse, and race the Peru MDS.

Read more about Jen here:

Kevin Hadfield (USA)
S P I N E   R A C E

kevin hadfield spine race 2019 | montane

Kevin joined Team Montane in 2017 and came 53rd in the 2018 Tor des Géants with an impressive time of 103:47.  He is hoping to build on that momentum and pitch himself against the ‘Most Brutal’ ultra race in the world.

Read more about Kevin here:


Click below for VIA Winter Running Essentials VIA Winter Running Essentials | Montane

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