SPINE RACE 2020: Winners
John Kelly has won the 2020 edition of the Montane Spine Race, setting a new men’s course record as he did so.
“Everything hurts” Kelly said when asked if he had anything to say about his win, whilst sitting in a large plant pot outside the Border Inn, “My body shut down at the final hut. I wanted to push past it and finish, but I was cold and didn’t want to risk it after what happened to Eugenie last year. But then I warmed up and I wasn’t numb anymore.”
Throughout this race he has been focussed, efficient and shown an ability to take environmental extremes in his stride as he led the pack from the start in Edale to the finish in Kirk Yetholm.
Sabrina Verjee has arrived in Kirk Yetholm and secured her place as 1st woman in the 2020 Montane Spine Race. This follows her overall win in the Montane Spine Fusion race in June 2019, the summer edition of the Spine which follows the same 268-mile course.
“A lot of people said I shouldn’t do the winter race because I’m not good in the cold. But I thought, yeah, that’s a real challenge then.” Verjee said when asked why she had chosen to come back to the Pennine Way in winter. “I thought the winter race could get really hairy, and it did get really hairy.”
At around 16:00, Wouter Huitzing (NED) and Montane athlete Simon Gfeller (SUI) crossed the line together, paused and placed their hands on the wall of the Border Hotel in unison bagging them joint 3rd positon. Huitzing, who has completed the Challenger three times including a win, a podium and a course record, was stepping up to the full distance for the first time and arrived at CP5 in Bellingham yesterday at around the same time as Simon Gfeller, who was 2nd in the Spine Race in 2018. The two made a decision then to stay together through the treacherous Cheviot Hills and to cross the line together as well.
Debbie Martin Consani is predicted to cross the finish line in the early hours of the 17th 2nd in the womens race – a position she has handled so competently for much of the race.