The Montane Spine Race is go!

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They call it the UK’s most brutal race, and this weekend saw the start of the Montane Spine Race which organisers say features the most competitive line-up yet in its seven-year history.

The men’s race sees four previous winners joined by a multi-record-breaking UK mountain runner and a Tor des Géants winner. After his surprise victory at the 2017 Spine Race, Tom Hollins (GBR) returns for the 2018 event, which started this morning at 08:00 GMT. The Yorkshire anaesthetist will again race two-time winner Pavel Paloncý (CZE), who could become the first person to complete the 431km/268-mile Spine Race five times. 2013 winner Eugeni Roselló Solé (ESP) also returns to Pennine Way National Trail, for a record sixth start. Course record holder Eoin Keith (IRL) will also be in Edale, for his fourth start, after a DNF (Did Not Finish) due to a broken rib last year.

Those four all raced each other in 2017, but they haven’t raced Jim Mann (GBR), winner of the 300km multi-stage Dragon’s Back Race in 2015 and holder of multiple mountain-running winter records in the UK. Mann lives in the Pennines and knows the course well, but that isn’t the case for another podium contender, Oliviero Bosatelli (ITA). Bosatelli won the similarly gruelling 330km single-stage MONTANE Tor des Géants in 2016, which like the Spine Race is part of the 5Legends series. In fact the fireman has placed on the Tor des Géants podium three times, but how will he cope with British weather and terrain?

Several strong Spanish runners also join a field that’s more international than ever, with 48 foreign competitors representing 19 countries, with 134 runners in total.

In the women’s race, 2017 winner and course record-holder Carol Morgan (IRL) returns. Last year she pulled away early and only increased her lead, finishing joint-sixth overall in a time of 109 hours and 54 minutes. Sarah Kirsty (GBR) and Krasse Guoeorguiev (US) are among the 12 women seeking to make it harder for her this time around.

Saturday morning sees the start of the MONTANE Spine Challenger, 108 miles along the Pennine Way from Edale to Hardraw in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

After several ultra-distance race wins and impressive mountain-running achievements in the last two years, Andrew Berry (GBR) is the favourite for the win. The Spine® Challenger has 130 starters, with 21 foreign competitors representing 10 non-UK nations. The women’s race is 13 strong, with local Jen Scotney (GBR) and Christina Calderon possible contenders.

Half an hour after the start of the Spine Challenger, the MONTANE Spine MRT (Mountain Rescue Team) Challenge starts with, with 19 runners, following the same 108-mile route along the Pennine Way as the Spine® Challenger.

The MONTANE Spine has established itself as one of the world’s toughest endurance races. It’s a seven-day, non-stop, ultramarathon along the 268-mile (431km) Pennine Way National Trail in the most hostile winter weather Britain can muster.

The inaugural Spine Race took place in 2012, with only 11 entrants, of which three ultimately crossed the finish line in Kirk Yetholm, Scotland. In 2018, 283 runners – including 69 from overseas – will line up at the start of the three MONTANE® Spine® races.


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