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Battling Brendan On The Way

Press Release / Photo : Jimmy Hyland/Spine Race / 14.01.2020

Battling Storm Brendan on the Montane Spine Race

Former Barkley Marathons winner, John Kelly is pushing against winds of up to 80mph to hold the lead in the face of Storm Brendan.  As he cleared the halfway point of the race after passing Tan Hill, he told our team he had resorted to shouting and screaming to himself on the trail to keep from falling asleep.

As the front runners push hard to cover as much of the course as possible before the stormy weather reaches it’s peak, they’re pushing each other to the limit.  None of the front 4, comprising Kelly, Eoin Keith (IRL), Eugenie Rosello Sole (ESP) and Montane runner Jayson Cavill (GBR), have slept since the race began nearly 2 days and well over 100 miles ago.   

It’s a war of attrition now as the front pack push each other to breaking.  Eoin Keith, a regular on the Spine start line for years, said earlier that he feels relaxed despite the surprisingly fast pace.  “I’m moving much faster than last year but it feels like less effort.  Maybe it’s the wind direction, or maybe I’m just in better shape” said the Irish runner.  He’ll be drawing on all his knowledge of the course as he battles the storm tonight.

The first woman on the race is Sabrina Verjee once again.  The winner of the Montane Spine Fusion race (the same route but in summer time) is taking no chances in the heavy weather.  She left the CP in Hawes in full military poncho and looks very comfortable.  She has built a commanding lead over 2nd female Debbie Martin Consani and 3rd placed Patricia Patterson.

The extremely wet conditions underfoot and the buffeting winds have led to a growing DNF list and some familiar names have unfortunately been forced to retire.  Among them are 2017 Spine Race winner Tom Hollins (GBR) and Andre Hook (GER) who had been in our around the leading pack for most of the race.

The Challenger & MRT Races Come To A Close

With six minutes to go before the final cut-off, the Montane Spine Challenger came to an end this evening when the last man in the race, Erik Lambrechts (BEL) reached the finish line in Hawes on his birthday.

Earlier in the day there had been scenes of elation on that line as runner Luke Viney finished the Spine MRT Challenge, produced a ring he had carried for 108 miles and proposed to his girlfriend Ruth at the finish.  She said yes and a cheer went up all around the checkpoint.

The MONTANE Spine MRT Challenge is a special edition of the MONTANE Spine Challenger for active Mountain Rescue personnel from England, Wales and the Scottish Borders.

Other notable finishers in the MRT Challenge today were Ella Corrick, who took first woman on her second attempt at completing the course, and Clare Holdfast who took second female and also ensured that this was the first year that more than one woman had finished the MRT Challenge.

Talking about the race, Mike France, Senior Executive Officer for Mountain Rescue England and Wales said, “The Montane Spine Challenge has become a big date in the Mountain Rescue calendar”, adding that, “we’ve had more than 30 team members taking part in the MRT Challenge and we’d like to say Thank you to everyone involved in organising such an amazing event.”

N.B. Due to the extremely high wind speeds a diversion was put in place this afternoon guiding runners around Pen-Y-Ghent, one of the highest and most exposed areas of the race.

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