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John Kelly (USA) Wins The Montane Spine Race 2020 And Sets A New Men’s Course Record

Press Release / Photo : Mick Kenyon/Spine Race / 16.01.2020

John Kelly at the finish of the Montane Spine Race

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.”

When asked if he’d enjoyed the race, he said “It was really exciting, especially coming out of Bellingham.  I didn’t know if Jayson would be right on my heels.  It was later I heard that Jayson was out, which I really hate for him.”

There was a mountain of expectation around the 2017 Barkley Marathons winner.  That victory showed his calibre as a rising force in the world of extreme ultra running, and John has successfully carried the burden of that expectation over 200 miles without a sign of it affecting him.

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.

Elsewhere, there was heartbreak for 2 runners who until today had looked certain to take their place on the podium.

Around 14:00, bad luck struck a leading runner in the form of Jayson Cavill (GBR).  Montane Athlete Cavill, had been pressing John Kelly hard throughout the day yesterday and left CP5 in Bellingham just 20 minutes behind the UK based, US runner.  However, tendonitis he’d been nursing since day 2 flared up badly reducing his speed to a crawl.  “I don’t want to put myself on the cheviots, crawling in the cold and some poor sod have to come and rescue me” said Yorkshire based Jayson when he reached safety in Byrness.

Returning winner, Eugenie Rosello Sole was also forced to retire at around 04:00 this morning.  His battered feet required the collective effort of the medical team to get strapped up, squeezed in and ready for him to move on.  It didn’t prove enough though and his pace dropped below the point where he was able to stay warm and safely continue. 

Spine veteran Eoin Keith is now in 2nd position as he heads into the final section ahead of Simon Gfeller (SUI), Wouter Huitzing (NED) and leading woman Sabrina Verjee (GBR).

Further down the course, the race goes on until Sunday.  The finish line is still a long way away for many of the competitors and dozens of brave runners are enduring wind speeds on high ground that leave them navigating through the night on their hands and knees.

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