#112 – The ‘Spine Race’ 2013 – Let the madness begin!

15 extreme athletes at the start line of ‘The Spine’ 2012 –  three finished the course!

15 extreme athletes at the start line of ‘The Spine’ 2012 – three finished the course!

Let’s face it, you must have a screw loose to compete in an event like ‘The Spine’ race.  The Pennine Way in winter, 268 miles of the worst that Pennine weather can throw at you, and all to be completed in seven days – most ordinary mortals are pleased to finish in 17-18 days, but Spine contestants are not ordinary mortals!

The 2012 race starts in sub-zero conditions

The 2012 race starts in sub-zero conditions

Near Kinder Downfall ….

Near Kinder Downfall ….

….with a week to go to the finish line!

….with a week to go to the finish line!

In the first ‘Spine Race’ in 2012, the attrition rate was high, with three finishers out of a field of fifteen.  The legend was born, and the field for the 2013 race is 53 runners.  As this post is published the competitors are two days into the event with changing weather conditions and frozen ground likely to make the going difficult.

Greg’s Hut bothy – 700 metres altitude on Cross Fell near Alston

Greg’s Hut bothy – 700 metres altitude on Cross Fell near Alston

Mark Caldwell passing through Greg’s hut in the 2012 race

Mark Caldwell passing through Greg’s hut in the 2012 race

The Author, John Bamber and Border Collie ‘Mist’ leaving Greg’s Hut after two days in residence

The Author, John Bamber and Border Collie ‘Mist’ leaving Greg’s Hut after two days in residence

The start of the 2012 race had been marked by sub-zero temperatures, and by mid-week the weather was just generally foul!  From Tuesday to Thursday, John Bamber and I manned Greg’s Hut on Cross Fell as a safety checkpoint, accompanied by my Border Collie ‘Mist’.  During that time the four surviving competitors passed through our base.

Gary Morrison and Steve Thompson coming in to finish after 152 hours and 2 minutes  on the trail

Gary Morrison and Steve Thompson coming in to finish after 152 hours and 2 minutes on the trail

Mark Caldwell finishes less than seven hours later

Mark Caldwell finishes less than seven hours later

The first race was modest in the number of competitors but mega-bold in concept.  This year 53 runners will attempt the challenge, and between Tuesday and Thursday John and I will be back in our cold, damp and draughty hut waiting to welcome them.  The weather forecast is great – if you like sub-zero with snow that is!  Come back next week to see how it all went.

Steve and Gary celebrate the finish of The Spine 2012

Steve and Gary celebrate the finish of The Spine 2012

Text © Paul Shorrock – Images © John Bamber

p.s.  As I’ll be sat in an isolated mountain hut while most of you are reading this, I won’t be able to reply immediately to comments, etc.  It’s also not certain when I’ll be able to put together the sequel, with the story of ‘The Spine 2013’, so next weeks post may be a day or two late!

p.p.s  When the race started on Saturday 12th January, I was still in North Wales – our Border Collie ‘Mist’ was going through her obedience and stock (sheep) tests for SARDA Wales (Search And Rescue Dog Association).  We passed, and now start on about two years of training to qualify her as a Search and Rescue dog – wish me luck because ‘Mist’ doesn’t need it – if a dog/handler partnership fails it’s always the handler’s fault!  Quick turn-around now, and off to join the rest of the support team on the race.

About Paul Shorrock

I've been mucking about in the mountains for longer than I care to mention. I started out by walking my local hills, then went on to rock climbing, mountaineering and skiing. Still doing it, and still getting a buzz. I'm now sharing the fun, through my guided walking business (Hillcraft Guided Walking) and by writing routes for other publishers, mainly Walking World and Discovery Walking Guides. Just to make sure I keep really busy, I am also currently a member of my local mountain rescue team.
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14 Responses to #112 – The ‘Spine Race’ 2013 – Let the madness begin!

  1. They’re all mad!!! But love that photo of Greg’s Hut in the snow. 🙂

  2. Isn’t there a fireplace in the hut? 😮 I’d freeze to death. Come to think of it, even as a contestant, I’d probably get so tired I’d freeze to death anyway!

    • There’s a stove in the hut that makes one room habitable in winter. We did have a slight problem with the stove though, but all will be revealed in the next post (#113) – I’m only just back from the 2013 race and I still have to write the story!

  3. LensScaper says:

    Congrats to you and Mist. As for the Spine – they must be mad. The week ahead looks grim. Let’s hope they all survive. Good luck to you parked in the middle of nowhere.

    • Thanks for that Andy. I’m just back from the 2013 event, and waiting for some pics before I write the story up, so post #113 may be delayed. I can give you a sneak preview though – all did survive, but quite a few didn’t finish!

  4. There must be a good caption to go with that photo of you and John outside Greg’s hut, but I can’t think of anything cutting enough right now 😉
    Hope all went according to plan.

  5. Pingback: #178 – Spine Race – the Movie | Paul Shorrock – One Man's Mountains AKA One Pillock's Hillocks

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