#178 – Spine Race – the Movie

2I don’t get to many film premieres; in fact, if I’m honest, I don’t get to any!   That is until a couple of weeks ago, when I attended my very first film premiere. I left the black tie and dinner jacket in the wardrobe for this one though – microfleece and technical T-shirt was dress of the day, for this was the premiere of the movie of the Spine Race.

Ellie West and Matt Green of 'Summit Fever Media'

Ellie West and Matt Green of ‘Summit Fever Media’

I’ve posted ‘The Spine Race‘ in this blog loads of times, but for those who might have missed out, posts #61, #62, #112, #114 and #149 give a taste of what the race is about – I even let Border Collie ‘Mist’ have her own post (#141) to give a ‘dog’s eye’ view!

Early morning start for the very first Spine Race, 2012

Early morning start for the very first Spine Race, 2012

Gary Morrison and Steve Thompson, joint winners of the 2012 Race

Gary Morrison and Steve Thompson, joint winners of the 2012 Race

Briefly, The Spine Race is a race on the Pennine Way.    That’s 267 miles (429 km) with a height gain of about 32,500 ft (9910 metres), which is more than the height of Everest from sea level – the athletes have seven days to complete.

Malham Tarn, 2013

Malham Tarn, 2013

Pen y Ghent with a winter coat

Pen y Ghent with a winter coat

Even this might seem like an easy option compared with the higher mountains of the Alps, but The Spine Race is held in winter, and a UK winter means Atlantic gales and extreme wet-cold conditions.     The athletes are constantly hammered by the wind, rain and snow, and it’s not for nothing that the race is titled ‘the most brutal race in Britain’.

I’ve been a member of the Mountain Safety Team since the first Spine Race in 2012, and I’ve seen the runners endure some pretty gnarly conditions.    It can’t be much easier trying to film the event in the extreme weather, but that’s exactly what Matt Green and Ellie West of Summit Fever Media did, which is why I found myself at my first film premiere.

2014 start line

2014 start line

A cold and snowy Greg's Hut, near Cross Fell

A cold and snowy Greg’s Hut, near Cross Fell

The images here will give an idea of what it’s like to run The Spine, but Matt and Ellie’s film captures the determination of the athletes, the drama of the race and the amazingly harsh conditions of a Pennine winter.   So if running The Spine sounds a little too challenging why not buy the film and find out what ‘Britain’s most brutal race’ is all about.

2015 start line Great Dun Fell


Read more about the movie here, and find out more about The Spine Race here


2012 finishers Mark Caldwell, Steve Thompson and Gary Morrison

2012 finishers Mark Caldwell, Steve Thompson and Gary Morrison

Text and images © Paul Shorrock with additional material from John Bamber (© John Bamber) and Richard Lendon (© Richard Lendon)

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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2 Responses to #178 – Spine Race – the Movie

  1. I still think they’re all bonkers – probably ‘cos it happens in mid-winter!

    • Not much snow for the 2015 race, but the winds were indescribable! Several runners were blown over and one complained that instead of having a rest going up a slope he was forced to run because the wind was blowing him uphill!
      The route had to be changed slightly a couple of times to miss out Pen y Ghent summit and Cross Fell, but it was still a mean, bad race.

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