Not quite sure what to say about The Spine Race apart from “shit that was hard” and I only did about 150 miles so compared to the amazing athletes who went on to complete the event; I really have no rights to complain.
I had always planned on treating this event as an adventure rather than a race and without doubt that was the best way to tackle the 268 miles along the Pennine Way. I’m not going to go into huge details here as I need and want to sit down to try and explain what this race is actually like to take part in so be patient with me!
It’s like no other event out there. A brutal course, wet feet, rock climbing, getting lost, sections where there is no path, bogs, marshland, slippery slabs, you name it this race has it, but I absolutely loved the experience. I’m not the most naturally gifted trail runner in the world, in fact when I go over technical terrain I behave in a rather pathetic manner as I’m always weary of my dodgy left ankle (which held up fine).
I had been practicing my navigation skills which definitely need to be improved but I think had I been on my own more I would have concentrated better. The GPS was good for knowing if you were heading in the right direction, but is not something that should be relied on completely, Map and compass definitely the way to go.
There were sections that scared the living daylights out of me, moments when I did a lot of swearing as I kept slipping over on the ice and other moments when I was in a complete panic as I thought I would lose sight of the person in front and had to keep on telling myself that I was quite capable of being on my own, I’d done it before so why was I feeling and behaving like this.
I was gutted to have to pull out, but the ligament in my right ankle went (stretched so became extremely uncomfortable when on uneven ground) which meant going on was in my opinion putting myself in a potentially dangerous position as the next section of the race was remote so rescue would be more difficult. I was still feeling good both mentally and physically (apart from my ankle) so know that up until that point I had done things right.
The race organisation was superb. Each runner had a tracker attached to their pack so they would know where we were all all times and if we were going to stop for more than an hour to sleep we had to inform them so a search and rescue party wouldn’t be launched. The safety of the runners was without doubt their first priority and the support crew were simply marvellous, we couldn’t have asked for a better more professional bunch of people to look after us.
I ran (hiked really!) with some fantastic people over the 150 miles, their company and friendship was invaluable, so to those amazing wonderful people I say thank you for your support.
HWMBO was marvellous, he drove through the night to pick me up from CP4, it was lovely to see him and when I got home I slept for the remainder of the day.
I spent the next few days watching fellow runners complete the race, it was very emotional watching people I had spent time with finishing this grueling race, I was so proud of them; they showed true grit, determination and will power to get to the finish line in Kirk Yetholm.
Congratulations to everyone who finished not only the Spine Race but the Challenger as well (108) it definitely in my opinion deserves the title Britain’s most Brutal race.