The Spine Race is a brutal non-stop, 7-day race from Edale in Derbyshire to Kirk Yetholm in Northumberland – covering 268-miles (429km) of the Pennine Way. Add in some British winter conditions and you have one of the toughest races in the UK.
Congratulations on an amazing result at this year’s Spine Race. How does it feel to have achieved an amazing (joint) 3rd place at such a brutal race?
Thank you it feels amazing to get a podium finish again, this race is such a massive challenge so to finish at the top end again means I’m over the moon.
How did you feel going into the race? How were your preparations?
My preparations were good this year. I had had some big multi day experience under my belt in the year leading up to the race and my training blocks on the lead up weren’t broken in any way. I had tapered well too and was confident in my kit.
What were some particular high and low points for you throughout the race?
In a race like the Spine the race can be dominated by low points if you let it happen. I set off at a pace so i could do Great Shunner Fell and Cross Fell im the dsylight so achieving these goals was a massive lift, plus the views and snow were amazing. The low point I remember the most was Blenkinsopp common and Hadrian’s wall. The bogs are a never-ending slop which looks like there isn’t a path anywhere so when I got to the wall my eyes were closing and a battle with sleep demons was in full swing. Climb after climb struggling to keep my eyes open until the sun breaks out and all is good again.
Did you have any doubts that you would complete it? How do you fight your demons?
I knew barring injury that I could get to the finish but in this race you have a constant battle with your mind to contend with as well. I set myself little goals, maybe a hill climb or a river crossing, 2 stiles anything then if my head goes down i can have lots of little wins.
How do you deal with the sleep deprivation during the race?
Shout, scream at yourself, i had a little flask with black coffee in and always remember it will pass.
Kit is essential in this race and you had to make important choices to be at the sharp end of the race. What bits of kit would you recommend to others considering to take on the full race or one of the shorter ones?
The kit list on the Spine is massive but looking after your feet is No1. I started in Scarpa Spin Infinity’s for the cushioningand grip on wet rock, i then changed over to Ribelle Runs when my feet swelled and to keep my grip in the snow. A lightweight warm midlayer is worth its weight in gold and a shoe horn for getting your shoes back on.
How did you celebrate after you touched the wall at Kirk Yetholm?
After a nice shower and a snooze I had a pint with Joe Oleary.
This is the third year in a row you have entered one of the Spine races, do you have plans for any more?
Well Im thinking of having next year off. It will be nice not to be in full training mode at Christmas time(you never know tho). I will definitely be back on the start line again, i love this race and the challenges it throws at us.
What’s next for you? What other challenges do you have planned for 2023?
My No1 race for the year is the Dragons back race. Im really looking forward to it I love the Welsh mountains. Im going to recce the Ramsey round too and will maybe have a crack if the weather gods allow. Im also doing the Fellsman and Haworth hobble. Plus loads of big days with mates supporting mountain challenges.