Spine Race 2023 - Leg 1 (Edale to Hebden Bridge)

I titled my last blog review of the Spine Race as 'Maybe me and the Spine Race just don't get on', after two successive failed attempts.  The first being at last years Winter Spine Race shortly after Dufton with various issues on my left leg, whilst in the Summer Spine I turned my ankle not long after the start.  Spoiler alert: I finished this year so I feel I have got that monkey off my back.  But as always in a race of this length it came with drama as i'm sure it does for most people; but in my case much of it came deep into the last leg, so hopefully that is an incentive to read on!

Ready for the off.

At the start I slotted into the front group of about 6 with the usual contenders all there.  I knew for me it was always going to be a false position but its nice to be amongst the leaders and have a good look at how they seem to be shaping up.  I even took the lead for a short section, but much of that was influenced by wanting to get ahead as I needed the loo.  The group ballooned to a maximum size of 10 just before Jacobs Ladder, caused by having to wait to cross styles and gates.  As soon as the main climb out of the valley began it all split up and unlike last year I decided to do my own thing, pace it in a way that I was comfortable with and being extra cautious with my ankle.  Considering my two previous failures were both ankle related this year I had bought an ankle brace from a volleyball shop, so it physically prevents a full turn of the ankle, whilst still allowing some sideways movement.  It seemed to be performing well, but it didn't stop my cautious approach through the Kinder section.  The weather was chilly, fairly windy and early rain turned to later hail then snow, although it did ease off past Torside.

I was satisfied with my pace, but knew it was down on last year and loads of people went past me.  I had no idea of my position, but it felt like in the low 20's compared to about 4th at the time of reaching Torside last year.  This was confirmed by reaching Torside some 30 mins slower than 2022.  As always at this stage of the race I seem to find it quite physically challenging for some reason; I think my body gets confused as to what type of race I'm in considering I do anything from 10k+!  Going to Wessenden and beyond I lost a few more positions, but overall I felt slightly better than last year so I knew my pacing was reasonable.  The ground conditions were very wet and some of the becks were just below knee height to cross, although most had a decent crossing point with a bit of care.

Around half way through leg 1 at Wessenden.


Not long before the White House it became time to put my head torch on.  I knew I was a good half hour or so still down on 2022 so hadn't caught up any time later on in the day as planned despite feeling reasonably good.  After the White House there is a long section following well made tracks most of the way to Stoodley Pike that works to my strengths, so I was planning to get into a good run there.  But for some reason my right ankle this time started to play up and every step became painful.  I suspected these were the boney spurs on my ankle joint causing inflammation.  I had some steroid injections a few years ago to treat the issue and for whatever reason the pain decided to make a return.  It was back to walking and then to compound the issue I somehow missed a turn along the reservoir and came to the end of the track to a promontory so really had no other choice but to come back the way I came.  It was such a stupid error that cost me 10 minutes for absolutely no reason.  The rest of the leg was fairly straight forward and I arrived into Hebden Bridge at about 8.35pm, some 75mins down on last year.  However, unlike last year I felt good and I was much more motivated to get in and get back out in the minimum time.

Last year I arrived in a haze, totally knackered, somewhat shell shocked even and ended up faffing for 1 hour 40 mins, not knowing whether to sleep or what.  This year I was far more focused and I managed to do a turnaround in 25 mins so was actually back out at 9.10pm, only 10 mins down on last year.  I arrived into the checkpoint in 34th and departed in 26th position.

Day 1 review


Popular posts from this blog

Spine Race - Some Stats (2012-2024) - Updated following 2024 race.

Ranger Ultras - High Peak 100k

Ranger Ultras Pennine Bridleway 270km