Showing posts from 2024

2024 Ranger Ultra Pennine Bridleway 270km

Since the Spine Race in January I've had a pretty torrid time with a knee injury developing at the beginning of March.  It came from nowhere but resulted in my knee being painful to the extent that all physical activity was off the cards for over a month.  Even with all of my injury troubles in the past I have always been able to do some form of activity e.g. cycling or cross training but this time the pain was too severe. Only around the beginning of April did my knee troubles begin to subside and I took a gamble in entering the PB270, but my expectations were low.  It was very much a 50/50 call and although the injury flared up a bit after I had entered it eventually settled down again. I lined up at the start mostly with the mind set about completing and discounting any expectations from the race.  From the off my legs felt dead but I was not unduly surprised due to the lack of activity over the preceding six weeks.  After a couple of km I took the lead and steadily built up a s

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

This is an update to a post I originally published in following the 2023 event.  I have now updated it to reflect the 2024 race. Over the years there have been a number of stats published about the Spine races, usually focusing on finish percentages etc.  I decided to take a look and see whether I could do something different with the data.  I've focused purely on the Winter Spine Race and none of the other races in the series. Some headline stats: 28 countries are represented in the finish results (increase of 2 as a result of 2024 event). There are 610 recorded finishes by 478 people Only 16 people have gone sub 100 hours (exc. 2015) - an increase of 4 during as a result of 2024 event. I've attached the spreadsheet I put together.  To explain it in a bit more detail take Jasmin Paris (row 6): She was the 230th recorded finisher The 185th individual to have ever finished the Spine The 5th fastest recorded time (includes people who have multiple finish times) The 5th fastest in

Spine Race 2024 - Negative Experience

The story so far has concentrated on how the race unfolded, but there is another story to be told and unfortunately it is one that involves a negative experience of the race itself.  In the 20 years or so of having a running themed website I don't recall ever having written similar before, so it's not something that I have a propensity towards.  I am an avid reader of other peoples race experience and in the literal hundreds of blogs I think this is probably the first with a negative slant. Interviewed at the Finish, but not expressing how I really felt. Upon arrival at the monitoring station at Tan Hill at about 1.30am on the second (Monday) night I was told by the volunteer that they needed to pass on some news.  I was told that the Race Director had been made aware of my wife uploading videos on Youtube of my progress, that they needed to stop and any further uploading would be construed as receiving assistance and that I would be penalised accordingly. Now before we go furt

Spine Race 2024 - Bellingham to Kirk Yetholm

I would guess that upon leaving Bellingham total sleep was less than 3hrs 30mins in my first 100 hours of the race.  The plan today was to just get to the finish, but to take power naps as needed along the way.  The day turned out to be really pleasant, very crisp due to the cold but almost spring like when the sun was out.  I found the sweet spot for me was to power nap every 8-9km for 20 minutes.  I just found a suitable area, left my rucksack on my back and lay on the heather, setting my watch to wake me up after 20 minutes.  Bliss. The second time after about 15 minutes I naturally woke up to find Eoin coming past me.  I didn't feel as refreshed after this second nap so otherwise expected to need one more nap before arriving into Byrness.  As it happened me and Eoin struck up a conversation that lasted a good couple of hours.  I think it helped us both to keep the sleep issues at bay and it felt like we talked about anything and everything.  I recall a lot of discussion centred

Spine Race 2024 - Alston to Bellingham

This is a section that I struggled with last year as to begin with there are lots of farmland with twists and turns, followed by moorland containing false paths and sheep trods.  What a difference doing this section in the daytime makes; what is vague at night becomes blindingly obvious during the day.  I had about 5 hours of daylight to make as much progress as possible.  In the early part of the day it was sunny and all felt good.  That was until more ice hidden underneath the snow and further trips and falls.  I must have fallen over only twice in all of the Spine Race in 2023, but at this point along it must have been at least 20 times.  I was coming to the conclusion that the shin splints that were developing on my way to CP3 at Langdon Beck (that ultimately led to my demise in 2022), were in fact impact injuries on my lower leg from all the falls.  I needed to keep an eye on it as there was clear swelling but in terms of pain it was manageable.  I was however careful not to alert

Spine Race 2024 - Langdon Beck to Alston

This next section became one of the most memorable for me of the whole race.  If someone asks me to flash back to any given part of the race this would be it.  I left Langdon Beck at 3pm, following the diversion that avoided Cauldron Snout.  The diversion along a minor road was pretty straight forward and the snow continued to fall steadily and was starting to drift in places.  Generally though the going was good as the road diversion finished and the track to the isolated farm house at Birkdale continued.  The light faded just as I arrived into Birkdale and it coincided from what I'd consider to be a snow shower into a full blown snow storm.  It was blowing horizontally into my face and it was here that I decided I need to wear my goggles.  As I pulled them out of my bag the strap detached from the goggle and I had to spend 30 seconds fiddling about getting it back in place.  This was plenty of time for snow to land on the inside of the goggle so after putting them on I had an obs

Spine Race 2024 - Hawes to Langdon Beck

I happened to set off at the same time as another competitor but it was clear we were going at different paces (me being the slower), that we wished each other well and went our separate way.  Its a long old chug up Great Shunner Fell in the dark, but I kind of like it and there was clearly a bit more snow and a lot more ice to contend with.  I was also overtaken once more but I was fairly happy with the progress being made, again running sections that I would normally have walked.  The section between Thwaite and Keld is a traverse along a hillside that includes lots of rocky sections and it dragged on for far longer than I could remember.  I however progressed knowing that entering into Keld is a village hall with a roaring fire.  Although a small diversion from the Pennine Way I decided to make use of it, partly to defrost my water bottles (only one of the two was successfully defrosted such was the ice), but also the opportunity to purchase some home made cake.  I had three slices

Spine Race 2024 - Hebden Bridge to Hawes

For me the race really starts upon leaving Hebden Bridge.  This is a long section of some 62 miles and in my mind if you can get through this, the overwhelming odds are that you will finish.  There was no messing about for me now, the poles were out and will be until the finish.  This was more important than ever - patches of ice by and large could be seen in the day but at night it was impossible.  There was also large sections of deeply rutted path all of which made it easy to turn an ankle in an instant.  This didn't mean that poles prevented it all, but it was just an aid that in some cases made it easier to fall over in a safer way! This leg for me is about compartmentilisation.  The first is to get to the Lothersdale mini aid station, followed by Malham Tarn, then the final section to Hawes.  The first section to Lothersdale was unremarkable, in the main running (or by now shuffling) where I was able to.  I lost a few places but not to the same extent as in previous years and

Spine Race 2024 - Edale to Hebden Bridge

Lining up at the start I wasn't sure what to expect as in the lead up I had a dose of Covid followed by knee issues, resulting in having to ice my leg right up to the day preceding the event.  At kit check I've become accustomed to receiving a full kit review for the last three Spine races, but alas the fourth time was not meant to be and it was just a sample of a small selection of items.  As was usual it was all pretty straight forward and then it was just a case of relax as best as possible until the start the following day. The race forecast was for it to be dry for the most part with the possibility of passing snow showers later on in the race.  However the main theme for the week was one of cold with it being predicted to be sub zero even in the day time, down to -10c in the more exposed sections with the potential of wind chill making it feel colder still.  This was fine by me as a cold dry Spine is preferable than to contend with a warm wet Spine. At the off I tried to

Spine 2024 - Thoughts and Expectations

In the coming week I have the 2024 edition of the Spine Race to look forward to.  I finally managed to get the monkey off my back after 2 failed attempts (2022 Winter & 2022 Summer), both due to injury, before finally finishing the latest edition of the race in 17th place in a time of 118 hours and 47 minutes. Although finishing in 2023, the race was not without drama, particularly towards the end due to extreme hallucinations.  At its worst, it included seeing the Cheviots covered in plastic bags instead of grass, prayer flags all over the mountains, my name written in grass and then being convinced I was being chased down by head torches behind me (next competitor was 4 hours behind).  It resulted in a total break down once reaching Kirk Yetholm.  More details can be found in this blog. Greg's Hut - 2023 I could be forgiven for not wanting to have such an undertaking ever again, but there is something special about the race that sucks you back in.  I have no idea what will en