Club member, David Beech, writes about his forthcoming challenge.
The Dare 2b Spine Race is a 268 mile, non-stop, winter mountain marathon encompassing the entire Pennine Way. Widely recognised as the most demanding National Trail in Britain, the Pennine Way crosses some of the most beautiful, difficult and challenging terrain found in England, including; the Peak District, Cheviots, Yorkshire Dales and Northumberland National Park – finishing on the Scottish Borders. The next event takes place 12-19 January 2013.
The Spine Race is open to anyone with appropriate experience who wishes to test themselves and compete in a truly brutal race with some of the most extreme weather conditions England has to offer; deep snow, ice, gale force winds and rain in a gruelling non-stop, 7 day race from Edale to Kirk Yetholm. It’s not just the conditions that are against you – your own body could become your worst enemy with tiredness, fatigue, sleep deprivation and exposure playing havoc with your performance. To finish you must be prepared and willing to push yourself harder than ever before.
Race History:The Spine Race was first attempted in January 2012. During this first attempt there were many courageous attempts to finish the 268 mile course. Three athletes would eventually finish. The race was won jointly by Gary Morrison and Steve Thompson, closely followed by Mark Caldwell.
Route: There are 5 checkpoints that you must visit along the route to complete the race. The CP’s are distributed evenly along the course and it is here you receive hot food and water, resupply, beds and showers (available at 4 of 5 CP’s) and medical attention if required. These checkpoints run from the start to the completion of the event. The CP’s are staffed 24/7 to provide as little disruption to the race as possible. They provide a haven from the sometimes hostile weather.
The checkpoints are located in Hebden Bridge, Hawes, Middleton-in-Teesdale, Alston and Bellingham. To make the stop-overs more comfortable, the athletes drop bags are moved onto the next CP as you progress through the race. The drop bag must be no larger than 40 litres in volume. This is a possible area I may require some help and/or assistance.
Challenge: The longest day on the race is the second day. This is the longest section of the course between CP’s (approx. 60 miles). In 2012 the average completion time for this section was between 22 and 30 hours. Most competing athletes withdrew at this point of the race. If you are competing in the Spine Challenger you can start to build a picture of why you may need 60 hours. Mark Brooks, the 2012 Spine Challenger winner reached CP2 in an impressive 36 hours and 30 minutes. It is worth noting that Mark did not stop running for longer than 1 hour 30 minutes at CP1.
The Spine Team also monitor the course 24/7 to ensure competitor safety and our support vehicles carry additional hydration for competing athletes (minimum 2 litres per athlete per day). Along with the course monitoring you are permitted the use of a personal support team.
Safety: To complete the race safely it is required that you carry all of the COMPULSORY equipment listed in the Race Rules. Your equipment may be checked on the course or at a checkpoint by any member of the Spine Team. If you do not carry all of the equipment you may find yourself wanting on the course and place the safety of the Spine Team at risk. In this situation you may incur a time penalty or disqualification from the event.
My main motivation for entering this is to truly test myself, and also to be ensuring I can do the Ultra Trail Du Mont Blanc next year, The Dare 2b Spine Race is a UTMB qualifying event and carries 4 UTMB points. The current course record is held by Gary Morrison and Steve Thompson. The ‘Mori-Thom’ record is 151h 2m (1 hour time credit for assisting with a course evacuation).
As with any multi-day event, the cost of competing is not cheap, and I am currently seeking sponsorship to help with my preparation. All aid would be greatly appreciated.
For more information about the race click here