Bourne and Huitzing lead the Montane Spine Challenger

Britain’s Simon Bourne and the Netherlands’ Wouter Huitzing are the joint leaders of the174km race; Emma Hopkinson (GBR) leads the women’s race

Episode 2 • Montane Spine Race TV 2018

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Posted by Montane Spine Race on Saturday, 13 January 2018


Episode 2 – Highlights from today’s Spine Challenger, also available here

Edale, Peak District National Park, United Kingdom, Saturday, 13 January, 2018: As the MONTANE Spine® Challenger goes into its first night, Simon Bourne (GBR) and Wouter Huitzing (NED) jointly lead the race after about 80km. Huitzing had been the first to break away, setting a scorching pace out of Edale and up Jacob’s Ladder. Bourne wasn’t far behind though and they spent most of the day in close proximity.

Bourne has 20 years experience of competing in UK ultra and mountain marathons, including podium placings at the Fellsman and the High Peak Marathon. Huitzing meanwhile placed 4th in the 2017 Spine® Challenger. Ian Magee (GBR) is currently in third place.

Emma Hopkinson (GBR), who was a fell-running international at junior level and won the Fellsman ultramarathon in 2017, has built a big lead in the women’s race. Annabella Stearns (GBR), who was second lady at the South Downs 100 and North Downs 100, is currently also second lady in the Spine Challenger, but only about 4km behind at 8.30pm GMT. Peak District-based Jen Scotney (GBR) is third.

The Spine® Mountain Rescue Team (MRT) Challenge, which is on the same course as the Spine® Challenger but only open to active Mountain Rescue personnel from England, Wales and the Scottish Borders, is currently led by Mike Fawcett (GBR) and Steph Dwyer (IRL).

The weather has been mild lower down, but foggy on the tops with a cold wind.

Meanwhile back in Edale, Spine® Racers have been registering for Sunday’s race, which starts on Sunday morning.

The 2016 Spine® Race winner, Eoin Keith (IRL) expects his course record to be bettered. “I expect to see [it] fall this year,” he says. “There are a few [minor] course alterations, which may make the race a little faster. But even without those, I would expect that this depth of the talent will ensure it falls anyway. Whoever wins this year will have to race very well indeed.”

“Oliviero Bosatelli (ITA) has the second fastest ever time for the MONTANE® Tor des Géants,” he added. “That pretty much puts him in the superstar category for multi-day trail ultrarunners.” Julian Morcillo (ESP) has also been hotly tipped as someone who could do well, by fellow elite runners.

Keith, Bosatelli and Morcillo will race against current Spine® Race champion Tom Hollins, two-time winner Pavel Paloncý (CZE), 2013 winner Eugeni Roselló Solé (ESP) and Jim Mann (GBR), winner of the 300km multi-stage Dragon’s Back Race in 2015 and holder of multiple mountain-running winter records in the UK.

In the women’s race, 2017 winner and course record-holder Carol Morgan (IRL) returns. Last year she pulled away early and only increased her lead, finishing joint-sixth overall in a time of 109 hours and 54 minutes. Sarah Kirsty (GBR) and Krasse Guoeorguiev (US) are among the 12 women seeking to make it harder for her this time around.

There are two important rule changes for this year’s race. Runner’s are no longer allowed to be supported by an accompanying vehicle, as Hollins and Morgan were last year.

Also, aside from the five main check points where competitors can sleep, eat hot food, access a drop bags and get medical attention, there are three minor check points. But racers are allowed to be at these for 30 minutes, when previously they could stay for longer and sleep.

The 2018 MONTANE Spine Race is scheduled to start at 08:00 GMT Sunday, 14 January.


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