Britain’s most brutal race concludes

Despite severe weather, 53 competitors from 13 countries complete the 2018 MONTANE® Spine® Race, Britain’s most brutal race.

⚠️ Episode 10 • Final episode of Montane Spine Race TV featuring a montage of footage from the past week.Official Photos out soon for purchase via Racing Snakes :' cut film "Resilience" avaialble to pre-order here: #ResilienceFilm

Posted by Montane Spine Race on Sunday, 21 January 2018

Highlights of today’s final day of racing can be viewed above or here

Kirk Yetholm, Scotland, Sunday, 21 January 2018: Despite hugely challenging conditions over the seven days, 53 out of 118 competitors finished the 2018 MONTANE® Spine® Race. Athletes from 13 countries battled waist-deep snow drifts, 50mph-plus winds, heavy rain and extreme windchill to arrive at Kirk Yetholm’s Border Hotel, the traditional end point of the Pennine Way National Trail and the Spine® Race within the cutoff time.

The Spine® Race’s finisher rate average remains below 50 percent.

Phil Clarke was the last competitor in, at 06:47 GMT on Sunday, in a total time of 166 hours and 48 minutes. Clarke had started the race the previous year, but retired at Bellingham, 337km into the 420km course. “Can I go to bed now?” he said at the finish line. “I’m so tired.”

He added: “That was brutal, something else. I wanted to start at one pace and finish at that pace, and that pace was slow. It feels brilliant to finish. I won’t be back. But it feels absolutely brilliant. Thank you everyone on the race, the volunteers, medics and everyone, you’ve been absolutely brilliant.” At the finish, he received a congratulatory phone call from his daughter In New Zealand.

Arriving shortly before him, the infectiously smiley Andy and Sarah Norman became the first couple to complete the Spine® Race. ‘That was awesome,” said Andy. “The whole thing was stunning.”

Indonesia’s Hendra Wijaya was another of the final finishers, crossing the finish line brandishing his much-warmer nation’s flag.

As well as the challenging and varied weather, 2018 may well be remembered as the time the race became a truly international event, with 69 foreign competitors in the Spine® Race and Spine® Challenger, with Japan, New Zealand and Malaysia also represented as well as North America and many European nations.

“It was also really exciting to see so many foreign competitors this year, including some international athletes of real calibre,” says co-race director, Philip Hayday-Brown.

“When we conceived this race, the whole point was that it was intended to be tough: Britain’s most brutal race. This year the weather threw various challenges at competitors, especially the deep snow drifts that covered much of the last third of the course, harshly slowing them down when they were at their most fatigued. It was definitely a tough one.

“However it made it all the more inspiring to see runners arrive into Kirk Yetholm, the emotions of the athletes shared with our very hard-working staff and volunteers, who’d shared much of the journey with them.

“A marriage proposal at the finish line – which impressively even included the painful manoeuvre of going down on one knee – was a highlight for many of us lucky enough to witness it. Some people got a little sweaty eyed. Ahem.”

“We are also really pleased to retain local support along the route and a huge following online,” said co-race director Scott Gilmour. “This race really seems to capture people’s imaginations and we’re grateful of all the goodwill it receives.

“We’d also like to thank the dedicated support team who make the event possible. Without their efforts and sacrifice, the race would not have the incredible atmosphere and camaraderie people have come to expect. It’s a wonderful community who come together to support those willing to endure the brutality of it all.”

The MONTANE® Spine® Flare and Fusion races – summers versions of the Spine® Race and Spine® Challenger – take place in June. The MONTANE® Spine® Race and Spine® Challenger return in January 2019.


A film of the 2018 MONTANE® Spine® Races by Summit Fever Media ( is available to preorder as a DVD or download, from,

*Images are (C) Mick Kenyon & Spine Race

Available to view at

MONTANE® Spine® Race 1st male: Pavel Paloncý (CZE)
MONTANE® Spine® Race 2nd male: Simon Gfeller (SUI)
MONTANE® Spine® Race 3rd male: John Knapp (GBR)
MONTANE® Spine® Race 1st female: Carol Morgan (IRL)
MONTANE® Spine® Race 2nd female: Kirsty Williams (GBR)
MONTANE® Spine® Race 3rd female: Ita Emanuela Marzotto (ITA)

MONTANE® Spine® Challenger 1st male: Wouter Huitzing (NED)
MONTANE® Spine® Challenger 2nd male: Simon Bourne (GBR)
MONTANE® Spine® Challenger 3rd male: Ian Magee (GBR)
MONTANE® Spine® Challenger 1st female: Emma Hopkinson (GBR)
MONTANE® Spine® Challenger 2nd female: Cass Chisholm (GBR)
MONTANE® Spine® Challenger 3rd female: Jen Scotney (GBR)

MONTANE® Spine® MRT Challenge 1st male: Robin Smith (GBR)
MONTANE® Spine® MRT Challenge 2nd male: Robin Smith (GBR)
MONTANE® Spine® MRT Challenge 3rd male: Duncan Buchanan (GBR)
MONTANE® Spine® MRT Challenge 1st female: Steph Dwyer (IRL)

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