Update from The Spine Race – Days 01 and 02 so far (updated 0545, 15.01.2012 from SD 939 472)
First off apologies for the lack of updates on the website and our Facebook pages. We have a genuine lack of internet access which is hampering progress. I’m currently sat monitoring a section of the course that happens to have blindingly fast 3G so here’s your update!
After a fantastic series of lectures, final equipment checks, a Q&A between the Spine Team and the 2012 athletes and many cups of tea; we bed down for the evening.
The overnight frost was the first significant indicator to our competitors that this was becoming serious. The overnight temperature had dropped to -5c which caused 2 effects.
- The muddy surface of the route was more solid and easier to travel on.
- A significant amount of ice was on the course. Especially on the rocks.
The race started at exactly 9.10am after a last minute photo opportunity for the traditional souvenir group shot! It was started under glorious blue skies, crisp cold air and a new found firmness, in what has previously been a bit of a quagmire!
For most of the competitors their aim was to make CP1 (Hebden Bridge Area) by approximately 5pm. Covering the 45 miles in 8 hours. However, first indications of the extremely challenging nature of the race began taking its toll within the first 5km’s.
At the foot of the Kinder Scout are a series of stone steps called Jacob’s Ladder – these steps are an energy sapping feature at the best of times. Very steep but today they were very slippy. The cool temperatures had caused a significant amount of ice to form on the previously wet rocks. Making traversing this obstacle doubly difficult. A clear and telling gap also began to appear between the days leading athletes and the rest of the field. This was caused by differing strategies and perhaps a massive reduction in pack weights with some being 14kg’s lighter than others!
After crossing Kinder Scout, with some experiencing small but easily corrected navigation errors they moved up the course battling against the undulating terrain and the cold.
This section of the course had not only created a leading group but was a very unexpected reminder that this race is a lot more difficult than they think. Over the course of the next 20 hours we would athletes arrive, withdraw or be picked up off the course.
Due to the elevation changes, some of the most challenging terrain that can be found underfoot, significant navigation challenges and the effects of the cold; the following athletes have scratched from the race:
- James Parkin, Sharon Gayter, Robert Leech, Andrew Haigh, Ben Hunter with Graeme Lamb a non-starter
All of these factors have severely impeded the athletes ability to run at their desired speeds with average speeds of 2.5-3mph being the average. Most of the athletes took between 14 and 17 hours to reach the first checkpoint but should be immensely proud of their efforts. Many have now departed after a good feed and a bit of maintenance, with feet being a particular concern. 10 athletes remain on the course with 100 mile Challenger Mark Brooks leading the way.
Weather is looking good today and many athletes are hoping to clear one of the most difficult challenges on the route Pen-Y-Ghent before dark. We expect some low cloud above 400 meters and southeasterly winds of around 15mph.
Updates to follow.
All of our team are currently supporting the race in the field, either at checkpoints, vehicles or on the course. We have limited access to emails so all non urgent emails will be dealt with post the race.
We will do our best to convey messages of support. For safety reasons they will be carrying their mobile phones and will more than likely be checking these at checkpoints.