Frequently Asked Questions
What is the appropriate experience level needed to gain an entry to the Spine Race or Challenger, Fusion or Flare?
We want you to be safe out there and experience of similar challenges will make you safer. These aren’t beginner friendly races.
This experience can be drawn from various sources and is not limited to ultra or multi-stage events. Mountain marathons, adventure races, orienteering events, fell races, expeditions or challenges like the Bob Graham Round or similar are are looked on favourably. Long distance walking is also extremely beneficial and you may find yourself doing a lot of this! The more a challenge features mountainous terrain, cold, moorland and elements of navigation the better. Mountain Leaders, Winter Mountain Leaders, Mountain Rescue Team members, mountaineers, active and former Armed Forces personnel will likely all have the experience necessary, too.
If you feel you have skills or experience not mentioned here, include it in your application. We are also very happy to advise those who feel they don’t yet have the experience level required, on what races, challenges or experiences they could do to gain entry.
If I sign-up but am unable to do the Spine Race, can I get a refund?
The race has huge infrastructure and costs around it, so unfortunately we can’t simply give full refunds or the event would become unsustainable. We want to be as fair as possible though, so while your entry fee includes a non-refundable deposit, if you notify us before the deadline (See Terms & Conditions) roughly three months before the race, you will get a partial refund. Please read the Terms & Conditions before making your payment.
What can I expect at the five main checkpoints?
At each of the five main check points (Hebden Hey, Hawes/ Hardraw, Middleton-in-Teasdale, Alston, Bellingham) Spiners are offered hot meals (both a dinner-type meal, such as pasta, as well as porridge), hot drinks, somewhere to sleep (all in a bed, except for Bellingham, which is a wooden floor – either way, we recommend ear plugs and sleeping masks), toilets, showers (at Hebden Hey, Hawes, Middleton-in-Teasdale and Alston), medical staff, weather updates, race information and ample encouragement from friendly, helpful volunteers.
What’s available at other check points?
Spine® Race & Challenger
There may be up to three additional minor check points (Malham Tarn, Dufton, Byrness) but they aren’t intended as places for you to sleep necessarily, in fact Malham Tarn and Dufton have a 30-minute maximum stay rule. But they will all provide hot drinks, toilets, medical staff, weather updates and race information. Greg’s Hut (after Dufton, as you descend Cross Fell) is usually also occupied by race staff, who may well offer you noddles.
MONTANE® Spine® Fusion & Flare
The Fusion and Flare events have a fewer number of these calling points, and we provide additional support from the road crossings.
Are allergies, intolerances and special diets catered for at check points?
Let us know in advance and we’ll do the best we can.
How well is the Pennine Way waymarked?
The route is a National Trail and is therefore fairly well waymarked, but more with daylight hiking in mind. Many skilled navigators have made errors on this route, especially in bad weather or while racing at night. Good navigation skills are very important. A GPS unit is part of the mandatory kit, however, and we provide a GPX file of the route, too.
Will I get penalised for going off course?
We accept that the combination of sleep deprivation and night-time navigation are likely to lead to some moments of topographical embarrassment. Our rule is that once you realise you’re off course, get back on it taking the quickest route. However, whether it’s accidental or intentional, if we judge that a significant competitive advantage has been gained, we reserve the right to issue a time penalty. You will be issued this in person at a check point. It will be a stop and start penalty, during which you are not able to use check point facilities, though you can chose when and where you serve it.
How do I configure my GPS for Britain?
Your GPS needs to be configured as follows:
POSITION FORMAT: BRITISH GRID/ BRITISH NATIONAL GRID
MAP DATUM: ORD SRVY GB
Your GPS will report your position with a high degree of accuracy. For simplicity we shorten this to a six digit reference in most instances. Please ensure that you understand the BRITISH GRID system on your paper maps. BRITISH GRID uses a combination of letters and numbers to signify your position
Are the trackers heavy or awkward to wear?
Each competitor is equipped with a GPS tracking device provided by Open Tracking, so we can monitor you and aim to keep you safe. That also means people can follow your race online. They weigh just //WHAT?//, are about the size of a fist and are taped securely to your backpack strap. You’ll barely notice it. Do warn friends and family who might monitor the race that there are some comms black spots where the tracker might not update for a little while and they shouldn’t get worried if you seem to have stopped for a bit. If you’re sleeping out though, you must notify Race HQ.
Am I disqualified from the race if I press the SOS button?
The SOS button is for emergency use only. SO yes, once pressed you are out of the race. But more importantly, we will assume you’re in distress or peril and may launch a rescue. The SOS button sends a one way signal to the Race HQ and we will try to establish verbal or text communications to your mobile phone and deploy a Spine Safety Team to your location. We may also request assistance from the Police, Ambulance or Mountain Rescue.
If you are with another racer who has activated their SOS button, please stay with them. Make your location as visible as possible and use your bivi/emergency bag to keep them warm until help arrives. Any time spent helping others will be credited back to you.
Can I accept help en route? What about cafes and pubs?
The Spine Races are unsupported events. But you are welcome to utilise cafes and pubs (no alcohol is allowed though) en route for sustenance and shelter. There’s some history of Spiners being offered sustenance by locals, which is a nice touch and very difficult to police, so we deem that to be fine. What’s not okay though is pacing, receiving planned support or having a private support vehicle follow your progress.
Under what circumstances might the race be delayed?
We are very reluctant to delay the race and it’s only happened very rarely, in exceptional weather.
How can I get home from Kirk Yetholm?
Kirk Yetholm is a small and relatively remote Scottish village, so if at all possible we advise you to arrange your journey home with a friend or spouse perhaps, or coordinate with another competitor. There is a limited bus service (but not on Sundays), local taxis and when possible we will assist with transportation to the nearest train station, Berwick-upon-Tweed (BWK).
Is there a finisher’s medal?
There certainly is. Though you’ll need to get all the way to Kirk Yetholm to get one. At registration you’ll also get a T-shirt and other goodies.