The Spine Challenger is a 108 mile, non-stop, 60 hour, winter mountain marathon between Edale and Hawes. This challenging and extremely technical section of the Pennine Way is not just the baby brother to the Spine Race – it is a physically and psychologically demanding route that demands concentration and respect. 

The Spine Challenger is a wickedly difficult event. From appearances 60 hours looks like ample time to easily complete this course; however, appearances can be deceptive. The rugged and very technical nature of this race is mentally taxing as you have to constantly be aware of foot placement. Coupled with the limited daylight hours, and the necessity to run in the dark, you can start to build a very clear picture as to why we had only 1 official Challenger finisher in 2012.

In 2013 armed with a greater knowledge we would see a much higher number of finishers within the 60h limit in extremely tough conditions, with knee deep snow, high winds and poor visibility commonplace.

Race History

The Spine Challenger was, like the Spine Race first attempted in January 2012. Officially only 1 Challenger athlete finished the first Spine Challenger and this was the winner, Mark Brooks.

In 2013 returning ‘Spine Breaker’ Mark Caldwell was narrowly beaten by French athlete Philippe Gatta in an incredible sprint finish Philippe’s record time, some 4 hours quicer than the previous record was 32h18m. 2013 also saw the first female finish to the Challenger race, Anne Green completing the course in an impressive 53h38m.

Race Summary

Distance: 108 Miles (approx.)
Time: 60 hours, non-stop
Ascent: 4890m
When: 11 Jan 2014
Checkpoints: 1 (finish at CP2)
Beds: Yes (at CP1)
Food/ Water: Provided at CP
Resupply Bag: 1x 60 litre moved CP to CP
Medical Support: Yes
Support Staff: Yes
Cost: £200
Training Event: November 2013 (£100 supplement)
Course Record M: Philippe Gatta, 32h18m
Course Record F: Anne Green, 53h38m
Places: 40

Apply Training Race Documents

Mark Brooks, 2012 Spine Challenger Winner
I had not planned on a second night! But the Trail was so rough, technical, and rock-strewn that foot placement became the overiding concern. Getting to the finish was the priority. To hell with my time! I had to finish, and eventually I did. My planned sub-30 hour race had turned into a 36 hour epic.

Checkpoints

Starting in Edale you will race over Kinder Scout in the Peak District, following the Pennine Way until you reach Hebden Bridge. There is a slight detour here to the CP but beds, showers, hot food and medical attention await you. In 2012 of the athletes that reached CP1 their average arrival time was between 15-18 hours. You are permitted to stay at a CP for up to 12 hours.

After Hebden Bridge you rejoin the Pennine Way and continue to Hawes, tackling some of the largest peaks found in the Yorkshire Dales. There is also a smaller run through checkpoint established on the course with medical attention, hot water and some creature comforts made available.

We move a resupply/ drop bag for you to the next CP (CP1 and Finish) as you progress through the race. The drop bag must be no larger than 60 litres in volume.

Challenge

Mark Brooks racing across the Peak District

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. The leading Challenger athletes spend very little time at CP1 as they push on to CP2. It is a hard gruelling section of the race course and conditions are variable to say the least.

The Spine Team also monitor the course 24/7 to ensure competitor safety and our support vehicles carry additional hydration for competing athletes (approx. 2 litres per athlete per day). Along with the course monitoring you are permitted the use of a personal support team. For further information about the personal support team, please consult the Race Rules.

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.

The current course record (M) is held by Philippe Gatta. The ‘Gatta’ record is 32h18m. The current record (F) is held by Anne Green who completed the course in 53h38m.

We take your safety very seriously and staff the event with appropriately skilled professionals who are capable of dealing with emergency situations, should they arise. There is the very real potential for cold weather conditions such as hypothermia caused by freezing temperatures, wind, rain and winter weather.

If all of this hasn’t put you off and you want to take on one of the toughest challenges you could possibly find; visit the Apply section for further information. Alternatively, you can register directly with our online entries system provided by SiEntries.

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