The stage was set for a uniquely challenging edition of this year’s Montane Summer Spine Race, with the UK in the grips of a heatwave. Temperatures of +30 degrees celsius and ‘the hottest day of the year’ were recorded on the eve of the Spine challenger setting off. This proved to be the main challenge for racers navigating ‘the UK’s toughest endurance race’ this June.
That said, the ever-present threat of COVID-19 also caused complications. Whilst not directly a problem for the race itself this round, rising cases posed an additional threat to those taking part. This sadly caught up with one eager hopeful, Rob Greenwood, who had to drop out ahead of the big day due to testing positive (you can read his pre-race thoughts here).
A common misconception of the Summer Spine is that this is an easier option than the winter edition. But just like the Winter Spine Race, all participants must push the limits of what their bodies can achieve, whilst battling the undulating terrain of the Pennine Way and the changeable elements. Just listen to our podcast to hear from the 3rd Male finisher last year, Ed Gwynne Harris, who describes it as a ‘war of attrition’.
With 361 participants taking part across 3 races, it was great to see a huge jump in entrants to this year’s Summer Spine, approximately 50% up on 2021. The action began on Saturday 18th June at 8AM, as the Spine challenger set off, followed by the Spine Sprint runners at midday. Those tackling the full length of the Pennine Way set off a day later on their journey north.
Looking for a whistle-stop tour of how the action unfolded? Keep reading to see our top moments of this year’s race…
Record breaking times on the Spine challenger race
This year’s Spine record breaking kicked off with the Spine’s shorter (but nonetheless challenging) challenger route of 108 miles. Racer Tim Pigott finished first and shaved over 45 minutes off the Course Record… which for those interested had stood since 2017.
The first woman to cross the line, Lauren Johnson, also went on to smash a course record held - taking off over 1 hour. What’s even more impressive is that Lauren had to sadly pull out of the Winter Spine Sprint earlier this year due to taking a fall on the route - a fantastic achievement to return, take on an even bigger challenge and absolutely smash it!
1st male finisher Tiaan Erwee sets an astonishing new record
Tiaan, a South African-born, Guernsey based runner, set a speedy pace early on. Establishing a strong 7-hour lead on the previous race course holder Eoin Keith, who conquered the route in 77:34:52 last year. He appeared to take the variable conditions on the trail in his stride, often seen with a smile on his face, despite the weather turning and a bitterly cold overnight experienced in the Southern Pennines.
The weather began to pick back up again as Tiaan headed into the Cheviot Hills, with a stunning sunrise setting an appropriately dramatic scene for a memorable morning. Looking surprisingly fresh, Tiaan rolled into Kirk Yetholm, crossing the finish line at 6.45AM. His hard work paid off, giving him a finish time of 70:46:50…maintaining his 7-hour lead and significantly beating Eoin’s previous record breaking time.
Anna Troup returned to break her record in the women’s race
Returning to the Spine race for another attempt, Anna had her eyes on improving her record breaking time which she set only last year. Despite a tricky race battling the heat, she pulled out all the stops, only stopping for a quick 20 minute nap along the way…
Anna’s determination saw her stride into Kirk Yetholm to claim 2nd place overall with a very impressive time of 78:57:49. This incredible feat not only made her the 1st woman, it also ensured she beat her previous record set in 2021 and solidified her status as a total #supertrouper!
Looking for more race action?
The Spine may be over for another season, but we’re just getting warmed up over here at Montane HQ. That’s right! July sees the return of the Lakeland 50 & 100 - another epic long-distance running extravaganza. Head over to our official event hub to find out more.