The 2017 edition of the Montane Spine Race has turned into one of the most enthralling to date with Tom Hollins, winner of last year’s Spine Challenger making a resounding step-up to claim victory. Hollins (pictured) gained an unassailable lead after passing Pavel Paloncý and Eugeni Roselló at the final checkpoint; the previous champions were asleep, unaware the British runner was about to make a decisive and title-winning move.
Runners have faced seriously testing conditions this week as they attempt to traverse the entirety of the Pennine Way over the course of seven consecutive days of running. The 268 mile trail crosses some of the most beautiful and at times difficult terrain found in England, including the Peak District, Yorkshire Dales, Northumberland National Park, Hadrian’s Wall and the Cheviots, finishing at the Scottish Borders.
By day three, Paloncý and Roselló Sole were leading the field and, knowing the terrain well, seemed likely to secure another title (Paloncý was champion in 2014 and 2015, Roselló Sole 2013). Yet, towards the final fifth of the race, Hollins was in contention and while Paloncý and Roselló Sole were resting at the final check point in Bellingham, began to establish (and build upon) his lead, finishing in just under 100 hours.
In the women's race, Irish runner Carol Morgan has established a commanding lead and sits on around 230 miles, with her closest competitor, Canadian Helene Dumas, some 65 miles behind. Morgan’s exceptional performance means she is in joint sixth place overall.
The brutal course has resulted, as it does each year, in a series of retirements. Last year’s champion and current course record holder Eoin Keith was forced to withdraw due to a rib injury, which was believed to have occurred on the first day. Mark Caldwell, who was only one of three to complete the inaugural event in 2012, has also withdrawn. You can follow live updates from the race online.