Snow, sub-zero temperatures and wind chill didn’t stop 65 runners from completing Sunday's Millennium Way Ultra (18 March). For some - including the second place finisher - it was a brutal introduction to the world of ultras.
The scene was set at the beginning when race organiser Richard Weremiuk said 'welcome to the Spine' in his briefing at the start in Newport, Shropshire. The Spine is a notoriously tough, 268-mile ultra along the Pennine Way and always in extreme weather conditions that pushes competitors to their absolute limits. While Sunday’s race wasn’t as severe in terms of distance and terrain, nevertheless, it was still a test of mental, as well as physical strength, as the bone-chilling winds and cold took their toll.
Everyone headed off 9.15am and followed a mainly flat, multi-terrain route along the Millennium Way across Staffordshire, from Newport in the west to the finish at Burton-upon-Trent in the east. They were aided by three checkpoints, manned by enthusiastic volunteers who braved the conditions to look after the runners as they passed through.
Jonathan Kinder won the 2018 Millennium Way in 6:09:49.Stephen Vaughan chose this 41-mile race as his first ultramarathon and battled the intense cold to take the runner-up spot in 6:32:04. Duane Roberts was third in 6:55:29.
Bonita Robinson overcame the wintry blast to become the first lady in 7:26:11 followed by Jill Phillips in 7:53:36. Julie Bradshaw came third in 8:21:57.
The last runner finished in 12:12:23.
The return of the ‘Mini Beast from the East’ weather forced many races to cancel or postpone. The Millennium Way Ultra was one of only a few events that went ahead and was a well-organised, supported affair from Beyond Marathon.