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Spine Race Questions... I've been inspired!

This topic has been archived, and won't accept reply postings.
 maybe_si 21 Jan 2020

Off the back of the recent event which I've been keeping an eye on, I've been inspired to think about working towards going for it.

More specifically the Challenger event initially as a taster before either having a go at the real thing... or never thinking about it again?!

My question initially is do you have to run or can it be fast walked within the cut offs? I have done a few 100km hikes in circa 20hrs over similar terrain so that should in theory be doable within the 60hrs.

Do many people walk it?  Or is it a case of a mix of walking some, jogging the flats and easy downhill sections etc?

I have a load more questions about kit and so on  it thought that this would be a useful starting point as there seems to be a lot of people on here who at least watch the dots and so must have some knowledge of the event!

Cheers

 r0b 21 Jan 2020
In reply to maybe_si:

Easily walkable within the allowed time. That's what most people do apart from the fastest few. Key is to minimize stationary time by having good kit and systems

 maybe_si 21 Jan 2020
In reply to r0b:

Great thanks, is that both Challenger and the main event?

 r0b 21 Jan 2020

Both, although maybe easily was the wrong word as neither are easy, anything but! Especially with the full race, the slower you move the less sleep you can have to stay within the cut offs and the people at the back probably have the hardest time of it. Challenger that's not such an issue as it's feasible to do with no sleep or just power naps. 

 Welsh Kate 21 Jan 2020
In reply to maybe_si:

If you don't stop the Challenger is a 3kph average which is entirely do-able if you have the stamina both physically and in terms of sleep deprivation. Factor in food stops and it's still do-able. I think the sleep is the most problematic thing if you're walking it.

 maybe_si 21 Jan 2020
In reply to Welsh Kate:

Yep that was what I was thinking, just wondering if I was missing something! 

That's got me a lot more enthused... I have done incredibly minimal research so far, not even looked at previous results to get an idea of times and doing the maths myself!

I can see it being really interesting in planning tactics around sleep, speed, food, etc.  All very hare and tortoise!

 Bob Aitken 21 Jan 2020
In reply to maybe_si:

Having heard the astonishing Jasmin Paris describe her epic venture last year it was clear that the cumulative physical and mental effects of almost continuous movement over rough terrain and almost total sleep deprivation take you into a vastly different realm of experience than is suggested by just multiplying the effort of a one-day Challenge: knackered feet and legs, hallucinations, inability to process food effectively.  Took her months to recover fully.  Heroic stuff.

In reply to maybe_si:

Hi Si,

Funnily enough I too am intrigued, hence asked Nikki Sommers - who came 4th in the women's category - if she could write an article for us based around her experiences of the event.

From the outside looking in it's quite hard to grasp how exactly you'd approach the race given that it doesn't have distinct stages such as the Dragon's Back/Cape Wrath Ultra. As a result there's a lot of tactics involved around when to rest and when to push on, how far to push yourself, and how lightweight you choose to go given that the weather is clearly going to be awful.

Not sure of an exact ETA, as Nikki has just got back to work, but keep an eye out - it's definitely coming.

 maybe_si 22 Jan 2020
In reply to Rob Greenwood - UKClimbing:

Hey Rob, 

Sounds great!  I'll keep an eye out.

Footwear/care and sock combos/general tactics is another thing I'm very keen to explore and research further.  The rest of the kit and clothing is fairly self explanatory from previous adventures .

In reply to maybe_si:

There's a distinct change we'll see each other on the start line next year, although I suspect that if I did decide to go for it I'd start with the Challenger and see how things go from there.

That said, I've got to get the BG done/dusted first and see where my motivation takes me afterwards...

Much like you, I'm certainly intrigued to hear what Nikki has to say.

 r0b 22 Jan 2020
In reply to Rob Greenwood - UKClimbing:

IMHO (and caveat this with the fact that I've not done the main race, just the fun run) one of the main problems (other than wind, rain, cold, mud, snow, miles etc) is that Leg 2 Hebden to Hawes is really a leg and a half in terms of distance (62 miles). This means that most (apart from the racing snakes) get to Hawes around lunchtime on day 3. They then sleep when it is daylight and go back out in the night. Thereafter each leg is around 40 miles so you get stuck in the cycle of hiking through the night and sleeping when it is light. Would be simpler if every leg was an even 45 miles!

Post edited at 10:41
In reply to maybe_si:

Give Lakes in a Day a go (if there are still spaces), it's an excellent event and gives you an idea what that sort of thing can be like but over 50 miles and 24 hours instead of a week.

Post edited at 10:42
 ChrisJD 22 Jan 2020
In reply to maybe_si:

Here's a blog from a mate of mine who did it in 2019.

http://www.eventus.co.uk/taking-part-in-the-2019-montane-spine-race/

In reply to r0b:

I guess that's part of the beauty (or horror) isn't it? That inconsistency really throws you off. This year it could well have done them a favour, as the weather was curiously better at night, and worse during the day. That said, I have no doubt that it was still totally and uttelry grim.

How did you get on with the 'fun run' (great term btw...) - are we talking type one, two or three fun??

 r0b 22 Jan 2020
In reply to Rob Greenwood - UKClimbing:

Well it took me three attempts to finish even The Challenger so I guess I found it pretty hard!

2014 - I was very fit but not strong and hadn't put in the miles (longest training hike was only 29 miles) so I got to Gargrave in a fast time but had ground to a halt by Malham Tarn and pulled out there.

2015 - Terrible weather, within the first hour we'd been hit by a squall which is still the worst weather I have ever been out in (back then the Challenger started at 6:30am and the main race at 8am; they held the main race until I think 1pm because conditions were so bad!). Also it quickly showed my waterproof jacket wasn't. Windy and wet all the way and by Gargrave had lost the psyche to continue, physically fine though.

2017 - Apart from coming down with a cold literally on the train to Edale the afternoon before it went fairly smoothly, slower than I would have liked but maybe the cold stopped me from going too fast and burning out again. Snow on day 1 then a warm front went through and wet and mild (and muddy) on day 2. Coming into Hawes I was happy to have finally got it done, and also couldn't really comprehend that not even being halfway on the full race!

One thing I struggled with on all attempts was eating, I found it really hard to stomach food from the second day onwards.

 maybe_si 22 Jan 2020
In reply to Rob Greenwood - UKClimbing:

I'll definitely be doing the 'fun run' first before having a crack (or not) at the main event, that's for sure!

I have read a few blogs that mention a 'toe sock' liner with seal skins on top.  I've never even tried toe socks, always thought they sounded a bit daft but if multiple people are talking about them then there must be some truth in it...

Anyone on here used them?

 hokkyokusei 22 Jan 2020
In reply to maybe_si:

I think I remember one of the posters on here doing it a few years ago. Wonrek maybe?

 hokkyokusei 22 Jan 2020
 Ridge 22 Jan 2020
In reply to hokkyokusei:

Why did you have to post that?

I was going to bed early, but got so engrossed in Sharon's race against the clock that I had to read it all again!

 r0b 23 Jan 2020
In reply to maybe_si:

Yeah that's what I used, Injinji toe socks in Dexshell waterproof socks. I too was a bit skeptical at first but they work really well as liners; with a normal liner sock I find that it gets pulled against the end of my second toe and rubs. Still think they look weird though!

In reply to r0b:

That's interesting - I wonder why they work? I guess it may be that there is then less friction between toes and perhaps less sweat build up between them, that where your toes are actually touching each other?

In reply to r0b:

Full marks/respect for persevering, it's far more impressive doing it third time round! 

What you were saying about food is interesting, as I have never had a problem with eating whilst running, but then again the longest I've ever run for is 23hrs 40mins back when I did the Paddy Buckley. 24hrs+ is therefore unchartered territory and I guess you don't know how you're going to feel until you're actually there, and by that time it could feel far too late...

In reply to r0b:

I'll have to test this out, thanks for the tip-off.

 denis b 23 Jan 2020
In reply to maybe_si:

Like the OP I am also looking to progress to put myself in a position of deciding if the The Spine is realistic in 2-3 years time. I have entered some progressively more difficult events this year leading to The Cheviot Goat race at years end. Its about the journey for me so there is no hurry and completion will be my main aim.

I have a few years road running behind me, to marathon distance, but I now realise that long hiking days will be more useful going forward along with trail running.

2 quick questions if you please:

1. I am folllowing an Ultra Plan (Krissy Moehl - 50 miles). Any thoughts?

2. Footwear: Currently wearing Speedcross 4's which suit me very well but would these stand up to longer trail runs of 80 km?

Probably the best thing thing about my low gradient approach is that I will be able to answer these questions myself before I am tested but for convenience, and input, should I be looking at a different class of footwear.

 r0b 23 Jan 2020
In reply to TobyA:

Yeah obviously they stop skin rubbing on skin between your toes which should stop blisters there if that's a problem for you. For me, I find a liner sock gets pulled tight against the end of my second toe, presumably due to the lengths of the toes around it. The toe socks stop this from happening. I only use them if I am going for double socks though, I generally don't have that much problem with my feet luckily.

For long wet stuff like the Spine I also pre tape rub points on my feet, with the stretchy blue kineso tape (quite cheap from Decathlon). So a piece on the back of my heel, a piece right around the ball of my foot and a smaller piece on the side of my big toe

Post edited at 10:59
 pasbury 23 Jan 2020
In reply to ChrisJD:

> Here's a blog from a mate of mine who did it in 2019.

Really enjoyed that, thanks.

 maybe_si 23 Jan 2020
In reply to maybe_si:

Reading over the kit list it looks like I'll have to invest in a hand held GPS.  I've never used one before and not really sure where to start?!  I figure if I'm going to buy one I may as well get something decent.  Any suggestions?

 shuffle 23 Jan 2020
In reply to maybe_si:

I did the Challenger a few years ago and have been involved in the race safety team several times so I have seen a lot of people and their feet at various stages of both the full Spine and Challenger distance!

I also went with the Injinji and Dexshell combo with my usual off road shoes (Inov-8). Hokas seem popular but I prefer a more minimal shoe. At the finish I had one blister on the top of my foot so the combination worked well for me. 

I was very much a back of the pack finisher on the Challenger and it was my first competitive event over 30 miles (though I had experience of long distance walking of greater distance than that) and I got to the finish on my first attempt without running more than a few steps. My advice possibly sounds a bit dull but what worked for me was not overthinking it. I treated it as heading out for a few days on my feet and focused on eating well and keeping chipper. From experience of being on the race team and seeing others complete or not, there's a sweet spot of organised/relaxed that seems to come from experience and people knowing their own strengths and weaknesses, not necessarily gained in this race, but perhaps from other events or some other life experience. Overthinking and faffing seems to lead to stress and stress is really exhausting over those distances. 

Having said all that. I've entered the full distance for this summer so maybe I will need a new strategy for that!

 r0b 23 Jan 2020
In reply to maybe_si:

Garmin eTrex 20 or 30 - small and light, does what you need it to do, and great battery life on 2xAA (30 hours +). GPSMAP 64 also quite popular. Avoid touch screen models as these are hard to use with big gloves or mitts on.

Put the talkytoaster base maps on it, way cheaper than OS base maps (and better IMHO) https://shop.talkytoaster.me.uk/product/single-tt-150k-look-n-feel-map-for-self-install/

 Planeandsimple 23 Jan 2020
In reply to maybe_si:

I wouldn't use seal skins. They rip your feet to shreds and keep the water in. You could always tell the blokes in the military who wore, being cold and wet they lost all the skin in the soles of their feet when they forgot to take them off before running. Give me spare socks, polyester, not too thick so they dry when you take them off and spin them, with liberally applied foot powder at rests any  day. Quite frankly anything else is just a gimmick. 

 hokkyokusei 23 Jan 2020
In reply to Ridge:

Sorry! 🤣

 Simon Caldwell 24 Jan 2020
In reply to Planeandsimple:

I've worn my sealskinz for up to about 50 miles and not had any foot problems. They do let water in, but not as much as with normal socks and it warms up so you don't lose all the feeling in your feet. Maybe I've just been lucky. Or maybe the progression from 50 to 268 miles is what makes the difference!

In reply to Rob Greenwood - UKClimbing:

NIkki recommended the toe sock things as a christmas present for a friend getting into trail running. You never know she may cover it in a "Kit I Used" section of her write up


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