December 22, 2021

Damian Hall eyes podium finish at 2022 Montane Spine Race

Damian Hall talks exclusively to Run247 ahead of Spine Race 2022.
By Joe Duckers
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(This is a preview of the men’s race – click here for race report and results)

Damian Hall has set his sights on another podium finish at the 2022 Montane Spine Race as the 46-year-old looks to restore his 2020 form at ‘Britain’s most brutal race’.

The British ultrarunner will take on the 268-mile route for a third time when the race enjoys its 10th anniversary – starting on Saturday January 8, 2022.

Hall will face competition from Eoin Keith, Kim Collison and Doug Zinis in the men’s race, with 2020 Spine Race champion Sabrina Verjee and Anna Troup confirmed for the women’s race.

Damian Hall on 2021

After setting three records in 2020, including the fastest ‘standard route’ Pennine Way, Hall admits 2021 has been a ‘mixed year’ in his running career, recording his first ever DNF at UTMB in August.

Hall says he tried explaining that inaugural DNF to his children following the race at Mont Blanc, but he accepts they may remain unimpressed by his early stoppage.

However, the inov-8 ambassador, buoyed by his fatherly duties, is keen to make up for it and revealed that is one of the reasons he is returning to Spine Race for a third time.

Hall said: “This time around, my kids are a lot more aware of what I am doing. I have had my first DNF recently and I had to explain it to them, and I don’t know if I had a convincing case for it, so I am quite motivated by setting an example to them.”

Highlighting climate emergency

“I haven’t quite worked how I will bring it in exactly, but I am very motivated by trying to publicise our climate and ecological emergency. I haven’t quite decided how I will do that, but that will motivate me as well if I can somehow bring that message into my racing.

“I am 46 now as well and I feel quite motivated that runners of my age can still do quite well.

“There are quite a few motivations for me, but we will find out whether any of that will help me in a couple of weeks!”

Training for Spine Race 2022

The Wiltshire-based athlete will head to the starting line in Edale off the back of a ‘really good’ training programme, which has included strength training in preparation for the tough terrain he is set to take on along the Pennine Way.

Damian Hall Spine Race Inov-8 Shoes
Damian Hall is ready for Spine Race 2022 (Pic: inov-8).

Hall is now working with his sponsor Precision Hydration on a fuelling plan throughout the race and devising a Spine Race kit list.

He added: “When I first got into this sport, I trained to race and now I kind of race to train, so when I sign up to something I get excited as much about the training.”

Spine Race record

At Hall’s first Spine Race in 2014, he reached Kirk Yetholm in fourth place with a time of 127:11:00, 17 hours behind winner Pavel Paloncy, with the Czech picking up the first of his back-to-back Spine Race titles. In 2015, Hall went one better and finished third (87:11:00) behind Czech Paloncy and Eoin Keith.

Goals for 2022

After completing the 268-mile race twice before and admitting ‘it is a race for people who hate themselves,’ Hall is now looking for another top-three finish at the Spine Race.

He said: “I am trying to do [at least] third, but the truth is I can’t control what anyone else will do.

“It is incredible competition, for example Kim Collison is an incredible athlete in really good form, and there are some other great runners like Eoin Keith and Doug Zinis.

“The most sensible way for me to think about is to have a time target to try and improve on my previous times, which I think I can and not worry too much about what other people are doing.

“I’ll be thinking of it more like a time trial if I can and see what the weather and conditions throw at us really, but the number one thing I am signing up for is an adventure – I want to have an adventure out of it and that is what you have to remind yourself when you are stuck in a bog at 4 in the morning!”

We also asked Damian some of the burning questions about what Spine Race entails – and you can check out his invaluable guide by clicking here.