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RUN247 / Running News / Trail Running News / Chris Cope and Sue Straw prove a class apart in the 268-mile Summer Spine Race

Chris Cope and Sue Straw prove a class apart in the 268-mile Summer Spine Race

Jonathan Turner
News Director
Updated on
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Chris Cope overcame treacherous weather and challenging conditions to emerge as the clear-cut overall winner of the Montane Summer Spine Race.

Cope had been out on his own from early on in the epic 268-mile ultra which covers the entire Pennine Way, from Edale in the Peak District to Kirk Yetholm on the English-Scottish border. 

In the women’s race it was Sue Straw who took the glory, running her own race and taking full advantage when previous leader Irene Kinnegim was advised to retire.

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‘Like he’d just turned up for a parkrun’

One of the pre-race favourites Jon Shield had kept him company for the first few hours when the race started on Sunday but when he withdrew, Cope was left with a significant advantage.

And he continued to stretch that out despite the weather, which led to some of the wettest conditions ever seen at the event.

Indeed Cope appeared to have embraced that, saying on day two: “The mud is miserable; you are sliding all over, it is crazy tough. Everything aches but that is part of the course and I’m enjoying it.”

Poor visibility and low-hanging clouds had also created navigational challenges overnight but Cope took it all in his stride.

But the time he reached Hut 2, just a few miles from the finish, the sun had come out and the safety team there said of Cope: “After a quick coffee he was gone. ‘Just a matter of 8 miles and a pub to get to’. He looked like he just turned up for a parkrun!”

Showing the way

Cope duly reached the finish on Wednesday afternoon in splendid isolation, stopping the clock at 79:10:14 – Tiaan Erwee’s course record (in markedly better conditions) stands at 70:46:50.

Chris Cope crosses the finish line to win the 2024 race photo credit Montane Summer Spine
Chris Cope was all smiles at the finish [Photo credit: Montane Summer Spine]

Cope, who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 14, claims running is one of the ways he proves to himself and others that, when managed, there is no reason for the condition to stop people from achieving amazing things.

Speaking at the finish line, he said: “That was good, I am happy with that. To finish first is brilliant and it has been lovely right from the storms on day one, the biblical rain coming down, to end it beautifully, and just so well looked after from start to finish.”

Remarkably it was nearly 24 hours later when runner-up Jacob Hayes crossed the line in 100:31:54.

Straw’s tenecity is rewarded

In the women’s race, Irene Kinnegim of the Netherlands had been set the pace since day one opened up a comprehensive lead over the pack.

But on reaching Checkpoint 5 after nearly 90 hours of running, she spoke with medical staff who advised her to withdraw.

That development catapulted Sue Straw, who had been around 12 hours behind, into first place and she never looked back, successfully holding off both Rachel Price and Linn Davies Sahlström to claim victory in a time of 122:43:49.

It capped off an amazing performance by Straw and adds an illustrious chapter to her Montane Summer Spine story, building on her joint-first place result in the Montane Summer Spine Sprint in her first appearance back in 2021, before she followed that up by returning and completing the Montane Summer Spine Challenger South the following year and the Montane Summer Spine race last year.

Horne and Hopkinson the Challenger North heroes

Meanwhile in the 160-mile Montane Summer Spine Challenger North, Joe Horne claimed victory with a time of 44:52:01.

Leading from the early stages, Joe was able to stretch his lead with a rapid pace on the route and efficient use of checkpoints.

Following behind, Sam Harrison came home in second place with a time of 46:27:33 despite this being his first race over more than 100 miles.

Rounding off the podium was Emma Hopkinson, placing third overall and first woman with a time of 50:24:02. She was more than 14 hours clear of Fern Parker, the second female finisher.

Horne said: “That was hard. What an event. This one is more difficult on your feet and legs and you have sodden feet for 40 hours.”

Montane Summer Spine Race Results, started Sunday 16 June 2024, 268 miles

MEN:

  1. Chris Cope (GBR) – 79:10:14
  2. Jacob Hayes (GBR) – 100:31:54
  3. John Boothman (GBR) – 110:42:24

WOMEN:

  1. Sue Straw (GBR) – 122:43:49
  2. Rachel Price (GBR) – 134:39:37
  3. Linn Davies Sahlström (SWE) – 138:01:27

Montane Summer Spine Challenger North Results, started Sunday 16 June 2024, 160 miles

MEN:

  1. Joe Horne (GBR) – 44:52:01
  2. Sam Harrison (GBR) – 46:27:33
  3. George Lancaster (GBR) – 54:45:09

WOMEN:

  1. Emma Hopkinson (GBR) – 50:24:02 *third overall
  2. Fern Parker (GBR) – 64:43:51
  3. Lucy Pringle (GBR) – 66:30:23
Jonathan Turner
Written by
Jonathan Turner
Jonathan Turner is News Director for both TRI247 and RUN247, and is accustomed to big-name interviews, breaking news stories and providing unrivalled coverage for endurance sports.  

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