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Spine Race record is smashed by a runner taking part in her very first ultra

Jonathan Turner
News Director
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Molly Browne made an incredible impression in her first ultra race when she chopped 11 minutes off the previous women’s best time as she was the first female home in the Montane Summer Spine Sprint.

Her time of 8:30:29 for the 46 miles usurped Hannah Rickman’s course record.

It was a remarkable start to this year’s series of Summer Spine races, with the biggest challenge of all – the full 268 miles along the Pennine Way from Edale in the Peak District to Kirk Yetholm on the English-Scottish border – still in progress.

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How Molly’s record-breaking run panned out

At midday and as rain poured down, 100 runners assembled at the start line to take on the ‘Sprint’ race from Edale to Hebden Bridge.

Six hours in, Browne was at the front of the race, with Lizzie Broughton and Debbie Martin-Consani following behind.

And that was how the order remained by the time they reached Hebden Bridge, with Molly not only taking gold in the women’s race but fourth overall.

Molly Browne wins Summer Spine Sprint 2024 photo credit Montane Summer Spine
Molly Browne claimed an astonishing victory [Photo credit: Montane Summer Spine]

Stephen Earle won the men’s title in a winning time of 8:21:49, pulling away from Liam Hinshelwood and Paul Johnston, who finished joint second.

Browne, who arrived less than 10 minutes later than Earle just after 8.30pm, said: “It has been so tough, but I got to halfway and caught a couple of the guys, a nice group to run in and the atmosphere along the course is great.

This was my first ultra so I wanted to finish before midnight.

“So a good day on the Pennine Way and some of the views are amazing.”

Another record for Allison

Next up was the Montane Summer Challenger South which after five hours saw Rupert Allison, winner and course record breaker of the Winter Spine Sprint, out in front with Jack Cooper.

But from then onwards, Allison pulled further and further clear.

He crossed the line in Hardraw with a time of 22:31:02, breaking Tim Pigott’s Challenger South course record by around half an hour, as clouds made way for a flicker of early-morning sun.

This win marks Allison’s third Spine Race course record in a row after setting bests for the Summer Sprint last year and the Winter Sprint in January.

James White came home in second with a time of 25:11:58, with Cooper in third in 26:54:34.

Allison said soon after crossing the finish line: “It was a torrid afternoon. I am really tired, but it has been a really nice last hour, a gorgeous morning and this is pretty special. It is a relief to finish; glad to be done and really delighted with the time in the end.”

Sullivan sees off Sykes and co

In the women’s race it was Ursula Sullivan who emerged triumphant in 31:05:00 in what was her first ever 100-mile-plus race, just over two hours in front of returning winner Mel Sykes, with Marie-Lou Alemany in third.

Meanwhile the full Summer Spine continues and one of the big favourites in Jon Shield was forced out within the first 24 hours, retiring at the Malham checkpoint and saying on Instagram soon after: “Thanks for the support, not to be this time.”

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2024 Summer Spine results

Sprint (Men), Saturday 15 June 2024, 46 miles

  1. Stephen Earle (GBR) – 8:21:49
  2. Liam Hinshelwood (GBR) – 8:29:48
  3. Paul Johnston (GBR) – 8:29:48

Sprint (Women), Saturday 15 June 2024, 46 miles

  1. Molly Browne (GBR) – 8:30:29
  2. Lizzie Broughton (GBR) – 9:31:21
  3. Debbie Martin-Consani (GBR) – 10:10:38

Challenger South (Men), Saturday 15 June 2024, 108 miles

  1. Rupert Allison (GBR) – 22:31:02
  2. James White (GBR) – 25:11:58
  3. Jack Cooper (GBR) – 26:54:34

Challenger South (Women), Saturday 15 June 2024, 108 miles

  1. Ursula Sullivan (GBR) – 31:05:00
  2. Mel Sykes (GBR) – 33:16:02
  3. Marie-Lou Alemany (GBR) – 34:32:29
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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