France’s Claire Bannwarth is closing in on defending her Montane Winter Spine Race title in brilliant style.
And former triathlete Lucy Gossage – a multiple Ironman champion who also works as an oncologist and has already raised over £10,000 this week for ‘Move Against Cancer’ – has produced an astonishing display on her debut in the event and looks booked for second.
For the last 24 hours the pair have been out on their own in terms of the women’s standings and barring any late hiccups will confirm those placings on Thursday.
In a class of her own
Bannwarth, who somehow excels in virtually every event on a packed ultra schedule each year, moved to the front very early on in the 268-mile run up the Pennine Way.
And she’s barely been threatened in the women’s race – last year’s runner-up Hannah Rickman briefly closed the gap heading into day two before Gossage took over as Bannwarth’s ‘closest’ pursuer.
Gossage making her mark
And while Gossage will likely finish eight hours or so behind, what she has achieved on her first – and what she insists is a ‘one and only’ – Spine Race appearance has been mind-blowing.
She’s also tackled what is billed as ‘Britain’s most brutal’ race with an incredibly positive mindset, saying from the off that ‘choosing to suffer‘ is a privilege.
Her social media has been looked after by fellow triathlete Nikki Bartlett during the race and it’s showcased to the wider world just what makes the Spine Race – and all those who take part in it – so special.
There’s ultrarunning royalty not far behind them too – Rickman is still going well in third and the legendary Nicky Spinks, on what is her Winter Spine debut, is alongside former runner-up Elaine Bisson in fourth and fifth.
You can follow their progress to the finish via this link.