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Friends reunited: Three-time winner Pavel Paloncy glad to be back with ‘the old fellas’ at Spine Race

Jonathan Turner
News Director
Updated on
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Pavel Paloncy is a Winter Spine Race trailblazer and record-breaker – and he’s back on the start line for the first time in six years.

The Czech star won on his debut in 2014 and went on to clock an incredible five-year streak which saw further titles in 2015 and 2018 as well as runner-up spots in the two years between.

All of which saw him become the first person to win the race three times and the first to complete it five times.

The gang is back together

But he hasn’t returned since then, so what’s prompted the change of heart in 2024?

One reason appears to be the fact that nearly all of the recent winners on the men’s side, many of whom were involved like Paloncy in the 2023 Barkley Marathons, reunite in Edale.

Paloncy secured ‘Fun Run’ status at the Barkleys and writing on Instagram this week he said of his Spine return: “To be honest, I can’t say what is the strongest motive (apart from racing perspective), but deep inside I am pretty sure I want race again.

“I was missing [the] vibe, the old fellas @ultra_damo, @randomforestrunner, @eoinkeithultra, @eugenirosello, staff, volunteers, the Spine family and the Pennine Way itself, which in fact is a very nice trail… in summer😁.

Pavel Paloncy ahead of his Winter Wainwrights attempt in 2022 (Photo credit: Inov-8)

Not all about the ‘why’

“For me, not knowing the most significant reason “Why?” is OK as long as I know that I want to do it. And I am perfectly sure that I want to do it.

“In a week I will be running along the Pennine Way in this gruelling race in hard conditions and when low points come (and you can be sure, that they will come), I have to be sure what I am doing. Everything is falling in its right place.”

It promises to be a fascinating renewal, with Eoin Keith since having joined Paloncy on three wins while John Kelly and reigning champion Damian Hall continue their fascinating Pennine Way / Barkley Marathons rivalry.

And on the women’s side Claire Bannwarth is back to defend her title while the legendary Nicky Spinks, another involved in the Barkley Marathons last year, also returns.

It all starts in Edale on Sunday morning and Paloncy, who is renowned for his handling of tough weather conditions, will have noted that the temperatures are forecast to be below freezing by the weekend.

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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