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Spine Race 2023: How the race unfolded day-by-day

Staff Reporter

Damian Hall and Jack Scott crossed the line together after another epic winter edition of the Montane Spine Race.

It was Hall who took a first victory in the event after Scott picked up a penalty earlier in the race following a navigational error and you can read all about that – and hear reaction from the pair of them – right here.

The women’s race couldn’t have been more contrasting in terms of the gap from first to second, with Frenchwoman Claire Bannwarth producing a dominant display to finish well clear of her rivals – and take fifth overall. Click here to find out more and listen to her post-race reaction.

And here’s how both the men’s and women’s races unfolded before the dramatic final day.

Day three recap

Day three of the 2023 Spine Race was described as “a day for the micro spikes” by Montane as the competitors tackled typical “Spiney” weather, with temperatures below freezing for much of the day as the landscape resembled more of a winter wonderland than the North of England.

Whilst leader Hall lost his running partner Kim Collison to muscle issues at Tan Hill on day two, leaving him alone in first place, his lead at the front of the race was far from secure.

Jack Scott 2023 Spine Race
Jack Scott (Photo Credit – Montane Spine Race).

That was because his inov-8 teammate Scott, who was the only other athlete out on course running ahead of course record pace on day three.

Scott came into the checkpoint in Greenhead two hours down on Hall, but managed to almost halve that gap by the time he reached the next checkpoint in Bellingham by the early hours of the morning.

Unfortunately, it transpired that Scott made a navigational error that meant he deviated form the course, resulting in a 48 minute time penalty, reduced to 41 minutes after a samaritan act “for stopping to assist another runner in need” according to Race HQ on his way to CP5 in Bellingham.

By Bellingham, both Scott and Hall had fallen behind course record pace, as they prepared themselves to tackle the final day of racing. According to the Spine Race instagram page, Hall was “resting” at CP5 whilst Scott took the time to get “refuelled and reset his kit”. As it stands, the race win is still all to play for after more than 200 miles of racing.

Jean moves up to second as Bannwarth forges on

In the women’s race, Fanny Jean of France managed to overhaul long time second place runner Hannah Rickman by the time the pair had made it to the checkpoint in Dufton. Jean had remained patient throughout the race and her move past the Brit made it a French one-two at that point.

Bannwarth, who was likely unfazed by the progress of her compatriot through the field, had almost a 30 mile lead over second.

Day 2 recap

The second day saw previous co-leader Kim Collison retire, Damian Hall continue to push on at the front and the Frenchwoman Claire Bannwarth march on determinedly with a 20-mile lead.

After more than 30 hours together at the front, Collison dropped out at Tan Hill to leave Hall alone at the front of the race. Brits James Leavesley and Laura Swanton-Rouvelin were amongst the other retirees on day two as the conditions continued to wear down the competitors.

Bannwarth, who had raced alone at the front since near the start of the race, continued to push onwards on the second day of racing in a sustained effort which saw her lead continue to grow.

Day 1 recap

A dramatic first day of racing at the 2023 Spine Race saw 2013 champion Eugeni Rosello Sole of Spain withdraw from the race early on

By the end of the first day, Damian Hall and Kim Collison had pulled clear in the men’s race, whilst Claire Bannwarth of France had braved the conditions and foregone the support running with a companion can give as she raced straight to the front of the women’s race. 

Elsewhere, defending champion Eoin Keith started off in his characteristically measured manner, as the race veteran settled into his preferred pace right from the gun. In the women’s race, Ellie Eccles was an early retiree, as the GB 24 hour team member succumbed to a pre-race chest virus on her first Winter Spine Race.

Finally, Brits Hannah Rickman and Laura Swanton-Rouvelin led the chase to Bannwarth, but found themselves falling further and further behind as the Frenchwoman put her mark on the race. 

13 Valleys Ultra
Tomos Land
Written by
Tomos Land
Tomos Land is a triathlon & running journalist whose expertise lies in the professional world of short course & long distance triathlon, though he also boasts an extensive knowledge of ultra-running.

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