Two of my favourites as possible challengers for Jasmin Paris in last weeks Spine Race preview turned out to have stepped down a distance to battle it out for the podium places in the shorter Spine Race Challenger. When I say shorter what I really mean is less long because even if the Challenger is the sister race it is still as the name suggests by no means an easy cruise! The participants set to tackle the 108 miles of very technical and at times very NON-runable terrain have 60 hours to complete the course, that might seem like a lot but if you take into consideration that the mens course record is over 22 hours compared to UTMB's of just over 20 you get an idea of how hard even the short version of this race is.
Someone who did not have to worry about making cut offs was Carol Morgan, she took the lead from the gun and through some very solid and cleverly paced running held onto her position as first lady over the finish-line in 31:47:37. In the early stage of the race Jenny Yeo and Jen Scotney were not far behind but over the second day they started to fall back to eventually finish as second and third lady in 35:36 and 38:53 respectively.
1. Carol Morgan 31:47:37
2. Jenny Yeo 35:36:39
3. Jennifer Scotney 38:53:16
Post race Interview with Jenny and Jen via the links below!
If the distances and finishing times of the Spine races seem like a torturous amount of right foot left foot so early in the year then perhaps the gradual back to back build up of the stage race below might be a more appealing choice of season starter.
SANDSJOBACKA TRAIL, 25k + 50 k + 89 k
This is a quiet new Swedish race with an interesting format well suited to kick off the season with a bang (take note UK race organisers!). Runners take on a total of 100 miles split over 3 races in 3 consecutive days, all of them on different courses in a nature reserve surrounding the coastal town of Gothenburg. Things start off easy with a 25 k night trail on Friday eve, followed by a 50 k route on Saturday and finish with a return to the dark through a very early (6:00) start of the 50 mile finale on the Sunday. The times of the three races are combined and the runner with the fastest total is the winner. Henriette Brynthe who finished 8th in a very competitive international field at Ultravasan last year won the 2019 edition of Sandsjobacka Trail, second lady (but first on the initial night trail) was home girl Colette Coumans and in third place was second Norwegian Elisabeth Borgesen who placed 7th at TDS in 2018.
1. Henriette Brynthe, NOR 17:59:25
2. Colette Coumans, SWE 18:28:07
3. Elisabeth Borgersen, NOR 19:56:46
COUNTRY TO CAPITAL, 45 miles (no info on the altitude gain but it is a pancake flat one so i guesstimate 208m)
This extended pub crawl starting at the Shoulder of Mutton in Wendower is a popular season starter for the South East of UK contingent. The starting gun goes off just in time for people to arrive on the first train from London. My pre race favourite and Spartathlon shero Cat Simpson took an early lead ahead of Ali Young but at the first check point they were both passed by double Maverick X winner Rebecca Ferry who from there on held on to her position all the way back to the big smoke and finished in a record breaking time of 5:53:35. Hot on her heels over the finish line in Little Venice just twenty seconds behind was Simpson and rounding out the podium in third was Young in 6:19.
1. Rebecca Ferry 5:53:35
2. Cat Simpson 5:53:55
3. Ali Young 6:19