I first learned of the Montane Spine Race last year when there were some mentions online of an Irish guy winning some insanely long race and breaking the record. This turned out to be Eoin Keith who is an amazing ultra runner. He had to pull out this year in third position after breaking a rib near the start. He waited 170 miles to do so :-)
(Image Source The Guardian)
Yup, the Spine Race is 268 miles along the Pennines in the UK. Only the toughest of the tough get to the end. The more I watched the coverage last week, the more my admiration grew. These are a special breed of people who want to push themselves to extremes of physical and mental exhaustion.
Which brings us to Carol Morgan. She is an Irish nurse working in Leeds who has already finished world famous ultras like UTMB. Carol went out last week and finished as the first woman. This is already an huge achievement for any human. Then you realise she was joint 6th overall. Then you learn that she beat the previous record by 43 hours! Finally you realise she finished a day ahead of the second placed woman.
This is just a spectacular sporting achievement and everyone in the country should be talking about it just as much as any Olympic medallist. But we know they won’t because that’s not how mainstream media works.
(Image Source The Grough)
Carol appears to be a very private person who declined to have any video footage taken of her competing in the race. But I just wanted to say that her win last week is genuinely inspirational for me. I’ve never run more than 26.2 miles and I’ve never run more than 15 miles off road. I don’t know if I’ll ever try to do 268 miles, but if I do, it’ll be because of people like Carol and Eoin.
It strikes me that Irish people are particularly suited to Ultra running due to the fact that we are all stubborn feckers. I think we’re going to see a major uptick in this area in Ireland in the next few years. Far beyond Adventure races, Tris and traditional XC. The mix of run-walk that many competitors do over these very long distances is much more manageable for a wider range of people. And it doesn’t need to cost anything beyond some runners, wet gear, a compass and a map (I know I know, there’s more to it than that).