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Roberts, Morris win inaugural Montane Spine Challenger – North

The first-ever Montane Spine Challenger — North is coming to a close, and more leaders have dropped from the Montane Spine Race

British runners Simon Roberts and Victoria Morris are the winners of the first-ever Montane Spine Challenger — North, a new addition to the Montane Spine Races this year. The 160-mile (257-kilometre) course takes runners on the northern section of the full race route, which is more exposed and tests runners with more challenging weather conditions. Roberts completed the race in 43 hours, 48 minutes and 17 seconds, and Morris finished in 52 hours, 51 minutes and 38 seconds.

Updates from the 2022 Montane Spine Races

This is not Robert’s first time on top of the podium. In 2021, he won the Dragon’s Back Race, a 380 km stage race with 17,400m of elevation gain in Wales. Setting a blistering pace right from the start, Roberts quickly opened up a gap on his competitors that no athlete managed to close. He arrived at the finish line around 4 a.m. on Wednesday morning after a long, lonely final night of racing.

“I always planned to race hard, race fast, race relentless,” he said in a post-race interview. “I’m a competitive runner and that always drives me on when it’s tough.”

Second-place finisher Roland Kelly arrived four-and-a-half hours later, completing the course in 48 hours, 23 minutes and 18 seconds, followed by Howard Dracup in third in 49 hours, 12 minutes and 52 seconds.

On the women’s side, Morris was the first woman and fourth overall competitor to reach the finish. Morris is an experienced trail runner, and was the first woman in the Montane Spine Summer Challenger in 2021. Like Roberts, she held a commanding lead for much of the race ahead of second-place finisher Hannah Rickman, who completed the course in 57:05:26. French runner Fanny Jean finished third in 58:53:01.

More leaders drop from Montane Spine Race

As the Montane Spine Challenger — North wraps up, the Spine Race is continuing into its fourth day, and even more competitors have succumbed to it’s harsh weather and difficult terrain. Eugeni Roselló Solé, who won the race in 2013 and placed third in 2017, was in the lead after Damian Hall retired on Tuesday, but retired just after 3 p.m. Wednesday afternoon (U.K. time). This has left Irish runner Eoin Keith in the lead, giving him the opportunity to finally finish on top of the podium after placing second in 2019 and 2020. Douglas Zinis and James Leavesley are running close together in second and third.

The Spine Race claims more top contenders

Another front runner has also dropped from the women’s race. Nicola Sommers, who was in third position, retired around 10:30 a.m. Wednesday morning (U.K. time), opening up the possibility of a podium finish for Lizzie Faithful Davies, who is now in third. Debbie Martin-Consani has created a substantial lead on the rest of the field, and Elaine Bisson has remained steadfast in second place.