So you’ve entered the Spine Race

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So you’ve entered the Spine Race

So, you’ve entered the Spine race. You’ve done this for more than likely one of two reasons.

1: You got so caught up following this years race you decided that you’d like to have a go.

2: You really fancy a challenge & think this will give you what you’re looking for.

First things first.                                  

***DON’T PANIC***

Seriously now 

***DON’T PANIC***

             You’ve now got 10 months to prepare for what has been described as “A Game Changer” You may or may not want to spend this time productively, if you can’t map read you’ve got time to learn, if you can map read, you could brush up on your skills. NAV4 based in Cumbria & Ranger Expeditions based in Hampshire both work closely with the organisers of the race & offer courses dedicated to you making the most of your performance on race day/week.

***DON’T PANIC***

             Get the credit card out & start buying the kit early. It’s a comprehensive list & if like me last year you don’t have any of it, buying it all new can get prohibitively expensive. You can go down the rental route & get some of the stuff from places like Trek Hire in Shere. You can rent most of the equipment you need for the race but it is more geared towards trekking & as I found, the weight can be an issue.

***DON’T PANIC***

            With regards to the kit, I went with the Mini Trangia stove. It’s fuelled by methylated spirits & whilst it worked well in my garage before the race, on the side of a mountain when it was snowing heavily it failed miserably. It’ll be on eBay this month if you want to buy it…. I’ll be going on the more reliable but again, much more expensive Jet Boil. If anybody wants to give me one as a present, my Birthdays in April.

***DON’T PANIC***

            Shoes! What do you wear? That is a huge debate & one that only yourself can answer. Stu Westfield, the Spine Medic did a great survey regarding shoe type on the last race, the results can be found here. Footwear survey. Have a read & try to make an informed choice. My shoes the Scott T2 Kinabalus were good for the drainage side of the race but grip did cause me some issues. I’ll be back in a different pair with hopefully much better tread on the soles & I’ll spend a lot less time on my arse than I did this year.

***DON’T PANIC***

            Another massive outlay will be your tent or Bivvy choice. Some go for the tent plus survival bag option & others just for the plain simple Bivvy bag. There is a 3rd choice though & I’ll be going down this route. The Rab Ridge Master,  It’s a Bivvy but also combines a frame work if required so it can double up as a small tent if the weathers really foul. For me it’s the best of both worlds but at 1.2kgs it’s a little heavy. Again, beg, borrow or steal if you can. (Please don’t steal) I borrowed a Bivvy like the ridge master for this years race & was very impressed with it. Just need to buy my own one now. (Birthdays in April in case you forgot)

***DON’T PANIC***

            Jackets? Take your pick really, most racers this year were in Montane or Rab hard shells. Goretex, Pertex or Event are a must for the conditions you will encounter. My Rab Pertex jacket worked really well & will be out again next year. My Mountain jacket never came out of the drop bag although going over Cross fell, I nearly rued that decision.

***DON’T PANIC***

            Clothing, this inevitably leads onto your layers. I didn’t spend loads on these. My fleeces were all from sports direct, TK Maxx & Matalan. Thin, lightweight with superb wicking qualities. You don’t have to spend hundreds of £££’s to achieve a good combination of clothing that works for you. As with all good sports shirts etc, just make sure they wick your sweat away. Coupled with a base layer of Under Armour, Slazenger or Sondico they worked really well for me. At the worst of the weather I had on 2 base layers, 2 shirts, I fleece & my Rab jacket. I still had my emergency thermal base layer & a spare fleece in my pack if the cold really set in. Apart from the boggy section just after Tan Hill, I was never that cold. I’ll be looking to keep that combination of kit for next year. I brought 5 full sets of kit for the race, probably only went through half of it though.

***DON’T PANIC***

 

            Back packs? Here again, it’ll be down to personal choice. I went with the Montane 40lt, but because of my overly large & heavy kit it was a struggle to fit everything in. I strapped a camelback to the back of the pack for drinking water & also had a bumbag for snacks. Next years race, although the pack worked really well, I’ll be carrying a lot less cumbersome items & so hopefully everything will fit into something smaller. I’ll also be going on a small front pack for snacks & water.

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This what I felt like for most of the race.

***DON’T PANIC***

            Water! Water points were few & far between this year & I struggled to get enough fluid. I’ve just bought a small water filter from Sawyer. It looks like it’s a great piece of kit & I’m looking forward to testing it out over the next few months. If it works as well as I hope, it will definitely be in my kit bag.

***DON’T PANIC***

            Training! We all do that don’t we? Well, we all do it slightly differently but we all do it. Be it running along a canal or running mountains we will be pounding out the miles in the run up to the race. Little tip, try to practice carrying your expected race weight for a few miles every now & again. It’ll make carrying the pack for 268miles a lot less of a shock. I know it sounds like teaching folk to suck eggs but if you don’t practice you will fail. I’ve already got a pack sorted out with a bag of sand in it. Comes in at 15kgs, I’m hoping that my race pack weight will be less than 11kgs so running with that will hopefully be a little easier.

***DON’T PANIC***

            Terrain. Obviously you can’t recreate the boggy & rocky terrain without actually going on the course, so if you can recce the Pennines this year, then do it! Trust me, if you’ve never set foot on the course, you’ll be in for a shock. Unfortunately, I probably won’t have the time to get up there this year unless I can get a couple of weeks free from work & being self-employed I hope I don’t.

***DON’T PANIC***

            Sleeping. Managing your sleep will be a major issue for the next race. With the increased field size the CPs at Hebden Bridge will be a bun fight with Hawes faring only slightly better. I’ll be just using them as a staging post to get food & then get out again. I’ll sleep on the trail & only use the CPs to sleep in during the latter stages of the race.

***DON’T PANIC***

            Hopefully, following some of these tips will get you to the end of the race or at least a bit further than the 234miles I managed to get to this year. Now, if I could only follow my own advice & actually prepare properly for a race then I too might get to touch the Pub wall in Kirk Yetholm. Last but not least, don’t panic…….

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5 thoughts on “So you’ve entered the Spine Race

  1. Interesting stuff, thanks for the NAV4 Adventure mention. We’ll be scheduling some Spine Prep days soon (afternoon / evening sessions maybe, to test out night navigation)
    Just a quick coment about ‘Montane Pertex Jackets’ – I know what you mean but simple pertex Is Not Waterproof. A proper waterproof jacket is essential.

  2. Although the Spine 2015 seems comfortably several months away, the time is here to test out your strategies, equipment, navigation & hill skills. Lots of good ideas here from Ogeerunner (& other blogs too), but there’s no sustitute for getting out on the hill to see if what works for others is good for you too. Stu Westfield (Spine Mountain & Medic safety team / Ranger Expeditions).

  3. Just seen you’ve left Byrness on your way to Kirk Yetholm. Great work Allan! Glad to see you got past Bellingham. Epic.

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