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BACK AT THE SPINE RACE

Our annoyingly cheerful ultrarunner Damian Hall has his heart stolen once again by this epic ultra

I spent a tiring but wonderful week in the Pennines recently, at the Spine Race. It calls itself “Britain’s most brutal race” and I’ve never heard anyone disagree. The Spine is a 268- mile footrace along the Pennine Way, England’s oldest and toughest National Trail, in winter. It’s a single-stage race, meaning the clock is always ticking, so sleep is a luxury runners can barely afford. It’s dark for 16 hours of every 24. The mountainous and boggy terrain saps energy. The weather could do anything and everything, and usually does. Broken bones (there were at least three broken ribs this year), hypothermia and trench foot are not uncommon. Water bottles freeze. Hallucinations abound. Less than half the field usually finishes the race. Worse still, in 2015, one fatigued runner ran into a cow’s backside.

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About Women’s Running

Coming up in the April issue of Women’s Running… Ramping up your mileage this spring? We’ve got everything you need in the April issue of Women’s Running, out now! Find the best running shoe for you with our first Women’s Running Shoe Guide, featuring 30 models tried and tested. If you’re marathon training, you’ll find part two of our 12-week training plans in this issue, taking you right up to race day. We’ve got an essential stretching routine to ease tired muscles, three gorgeous recipes to boost your health and energy, and tips on how to tackle long runs. Plus, we’ve got all the usual great gear reviews, inspiration and quick training advice.