It’s called Britain’s most brutal race – and with good reason.
The Dare 2b Spine Race covers 268 miles of demanding mountainous terrain across the Pennine Way from Edale to Kirk Yetholm. Competitors battle against snow, ice and bitter winds to finish the course in a week and all on just a few hours’ sleep each night.
But Baildon man Mick Cooper took the challenge in his stride.
Competitors had until 8am on Saturday to finish the race, but Mr Cooper was in the pub celebrating completing it by Thursday evening.
The joiner took second place out of 46 people, with a time of five days, seven hours and 11 minutes. He finished just over two hours after winner Eugeni Roselló Sole.
But for Mr Cooper, the winning wasn’t important, it was all about the taking part. The 48-year-old, who regularly competes in 100-mile races, said the endeavour was ‘just another challenge.’ Despite having to chip balls of ice from his shoes, his water bottle being frozen and a problem with his shin during the course, Mr Cooper was not fazed by his feat.
“It was just another race to do. I thought it was going to be tough because of the weather forecast, but it’s been perfect conditions really. It was hard underfoot.
“On the last day there was a five-mile section where we weren’t making much progress because there was calf-deep powdery snow. I was just grateful to get to the end,” said Mr Cooper.
The Spine Race started last year, when only three competitors made it to the finish line.
There are five checkpoints along the way where runners stop for food and to sleep, but competitors must carry a tent, sleeping bag, stove, water, a first aid kit, enough food to last two days and a GPS system, map and compass in case they get stranded.
The longest day on the race is the second day when there is 60 miles between checkpoints. Last year most people withdrew after two days.