Jim Mann is ahead of course-record pace at the Montane Spine Race, Britain's most brutal race; Carol Morgan leads the women's race; weather expected to worsen.
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Hawes, Yorkshire Dales National Park, United Kingdom, Monday, 15 January, 2018: Just over half way into the 2018 Montane Spine Race, Jim Mann (GBR) is setting a scorching pace at the front of the field.
The Durham-based runner arrived at the second major check point, Hawes, on Monday morning at 08:42am, 174km into the race – at a faster pace than Wouter Huitzing's Spine Challenger win the day before.
Mann slept of around one hour at, briefly allowing second-placed runner and course-record-holder Eoin Keith (IRL) to leapfrog him into first place. But a rested Mann left the check point 18 minutes behind Keith and soon powered past him on the way up Great Shunner Fell.
Spine Race organisers are having to open check points around five hours sooner than originally anticipated because of Mann's unprecedented speed. At 19:34, Mann arrived at check point three, Middleton in Teesdale, 216km into the race, some seven hours ahead of course-record pace.
“It was really good fun out there today,” said the remarkably fresh runner. “Beautiful. Nice, big, deep bogs.”
Second-placed Keith had a failed attempt at a power nap at the Tan Hill Inn, before giving chase again. The Irishman described the weather as “brutal”.
Two-time Spine Race-winner and (record) four-time finisher Pavel Paloncý (CZE) is in third, after sleeping unusually early at Hawes, for two hours. 2017 race winner Tom Hollins arrived at Hawes in good spirits and slept for five hours. Simon Gfeller (SWI), who also slept at Hawes, has edged ahead of Hollins into fourth.
The women's race hasn't been quite so smooth for the leader. Carol Morgan (IRL), the current women''s champion and course-record holder, arrived at Hawes looking weak and tired, and she spent time with medical staff.
That, food and around one and a half to two hours' sleep revived her though. “I'm feeling good, much better than when I came in… I've eaten lots and lots and lots.” Her plans? “To go running!”
France's Daphné Derouch is in second place in the women's race, but not yet at Hawes. Sarah Kirsty Williams (GBR) is third, only minutes behind her.
Spain's Eugeni Roselló Solé, the 2013 winner, retired from the race, with hotly tipped compatriot Julian Morcillo suit. There have been 16 retirements so far.
The Montane Spine MRT Challenge was won by Robin Smith in 37:45, with Mike Fawcett second, only 11 minutes behind, and Duncan Buchanan third. The women';s race was won by Steph Dwyer, also the only female finisher.
The weather forecast for Monday night and Tuesday in the Pennines is for it to get colder, windier, with rain and snow showers.
The 2018 Montane Spine Race continues through the night…