ian bowles 2

Latest posts by ian bowles 2

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The Spine

Posted: 11/05/2015 at 20:16

Don,t get over hung up on kit advised by sponsored runners. Start by deciding what you need and what can work for you. The lightest kit is not the best for this race. Fighting an ultralight zip in a snowstorm with frozen hands can put you out of the race.

Assume nothing will stay waterproof so Merino wool type undergarments which stay warm when wet are a must as I learned this year.

Kit lists from racers who have only done the race once will only only give you help from the conditions of that year. There are also several written by racers who never made the finish line. What works for the first few days may not be any good for the whole race.

 This is what I put together after 3 Spines modifying the blog each time I learned more. (inc this years DNF)


I shall probably update the list again before the 2016 race.

The Spine

Posted: 05/02/2015 at 14:40

At one point I thought I was getting the hang of Orienteering . Then at a night event one old guy walked past me at the start gate without dibbing. H took the map ,studied it for 5 mins then put it back in the tray, dibbed and walked off into the dark with no map. You guessed it he still beat me by 20 mins by memorising the whole course and run/walking it in the dark!   I nearly gave up for good.

The Spine

Posted: 04/02/2015 at 21:48

Read this one and you may end up signing on ,but perhaps not?



The Spine

Posted: 28/01/2015 at 20:29

Strange things happened to feet this year. First point was no ones waterproof socks stayed waterproof. I got one small blister on the sole of my right foot. this was attended to by the medics at CP2 , By the end of the race it had healed! I always wear two pairs of Socks ( 3 including the waterproof socks). Most blister damage happens on day one as you move much faster and any rubbing is more severe . Once you slow down blisters are caused by bad fitting shoes or the early damage getting worse.

The medics always say I have good feet but I suspect it may be the double sock rule and the fact that ZT Wings are exactly matched to my foot shape (I can run an  ultra in them straight out of the box.I don,t really have to think much about my feet. 

With regards to conditions yes they were far worse than previous races hence the early high drop out race. The biggest difference this year was that the remaining pack did not have to deal with real sleep deprivation as we kept being held at CP,s. 

 No one was really tested by the lack of sleep so the later drop out rate was reduced to almost zero. If the race had carried on without the extra free rest time then I suspect we would have had only a 25% finish rate. I don,t think this years novice runners really appreciate how lucky they were. If they return in 2016 they will be in for an unexpected shock!

 Lack of sleep will be hardly mentioned in this years blogs . GKD will tell you about sleep issues.

The Spine

Posted: 27/01/2015 at 21:40

Garry used Spikecross for the first leg in 2013 but I think he abandoned them later due to lack of cushioning. Many Use Speedcross but they are not good on wet rock and again don,t have much cushioning. My way of looking at things is you need to have a shoe that probably is really good on rock. If you fall in mud you get muddy but if you fall on rock you can break yourself. Salomon XT Wings works well for me and have good toe box protection.. Any of the Inovate Rocklite soled shoes worked well. Hokas have lousy grip on most wet surfaces unless you replace the Sole with another type from a different maker.

  As a general rule avoid any shoe which claims to be an ultralight version of an earlier model. I have seen shoes fall apart after just one hard day of Spine conditions.

The Spine

Posted: 25/01/2015 at 17:21

Alli is not actually a Doctor but she is one hell of a competent MST and she knows what to look for. The standard of MST support varied enormously but Darren tried to have a top notch team leader with each group.


The Spine

Posted: 25/01/2015 at 11:31

First rough of my Spine Race Report. Rough and ready and no holds barred . Apologies to anyone I may have offended but I write from how I felt at the time so it is authentic warts and all .


Enjoy Ian 

The Spine

Posted: 19/01/2015 at 10:59

Thanks everyone . I will start putting my race report together soon.

The wind played havoc with the RO as well as the Racers. From what I gather one of the major problems was the spread of the field which was made worse by the front runners managing to push ahead of some of the Weather Fronts. Just moving the MSTeams around the corse became a major issue. I suspect that Cragchick had her race cut because they did not have the man power to support the tail enders. The published Cut Off times are all well and good on a normal race where you can predict where runners should be from their pace over the last 6hrs but in this race the weather windows ment that runners could have their pace cut in half if they hit an exp[osed part of the course at the wrong time. I do know that the decision to cut the tail enders would have involved much discussion and calculations taking into account terrain ,weather,pace and how much stopping time(rest) the tail enders had. They will also have talked to the MST on the ground at any previous road head. If the RO had thought there was any way the tail enders could have gone on they would have asked the MST on the ground to consult the runners. The way this happened to Cragchick makes me believe that for the RO with all the information the decision to stop Cragchicks race was unavoidable . They would then not have delegated the decision to the MST who gave her the bad news.

The bottom line is that the RO will do all in their power to get as many runners to the finish line as possible . Its really gutting to have your goal posts moved but I guess thats another reason why the spine is different. 

This years Spine carried on in conditions where any other race in Europe would have been canceled. We had only one day (my Bellingham /finish line leg) where a normal Ultra or Fell race would have gone ahead.

Hope this clarifies things. And Cragchick I really feel for you. It,s one thing to DNF and a whole other to be DNF,t out of the blue. In your place I to would have been livid!

The Spine

Posted: 18/01/2015 at 13:16

Brief idea of race halts as I am aware.

 Day one Challengers would have been halted before Kinder Scout but most were past the MST,s before wind became more severe. Only 1 in 20 would ever have encountered winds that strong ever! none of the field would ever have run in such conditions before. 

Main race start delayed till 11.30.

Driving rain and snow on the nose from dusk hammered anyone not safe in CP1. Many dropped out from "Wind Blindness" Hypothermia and because they were scared shitless!

Day 2 ---Strong winds and some rain. Race halted at around Midnight as wind on PYG reached 100mph! Diversion to Horton put in place. Runner held at Horton and Malam Tarn (some not aware of halt myself included pushed on )

Race restarts at around 6am

Day 2 --- winds gusting up to 40mph

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