Well its now five days to go until the start of the Spine Challenger and the nerves are starting to build. Actually I would go as far as to say that this is the most nervous I’ve felt before any race and I’m not entirely sure why.

My training has gone well and I’m confident I have the fitness I need to cover the distance. As a qualified Winter and International Mountain Leader I should also have the experience to cope with the winter hill conditions I will face during the race. A friend has also very kindly offered to crew the race for me, so I have much more flexibility than if I was running the race un-supported. I reality I should be confident but instead the nerves are tingling.

Pre-race prep mid Atlantic

Pre-race prep mid Atlantic

The demands of work and last minute travel has not helped, with a trip to Florida and disrupted travel home not exactly the acclimatisation I was hoping for. I’m feeling rushed as a result and a little under prepared as I sit here writing this on my delayed flight back to the UK. I still have a lot of stuff to sort, not least the food I will carry for the race. Hopefully jet lag doesn’t play too much havoc and my main focus this week will be sleep!

On a positive note the weather forecast is looking pretty good. Very cold weather is forecast, maybe as low as -13 degrees on Saturday but it should be relatively clear and maybe even be quite sunny during the day. That said the forecast will surely change between now and Friday, so I won’t count my chickens just yet.

The one piece of prep I did manage to get done on the flight across was my route card. John and I met on New Years Eve for a run and to plan where and how he will try and meet me during the race itself. I then matched this back against the race profile itself on the flight, made some minor adjustments to try to evenly space them as much as possible and pulled together my usual route card.

My Spine Challenger Route Card

My Spine Challenger Route Card

The one element that is missing from this card though are any time targets, as unlike other races this is because I have no idea how long it will take me to run the 108 miles from Edale to Hawes. This is for a number of reasons. Firstly I will be carrying 8kg on my back which will have a significant impact on my speed. Secondly the weather, combined with the ground underfoot will determine how quickly I cover the terrain.
From John’s perspective I will be carrying a tracker, as will every other competitor in the event, so he will be able to use this to follow my progress and work out where I am in relation to him. As such I am not setting myself any time objectives on my pacing card and am expecting to just go with the flow and see how the race develops.

If you are interested in following my progress from 8am Saturday morning, then you can find the tracker at http://live.thespinerace.com. I’m number 296 in The Challenger Race or you can search for me by my name – Giles Thurston – to find out how I am getting on.

So with that in mind, my pre-race objectives are pretty simple for this race:

  1. Have fun!
  2. Finish within the cut off!

Short sharp and simple. Not a lot else I can say really.
I will be back after the race with my usual written thoughts and hopefully a photo or two. I may try and post an occasional photo or thought during the race on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter but no promises there.

All that remains is for me to ask you to wish me luck. I really think I will be needing it with this one!