Eoin Keith not only inscribed his name alongside previous winners of what is regarded as Britain’s ‘most brutal race’, he did so in comprehensive fashion, finishing more than 15 hours quicker than any previous participant. Keith made his final step to victory last Wednesday morning with an official time of 95 hours and 17 minutes, ousting last year’s winner Pavel Paloncy.
The race covered 268 miles of non-stop mountainous terrain across the Pennine Way. Considered the most testing National Trail in Britain, the Pennine Way crosses beautiful, difficult and challenging terrain and includes the Peak District, Yorkshire Dales, Northumberland National Park and the Cheviots, before finishing on the Scottish Borders.
Irishman Keith, an established ultra runner with previous victories at the Sri Chinmoy New York 6 Day Race and 24 Hour Championships in Belfast, led for the majority of the event’s latter stages. Pursuing him for much of the race was Pavel Paloncy – who pipped Keith to victory in 2015 – yet the Czech runner couldn’t match Keith in the latter stages.
Peter Wilkie secured third place in 117 hours and 14 minutes, while Matt Neale and Oliver Lutte secured fourth and fifth respectively. The two sole female runners to complete the race—Anna Buckingham and Zoe Thornburgh—did so together, crossing the tape in 166 hours.
As ever, the field for this year’s race faced some treacherous conditions across the 268-mile course. Of the 60 competitors to have embarked upon the journey, only 24 managed to make it to the finish point at the Scottish Borders.
Taking place alongside the 268 mile event last week was the Spine Challenger, a 108 mile, non-stop, 60 hour, winter mountain marathon between Edale and Hawes - an extremely technical section of the Pennine Way. Tom Hollins secured top place with a time of 29 hours 25 mins, with Beth Pascall and Matt Bennett in joint second place less than an hour behind.
The event’s Facebook page contains some incredible footage of the 2016 race; well worth a watch for anyone looking for some inspiration for the chilly winter runs.