Go to any outdoor lecture from the likes of Kenton Cool, Andy Kirkpatrick or Steve Birkenshaw and you are guaranteed that, at the end, a member of the audience will raise their hand and project the words “What next?”. It can be hard to stay in the moment. I am as bad for it as others. When crossing the finish line of a race or ticking off a personal project, seldom do I bask in the glory of what has been accomplished. Within minutes all I can think about is the next race, project or goal. In an age where race places sell out as quickly as Glastonbury, sometimes 9-12 months ahead of the event day, staying in the moment is an ever-present challenge to all levels of athlete.
Image: Montane Spine
But what comes next for me?
The Spine Challenger.
Last February, fuelled by a trail run with friends and after avidly watching the race unfold via social media, I made the bold decision to enter in 2016.
The Spine Challenger is a non-stop 108 mile footrace from Edale to Hawes, along the Pennine Way in the chilling and unpredictable month of January. I will be carrying all my kit, (e.g. sleeping and cooking systems), along with food, water and spares. A self-navigated route, I’ll be utilising GPS and map & compass to stay on course, through the many hours of darkness.
Kit is a large part of the preparation, and my credit card keeps taking hits making sure I meet the mandatory list. Given the nature of the race, there is a permanent mountain safety team on standby, SPOT trackers on every participant and the race can be halted at their discretion if they feel the conditions are unsafe. The 2015 event's start time was postponed due to high winds, and was stopped throughout on several occasions.
You may ask, "Why would you want to put yourself in such situations?!" and the simple answer is- I don’t really know. Challenges are as much mental as physical, and the ability to control yourself in a hostile and potentially unpleasant environment has an appeal of its own- at least to me.
It promises to be an epic adventure and one which I will be sharing in January!
The Montane Spine Challenger kicks off from the 9th January 2016 and runs through until the 11th. We can't wait to hear about James' Race- subscribe to our newsletter or follow us on Facebook to keep up with the latest Lifesystems Adventurers' news.