The Pennine Way race route included Pen-y-ghent

The Pennine Way race route included Pen-y-ghent

An event touted as Britain’s most brutal race has been won by a pair of runners who completed the length of the Pennine Way in less than seven days.

Gary Morrison and Steve Thompson set foot in Kirk Yetholm this evening 152hrs 2mins after leaving Edale to take the winners’ trophy in The Spine. Only three starters completed the course.

The non-stop winter event started on Sunday at the southern end of the 431km (268-mile) course over the frozen moors and fells of the Pennine Way.

Organisers describe the challenge as ‘a truly brutal race’. Competitors ‘face the most extreme weather conditions England has to offer: deep snow, ice, wind and rain in a gruelling seven-day race from Edale to Kirk Yetholm’.

They said: “It’s not just the conditions that are against you: your own body could become your worst enemy with tiredness, fatigue, sleep deprivation and exposure playing havoc with your performance.

“To finish you must be prepared and willing to push yourself harder than ever before.”

Elite-class winners Morrison and Thompson were able to enjoy the traditional pint in the Border Hotel in Kirk Yetholm after arriving at the finish. The only other runner still on the course is Mark Caldwell who is expected to finish within a couple of hours.

Andrew Collister dropped out earlier today but gains the prize for the top open class runner. Brian Mullan dropped out on the fifth day at Dufton after descending from Cross Fell, 248km (154 miles) in to the race.

Steve Thompson said at the end of the race: “I’ve done it! Who’d have thought it? Next time I’ll prepare for longer than a weekend.” Fellow winner Gary Morrison added: “Fantastic race. I couldn’t have got through it without the people who looked after me. All credit to the medics and to the race organisers as well. Brilliant race!”

The event, which organisers estimated entailed 11,195m (36,729ft) of ascent, was a qualifying race for the Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc.

Part of the race proceeds with go to Mountain Rescue England & Wales.

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