Competitors in a previous The Spine. Photo: Border Search and Rescue Unit

Competitors in a previous The Spine. Photo: Border Search and Rescue Unit

Ultrarunner Pavel Paloncy has successfully defended his title in the UK’s most brutal race.

The Czech runner won The Spine Race in a record-breaking time of 3 days 19hrs 34 minutes.

The runner arrived at the finish point in Kirk Yetholm in the Scottish Borders 19 minutes behind Cork-based runner Eoin Keith, but in a race interrupted by diversions and forced stoppages, the Irishman’s race time was actually four hours slower than Paloncy’s.

Keith’s second-place time was still more than 24 hours faster than Paloncy’s time in the 2014 event, so both men smashed the existing record.

Damian Hall, who is in third place, also looks set easily to beat last year’s winning time, and leading woman Beth Pascall is just a couple of hundred metres from the Border Inn finish in fourth overall place, again faster than Paloncy’s time last year.

Competitors have faced particularly brutal conditions this year on the 268 miles (431km) course along the length of the Pennine Way. Snow, hail, heavy rain and storms have hit the field of runners, and forced the compulsory holding of the runners overnight at checkpoints while storms, which also led to power cuts at the holding points, abated a little.

This year’s Spine Race, which is sponsored by outdoor brand Montane, is the fourth running of the event, which was first held in 2012.

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