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

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

Runners in a brutal ultra-race are back on the hill after being held at checkpoints last night for safety.

Competitors in The Spine Race had to spend the night at Alston, Greenhead and Bellingham as hurricane-force winds and blizzards made conditions on the Pennines too dangerous even for hardened ultrarunners.

Racing resumed this morning, with the front runners on the final leg along the Border Ridge. At the head of the field are Eoin Keith and last year’s winner and record holder Pavel Paloncy, a little over 20km (12 miles) from the finish at Kirk Yetholm.

Places have been complicated by the enforced waits at various checkpoints, so although Keith is ahead of Paloncy on the ground, the Czech runner has time credits of more than 46 hours due to enforced waits, compared to Keith’s 41½ hours.

Fourth on the race leaderboard is first woman Beth Pascall, about nine hours behind the leader.

The Montane-sponsored race has the reputation of being the UK’s most brutal, and involves running the full 431km (268-mile) length of the Pennine Way in full winter conditions and minimal daylight hours.

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  4. Pavel Paloncý wins Spine Race for third time
  5. Leaders set blistering pace in Spine Race after front runners retire