Carol Morgan smashed the women's record. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Carol Morgan smashed the women's record. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Carol Morgan has reached the finishing point of the gruelling Montane Spine Race to take the women’s title and the event record.

The Dublin runner, now based in Leeds in West Yorkshire, smashed the female record for the 420km (268-mile) course along the length of the Pennine Way national trail.

She arrived at Kirk Yetholm in the Scottish Borders in a time of 109hrs 54mins, taking joint sixth place overall.

The veteran of the Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc led the women’s field from the early stages of the race, which began at 8.30am on Sunday. For most of the race Morgan, an advanced practitioner in emergency medicine, ran in close company of Paul Nelson. The pair finished together late on Thursday.

The previous record for the race, dubbed Britain’s most brutal, was held by Debbie Brupbacher, with a time of 153hrs 17mins, set in 2014. Incredibly, Morgan ran the course 1¾ days faster than the record.

As the winner finished, Canadian Helene Dumais was running in second place approaching Hadrian’s Wall, a few kilometres ahead of Gabriele Kenkenberg of Germany, with fellow countrywoman Yvonne Lehnert fourth, and British runners Sarah Fuller and Clare Holdcroft in fifth and sixth place in the women’s category.

Tom Hollins kisses the wall of the Border Hotel at end of the Spine Race. Photo: Mick Kenyon/Montane Spine Race

Tom Hollins kisses the wall of the Border Hotel at end of the Spine Race. Photo: Mick Kenyon/Montane Spine Race

The Montane Spine Race was won by Briton Tom Hollins who overtook second-place Pavel Paloncý of the Czech Republic, and Spaniard Eugeni Roselló Solé, who took third. Hollins decided to forgo sleep at Byrness to keep his lead over the pair, who had been at the head of the field for much of the race.

John Knapp of the UK and Swede Johann Steene were in close contention behind the lead trio and finished together in a time of 108hrs 48mins, just a minute ahead of Morgan and Nelson.

Hollins’s efforts took their toll and by daylight on Thursday he was reduced to walking into the finish. He was sound asleep almost as soon as he sat on a Border Hotel sofa.

He has never run such a distance before and two races this year selected for practising sleep tactics both ended in him not finishing. Though he had reccied the whole Pennine Way, record-holder Eoin Keith complimented his navigational skills.

During the race Hollins had a total of about nine hours’ sleep to Paloncý’s five and Roselló Solé’s seven. Partner Sara Keogh said: “He does like his sleep. He planned to have eight hours’ sleep in Thwaite, but I told him if he wanted to do well he had to have nearer six at most.”

Pavel Paloncý on his way to the finish on the final day of the Spine Race. Photo: Mick Kenyon/Montane Spine Race

Pavel Paloncý on his way to the finish on the final day of the Spine Race. Photo: Mick Kenyon/Montane Spine Race

Tom Hollins said: “I broke all my own rules of running. I kept falling again and again and again. A couple of times I fell over and stayed there long enough that I nearly went to sleep.”

Paloncý said: “It was a ferocious race from the start. “Tom just seemed to come from nowhere.”

The race is continuing, with runners having until 8.35am on Sunday to complete the course. So far, 40 competitors have dropped out, and the tail-end of the field is brought up by four runners at Alston, Phil Clarke, Gerard Bareham, Benjamin Light and Peter Gold.

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