Monday 17 October 2016

#024 Spine Race Training Weekend (14-16 Oct 2016)

This weekend, The Spine Team hosted Spine Racers and Challengers for our annual Training Weekend (TW), at the Hebden Hey Scout Centre. The event is a great opportunity for racers to gain skills, knowledge and insights into what it takes to finish The Spine and Spine Challenger. 

For the TW we run a reduced Safety Team sufficient to provide hq, checkpoint, safety ops room and on course safety roles. Its a chance for us to welcome new volunteers as well as catching up with old friends on the team. Its also important that the TW is fulfilling for everyone that supports the Spine and to gain experience in different roles. 

To quote Jon O'Connell, regular Spine Safety Team volunteer:
"The Spine is a great opportunity to work with industry professionals. Where else could you gain this level of knowledge and experience in exchange for a little spare time?"

Friday evening began with speakers sessions. This year we were treated to four entertaining and quality talks from: Andy Mouncey (Cracking The Spine), Pete Wilkie (First Time Spine, 3rd Place Finish) Richard Lendon (Multiple Spine Finisher) & Tom Jones (Spine Racer & Spine Team). 

Each discussed their personal approach to developing a race finishing strategy. All the audience particularly appreciated the speakers sharing their stories of when things did not go to plan and self-less analysis of why this happened. Every session was delivered with great humour accompanied by a lot of laughter too. 

Saturday began with a quick safety briefing from Training Coordinator, Stu Westfield and then a kit check before participant headed out onto the 47 mile Mary Townley Loop (MTL) for a day out on the trail.

For 2016 we added several scenarios designed to get racers thinking about their use of kit, skills, route finding ability and preparedness for The Spine Race and Challenger. Each scenario was at a location where Spine Safety Team were on hand to provide support and guidance to help racers in their approach and solution to the task.

Back at the Hebden Hey Scout Centre, members of the Safety Team worked in rotation to manage the Ops Room; Receiving updates from on-course safety team checkpoints, monitoring racers as they progressed around the MTL. Occasional interventions were made to recover participants from the course who had injuries, or moving participants up the course so they could benefit from a mini-reccie of the Pennine Way approach to Hebden Hey from Stoodley Pike - a section of Spine route which has often caused route finding difficulties.

Race Director, Scott Gilmour cooked up a tasty spaghetti bolognese for participants returning to Hebden Hey. And, once everyone was safely off the course, a few tinnies of beer made an appearance.

The Spine TW concluded on Sunday morning with three speaker sessions: Tom Jones (creative footwear solutions), Matt & Ellie (Spine Film produced by Summit Fever), Dr Fiona Beddoes-Jones (Cognitive fitness for the Spine Race).

The quality and number of speakers this year has been outstanding, thank you all. 
To illustrate this and as a sample of the breadth and depth of shared staff knowledge at the Spine Training events, here is a link to Fiona's presentation:

Also huge thanks to the dedication of The Spine Team out on the 47 mile training loop, implementing our training 'scenarios', sharing knowledge and ensuring racers welfare. Equally the Spine Team members at Hebden Hey were safe hands in the Ops Room. 

Feedback from racers on each of our TWs continues to be very positive, with many comments as to how much the training has helped them focus (or indeed re-focus) their race strategy; the knowledge they have learnt that they were not aware of; what great value the TW is; the camaraderie within the Spine Team and how we welcome and work with racers to help them achieve the best possible outcome. 

Also, a date for your diaries. After thorough planning, the Spine Team announced the first edition of the Summer Spine will be in 2017. This will coincide with the Summer Solstice. (Remember, if the race doesn't have 'Spine' in the title, its not the original and best). Just like the Spine Challenger, the Summer Spine is a superb race in its own right, as well as a progressive stepping stone for racers building up to the winter Spine. 

Our programme of Official Montane Spine Training events continues with Open Group Training at Spine Advanced Skills (4th December 2016), Spine Masterclass & Spine Challenger Masterclass. Plus 1-to-1 training available. See for more details...

For the Summer Spine we will be offering similar group and 1-to-1 training opportunities. To stay in touch with the latest news see Join the Official Spine Group on Facebook and updates on The Montane Spine website. 

Meanwhile sincere thanks from myself, and Race Directors Scott Gilmour & Phil Hayday Brown.  

Stu Westfield 
Montane Spine Race 
Training & Safety Team Coordinator