BRAVE-HEART OLDHAM Mountain Rescue Team members took on Britain’s most brutal mountain race to raise around £1,000 for their charity.
Described as ‘almost perfect in its cruelty’ the 108-mile Mountain Spine Challenger race along the Pennine Way is a quest attempted by only the hardiest individuals.
It is a rigid trial of physical fitness, hill craft and mental strength run from Edale to Hawes alongside the public Spine Challenger.
This year the inaugural MRT Challenger race was contested by 20 Mountain Rescue members from teams along the Pennine Way.
Matt Torr, Oldham MRT’s chairman from Delph, said: “I intended to be on the start line this year but was injured in training in December and had to pull out.”
Instead his wife Nicky, 42, team treasurer David Wyatt, Iain Airth, Chris Maylor and Paul Mayall took on the feat to raise money to go towards the team’s annual £25,000 running costs.
“The Spine Challenger lived up to its reputation,” said Matt. “It was reasonably benign at the start but the weather played its part north of the halfway point at Hebden Bridge.
“Severe winter conditions made progress inexorably slow on exposed sections. Blizzards and driving winds tested the competitors’ physical and mental strength to breaking point.
“Large sections of the route were thick with mud or running water, higher and more exposed areas in deep snow or covered in ice.”
Repeated falls, the final one partially into freezing water in blizzard conditions forced Paul Mayall to retire after 55 miles due to a knee injury and the onset of hypothermia.
The other four team members made it to the finish after enduring almost two days of non-stop hardship.
David, Nicky and Chris finished in 47.5 hours in fourth place while Iain finished an hour later in seventh.
These times would have placed them =19th out of 87 competitors in the public category Spine Challenger, with Nicky third female out of eight.
Matt declared: “Their achievement in such conditions over that distance cannot be overestimated.
“They endured some real hardship at times and their ability to push on when the Pennines threw everything at them is testament to their strength of character and physical abilities.”
MRT teams from Oldham, Calder Valley, Glossop and Holme Valley ran aid stations along the route to supply drinks and support to 160 Spine Racers.
Oldham MRT have a fundraising page for the event where you can donate to their cause: www.justgiving.com/OMRT-SpineTeam2016