A 44 Mile Birthday Push
After over 200 miles, a post to celebrate the final stretch for Sheffield's 260 mile ultrarunner Jennie Stevens, on her birthday.
Today Jennie Stevens celebrates her birthday in an attempt to travel 44 miles over the Cheviot hills of southern Scotland. It’s the final stretch of this year’s Winter Spine Race, and she needs all the support she can get, so follow her (she’s runner 251), and leave your messages, at the Spine Race open tracking (aka dot watching) page.
The race began last Sunday in the Peak District, and all runners must complete the whole length of the Pennine Way, from Edale to Scotland, in 168 hours (7 days). From her home in Sheffield, Jennie’s mum Lynn and two daughters have been watching her as a slowly moving dot on the map, and since she’s about a day ahead of the cut off schedule, all she has to do now is keep going, with a planned finish between 6 and 8 am tomorrow (Saturday) morning.
She’s been sharing some amazing photos of the route with me and her supporters, so to celebrate her birthday, and her final push, I’m including a few of those pictures to give you a very rough idea of what she’s been experiencing, and including my post for full subscribers from earlier this week so as many folk as possible can encourage her on her final day and night on the hills.
(At least for now, that is, who knows what she’ll be planning after she gets home?)
So please feel free to forward this post to all and sundry, as you wish.
I detailed Jennie’s reasons for taking on such an arduous and crazy challenge in my pre-race post.
One of those reasons is to fundraise to help three women from disadvantaged backgrounds to take up courses at Sheffield University, where she works as Student Support Manager. She said this morning how proud she was that she and her donors had already raised enough for two students.
Her video showed her pile of gear ready for the day’s trekking as she waited for her morning porridge, but she didn’t turn the camera round.
“I can’t show you myself, because I look absolutely dreadful, my face is so swollen, I feel pretty terrible today. It’s important to know people still DNF (Did Not Finish) on this section, so nothing’s in the bag yet. Today’s going to be difficult, especially the way I’m feeling, but yes, unless I have an accident I’m going to finish this.”
A little later she spoke from the snowy moors, in her goggles to protect her from the driving wind, reflecting on her 7 hour journey ahead to the final support and food stop. After that stop at Byrness, there’s a climb up to two mountain huts in the Cheviots where she’ll be able to get hot water and shelter for an hour or two, and maybe half an hour’s nap. (She added she’d managed 13 hours sleep in total so far, since last Sunday morning).
Then, after over 250 miles, all being well, she’ll just have a 7 mile descent into Kirk Yetholm as we wake up for our Saturday breakfast.
She looked round at the mottled morning sky and frosty moorland and said with a laugh. “It’s absolutely incredible, and I feel absolutely dreadful! It’s a real challenge, which is exactly what I wanted, but this is bigger and better than I ever imagined it could be.”
From 17th January’s Post: Ultrarunner Jennie Stevens met two targets today: she has less than 100 miles to go to finish this year’s 260 or so mile Winter Spine Race, and her fundraiser to help three disadvantaged students at Sheffield University is now, at over £5,000, already halfway towards the total she needs. More on the longest day of her life, and more, below.
Many of us have been following Sheffield ultrarunner Jennie Stevens after she set out on Sunday morning with around 170 other runners to race on foot from Edale to Kirk Yetholm in Scotland.
I’ve been picking up some of her reports, and she says Tuesday, with 65 miles of running and walking in dark and freezing conditions, was “the longest day of my life!”
After 165 miles, she’s just arrived at Dufton in North Yorkshire and posted a photo of fried breakfast and toast with the caption “Then I cheered up!” After leaving to start her fourth day of travels in unrelenting hills and darkness this morning, she took stock of the battering she’s taken so far.
Her feet ache, obviously, and one knee was struggling with the downhills so much it made her feel sick, and now the other knee, perhaps due to favouring it too much to compensate, is complaining on the uphills. “On the flat, it’s just my feet,” she laughed.
Tonight, she’s facing a climb onto Cross Fell in Cumbria, the highest peak in the Pennines. But at least the sun’s been out during the day.
“It’s absolutely stunning,” she said this morning. “But up there it’s about minus 15, and unfortunately I’m not going to be there until the night time.”
Meanwhile, the first finisher, Jack Scott, arrived at Kirk Yetholm this morning after 72 hours 55 minutes and 5 seconds of running, beating the four year old record set by Jasmin Paris by over ten hours. (Both did their early fell running in the Peak District).
The winner’s video shows a swollen faced runner touching the finish wall at the Border Hotel utterly stunned and lost for words after finally ending a 260 mile long freezing endurance challenge in three days. Which is understandable. How would you feel after all that?
I’ll try and find out how Jennie feels at the same spot in a couple of days, all being well. In the meantime, here’s how she put it today. Picture her smiling cheerfully as she says all this in the morning sun.
“I’m feeling ok. I’m very swollen, a swollen face, swollen knees and hands, and yesterday was really hard. Up to this morning I’d only had two hours of sleep over 150 miles, which is obviously not enough.” During the night before, she had hallucinations, or ‘sleep monsters’ as she put it.
“I was falling asleep on my feet, and every single mile felt like a whole day, no exaggeration. Anyway, I managed three and half hours of sleep this morning, so I feel much refreshed,” she said.
“So yes, doing well, only 100 miles left, I’m hurting, there’s a lot of pain, but I’m going to do this. I’ve got my pride.” She thanked all her supporters, all her ‘dot watchers’ leaving messages, and everyone who’s donated to her fundraiser to support three disadvantaged students at Sheffield.
“All those people are relying on me to just be brave and keep going. And that’s what I’m going to do.”
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