Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Spine Nutrition + Refuelling Planning 2018


         Lack of energy reserves is the primary reason of feeling cold during the race and not lack of warm clothing (unless you are an idiot and choose gear based on  minimum weight).
          If you have no fuel to generate heat then you will suffer.


        We need energy to compete in any race.
        This energy can come from two sources:   1. Food consumed during race.
                                                                                 2. Body energy reserves built up before race.

 Most of you tackling the Spine Race will have had Ultra experience. If you have completed a 100 mile race you will have taken on a fair amount of food during the race and may think that you have a good idea of how much you need to eat to complete an ultra

 When thinking of food requirements during the Spine you need to think back and remember the state of your appetite the day after that long Ultra 

     Just how much did you eat and how hungry were you over that 24hrs?
     I am willing to bet that you could eat anything put in front of you!

     The intense feelings of hunger indicate  the fact that you dug deep into your normal reserves and had in fact developed an energy deficit.
      The fact that you may not have been very hungry during the race could be because your hormonal system  effectively suppressed  hunger pains in favour of your Fright or Flight Mechanisms.

       We all differ in how efficiently we burn our energy reserves . Some Athletes have spent considerable time modifying  their diet to increase reserves and burn efficiency.
        Faster runners spend less time between CP's and so have less of a fuelling problem.
      Post  Ultra Race we feel short of energy and take the  next day real easy. It may  take several days  to get back to eating normally . The thought of  running another ultra, well that was out of the question for a long time.
     OK Now consider the Spine.  After the  first 100miles you need to get back on your feet and face another 168 miles of high energy burn.
       If you create a large energy deficit in the first 100 miles you may never be able to recover and race the next 100.
      Attempting to   'fully' refuel  during a short break at a CP is almost impossible. 
      Your food consumption during the first 100 miles should be way higher than on a normal ultra.
      You may be in your comfort zone for the first 100 but that may not be a good thing.
      Many first time Spine racers slow down drastically  between CP2 And CP3.
     If you slow down to much you will not generate enough heat to keep warm . HYPOTHERMIA!
     Once you get cold one of the first systems to shut down is your bodies  ability to digest food! 
    The simple truth is that you have to eat and digest more whilst you are out on the trail  than you would on any other Ultra you have ever competed in . 

   Your body will cope better with a steady intake of food from the off, rather than famine and binge.
    The standard Ultra format is to have a checkpoint at approx every 10 miles. 
    The act of arriving at a CP will remind you to eat and having food laid out ready will facilitate eating.
    The Spine is different . With Ultra distances between each CP it will require more will power and awareness from the runner to keep topping up.

      Many of you have will normally have  difficulty eating and running . The food will just sit in your stomach making fast progress out of the question.
      Time now to change the way you normally think.
      I talked in a previous post of the hard to believe concept that if you can maintain 20min mile pace  you will probably podium.  
       Moving at 20 min mile pace makes digesting food much easier. 
       To digest food its best to eat little and often. ( This is one probably one of the key factors that enabled Garry Morrison to finish the Spine 4 times .and counting!). However eating every 15 Min's as Garry does is not easy. I know it does not suit me. I eat less often but in larger quantities when I do eat.
        In  training for the Spine you need to consider training to eat on the move. How slow do you need to be moving to digest food and what will your stomach tolerate? 
        Leaving a CP or pub with an over filled stomach which slows you down is not a problem in the longer term. Ok you will may move slower at first , however in the long term food in your belly means you may need to consume less later that leg . Your average  speed over that leg will be greater. 
         Your body will gradually adapt to increased food consumption as the race progresses. 
          It is probably true to say that by the time you reach the finish line your whole sleep , endocrine , appetite and  metabolic system will be set at totally different levels from what they were at the start .
         This is one reason  it takes so dam long to wind back down after the Spine.

         Spending all your efforts on back to back 30 mile training runs are fine and good but if the food is not in your system  during the race then no amount of fitness will stop you grinding to a halt. 

         Running out of energy  will have a marked effect on your mental energy.
         The Spine Race is a race completed or DNF.t by your mental state. 
         If you use you head then baring accidents you can make it to the finish line. It follows that you have to look after your head / mental state.  The less physical strain you put on your body the more you will free up mental energy to plan and make good decisions. 

           Feeding does not appear as a particularly high priority in Race Leaders Blogs as they only have to run for 5 days . Yet again the tail enders need more awareness of the issues and how to keep fuelled up.

             What Hill Food To Carry? 

             Race Rules state min 3000Kcals. Some of this should be emergency Hi Cal Dehydrated Food.
              I like to have some emergency food in reserve that I plan hopefully not to use : An Expedition foods dehydrated main meal and Porridge for breakfast 2600Kcals in total. Over and above this I carry my hill fuel.
             The general consensus of opinion is that Energy jells are no use on longer Ultra,s
              Almost all runners trying to use high tech energy supplements as their main energy supply will fail to eat properly and end up DNF'ing.
              Even Challenger Racers have to keep their digestion system's running efficiently for over 40 hrs . Using High Cal ,Hi Tec lightweight foods will screw up your digestive system . 
             You may move faster on jells  for a while but you will probably DNF faster as well.
             The closest I come  to high tech  foods , is carrying Cliff Shot Blocks which I use as a snack not a main form of energy supply. (I have clear reasons why I use them which I discuss later)

              You need to choose food that you like rather than what you think you should eat.    

           The aim is to encourage yourself to keep eating.  The Fridge Raider Mentality

  Ask yourself . Did you ever get the munchies,.open the fridge and think : "Yum an energy Jell"?
                I  like to carry high fat and protein foods such as Cheese, Pies Canned fish Sausages and Boiled eggs.  Wraps ,pre loaded in plastic bags are easy to hold.

               I never pass up the opportunity to raid a pie shop or indulge in hot fish and chips
               My current favourite  is Wraps with plenty of re-fried beans and veggies.

                The resulting bad breath and farting may explain why I frequently run solo!

               MY FOOD PRIORITIES  ARE :
                                                                   DO I HAVE ENOUGH FOOD AND NOT !
                                                                   HOW MUCH   WEIGHT CAN I SAVE CARRYING LESS.

           Stimulant Foods

              Small snacks such as Pepperami , Baby bell Cheese  and extra strong mints can also help to keep you awake in the hours before dawn.

            I always try to avoid foods that give you a sugar rush and any Caffeinated product. You should try to iron out the peaks and resulting troughs in your energy levels.

           My general lack of fitness and poor gait means that I am a very inefficient energy converter and I will eat far more than other competitors during the race. It is not unusual for me to exit a CP carrying  well over 1Kg of hill food.
            Whatever your requirements you will find that you will have to eat extra food outside the CP,s
            Pubs ,Shop's and Cafe' foods  are allowed within the  race rules.
            I have made up a list of their locations and it may be worth marking them on your Maps.

Make a mental note to yourself to plan food for the next leg while you are still 15 mins away from a CP.


             There are very few shops on the course where you can buy food to carry in your pack.

              Food Shops have limited opening hours (you need to know these)

             If you intend to stop at a CP late in the day and sleep,  the nearby shops may be closed when you re-start and eventually pass them .


          Delays While Waiting To Be Served.

             Food service at CP's will be slower for any runner not leading the pack.
             CP staff will be falling over each other to help and feed  and pamper the front runners.
             As the later runners roll into CP's in larger numbers the demand for food can outstrip the limited kitchen facilities .  This can delay the speed of service (this is particularly true if large groups arrive together)

             Pubs and Cafe's

            Delays  happen at Pubs and Cafe's  and it can be o long time to wait. Sometimes it,s faster to get a food  from a shop . (the front runners  almost never take pub stops)
            The Gargrave  Co-op  hot pie cabinet will get you back on the trail faster than a Pub meal
             However if you need a proper pack off break to sort yourself out , then perhaps a pub meal with a seat beside a roaring open fire is the  better option.
             BY Combining several   race functions such as kit sorting ,nav re-grouping, eating and warming up. you will save on race down time.

             At times it may be just plain quicker to get out your stove and cook up a re hydrated meal rather than wait queueing for food in a pub. Unfortunately this can lead to fast chilling of your body.

               CP Food

               The choice and quality and portion size  of the food on offer varies each year.
               Generally you will be offered a main meal or breakfast  or possibly both.
               The CP's operate on normal 24 hr clock. You may be unlucky to arrive at a CP when they are serving Breakfast when you would like a main meal.
               The CP staff try to be as accommodating as possible but planning to feed a bunch of grunting, demanding ,  Spine Racers on differing time clocks is an up hill struggle.
              Remember  some of the CP staff may be as knackered as you!
               Having seen this happen at times in 2016 I would advise everyone to consider carrying simple packets of instant food such as Couscous in your drop bag. ( you can have Couscous as a starter while waiting for your main meal.
              Portion size may be insufficient at times especially for tail enders who take longer to reach each CP and have  to make up for longer transit betweenCP gaps.
                Carry a few extra dehydrated meals in the drop bag so you can supplement CPfood if your hunger  is not satisfied. There will always be boiling water available.

      The CP's  do not provide sandwiches  or hill food  to take out  on the trail.

                 You may be able to steal the odd packet of crisps or biscuits but you should organise your own hill food.
                  I never generally have big  enough portions  at the CP's so have to top up with drop bag food   or food bought just before the CP.

                    Drop Bag Food Stocks

                  You start the Race with a 20Kg max drop bag ( It will be weighed!)
                   Hill food for the  CP1 to CP2 leg  needs to be in the bag .( Gargrave is the first opportunity to shop for extra food).
                   You always need spare food in  the drop  bag just in case you get out of synchronisation with Pub/shopping hours. Freeze dried meals are the most weight efficient option.
                    In previous years supported runners did not  have to worry , giving them a big advantage as support teams could spend precious time shopping for the racers.


  Planning Food Consumption 

(locations of food on course in order.)

         FOR MOST RUNNERS IT IS 15 Long arduous  hrs until the CP1 Meal
         In order to finish The Spine Race you will have to consume way more food than that provided by the CP's
          You also need to note any opening/serving times .

             Start the race on a good breakfast. Don,t worry about a full stomach slowing you down at first ,you will reap the rewards later that day. (besides a slow climb of Jacobs ladder may prevent sweat build up)

           The White House Inn is  off limits in 2018 for all racers!!

                  This will have a big  negative impact on most of the field. Not having the opportunity to top up with food in the warm before CP1 will increase the percentage of DNF's on day one.

               Burger Van at M62 crossing (the only hot food on leg one)

                         Now confirmed will be open for the 2018 Racers 
                         usually   open till 10pm for Challengers and Spine Racers.
                         He may possibly stay open longer but no Guarantee.
                         From the M62 to CP1 is a long way to go with no hot food inside you.
                         No real shelter in which to eat your food.
                 Food --Main meal and breakfast available .
                This CP has been known to run short of food for tail end runners.
                Even if you don,t stop to sleep you need to eat as much as you can.


               Pondon mill cafe  SD 998373

                400m off trail.
                 turn right on reaching tarmac at reservoir then follow track for 400m (400m back to rejoin Pennine way.)
                  Update 16 dec -- Cafe owners thinking of setting up a hot butty stall right on the trail where it passes the south side of Pondon reservoir.

                 Lothersdale Pub.

                     This Pub is undertaking a major refurbish and the kitchen rebuild may not be ready in time for the Race  However The Spine is a major boost to sales and the Landlord will probably try his best to  harvest your trade . (I shall try to get some sort of conformation just before the race )
                     Set up to harvest your trade during the race 2017
                     Hot butties available from 7am .
                     Main meals served 11am till late.
                     Bang on the trail and expecting Spine Racers!
                     Seats covered in cling film and extra mats on the floor.
                     Set price deal for Spine Racers now the Landlord has got his head around the idea.
                     Now part of Spine Tradition to drop in!

               Abbots Harbour Cafe at end of canal section 2 miles  before Gargrave.

                       Pass under the A59 then come off canal at next road bridge and go left up road 50mtrs.
                       Looking for the extra trade. 
                       Cafe service will  be slower than raiding the Co Op in Gargrave  about 1hr further on .


                       Several pubs 

                       Co op food store with hot pies (On RHS 100 m down road just after the bridge)

                       Co op 7am to 10pm with a Hot Pie stand !.faster runners tend to eat all the pies.
                       Coop is last food shop to stock up before CP1.5
                       The Co op may well be your last chance for food until Horton and that's a long way!


                          Several Pubs (I have never reached  there before they stopped serving evening food)
                          Not aware of any food shop but I think there is a cafe
                          The majority of  runners pass through Malham after closing time.

                      Malham Tarn

                           Bugger all except the kettle  (rehydrate a Hi Cal main meal in the warm)
                           BYO food.

                     Horton Cafe .

                         Expecting racers normally stays open all night.
                         Feed up, it's bloody miles to Haws! And much of the trail is high and exposed.
                         Spicial Spine Race Meal Deal (Choose this and you will get your food faster!)


                         Several pubs and food shops. Possibly a chippy (it may have been an hallucination)
                         Remember to Stock up before finding CP2 if it,s near dusk. 
                          THINK Will  all  the food shops be closed when you exit the CP?
                         Tackle Shunner Fell on a full Stomach.
                         Meal at the YHA CP but no takeaways except for the odd biscuit.
                         This is an out and back CP so you will pass the shops twice.
                          Before leaving CP try to find out if the  `Tan Hill Pub will stay open all night before 

                     Tan Hill Pub

               Normal opening hours.
               Some years the bar has been open all night for racers. (Warm chips and an honesty box)
               Other years Pub closed at night but foyer open for Marshals to shelter in .
               Cold blustery location if you are locked outside in the dark.

                   Middleton + CP

                The Butchers  Deli  has some of the best  apple pies in the UK.
                Again it may well be worth stocking up on hill food.
                 Once past The  Middleton Food Shops there is no place on the trail to re-stock until  The Spar in Alston    
                 The CP is a long way past the shops but you re pass the shops to get back to the trail on leaving the CP.  (will they still be open later?)
                 Usual CP food available.
                 Less stressed atmosphere due to rising numbers of  DNF's after Haws.

                   Dufton. CP3.5 Village Hall

                    Pub and Cafe. 
                    Open normal hours . Cafe is expecting your trade. 10 am till 4.30 pm
                    Don,t expect the Pub to go out of it's way to serve you food. (not always pro Spine Race)
                    Village hall Kitchen and Kettle good for re hydrating food.
                    Post Box Cafe may open 24 hrs (now confirmed )Order your food before checking into the Cp to reduce any delays.

                    Gregs Hut.

                     Usually a tin of hot  pot noodles available.
                     Eat them all up !You are still hours from Alston
                     Real tradition to stop and eat noodles . (you have not done the proper Spine if you don't eat)

                      Gargill    (Shop and on RHS of green.)

                     Post Office Store.
                                                   Minute shop short  rather random opening hours.
                                                   Don,t bank on it being open when you pass.
                                                   Limited food but a good place to pick up your pension.
                       The Pub              Was closed for a time ,(May have re-opened) Has a To let son outside.

                      CP4 Alston YHA.

                              This  new for 2018 CP is very near the Alston SPAR Supermarket.
                               SPAR large  supermarket (linked to the petrol station open 7 to 11.
                               Less than 5 mins from the CP. (Scope it out on Viewfinder)
                               Again ask yourself:" Will it still the SPAR be open when I leave the CP?"
   If you eventually pass Bellingham at night this will be your last chance to shop before the finish!
                               Get a dried food meal for rehydrating later at " Honeystead Farm"

                        Alston town chip shop

                              Might be worth a visit to raise spirits  before you face Isacks F---ING TEA TRAIL  (a notorious shit fest of an experience if it is wet)


                            Pub and Cafe 300m off trail
 LOCATION: As soon as you cross the A69, climb the bank (following the PW signs)and you will find yourself at the end of a dirt road . (The PW is straight on  over this road) If you  go right along road and you arrive in Greenhead. Pub one side Caffe on the other.
                                Good reception at both places.
                                Go back up road to rejoin PW (don,t shortcut!).

                            Hadrians Wall
                                   Sod all places to eat (No wonder the Romans hated the place!)
                                   Fill water bottles at tap by toilets , no  clean water for 20+km 
                                   The one fast flowing stream crossing the trail is the outflow from a  still lake.

                            Honeystead Farm. GR: NY 815773

                                  Follow Spine Pit Stop Signs.
                                  Dry Farm outbuilding on the  PW trail
                                  A real life saver of an Oasis in bad weather.
                                  Comfy Chairs ,Snacks ,Kettle and   Fridge. (no substantial food )
                                  Shelter and Relief when you will most need it                                        
                                 This place is an old farm shed. The owners are very generous to walkers.
                                  Honesty box SO PUT SOME DOSH IN IT!

                            Bellingham CP5

                                          In deep snow conditions CP5 to the finish line could take up to 24 hrs ! (Do you have enough hill food ? CP5.5 is a good meal but strictly rationed.)
                                          Cp is 1Km short of the Co-op in town.
                                          Good Bakery in Bellingham next to Co-Op 
                                          Seriously take into account stocking up on hill food now as this is your last chance to  buy and carry extra food before the Finish Line.
                                           You will need extra  Hill Food for the Cheviots!
                                           Ask yourself will the Co op still be open if I sleep at the CP first  .

     IF I AM SHORT OF FOOD I WILL SHOP IN BELLINGHAM CP THEN WALK BACK TO SLEEP IN THE CP. (two extra 2 Km is a small price to pay for a well fed runner heading for potentially the hardest part of the course!) 

                             The Forrest Lodge, Byrness   CP5.5

                          Soup and Sausage and Mash   ( + veggie option).

                                 No second helpings.

                          The best and most Spine Orientated  CP food on the whole course in 2016! 

Once out of Byrness there is no good running water so fill all your bottles at CP5.

                            THE FINISH LINE

                                Food in the Pub Is Good.
                                A few snacks available in village hall.

            Psychological Boost From Eating.

           I like food and during the race I use this fact to keep my spirits up . Low energy reserves will depress mood and alertness especially in the hours before dawn.
           The distraction of feeding myself can take my mind off my other troubles.
           It is possible at times to feed yourself awake.
           The use of drugs such as caffeinted foods or PRO PLUS will give a short term boost but if your reserves are really low then the trough after the boost can be catastrophic. I regard this sort of action as loosing control my race .
            Loosing Control is only a short step away from the DNF.
            I do have one unconventional crude trick to shock my body back awake and this is to suck on a sachet of brown source Stolen from a take away on the drive to Edale. It is disgusting but for me it can work.

          Choosing Hill Food With A Focus On Your Speed.

          Sorry I am not talking about carrying less heavy food.
The Idea Is to choose Food that is easy to access.

          At any point during the race you will have to expend energy multi tasking.
          A sprinter only really has one task:To Sprint.
           A Spine Racer can be swamped by multiple tasks. Eating is one of them.
           Even the process of chewing will slow you up to some extent.
           Locating ,opening,inspecting,getting in your mouth ,chewing ,swallowing then stowing all the food wrappers will all loose you ground.
            Pre planning will help. Start with stowing: that front pouch should be a nose bag full of food.

            Remove all surplus wrappers

              : Take Baby Bell mini Cheeses  as an example : They come in a string bag -----DITCH,
                                                                                           Ccellophane red wrapper---DITCH 
                                                                                           The red wax case ----retain so the cheese does not become contaminated. (it is possible to eat the wax and crap it out later!)

            You can move faster by not having to unwrap the various layers.
            This is one small example but the principle can be applied to everything you eat.
           Opening wrapping should be easy but for much of the race you will be wearing gloves . You may have to stow the gloves even  in order to hold a packet of food.
           Wrappers that can be opened with your teeth lead to less faffing.
           It may be worth taking food out of original wrappers and putting it in ziplock freezer bags.
           Avoid sweats that get sticky when wet .
           Try to keep your front pouch nose bag reasonably clean and organised.

              Part of your race prep should be practising eating on the move.

               Time lost  while eating may appear trivial . You will probably not appreciate it's effects  unless another runner is in range . While  you eat, they will move faster than you .  This is not always a problem but from a mental viewpoint you may well put of eating in order to maintain your own pace.        Delaying eating  may well  bight you in the ass later when your lack of food really damages your pace.

Staying in charge of your race is all about taking control of all the factors affecting your efficiency.
           Your race  training should include working out how to eat on the hoof.

                                YOU SHOULD DO.

               Reasons  why I use Cliff Shot blocks. Mountain Berry Flavour( Caffeine free)

            They can be stowed in pockets of my pouch with one end sticking out.
             I can tug them out of the pocket wearing Mittens.
             I can open them with my teeth.
             Once open they do not leek goo.
             I can squeeze them into my mouth one block at a time with Mitts still on.
             I can re -stow them without looking down.
             They are easy to share with other runners.

            The Dedicated Rubbish Bag.

                     A long time ago I was issued with a Velcro attached  dedicated rubbish string pouch at the start of the UTMB.  It has been astonishingly useful in saving time separating used food wrappings from live ready to eat food. 
                    Customise the front strap of your pack by hanging an easy to get at pouch on the strap.
                     All to often runners expect to buy a pack that does everything . 
                     Each race you do is different so get out that needle and thread and get customising!
                     Somewhere on the front of your pack system there is room for a rubbish bag.

         When reading various Spine Blogs you have to take into account who wrote them .
         A tail end Spine Finisher will have to survive fur perhaps 3 days longer than the winner and this has to be reflected in every approach to the race .
         I have said before that I am a very inefficient runner and this probably extends to the way I burn up my energy reserves. My Spine Food Consumption is extreme :Probably over 10,000Kcals per day by the end of the race. It takes me some time to wind myself up to this level of gluttony,but it works for me .

       Dealing With Extreme Cold.(and how this can impact your food consumption)

         I have covered  the issue of water turning into ice above.
         Your Snickers Bars can also freeze solid.
         It is highly likely that at some point during the race you may have to deal with extreme cold conditions.
           It is not just a matter of wearing more layers , you need to try to plan further in advance.
           Everything ,and I mean everything is harder if the temp falls below-5 and you have wind chill to deal with.

           The subject of gloves needs considerable thought . In particular gloves V Mitts.

            In theory having gloves gives you more manual dexterity to use your maps ,GPS controls and access your food. The reality is that if it is well below freezing the gloves you need will be padded and cumbersome .
             Bulky  gloves  will be fine for holding poles and perhaps a map and GPS but if you need to press the correct button  on the GPS or refold a map  or unwrap food , you will have to take your gloves off.
           Gloves have a larger surface area than Mitts so weight for weight a Mitt will always be warmer. I find mitts are also easier to take on and off.
            Strangly the worst combination can be glove liners inside Mitts. This works ok for warmth but the problem comes when you need to take them off. You can,t easily get your fingers back into a glove that is inside a Mitt. 
             What tends to happen is that you have to stow your Mitts while you get your liner gloves back on . The whole process can be fiddly and you will need to place your Mitts in a safe place while getting your liners sorted.  You effectively have to take your gloves off twice.

            A Mitt liner can sometimes be left inside the outer Mitt making getting your hands out for fine dexterity work faster and easier.
            The other advantage is that it is easier to put hand warmers inside Mitts.
            I have found that the touch screen of a Garmin Oregon GPS if set up correctly can be  activated and viewed using the top of running pole to prod the screen.


    Getting dehydrated will reduce your pace dramatically.
    Although the race is held in cold conditions you will still need to stay well hydrated.
     In low humidity freezing conditions you loose a large  amount of water just breathing.
     Staying Hydrated is not always easy. Fresh clean water is available at times on the course but is far from dependable.
     From past experience I can tell you that the road head Marshals supply very little water and it all gets given to the front runners!
    Sorry we have run out is a common  and unwelcome response.
    The tail endears will have to use streams. and whatever source they can find.
     If taking from streams use fast flowing water.
     Some people take filters but as far as I am aware they don,t end up using them as it takes up far to much time.
     Avoid filling up with water from the outflow streams of large ponds. The pond/lake water is often suspect.
      Farm field run off water is also suspect.

      Kit list says ability to carry 2l. most of us start with only 600ml then fill up after reaching high ground . 

      My personal choice is to use water bottles as they are faster to fill and I hate demand valve tubes.

             Some parts of the course such as the CHEVIOTS and Hadrians wall provide few water sources  especially if snow is on the ground. you need to fill up at CP5.5 and 4.


     Note For All Support Teams/ Spectators  And Road Head Marshals.

       There is never enough clean water available on the course so anyone attending road heads can help by having a 5+ltr drum of water (savers supermarket brand) available for any passing racer to top up with water. Tap water is fine ,we are not fussy.
          Please ask any race visitors to carry extra water for racers!

           FREEZING WATER containers

           2012 and 2013 were the years when every ones water bottles and bladder tubes froze up .
           In subsequent years  this fact has to some extent been forgotten. 
            You need to thread your bladder tube through an insulated pipe and if possible tuck it inside your jacket.
             Water bottles hung on the outside freeze remarkably quickly. Make a holster for them out of insulating material and if possible cover the tops.You can use old waterproof socks. A spare glove shoved over the cap will also work.

              Carrying 800g of ice along the course does nothing for your moral. You can,t ditch the ice as it won,t come out of the bottles which you will need later.
               Probably the only way to prevent water from freezing in bottles in temps below -5c with wind  is to carry soft bottles in your base layers (workout if this impossible before the race . Is it comfortable ? do they bang about and bruise you.
                It may be worth filling sealed bottle with hot water and packing it deep in your pack wrapped in well insulated garments.
               If you use electrolytes they may help to  reduce water freezing point so experiment now with
 samples in your freezer.
                It is possible to tuck a lighter fuelled hand warmer such as that made by ZIPPO along side a water bottle to keep it liquid ( I have managed to keep a Zippo hand warmer running for 18 hrs on one fill).

           MELTING SNOW
            It takes as much gas to melt snow as it does to boil water (Snow ---Boiling 2X gas  consumption.
            During  the TEFT,s  stop in hut 2 on the cheviots we used up 4 gas cylinders to produce about 1l of boiling water and 2l of melted water to drink!   And it took hours.)

 Bonus Hot Drinks For Challenger Racers

      In 2016 the local Mountain rescue teams attended several road heads supplying Hot Drinks and water. This may well happen again in 2017 but it is part of the support  for the mountain rescue teams competing . Now we have split starts they will probably not be around for the Spine Racers starting on the next day.


          It is possible ,and for some  desirable to train your body to make better use of it,s reserves.
          I have often referred  to the importance of "Running Your Own Race". Eion Kieth uses the term :Staying in Control . Control is the key to avoiding the DNF and improving your race position.

           Eion The 2016 Race winner  takes a very different approach to nutrition on Ultra,s . It certainly works for him but I do't think I have the self discipline to copy his long term nutrition strategy. His blog is well worth a read:

  I should say that I have no medical training but did study Physiology a long long time ago.  Its what happens to the body on extreme races that particularly fascinates me.

  Several books have been written on ultras.
 I particularly like Dr Mike Strouds "Survival of the fittest"    This book gets right into the guts of what you could face during the race . Mike Stroud has accompanied Sir Ranulpf Feinnes on many of his expeditions . His insights on expeditions in extreme cold are particularly interesting and relevant to what you may face on the Spine.

       Thats all for this post . My next will be an update on increasing your overall pace over the Course.




Friday, 8 December 2017

Spine Kit guidelines part 2 Clothing,( updated Dec 2017)

My original blog on Kit considerations was written after my first Spine Race and has been modified several times. It never was meant to be a "What To Buy To Complete The Spine" Kit list. I have tried not to be biased towards  the kit I use . I know there is better kit out there , but from a personal point of view I feel there is a lot to be said for using kit that you know works for you . The start line is not the place to find out if brand new kit will work or not.
            Every Spine I run modifies my ideas . What I thought was a must have piece of kit one year I may have found did not work the next year.

             This Post Is About  How To Make Informed Kit Choices.

       Kit that works for me may not work for you so I shall start with a bit about me.

      My personal  kit requirements reflect me as an individual :
       As an ultra runner I usually end at the tail of the finishers. This is due partly to  crap training , my age and lack of flexibility . I was not born to be a good runner but I love the feeling.
       I am a very inefficient runner so I generate a vast amount of heat.  The heat production downside is sweating and the need for more food than most others. The  upside is I stay warm and have to wear fewer warm cloths  when on the move.   As soon as I stop my body cools rapidly as I don’t have much body fat.

          In  selecting clothing I will go for sweat wicking garments.  I have to accept that body temp control will always give me issues so I need to be able to shed and add warm layers preferably without stopping and taking my pack off .  Every time you takeoff your pack you will lose time particularly if you have cold fumbling fingers. 
            Spine Race Body temp  regulation is mostly  about ventilation, glove  and head gear  shuffling.

        When the going gets tough as in Spine Tough ( deep snow, energy sapping bogs or slogging my way into a 50 mph headwind ) that's where I preform best . If I was a car I would  probably  be a ageing  Landrover. 

        My Mental Approach.
        I am the sort of trail runner who is hooked on the outside environment . I never run with Headphones , preferring to look out at the terrain and perhaps the competition in front.  Full blooded  Mountain Races are my preferred events . A spectacular view or complex navigation gives me a boost . At night I tend to turn down my head torch so I have a better sense of the hills outside the beam of my torch.  You could say I choose my gear to allow me to run in the elements rather than isolate myself from the elements.


I shall start  from the Head.
          The head can be regarded as the main heat draining  and warming part of your body.
          The head is the most exposed area and is also subjected to the most wind chill as wind speed rises  with increase of  hight from the ground.
          Your feet have water problems rather than wind chill issues.
           If ever you feel too hot or cold then start your kit adjustments with the head.
          Most adjustments to head gear can be done while still moving and without recourse to stopping to remove your pack.

          Jacket Hood and Cap.

        Firstly the hood of your waterproof jacket is fairly crucial. You need to be able to pull the draw string tight to minimise the exposure your face has to wind ,rain,hail snow and freezing conditions..
        Take a good look at the fastening systems , this is where makers try to cut weight by using tiny toggles  and zips which may be difficult to adjust in wet freezing conditions with gloves on.
        You need to practice  hood and Head Torch adjustments while wearing thick gloves before the race .
  Some sort of visor is important to keep rain off your face and more importantly away from your neck. Most built in jacket visors are a bit of a compromise. (they may also obscure your head torch).

       The Hood of a jacket although it gives good weatherproof protection does have some disadvantages:
                          Hoods tend to be noisy making conversation harder in windy conditions.
                          Hoods restrict vision closing down your view of the outside world and heightening your separation from the outside conditions. ( depending on your temperament this can be a good or bad thing. For some  when everything is feeling shitty then isolating yourself from  outside reality can be a comfort . For others then looking outwards can lift your spirits . I am usually  in the second category and rarely feel the ned to batten down the mental and physical hatches.) 
                           The other issue with hoods is that vision can be obscured when you turn your head. (Not always a major issue but during a 6 hour session this can start to really bug you.)

              If you are in the outward looking camp then it's worth trying a high protection insulated waterproof cap with ear and neck protection.  I have used the Sealskins Waterproof Thermal Cap for three Spines and appreciated the feeling of freedom it gave me .  In 2016 I did not pack  The Cap  and spent much of the race feeling claustrophobic and annoyed when ever I need the extra protection of my jacket hood. 
               When things get really tough then the Sealskin Cap can be used under the hood .


       You will need several. Each has a different function .
       Hats  can be used in combination to stabilise the temperature of your head.
       Your head is the most exposed part of your body .
       If there is any wind then it,s speed will be strongest acting on your head rather than lower on your body. Wind chill will have it,s most aggressive effect on your head.

       If you can keep your head warm (Not Hot!) and dry then the rest of your body will have a better chance of keeping at the correct temperature. Conversely a chilled head will go a long way to negate any steps you make to keep the rest of your body warm.
       Your hat selection for each leg of the race ,( In this case I define a leg as the periods between access to your drop bag) will depend on the weather forecast and how long it will take for you to reach the next CP. In my drop bag I have :
        1-- waterproof hat
        2 --wind proof hat (thick)
        3 --windproof Bennie (thin)
        4-- highly breathable warm hat
        5-- really thick warm hat.
        6 --selection of at least 3 Buffs two of which should be winter Mariano wool based.
        7-- thin Balaclava.
Ok I know that,s a hell of a lot of hats.
           Gram For Gram  Hats  weigh very little and take up little space in your drop bag or pack.
           All the warm hats need to still work when wet so some wool content is desirable .
            Primaloft type hats will also work when wet but not if they are saturated and plastered flat to your head.
        You need to test the hats in combination.  For example can you fit your waterproof hat over your thick thermal hat?
        Next question : will the hat stay on in severe wind? As any of the class of 2015 will tell you it can get really windy. To properly simulate this try sticking your head out of the window of a car moving at 70mph!
       It may well be worth taking the time to modify the hat by stitching on a chin strap.
       With all your kit you will want to dry it off at the checkpoints. The drying rooms (if they exist at all will be strewn with random gear as each subsequent runner entering the room shifts other peoples gear in order to get there own gear dry. This is also why your gear should have a visible prominent tag so you can locate it in the drying room mayhem.
      Probably the most versatile hat is the Buff. The buff can also be used to lash other hats down  to your head and protect your face from hail. (The thin Balaclava will work well in Hail and Blizzards)

       I mentioned it before but back in 2013 I wore 7 layers on my head while tackling the Cheviot ridge in the Blizzard!
       If you do get in a situation where you have to Bivvi out then you will need a spare  warm dry hat to sleep in.

                           Waterproof Jacket.

This is the one garment it,s worth spending extra cash on.
Current trends in running design appear to be driven by the marketing departments discovering that if you make a jacket really light then the punters will pay huge amounts extra.  This has lead the makers to compromise many of the features in order to keep the jacket light! SALES SALES SALES!

Ok all you ultra runners I know one of the first features you compare is weight but think about it : as soon as it rains the jacket will probably double in weight anyway. 
    Your priorities on the Spine should be :
           1 Waterproofness in prolonged severe driving rain.
           2 Toughness when exposed to barbed wire and thorns.
           3 Breath ablity/ventilation
           4 Ease of use with frozen fingers (Big tags on the Zips and hood and functional  cuff adjusters.)
           5 Roomy waterproof pockets that are not obstructed by your pack front straps.
           6 A good system to keep the 4 holes sealed (Cuffs,neck Waist)
           7 lightness.

           Issues with 1 to 6 can cause a DNF  number 7 won,t!

           1 and 3 are part of the same . A waterproof jacket is no dam good if you are drenched in sweat. A damp body is a cold body. Overall breath ability will be compromised by 100% humidity in the air which we tend to associate with hot weather . During the spine you should expect 100% humidity from air saturated by low cloud or fog. If this happens then good ventilation is more effective than breath ability.  
        The standard jacket ventilation comes from the front zip . Avoid Smocks, they  are chosen for lightness but you need that front zip.    One problem that you will encounter is that the pack chest and waist straps will make adjusting the zip hard . The problem can be eased by having a two ended zip which can be adjusted from either end . Another good feature are under arm zips end vented shoulder panels.
        Whatever zip system you use you need chunky zip toggles as you will have to operate the zips with thick gloves or mitts on. This requirement alone probably rules out the expensive ultra light waterproof jackets.
        Another feature to look out for are zippered chest pockets . These are desirable for storing items that get changed often. I like to keep my different gloves ( Waterproof shell, thin windproof and thicker insulated gloves) in different pockets so I can make rapid changes without disturbing my front pouch which is more exposed to the elements. A jacket chest pocket also keeps a glove warmer .

                      Second windproof only shell layer.

I like to carry a second shell layer. This one should be windproof but more highly breathable so it can be used in cold dry conditions or as a second shell layer in severe conditions. Pertex is a good material ( mine is a montane jetstreem which packs away so small it can be easily carried) I do have a Montane Vapour rise jacket which I find  excellent. The Vapour rise also has another 2 chest pockets which I use for my various non waterproof thermal and liner gloves.
 Many runner use primaloft type puffer jackets if they don,t have high heat generating bodies.

                   The Paramo Alternative.
        Paramo type shell layers can be particularly effective and are highly breathable . The down side is that they can wet out in torrential rain and they are usually heavy and bulky.
         A heavy bulky outer shell layer is only a real problem if you run without wearing the garment.
         Stuffing it inside a pack is difficult and outside storage can upset pack balance.
         Some runners swear by Paramo but I prefer the Gortex Pro Shell option.

               Thermal Layers.

         I  carry a selection of fleeces including a power stretch fleece which is also partly windproof. 
         In normal circumstances I generate large amounts of heat whilst running . I also use Mariano wool thermal mid layers.
         One way or another at some point your mid layers will get damp either from driving drizzle,rain ,fog or perspiration. You need mid layers that work when damp.
         At some point during the race you will need a full spec down or synthetic insulated jacket. The problem with this garment is  pack volume  . I never wear  my Alpkit down jacket while on the move generating sweat but it is a must have item if you are forced to camp or bivi out . I have also used this during short halts in freezing huts such as the two rescue huts on the Cheviots,

                         Base Layers.

         I carry a selection of Tec T shirts ( Long and short sleeve). 
         My decently discovered (2016 Spine )  must have garment: 
       BRYNJE thermal  string vestThis garment has transformed my spine kit
        The string vest  is sold as a boost to insulation values .
        Brynje string garments have a remarkable ability to  reduce sweat build up . This Garment will upgrade all your technical wicking layers.
         At Spine pace my whole top half stays drier . This has the added bonus of reducing my need to change  damp T Shirts at rest stops.
         Less spare T Shirts means more room in my drop bag for other `Kit.
         One area that can get soaked in prolonged wind and rain is the forearm (between wrist and elbow) This is due to a leaky glove/sleeve joint . 
           The use of a half arm length T Shirts  keeps the main body of the shirt dry . The rest of the forearm can be insulated by marino wool arm warmers.
           Hopefully your training runs have exposed issues such as Pack waist belts causing shirts to ride up your body . If your shirt rides up you will have a cold area and may suffer chaffing on your lower back.
            Having garments with long shirt tails can help .
            Every year I also stick two vertical strips  of Kinisio Tape  between the top of my buttocks upwards for 30cm  to reduce waist belt chaff.
            It's not just your crotch area and toes that get chaffing issues 

                  Under ware.

         I tend to use running shorts with a built in wicking liner. On no account use Cotton Pants!


           Again take a pair that stay warm when wet. 

             Wear 3/4 length tights  , not full length.

           It,s not obvious to a Spine Novice  but your lower legs will probably get wet 
           If you have soaked lower legs and  are forced to  bivi you will have to remove your wet  lower leg cover to keep your sleeping  bag dry.
.           3/4 length tights allow you to only remove your socks before getting into your bag (you will also  be warmer sleeping in your Capri tights)..
            At the CP's you  can  make a faster turnaround  by only having to remove socks ,to restart dry.
            If you choose full length you will need several spare  pairs in your drop bag (Socks take up far less room and tights may not dry in time.)
            It is very rare that you use leggings without a waterproof shell .  In sub zero conditions you need the extra shell for warmth . In above zero conditions even if running on slabs you will be flicking water up the back of your legs , soaking your lower leg .


              Having cold hands will ruin your race prospects. Every action will be harder if your manual dexterity is impaired.

            Gloves  need to cope with several possibilities: 1 Torrential continuous rain
                                                                                         2 Severe cold and wind Chill
                                                                                         3Warm moist conditions (sweat from running)
                                                                                         4 Cold but no wind.
              One or even two different pairs won,t do everything.
              Try the following: 1 waterproof gortex overmitt (  Mitts have less surface area than gloves so stay warmer for a given weight)
                                            2 lightweight marino liner.
                                            3 Heavy weight fleece/polertec glove.
                                            4 Lightweight convertible windproof  running glove( with a pertex flap)
               Think of them as a hand warmth regulating system and use them in different combinations. The waterproof over glove or mitt must be large enough to fit the thicker insulation glove inside.
                Put spares in your drop bag.
               The weakest link in waterproof gloves is the wrist seal. It has to be good . Practise pulling the cuff strap tight and overlapping it with cuff strap of your waterproof jacket .
. I have had some success with Duck Taping my Cuff /wrist area (it looks really stupid but is way better than a waterproof glove full of water.) Plain rain is normally not an issue but gale force winds with rain will really test that cuff joint.
                By the time you near the end of the race you will have the mentality and memory of a  Toddler. 
               To guard against dropping and loosing your over glove/mitt have them tied together with a long string running up one arm and down the other . This will prevent Toddlers and Spine racers from loosing gloves . It also speeds up any operation that requires the removal of your gloves .

               Stephen Brown who gave me this tip summed up how effective this works , and I quote him:
              " If you take two identical runners training for the Spine . One trains to run  faster on  average 1min per mile  . The second runner trains to change his gloves and get gear out faster whenever he pauses on the trail.--------- The  faster gear change trained runner  will win the Race!"
                Not all gloves come with hanging loops .
                Sew string loops to all your gloves so you can clip them to your carabiner.

                It is  very common for runners to loose one or more glove then have to beg or borrow spares from DNF ing runners at CP's. -------------Carry spares in your drop bag!


           If you can keep your feet warm your hands will stay warmer.

           Marino blend again.  (Pete Bland Sports sell 5 packs of Marino Blend Socks at a bargain price)You ideally need a massive supply. Some need to be long socks if you go for the 3/4 tights, socks  combo.
            I always run with two pairs of socks . This is the best defence against blisters. I have tried 1000mile socks and destroyed them running in long wet Ultra,s
            The Injini type toe socks are also brilliant at preventing blisters (But they are expensive)
            If you can carry enough pairs then change to fresh socks between Checkpoints and inspect your feet at the same time.
 Foot Care Products. 
           Several on the market which claim to make your feet more waterproof. Vaseline or my favourite  Burts beeswax hand balm. 
           The idea is to reduce the friction between your toes and reduce the skin wrinkling effect which is a prelude to Trench Foot.
           As soon as you stop at checkpoints . clean ,dry and talk your feet. (as the race progresses your immune system becomes weaker and athlete's foot can be an issue so use medicated talk.)  

   Waterproof Socks.
           You will need these but they may not work in all conditions. If we have a wet Spine Race then most will leak! Two runners with the same socks side by side will have different experiences.
            Having said that before you buy any waterproof socks turn them inside out to check if there are any seams that could cause blistering after 20 hrs of wet tramping.
            Don,t make the mistake I did in 2015 and assume that the socks that worked well for in the previous Spine will still be waterproof the next year.You should look on waterproof socks as disposable gear.
             I have tested all my waterproof socks that I used on the 2015 Spine and none of them are still waterproof! ( I washed them according to the instructions but I suspect that unlike shoes which should last 500 miles , waterproof socks only last 100 Spine  miles).
           No matter what the brand ,none were designed for 268 wet fast miles.
           Most waterproof socks have a waterproof layer sandwiched between outer protective layers. The thinner the sock,  the less the protection the waterproof layer has. Thinner socks don,t stay waterproof for long.
             Unfortunately thicker socks need larger shoes. Whatever brand you use always wear a liner sock. 
              Waterproof socks without a liner  will rip your feet apart ! 
               Avoid Short waterproof socks they  fill with water from the top .( you should plan to step in water about 30cm deep at some point.)

          Runners are reluctant to spend cash on spare  waterproof socks .( Shoes are more sexy!)
          I would recommend having a min of 3 pairs of mid length  waterproof  socks available.
          If you don't need them all in 2018 you can use them in 2019 when you will also have to  admit you are a Spine Addict.

            Trainers with thick quality wool socks .

              Some runners go for this option and live with having damp but warm feet.
              This can work but if you do actually splash through water the insulation will not be as effective. (if you suffer from poor circulation I would advise against this option.
               Your feet will stay damp so for slower runners your feet have longer to develop problems such as trench foot.


   Which Bring Me To Waterproof Trousers.

            Most Spine runners wear breathable  waterproof trousers for the whole course .
            The main reason for this is that you cannot predict when your legs are due for the next soaking . It could be only 200mtrs down the trail after you had just peeled off your waterproofing.
 You can live with good breathing waterproof trousers on dry trails but not with no waterproofing on wet trails .
  Frequently Changing trousers will lose you a lot of time 
            During the rare periods that it is dry enough with no wind then plain wind proof tights can work but ideal  conditions won't last long.
            A material such as Kamaliki  which is quiet in high winds is a bonus.

          Your Over trousers will take a real hammering. Falls on sharp rocks, Snagging on barbed wire . Being poked by running poles  Hauled over traction aid clad Boots and general abuse by the wearer.
          Somehow we never  really look after our over trousers  the way we look after our jackets.
          We also tend to think light weight ones will do the job.
          Waterproof over trousers must be tough. 
          Don,t try getting away with a £10 discount special!
          The features you need are ----Rip Stop Breathable Material.
                                              ----Adjustable  waist chord (Not elastic only)
                                             -----Zippered  lower leg holes ( so you can pull them over your Shoes)

        Press studded lower leg fastenings should be avoided.  There are three  reasons for this: Firstly they can be blown open by wind and ice build up, Secondly they won,t work encased in mud and lastly you need a waterproof tube right down to your Ankle.
       If you have waterproof socks ,tight gaiters and zippered waterproofed trousers it is sometimes possible to wade through deep water and keep your feet dry even if the water is  well above your sock level. The water pressure will press your trousers tight to your calves forming a near watertight seal.  You have to move fast but believe me this can work.
       A good waist chord is necessary as high winds can force air into your trousers causing your ass to inflate and  pulling  down the waist band  exposing  your now bare mid riff  to the elements! (This is not a good look and a good way to get chilled really fast.)
      Some over trousers  have a toggle  pull chord at the ankle.  This will work fine until you hit wet snow. Any string /chord or fibre that can wet out will attract snow build up "snow balling" My new OMM trousers had this feature in 2016 Large balls of snow kept building up on the toggles and thwacking my shoes as I walked . The situation got so bad I had to cut the chords off.

       The final issue with waterproof trousers is sagging . You need a proper tie chord . (elastic can be a nightmare).
       Some Spine Runners prefer Salopettes . The down side is the braces make top  body layer changes slower.


     I won't tell you what to buy but I can give some advise.
      Most of us should know which shoe won,t give us blisters. This is a good starting point. 
      The next thing is grip. Although the course is muddy much of the time you will be moving on flagstones or rocky paths. 
       Given a choice you will want to avoid taking a fall on rock rather than soft forgiving mud.  So you need fairly aggressive lugs on your shoes but ones that work really well on icy rock.
         Poor grip on rock will slow you up considerably. 
         A fall on rock can cause a DNF.

       Next point Cushioning. Most fell shoes are fine for feeling the ground but 20 hrs a day for several days will cause bruising unless you have well cushioned shoes . 
      The amount of foot bruising changes depending on trail conditions .

       I can only give advise on the several brands I use.

       Inovate: The Rocklight soles work best
       Salomon : The Contagrip soles are great.
       Hoka : Vibram grip good but lugs not aggressive  enough for wet mud.
       Scott : good all round but difficult to put on.

       Perhaps your most difficult Choice is Shoe Size And how many pairs.

       Ultra runners know their feet swell and may grudgingly use one half a size larger than normal.
However two pairs of socks under thick waterproof socks will put your shoe size up by possibly one size before you even start.
       Running for 5+ days will make your feet swell larger than has ever happened to you before. The result can be seen at the latter CP,s where runners may have to ditch their waterproof socks as their feet just won,t fit in the shoe any more. 
      Blogs from race leaders don't emphasise the swelling problem as they only race for a mere 5 days .     The swelling accelerates for any extra days out on the trail.
        I know it,s a real pain but consider having three sizes of shoe.  I normally run in size 11UK but will start The Spine in size 11.5UK. Mid way I use Size 12UK and may resort to Size 12.5 UK at CP5!!
       Rather than having multiple pairs in your drop bag you could use extra large size shoes and pack them out with extra insoles for the early stages. The tail end runners will have more severe foot swelling problems.
      Some types of shoe have wide openings and this feature can be a godsend when trying to force  swollen feet in and out of shoes . 
      The combined shoe/gaiter hybrid snow running shoes can be particularly tight .

Don,t forget your comfy normal post race shoes probably will be as tight as hell for at least a day after the finish of the race.

       You won,t read much about foot swelling in the 2015 race reports as the race was halted several times . Racers had extra hours of sleeping horizontally allowing the swelling to reduce.

          Short waterproof running shoes will fill with water and not drain. They will only work if the ground remains frozen for the whole race. A highly unlikely prospect

The Best Shoes For The Spine .

There is always a massive amount written on forums about which shoes are best but the bottom line is that none are !
 There are several  fundamental reasons for this : Firstly trail conditions can change from year to year.
                                                                               Secondly trail conditions change from mile to mile
                                                                               Thirdly trail requirements change depending on gradient.
                                                                                Fourthly some shoes just won,t work for your feet.
         To take a good choice shoe that,s probably the most commonly used on the Spine.

       Solomon Speedcross .  This shoe is a good all rounder.
      Good traction in mud , medium cushioning, sheds crud easily, drains water easily, fast to lace up ,medium weight, aggressive grip ,easy to ease off laces when pulling shoe over swollen feet.
           It,s not surprising it,s so popular . but it has some  drawbacks: It ,s grip on wet slippery  rock is not that good.
            Solomon quickdraw laces can  and often do break  in Spine conditions.
           The practical implications of this are that if you do slip and take a fall it will probably be on hard unforgiving rock.
            Looking at the course in more detail there is a way to improve things ,some sections of the course are more suitable for the Speedcross than others . The start to CP2 is where you find the steepest muddy downhill  slopes so for Spine Challengers then I really rate the Speedcross. Further up the course many of the steep down hill sections are rock so you may want to consider changing to a more rock friendly shoe from CP2 on (You may want to swap to something like SOLOMON XT WINGS. This would be a good combination as the XT Wings have more cushioning for the later stages when your feet are feeling bashed about. Changing shoes also gives you the chance to go up a size as your feet swell.

          Scott Kinabalu   Another good all rounder with  deep aggressive lugs    Having used them  extensively on Dartmoor in rock and mud I would rate them better than the Speedcross if they suit your feet. One issue I do have with the SCOTTs is that the laces are difficult to ease over your forefoot so trying to pull them on over a swollen battered foot could become a major issue towards the later stages of the race when your feet swell.


     Having said that you may do very little running on the spine you may go for the Boots option in order to keep your feet dry.
     If the Pennine Way had no water more than 5 cm deep they would be a no brainer.
     You have a choice of to forms :1 Full on walking boots .
                                                       2 Hybrid running boots (usually with soft Gortex waterproof uppers.
      For the first day of the race up to CP1 you will be under intense mental pressure to do some running so the Hybrid boot would be a better choice.
      Any boot you choose needs to be fully waterproof and go quite a long way up your leg to keep the water out in deep puddles . Close fitting gaiters are a must to keep the water out. 
      I have tried Solomon Sky Wings which are a running boot . They kept my feet dry on one of the wettest spine years as far as CP1. I ditched them at CP1 only because they bruised the top of one ankle 
      I have also used the Hoka Grand Tor GTX boot which is Gortex lined . This could be a more comfortable option and quite light weight , but the boot is not very high and the Spine will have probably destroyed the boot by the time you reach the finish line.
       The main drawback of any boot is flooding in deep water.
        Gortex boots can gradually dryout  after flooding but it takes time even in a CP  Drying room.
        The other issue is that  larger spare Boots in your drop bag will be bulky and heavy.

   Using Hoka,s on the Spine. 

 First of all I should say I like to  use Hokas. Speedgoat For Spine Conditions 
       Hokas do  help reduce shock and fatigue on long ultras.
       Motoring along the flagstones of the PW they brilliant.
       Hokas are wider than most shoes so running light footed over the thin ice crust of partly frozen bog without breaking through will be a real bonus .
       Hokas are well padded so will probably reduce the bruising that 268 miles does to your feet.
       Hokas I suspect give you better thermal insulation through the thick sole  than normal shoes.
       Hokas resist being sucked of your feet in sticky mud.
       Hoka Speedgoats drain well and stay light when wet.

      Now for the possible down side

        It,s the width and your slightly increased height above the ground that can give you trouble on frozen ground.
        This is the frozen mud scenario. If your foot hits a ridge of frozen mud and only the very edge of of your shoe makes contact then the extra width of the Hoka will exert far more twisting moment on your foot. (much of the time during the spine you run by instinct and the feel of your footfall. This is unlike a race such as the UTMB where you can see well enough to plant your foot fall. )
        If you hit a patch of frozen mud covered by thin snow then you need the narrowest shoe possible.
       This is why Fell Runners who don,t have time to watch their feet use narrow shoes.
       The other problem is running along contours  where every step twists one ankle out and the other in . (with a narrow shoe you can edge step if the ground allows.
        Wide shoes can also be a problem on frozen large boulders that are covered in ice . Here I am thinking especially about the 2Km of trail leading to and including Cauldron Snout. The boulders in this area are doused by the mist from the falls and can build up thick layers of Ice
        Down hill rocky /rutted ice covered fast tracks can also cause you to turn an ankle. The track down from Gregs Hut can be particularly difficult and it goes on for miles!

           I know of several runners who have badly twisted ankles wearing Hoka's on really rough ground.     Hoka's will always be a risk but if you have strong ankles I would recommend them.
           I think we are now up to Speedgoat version 3 and the literature is vague but the length of the studs may have been improved .

        Update for 2017

I used my Speedgoats in 2016  Spine Race and loved them ! The grip on rock was superb. However the grip on mud was let down by the fact that at the start of the race the lugs were only 5mm deep. By the time I got to the finish line I had lost another 2mm off the lugs. This may be partly due to the hours wearing my Yak tracks . The uppers also ended up with holes and the laces broke twice. 
       The last two issues were probably not a fault of the shoe , but the abuse the uppers got from my attempts to remove  ice ball build up on the laces  by stamping with the other Yak Track armed foot!
in wet conditions Hoka Speed goats do not retain  so much  weight of water than other shoes I have tried.
        I shall use Speedgoats again.

         CP SHOES 
         Crocks are the obvious choice . Buy an extra large pair . You need to be able to slip them off and on easily.  They are also incredibly light.

           Clothing And The Reality Of Spine Competing

   You need to think of your clothing layers as an integrated system .
   No one item will ever be ideal for  specific condition but by shuffling the layers you should be able to come close .

    Take considerable care thinking about the 3 damp prone zones :   Head and Neck
                                                                                                             Hands and Forearms 
                                                                                                             Feet and Calves

      If possible avoid bridging between these zones and the Drier core of your body with non waterproof layers .
      By using 3/4 length tights your primary lower body garment keeps Dry. (The socks get wet).
      The same can be true with thermal tops . If it stays cold and dry then use the thumb loops but in damp , rainy conditions roll the sleeves back.
      Most peoples head gear is already separated  . Hoody's are either Primaloft types for dry conditions or waterproof shell layers.
      Gloves are and always will be a problem area . They may keep water out but the wrists cause problems .  One way around this is to have an integrated glove sleeve (Gauntlet type ) . 
      How you carry your arms while running or walking matters . Some people holds hands high so water drains from glove to forearm. Others run with low arms so water drains towards the gloves .
    Think about your running style (Ask someone to watch you run )  . If your glove is lower than your elbow  then tuck your glove under your jacket cuff. 
     If you run with high hands then perhaps your glove sleeve should be over your jacket cuff.
     One piece of gear I like is the Mountain Minimus Mitt. It has a long gauntlet type cuff. Unfortunately  for Spine Pole users  you may find that wear from the pole handles can compromise the Minimus fabric resistance to water. 
     During my first spine I actually had badly bruised hands from pole work in snow  by the time I reached the finish line .