Double triumph for mountain man Stephen

Reporter: Ken Bennett
Date published: 27 June 2024

A 50-year-old Saddleworth man who only began running four years ago has completed a remarkable double first, conquering the UK’s most brutal endurance spine races.

Stephen Hurran, a father of two, began his arduous challenge to help overcome mental health issues and is the first runner to complete the gruelling double spine races.

Stephen, from Díggle, completed the Montaine Summer Spine Sprint and the full Summer Spine Race in the same week - an idea originally conceived by Spine legend Bobby Cullen.

And, as a seasoned Spine Race competitor, he has previously completed the Summer Sprint and Winter Challenger South in previous editions of the Spine Races.

His race began at 8am on Sunday, June 16 in Edale and finished at 2:20am on Friday, June 21 - in 114 hours, 21 minutes and coming in sixth out of a field of 109 starters.

What is unique and a first for the Spine race is he completed the Spine Sprint the day before the full spine. 

That involved running a route along the Pennine Way from Edale to Hebden Bridge, which is 46 miles long including 2,000 metres of ascent. 

The race started at 12pm on Saturday, June 15, completing it in 10 hours 1 minute, and Stephen came 10th out of a field of 95.

In less than a total of six days, he ran 314 miles, ascending 13,000m (around 1.5 times the hight of Everest) and came in the top ten for both races.

The Montane Summer Spine is a non-stop, 268-mile race along Britain’s most iconic national trail, the Pennine Way.

Beginning at Edale in Derbyshire, runners have a time limit of 156 hours to reach the elusive village of Kirk Yetholm in the Scottish Borders.

This is widely regarded as “Britain’s Most Brutal” endurance race.

It is a truly epic challenge that tests runners' physical resilience and mental fortitude.

They race non-stop and unsupported through day and night with a total ascent across the route of 10,732 metres.

Speaking after his triumph, Stephen made special mention of mountain rescue teams who do an amazing voluntary role ensuring the runners can even contemplate taking on such challenges in the hills. 

He said: “Unfortunately the Oldham Mountain Rescue Team and Woodhead Team were required on the first day of the full Spine race as a competitor had sustained a leg injury near Black Hill. 

"The Spine race supports England and Wales Mountain rescue teams and provide heavily subsidised spine entries to members of their teams.

“I also couldn’t do this race without the amazing support of my family - thank you Sarah, Lizzy and Dylan.”

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