HEAD of physics at Giggleswick School Dr Rupert Allison took a day off school to take part in one of the Montane Spine Races - dubbed 'Britain's Most Brutal' and ended up not only winning, but setting a new record.

Dr Allison was one of several people across Craven to join other 'Spiners' from across the world taking part in last week's winter edition on the Montane Spine Race which sees competitors racing non-stop along part - or all - of the 268 mile Pennine Way, which stretches from Edale, in the northern Derbyshire Peak District, to Kirk Yetholm, in the Scottish borders, and crosses a large part of Craven. Joining him on the winners podium were fell rescue team members Ruth Smith and Tom Parkin, who won their races; and were two of three who entered from Grassington based Upper Wharfedale Fell Rescue Association (UWFRA) and five members of the Clapham based Cave Rescue Organisation (CRO).

Dr Allison was first across the post in the 46- mile 'Winter Sprint', from Edale to Hebden Bridge, completing it in seven hours, 28 minutes and nine seconds, taking 45 minutes off the previous record set by Jon Shield.

"Like any real adventure the race was challenging, had many highs and lows, but ultimately was hugely rewarding," said Dr Allison.

"The weather was fairly kind on the day, hovering around freezing on the fell tops and some light rain for the first few hours. The physical preparation was fairly involved: apart from eight rest days I trained every day since the beginning of the Autumn term.

"Whittling down the weight of the 30-item kit list was probably equally challenging! It was brilliant to have the support of all the Gigg students and staff. My sincere thanks to the headmaster, Sam Hart, for giving me the day off to tackle the event."

Billed as one of the most brutal endurance race events in the world, several people dropped out of this year's races which coincided with some of the coldest days of the year so far and saw some diversions of routes. Overall winner was Jack Scott, who covered the 268 miles in the record breaking time of 72 hours 55 minutes and five seconds, having slept for just 54 minutes along the way.

Ruth Smith, of UWFRA, was the winner of the Montane Spine Challenger South MRT - a race for mountain rescue teams. Ruth, who also took part last year, but had to pull out after 43 miles because of a knee injury, completed the 108 mile race in a time of 56 hours, one minute and 43 seconds, while Tom Parkin was the first male in the Open MRT race, also 108 miles in a time of 32 hours, 47 minutes and 29 seconds.

Ruth, who only heard about the race in 2018, when she joined the team, said she was gutted not to have finished the race last year and wanted to do it again so she knew she could do it. She spent a lot of time training, including doing yoga, and working on reducing the weight of her kit.

On the night before the last day, she learned that all the other female MRT runners had retired from the race,which meant as long as she finished, she would win.

She said she did it to make her children proud, and also for all those who had supported her with training and lending kit, as well as those who had 'popped up' along the way.

"I'd entered this event to prove to myself that I wasn't rubbish but what I learnt was it wasn't even about me at all, it was about all the amazing people I have in my life," she said.

Fellow team member, Joe Parsons, a two times winner of the MRT Challenger, had been leading from the start in this year's MRT Challenge North, a 160 mile, non-stop race starting in Hardraw and finishing in Kirk Yetholm. He had to withdraw from the race at Bellingham, some106 miles into the race and getting there in 38 hours and 45 minutes, after sustaining an injury.

Joe talked of temperatures of minus 18 degrees centigrade and 'verglas' of ice and snow. With 50 miles to go, and unable to walk without pain, Joe decided he could not go on.

He said: "I could crawl at least two of those miles if I had to, but not 50. So, phone in hand, I made the call. Deployed my emergency bivvy bag. Painstakingly got into every piece of clothing I had with me and got out the stove for the first time in my Spine history."

Five CRO members took part, Simon Oxley, Craig Perkins, Heather Eastwood, Graham Hughes and Mike Bottomley, setting themselves a fundraising target of £1,000, and so far raising £2, 426. Craig and Simon made it to the end, with the others forced to retire.

A CRO spokesperson said: "CRO is a charity and we rely on the generosity of people to keep us ready to respond to calls for help. Thank you to Heather, Graham, Simon, Mike and Craig, and thank you to everyone who has supported us."

Donations can still be made via UWFRA and CRO Facebook pages.