Relieved to be back home in Peel after the longest week of his life, Orran Smith had no doubts about the severity of the Montane Spine Race.
‘It was the hardest event I have tackled to date because of the severe cold and the sleep deprivation,’ said the father of two who is no stranger to endurance events.
‘I teamed up with a runner from Sweden named Clarens Olsson early on Tuesday and we stayed together all the way to the end. I don’t think either of us would have made it had we stayed alone.’
The 268-mile event started from Edale in High Peak in Derbyshire a week last Sunday morning and followed the Pennine Way all the way to Kirk Yetholm in the Scottish Borders, which they reached shortly before 4.30pm on Thursday.
Tuesday was the definite low point. In bitterly cold conditions and managing little more than three hours sleep for the first two-and-a-bit days, Smith decided to ‘Bivvy-down’ for a couple of hours in the crook of a wall on the moors at 2am, about eight miles before Middleton.
‘My body temperature had dropped severely. I was shivering violently and knew I had to bed down in my sleeping bag for a while.
‘I probably only slept for an hour or so, but it took me just as long to get going again as my trail shoes froze. They were like two blocks of ice and I had to boil some water with my camping stove to de-ice them. It took me forever.’
Upon reaching the checkpoint at Middleton, he and Olsson (who had enjoyed a three-hour sleep in a stable) made a pact to remain together for the rest of the distance.
‘Clarens didn’t have much option to be honest as he had a chest infection and, because he is asthmatic, the race doctor at Alston only permitted him to continue if he remained in company with another runner.
‘To be honest, I also had a chest infection but I never mentioned that to the doctor as he probably would have stopped both of us from continuing.’
The pair managed to get another 80-minute sleep at Hawes and later actually managed to make time on the competitors ahead of them over the Cheviots as the leaders were wading through two-feet of snow in places.
Having estimated a finishing time of between 8 and 9pm on Thursday, they actually arrived about four hours earlier in joint 10th in an overall time of 104hr 27min 57sec (four-and-a-half days).
‘We were so pleased to get to the finish, but absolutely shattered.’
Orran gave a big thank you to everyone who helped him both physically and in monetary terms as he was raising funds for the Isle of Man Multiple Sclerosis Society. He set out with the hope of raising £5,000 but has almost doubled that. By midday yesterday the figure was £9,689. ‘It would be nice to make £10,000,’ he said.
An old school friend of Orran’s, Chris Sheeley, is a MS sufferer.
l To help him crack the 10 grand mark go to www.justgiving.com/fundraising/orransmith