Orran Smith, probably the island’s grittiest athlete, is to tackle a mountain race regarded as the hardest in the UK and beyond.

Many suggest the Montane Spine Race is one of the toughest athletic challenges in the world.

Beginning at Edale in Derbyshire’s High Peaks, it first climbs Kinder Scout then travels 268 miles (429 kilometres) up the Pennine Way to Kirk Yetholm in Scotland non-stop, unsupported and during the dead of winter.

The seasoned ultra-distance runner is attempting to raise money in honour of his mate, Chris Sheeley, who has Multiple Sclerosis.

The Spine Race starts on January 15 and competitors have 24 hours to get through checkpoint one at Hebden Bridge, a distance of 74km involving 2,442 metres of ascent.

From there it is another 100km to Hardraw Bunkhouse, with a further 3,212 metres of ascent in under 24 hours.

It continues through the North Yorkshire Dales, across the North Pennines and over the World Heritage-listed Hadrian’s Wall, on to the remote Cheviot Hills and, finally, that elusive village of Kirk Yetholm, one mile north-west of the border with Scotland.

Those tackling it are given seven days to complete the whole challenge.

‘I know it will be tough but the reasons behind this race will get me through the hard times,’ said the 43-year-old running coach from Peel.

‘I am raising sponsorship for the Isle of Man MS Society, a charity which has supported my friend Chris and others in the island who are living with MS. Anything that can be spared to help raise awareness of this amazing charity would be greatly appreciated.’

Chris Sheeley wants to be part of the adventure, so Orran and his team are trying to work out how he can physically follow him up through the country cheering him on.

‘He’s a good friend. I used to babysit him when I was a teenager and we’ve worked together twice as grown-ups’.

Smith had tried to enter the Montane Spine Race some months ago, but when his initial application failed he instead entered The Arc of Attrition on January 27, a 100 mile race round the coast of Cornwall. ‘I’ll have to tackle that some time in the future,’ he added on Tuesday.

To help Orran Smith support Isle of Man Multiple Sclerosis Society you can donate through his JustGiving page.