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Kev Leahy claims victory at the inaugural Montane Arctic Spine

The first ever Montane Arctic Spine has seen Kev Leahy claim victory as the last man standing, as the event made a spectacular debut in the Montane Spine series.

Speaking at the finish line, Leahy commented: “It beats you up like 5 kilometres a day – 55, 60, 65, and every day it gets a little bit heavier. You only sleep for two or three hours a day, you’re low on calories, but it’s good, it’s good – I thoroughly enjoyed it. Such an adventure!”

Race organisers had to adapt as the race unfolded, changing cut-off times as athlete progress was monitored, with the finish line being brought forward from the initial finish mark at Hemavan. Conditions were brutal, with temperatures as low as -40°C and winds as high as 40 mph, resulting in the other nine participants having to retire.

The race started on 6th February at Abisko, journeying through snowfields, Arctic tundra and frozen woodlands flanked by Sweden’s highest mountains, as participants raced along the Kungsleden Trail. An initial 192-hour time limit was in place, which was later removed as the race unfolded.

Speaking on Leahy’s achievement, The Spine Race media team wrote: “We challenge you to think of a harder-earned medal than the one he has around his neck now. Kev has blazed a trail along the Kungsleden, setting a standard for anyone intrepid enough to take on this race in the future.

“As the person who managed to comfortably cover the furthest distance, Kev is our winner this year. All future editions of the Arctic Spine Race will be a search for somebody able to build on and surpass his incredible performance.”

The expedition race was open to solo entrants or to teams of up to four people, with participants requiring strong navigational skills and cold-weather management to succeed.

Speaking on the conclusion of the event, Montane’s Marketing Director, Matthew Hickman, commented: “After the continued success of the Montane Winter and Summer Spine events, we were hugely excited about the potential of the Montane Arctic Spine, offering a wholly different test for participants. The events over the last few days have emphatically proved just how tough this event actually is, with Kev putting in a mammoth effort to overcome the challenge, and I extend a huge congratulations to him on his incredible achievement.”

The Arctic Spine is the latest addition to Montane’s Spine series, alongside the well-established Montane Winter Spine and Montane Summer Spine events, and marks further investment into arctic ultra events for the outdoor brand, alongside the renowned Montane Yukon Arctic Ultra and the recently introduced Montane Lapland Arctic Ultra.

More information on the Montane Arctic Spine can be found here: https://montane.com/pages/arctic-spine-race

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