'Extremely cold and exhausted' racers rescued from last leg of 268-mile winter ultra-marathon

Northumberland National Park Mountain Rescue Team praised the multi-agency rescue effort. Credit: Northumberland National Park Mountain Rescue Team

A pair of endurance racers have been rescued as they neared the end of a non-stop race from the Peak District to Scotland.

Two competitors in the Montane Spine Race were suffering from "extreme cold and exhaustion" near the Cheviot in Northumberland in the early hours of Sunday morning.

They, alongside over 100 others, were racing the entire length of Pennine Way, starting in Edale in the Peak District and finishing in Kirk Yetholm just north of the Scottish border.

It is considered one of the toughest endurance events in the world.

This year's winner completed the event in the men's record time of just under 87 hours.

But two of the racers were forced to end their event within 10 miles of the finish line after six days of struggle.

In the early hours of Sunday 22 January, the event safety team assisted the pair down to the race's penultimate checkpoint in the north of Northumberland National Park.

The race simulates Arctic conditions and racers are known to go through the night on limited sleep. Credit: NNPMRT

Following an assessment at the refuge hut, it was decided that one of the competitors would potentially need stretchering off the hill.

A 999 call was made with a specific request for mountain rescue and shortly before 6am Northumbria Police called North of Tyne Mountain Rescue Team and Northumberland National Park Mountain Rescue Team (NNPMRT) to assist.

With the incident being on the border with Scotland, the Border Search and Rescue Unit (BSARU) were also alerted.

Five response vehicles filled with team members were swiftly mobilised, with the English side heading to the Mounthooly in College Valley and the Scottish side heading to Cocklawfoot.

Given the snowy conditions there was uncertainty as to whether the 4x4 vehicles on the Scottish side would reach the hut.

The two vehicles made it despite the conditions. Credit: NNPMRT

Hill parties with vital equipment were deployed on foot from south of Mounthooly on the English side of the border.

"The first hill party arrived at the hut shortly before the Landrovers from the Scottish side," a NNPMRT spokesperson said.

"But thanks to some great off-road driving to reach the hut it meant that the evacuation was much simpler than would have otherwise been the case.

"Both competitors and the event safety team medic were then transported off the hill and driven round to Kirk Yetholm," the spokesperson continued.

"All that remained was for the hill parties on the English side to return to the Mounthooly.

"A fantastic example of cross-border working with a really good outcome for all concerned. Many thanks to our colleagues form over the border for their assistance."

The incident involved 27 team members for four hours and 30 minutes.

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