The Spine Virtual Challenges

Each January our Spine Virtual Challenges have runners taking to the trails all around the world…

Take on the Virtual Spine

As well as our traditional races, each winter we offer everyone the chance to take part in the Virtual Spine Challenges.

Entrants simply choose from the 5 distances available and join the rest of our international community of Virtual Spiners. The challenges can take place anywhere in the world and participants have from January 1st to the 31st to get to their virtual finish line.

The distances you can choose from are:

• SPINE RACE – The full 268 mile Pennine Way National Trail

• CHALLENGER NORTH – 160 miles from Hardraw to Kirk Yetholm

• CHALLENGER SOUTH – 108 miles from Edale to Hawes

• SPRINT – 43 miles from Edale to Hebden Bridge

• DASH – 26.8 miles from Edale to Standedge in West Yorkshire.

You’ll be able to track your progress and see all the other participants, as your dots move along our virtual map of the Pennine Way, passing through the official #SpineRace checkpoints. You’ll be part of an international community of Spiners taking on their own challenge right from their front doors. There’s even a live weather overlay will give you a sense of what conditions are actually like on the trail.


Whilst most Virtual Spine racers will have the whole month of January to complete their chosen challenge, in 2024 we will once again offer up the opportunity to RACE THE RACERS by taking on the runners in the ‘real life’ Montane Spine Challenger South.

Just like those athletes, you’ll have 60 hours to cover 108 miles. Although you will be able to undertake this challenge from anywhere in the world, your challenge will start at 08.00 on Saturday January 13th and you’ll need to finish by 20.00 on Monday 15th January. There will be no trophies, gold, silver or bronze medals; just the Virtual Challenger South ribbon, medal, buff and the admiration of all who cheered you along the route!


At 26.8 miles the well-established Dash is exclusive to the Montane Virtual Challenges and offers a shorter challenge spread over 31 days. The DASH IN A DAY poses a different test – 26.8 miles in just 24 hours! You will be able to undertake this challenge from anywhere in the world and your challenge will start at 12.00 noon on Saturday January 6th and finish by 12.00 noon on Sunday 7th January.

Whether you are trying out a Spine Race distance in your own time and building towards a real race in the future, or just setting yourself a challenge to keep you moving through January, this is an opportunity to get active and keep fit among the amazing #SpineFamily.

Learn more in the FAQs below, including how the Virtual Challenges help support the Pennine Way National Trail Partnership. Enter via the button below…

Race FAQs

There are five races of varying distances that you can enter. They include:

The Spine Race along the entire 268-mile Pennine Way from Edale to Kirk Yetholm.

The Challenger North a 160 mile challenge from Hardraw to Kirk Yetholm.

The Challenger South covering the first 108 miles from Edale to the scenic North Yorkshire village of Hawes.

The Sprint 43 miles from Edale to the small market town of Hebden Bridge.

The Dash, exclusive to the Virtual Spine event, offers the opportunity for a shorter challenge, 26.8 miles, from Edale to the wild moorlands of Standedge.


Every time you go for a run, jog, walk or even take the dog for some exercise between 00.00 on January 1st and midnight on January 31st you can log your miles manually or we can collect your miles automatically if you connect a Strava, Garmin Connect or Fitbit account.

We’ll show your position on a virtual map along with your fellow competitors and you can track your progress along the legendry Pennine Way, through the official checkpoints.

Automatic Logging

Beneath the map on the event page, you will find a green “Connect Service” button – click that, choose the service and you’ll be taken to its approve connection page. Note that we can only collect public activities. They must be logged as a walk, run, hike, virtual run or similar.

Manual Logging

It’s simple to log manually if you prefer or have none of the above services:

  1. Log in to your UltraBritain account
  2. Click the View and Register Activities button above the map
  3. You’ll see everything we have recorded for you to date and you’ll have the option of adding new activities
  4. Adding an activity is simply a matter of tapping the date on a calendar (nb only dates since the start of the event up until ‘today’ are shown) and entering the distance in either miles or kilometres

IMPORTANT: For ‘Race the Racers’ event you MUST use a Strava or Garmin account.

In January 2024 we are once again offering a separate virtual challenge giving you the opportunity to ‘Race the Racers’ in the 108 mile Montane Spine Challenger South race. Although you will be able to undertake this challenge from anywhere in the world, like athletes in the Challenger South, your challenge will start at 0800 on Saturday January 13th and you need to finish by 2000 on Monday 15th January. That’s just 60 hours.

For the ‘Race the Racers’ virtual challenge you will need to provide evidence of the distance you have covered and the time taken through Strava or Garmin Connect account. There will be no trophies, just a great sense of satisfaction, the virtual challenge medal, buff and admiration of all who cheered you along the route!


You obviously have the pride of completing your race but for all participants who successfully complete their Virtual Spine Challenge there will be a finishers buff and medal unique to the virtual events.

The Virtual Spine Race offers you the chance to support the TREES NOT TEES initiative.

‘The environmental benefit of planting a tree is huge, it helps us fight against climate change by taking carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, it provides a home for a diverse range of species, and it gives us clean air to breathe.’ Jim Mann, Co-Founder of Trees for Tees and Spine athlete.

When you enter you can opt not to receive the finisher medal and buff. Instead, you can have a tree planted and receive an e-certificate, a What3Words location of your tree and a unique photograph of your sapling from Trees not Tees.

The  Virtual Challenges help support the Pennine Way National Trail Partnership. When you enter you can make a donation to support their work to maintain the trail.

Previously we have raised over £17,000 which has gone towards the restoration of Greg’s Hut and path maintenance on Cross Fell.

The presence of a well-defined, negotiable path is of paramount importance not just for the safety of runners and walkers but also for the environmental protection of the area.

You can find out more about the Pennine Way National Trail Partnership here: