The Spine Virtual Challenges

This January our Spine Virtual Challenges have been taking place right across the world!

Take on the Virtual Spine

In January 2023, as well as the traditional race, we offer everyone the chance to take part in the Virtual Spine Challenges. These challenges can take place anywhere in the world and you have from January 1st to the 31st to get to the virtual finish line. With five distances to choose from, it gives you the opportunity to get active and keep fit, or to tackle the equivalent of Britain’s Most Brutal endurance race.

The Virtual Challenges help support the Pennine Way National Trail Partnership. You can make a donation to support the restoration of part of the Pennine Way on the southern approach to Cross Fell. Previously, we have raised over £15,000 that has gone towards the restoration of Greg’s Hut.


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 2023 there is a separate virtual challenge giving you the opportunity to ‘Race the Racers’ in the 108 mile 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 07.30 on Saturday January 14th and you need to finish by 19.30 on Monday 16th January. 60 hours maximum.

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 2023 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 2023 Virtual Spine Race Challenges will be supporting the Pennine Way National Trail Partnership. You can make a donation of £5, £10 or £20 to support the restoration of part of the Pennine Way National Trail on the southern approach to Cross Fell. A linear stretch of stone flags has become undercut due to the erosion of the peat.

At just under 3,000 feet, Cross Fell is the highest mountain in England outside the Lake District. The ferocity of the weather is well known and a clear trail is of the utmost importance for the safety of those navigating in this remote and isolated area.

It is hoped that work will commence this winter and will be completed next summer/autumn. The project is likely to involve using hessian bags filled with bracken based compost. The bags will be filled over the winter ready for installation next summer. The bags will be airlifted onto site and then placed into the eroded section of the trail by hand. The restored area may then be seeded or planted with plug plants to speed up the colonisation with vegetation.