Haywards Heath man’s epic endurance race for mental health charity

A Haywards Heath man took on one of the world’s toughest endurance races and raised more than £1,000 for a mental health charity.

Michael Burke, 42, a housing option officer, from the Northlands Wood area of the town, completed the Montane Spine Race – a 268-mile race along the Pennine Way in six hours, one hour and 45 minutes, with just 18 hours of sleep.

Michael Burke. Photo contributed

Michael Burke. Photo contributed

He said: “I have recovered well from the race. I came in 38th (35 male) place of the 126 starter. There were 73 finishers which is roughly a 42 per cent drop out rate.

“Apart from a slight left calf strain at about 25 miles from the finish and friction rash on my shoulders from carrying my 10kg pack, I had no other medical issues and no blisters. Only numb big toes which are now getting back to normal!

“Of those who DNF’d (retired) there were two broken legs, eye injuries, exhaustion, hypothermia, and the usual sprains, strains and blisters.

“In terms of fundraising I have now raised almost £1,500 for Mind in Brighton and Hove discounting gift aid.”

Michael said during the race he had to contend with horizontal rain, 45 to 50 mile an hour winds, -10° wind chill, sleet, snow, mist and low lying cloud.

He said his kit consisted of mainly mandatory items to make sure he was safe – a sleeping bag, bivi, sleep mat, spare clothes, two litres of water, GPS unit, 3,000 calories of food, spare batteries, a dual SIM phone and maps, as well as micro-spikes to grip on the icy ground.

“We all had a tracking devices attached so that the safety team could follow us and direct rescue if needed,” he added.

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He said he is now looking forward to a number of raced lined up this year.

“I’d like to try a 430 mile winter challenge in the Yukon,” he said, adding: “This is going to be some years off though as I need to finish paying off this race (the kit isn’t cheap) and so will need to save up to fulfill this dream.”

The Spine Race is widely regarded as one of the world’s toughest endurance races.

On its website it says it is a ‘truly epic challenge that will test your physical resilience and mental fortitude’.

It adds: “Racing non-stop along the most iconic trail in the UK, you will experience the full intensity and ferocity of the British Winter. Prepare yourself for the biggest challenge of your life.”

To make a donation on Michael’s JustGiving page, visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/michaels-winter-spine.