Ultra auctioneer Paul Fosh faces ultimate extreme challenge

SOUTH Wales property auctioneer and extreme athlete Paul Fosh is ready to compete in what is widely regarded as one of the world’s toughest and most brutal endurance races – the Montane Spine.

Covering a unforgiving 265-mile route up the spine of the United Kingdom the event sees competitors race non-stop from Edale, in England’s Peak District to Kirk Yelthorn, in the Scottish borders, along the Pennine Way.

The Montane Spine race was devised by Arctic expedition guides Scott Gilmour and Phil Hayday-Brown. The inaugural race took place in 2012 when there were just three finishers from a field of eleven competitors

Paul, the 53-year-old MD of Newport based Paul Fosh Auctions, who lives near Monmouth, is no stranger to the extreme demands of ultra events. The super fit athlete regularly competes in a range of ultra marathons.

Paul competed in 2015 in the Likeys Ultra in Canada when he was one of just eight to finish, coming fourth out of the 24 that entered.  He also completed the 300-mile Montane Yukon Arctic Ultra in 2016.

Paul, who is in daily training for the Montane Spine event, says he has unfinished business as he was forced to pull out of the 430-mile Montane Yukon Ultra in 2019 due to injury.

Paul said: “I’ve entered the summer Montane Spine event. It’s 268 miles over about six-and-a-half days with lots of altitude. I’m very, very nervous and also very, very excited. It doesn’t compare to anything I’ve done before. I’ve got a good idea of what’s in store and that’s what’s making me nervous, which is a good thing.

“It’s full on. Running over all sorts of terrain, stopping when and where you can for rest, perhaps some sleep and then carrying on. My biggest concern, perhaps strangely, is if I will be able to get enough water. In the Yukon, that’s not a problem, you just melt some snow or ice. I’ve got a device to filter water, so I’ll just have to drink from streams. Of course, there will be some scattered shops.”

Paul, who is raising funds for the Wales homelessness young people and women charity, Llamau has been in training over back to back days but he says nothing can replicate the epic nature of the  268 mile route other than actually running the course.

“Because of the pandemic and the remaining restrictions, the race has a staggered start.  I’m setting off at 4pm on the Saturday evening. There are about 90 entrants from across the world taking part. It’ll really be a tough personal test and one, although I am nervous, I relish.”

Paul will lead a team from Paul Fosh Auctions in the Three Peaks of Wales Challenge in July, again in aid of Llamau before getting back in training for the ‘unfinished business’ of the  300-mile Montane Lapland Arctic Ultra in March next year.

Spine participants wear or carry mandatory clothing and equipment over the full course and have access to an additional drop bag which is transported along the route for them and made available at checkpoints. Individual support crews for the runners were allowed in the past but from 2018 were no longer permitted.

The 2019 race received considerable media attention when the overall win was taken by British women’s fell running champion Jasmin Paris.

The Montane Spine starts on Saturday, June 19 and ends on the following Saturday.

The next Paul Fosh Auctions online sale starts at 12 noon on Tuesday, June 8 and ends from 5pm on Thursday, June 10.