What is The Spine?
The Spine is a point to point traverse of the Penine Way, starting in Edale in Derbyshire and travelling north to Kirk Yetholm in the Scottish Borders, 268 miles away.
There are 5 checkpoints along the way at: Hebden, Hawes, Middleton, Alston and Bellingham. There are three x.5 checkpoints which are not really checkpoints but timing points where you can stay 30minutes and get water. No food nor access to your drop bag is allowed. In addition, there are several other small villages and points of interest that the route passes through.
Its a single stage race with five checkpoints where competitors have access to a 20kg drop bag as well food, water, sleeping and medical facilities.
There is a 168 hour time limit (7 days) with corresponding cut-offs at checkpoints along the way. You can sleep at the checkpoints and along the route. The race starts 8am Sunday so you have until 8am the following Sunday to get to Kirk Yetholm.
The route is not marked by the race (except near checkpoints which are off the Pennine Way). The Pennine way itself is a national trail and is marked although not well enough to navigate by these marking alone.
Preparation for the race had not been ideal. I did a 100 mile race in November with the aim of taking it steadily and using it to test out some new kit. Shortly after the race, however, I developed very painful sciatica which significantly impacted my running. So I did very little training in November and December.
I pulled together all the info I thought I’d need in a spreadsheet. The mandatory kit was the most extensive of any race I’d done before. Not only were the kit items listed but extensive guidance on each item of kit was provided, e.g. sleeping bag ratings, mat sizes. I had not put much effort into reducing kit size of weight and consequently my pack was about 9kg without water so I was due to spend the week carrying between 10 and 11kg along the Pennines.
The organisers had supplied several GPX files of the route. I loaded them as sections between checkpoints and added a few waypoints for interesting items along the way. The race is a little unique in that competitors need to be self sufficient between checkpoints but can use shops, cafes, pubs, etc. along the way. It is quite difficult for newcomers to get a complete list of these unofficial aid points; folks who have done the race before seem to build their own list. Anyway, I added waypoints for aid points that I managed to scavenge from discussion on the facebook forum.
One thing was clear though, distances between CPs is very large so I would need to carry a lot of stuff. My strategy was to try and sleep only at the CPs and eat the food provided at the CPs and just eat snacks in between. I decided to minimise sleep as much as possible.
I arrived in Edale on Saturday morning and checked in, picking up race number 140. I had the privilege of a “full kit check” because of my race number, whatever that meant.
I chatted with a few other competitors that I knew and then decided to have a look around Buxton in the afternoon.
In the evening I checked into the Edale YHA and arranged to have dinner with Gwynn and Marcus. Back in the YHA it turned out that I was rooming with Steve who I knew from other races such as the Rebellion.
Section 1, Edale to Hebden. 45.9miles 2,442m.
We got up at 6am and had breakfast at the YHA. I gave Steve a lift down to the start in Edale and we got our trackers fitted and waited around until just before 8am when we walked down to the start in a field next to the car park.
At 8am we setoff. It was windy and had started to rain.
We climbed out of Edale and soon hit Jacob’s Ladder on the way up onto Kinder Scout. There were plenty of people around and I settled into a pace set by those in front. It was very windy up on top and quite cold. Past Kinder Downfall and eventually onto Bleaklow Moor. In the main the navigation here was quite straightforward as I was just following people.
I saw someone in front of me slip over and sit on one of his poles; which of course broke.
We started to descend to Torside and the water station next to the reservoir.
I noticed that I was feeling lethargic. I put this down to the 100 miler I had done a few weeks before. The felling persisted for the first 48 hours of the race then I did not notice it after that.
This was also the first race I have ever done in glasses; I usually wear contact lenses. Going into the strong headwind with heavy rain it was really difficult to see where I was going. With all the water on the lenses of my glasses I could just about make out where to put my feet but following the path was difficult and navigation very difficult. I fell into just following the person in front. This is not the best idea but did work until the rain lessened.
After that we rounded the reservoir and tracked along the far side for a bit before starting to climb back onto the moors, coming out onto Wassenden Moor. There was a good path of flagstones here so progress was good.
We crossed the A62 where I was expecting at least some water but it got confusing with an aid station for another race that had setup at the road junction. The marshals were not keen to give us any water with “nothing for you here, move along”. I was not particularly bothered as I had enough water.
Next up was another moor section ahead of the M62 crossing. Here I was expecting a burger van. Unfortunately I think I was too late and there was no burger van. There were some folks offering water so I took some.
So, on we went across the very windy footbridge across the M62 and across another moor. There is a pub called the White House Pub which was closed but some folks had setup a small tent with some supplies, tea, coffee, water and snacks. It was nice to stand out of the wind for 5 minutes and resupply.
After a while the lights of Hebden Bridge came into view. The first checkpoint was a little past the town and slightly off the Pennine way.
The detour off the Pennine way is quite narrow and with all the traffic, very muddy and slippery. But we eventually arrived at CP1.
I got my drop bag given to me, handed in my running shoes and poles and sorted out some kit. The CP was very busy and there was not much space to spread anything out and my top opening rucksack and drop bag were not the best in this confined situation.
I ordered and ate some food and prepared to get some sleep. I went into the sleep area with a sleeping bag from my drop bag (which is lighter and more suitable to sleeping indoors that the one i carried in my rucksack). The sleeping area was very hot so I lay on the sleeping bag.
I set my phone to alarm in 2 hours and charged both my watch and phone.
I didn’t sleep much and remember being awake. I estimate I only slept 30-45 minutes of the 2 hours.
When my alarm sounded I got up and ordered some breakfast. I changed the batteries in my GPS and head torch, packed up my kit, reclaimed my shoes and poles and set off on section 2.
Section 2, Hebden to Hawes, 61 miles 3,195m
This is a tough section. Its long and hilly, but there are some unofficial aid stations along the way. Also, there is the official CP 1.5 at Malham Tarn. The x.5 CPs are not really checkpoints. You have a max stay of 30 minutes before you are asked to move along and whilst water is available there is no food, you have to eat your own.
So we setoff from Hebden and retraced our way back up the narrow, muddy path. I was travelling with Colin who was reasonably familiar with the area which helped. I can’t quite remember when but Will joined us and we moved as a three.
We kept climbing and Colin kept mentioning Top Withens. On Wadsworth Moor we came across a deserted farmhouse, Top Withens, which is said to have been the inspiration for the location of the Earnshaw family house in Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights.
We went inside and sat down for a 5 minute catnap.
We descended off the moor and saw a sign for a cafe just off the Pennine Way, so we decided to see if it was open. The night had passed and it was now morning so we were hopeful. And yes, it was open! So we had breakfast.
After breakfast, we went back to the Pennine Way and continued onto Ickornshaw Moor.
The sun came out periodically and the rain had stopped. The wind has lessened a bit as well so this section was quite pleasant.
From here we dropped down to Cowling but there was not much there for us so we continued onto Lothersdale. The pub in Lothersdale was closed but a local triathlon club has setup an aid station so we sat there for a while and ate and drank their fayre – which was very nice of them.
After Lothersdale we joined the Leeds and Liverpool Canal for a bit. This is an interesting bridge. Looks like they built the bridge then needed to raise the road and build another bridge on top of the first.
it was a few miles cross-country to the village of Gargrave which had a Co-op. We bought a supply of ready to eat food and drink and sat outside eating it. It was getting dark and with it, getting quite cold. I was pleased to get moving again.
Next up was Airton, then Malham, but we did not stop. We were aiming for the CP 1.5 at Malham Tarn, north of Malham. This was a checkpoint that was not a checkpoint.
It was dark by the time we arrived at Malham Tarn. Will and Colin were unsure whether to try and sleep at Malham Tarn or continue. I was keen to continue. We thought we’d see how long we could stay at the CP, but they were onto us and after half an hour someone came round to point out we had to move on.
Colin and I decided to carry on. Will needed some sleep so he decided to bivvy down outside the CP on a verandah.
As soon as we left the checkpoint that was not a checkpoint, at Malham Tarn, it was obvious that the weather had changed. The wind had strengthened and it started raining. We started climbing towards Pen Y Ghent.
Pen Y Ghent is a well known hill in the area. Most people seem to translate it as Hill of the Wind or something similar. In modern welsh this would be Pen Y Gwynt. Apparently it could also mean Hill of the Border or refer to a particular tribe.
As we climbed so the wind and rain increased and so our group of 2 grew bigger and bigger numbering about a dozen. People were becoming concerned about traversing Pen Y Ghent in these conditions. I did not have much of a view not having been up before. In the end Colin decided to try and call race HQ and see what they thought, but neither he nor anyone could get a phone signal.
So there was a lot of indecision. Colin went off to try and get a phone signal, the rest of the group continued on thinking the decision was to avoid and the summit and skirt around the lower ground.
I waited for Colin for a bit then went off to try and find him. The visibility was very low and I did not find him. So I set off on the route again. After a short while I came across the rest of the group sheltering in a farm building.
The group decision was to avoid the summit so I thought I would stick with the group. After a while, however, it became clear that folks doing the navigation were not clear on the route to avoid the summit so we passed up and down the same path a few times. Eventually, we found the path to descend the other side of Pen Y Ghent and after a while came out in Horton in Ribblesdale.
There is a cafe here (the Pen Y Ghent or PYG Cafe) that stays open 24hrs during the Spine race so we took the opportunity to order some food and drink and rest a while. I had only been in the PYG Cafe 5 minutes when Colin walked in. So he had eventually got through to Race HQ who said Pen Y Ghent was fine so he had gone over it. I picked up a 1 hour penalty for missing the summit.
After the PYG Cafe, we set off again. The weather was improving as we moved along Cam Fell. Eventually we started to drop down to Hawes. It was a long and muddy descent into the town and CP2.
We were all very tired when we arrived at the CP.
I handed in my shoes and poles and had some food and drink. Then I sorted some kit out and prepared for a sleep. There were bunk beds here so no need for a sleeping bag.
I planned for a 2 hour sleep here and found an empty bunk. As I was drifting off, it became apparent that one of my fellow Spiners had the loudest snore that I have ever heard. In both the human and animal kingdom. This snore was not just loud; it was deafeningly laud. I have no idea how this guy was not waking himself up with each breath; but unfortunately he was not.
After a couple of minutes it became apparent that I was not going to be able to ignore this noise. I was just about to get up and go find another room to sleep in when someone else had the same idea and noisily got up, moved about and left the room, slamming the door behind him. This seemed to wake snory guy up as the snoring stopped. I fell asleep.
My alarm went off after 2 hours. My estimation is that I had slept for about 1.5 hours.
I got up and had some breakfast. I also thought I would get a medic to have a look at my feet as I was having trouble with blisters on the little toes of both feet. I was wearing toe socks which I am normally OK with but the very wet underfoot conditions I think were causing more wear and tear than normal. I think if I were to do the race again, waterproof socks would be the way to go.
The medics did a good job of dealing with the blisters and taping up my feet a bit.
I sorted out some more kit, packed it all up and prepared to set off. I had arranged with Colin to set off at 3pm and had got up at 2:25 but had not seem him. I asked a couple of folks but nobody had seen him. So either he could not sleep and had already left, or was still sleeping. I decided to set off on my own to make use of the hour or so of daylight.
Section 3, Hawes to Middleton, 33.7 miles 1,871m
The first section was a big anti-clockwise loop over Thwaite Common to the village of Thwaite. There is a cafe here, but it was dark when I arrived and the cafe was closed. So I continued on with a steep climb before starting to contour along a river valley. Somewhere along here I missed the path and found myself too high and had to shimmy down and a steep bank. Back on the path I went up onto Stonesdale Moor. It was raining hard again now.
I was moving well on this section which was slabbed in the main. The moor was quite bleak but eventually the lights of the Tan Hill Pub came into view (the highest pub in England).
The kitchen was closed but they did me tomato soup, cake and 1 pint of coke.
My feet were beginning to swell and getting going after the Tan Hill Pub was a little difficult. Not helped by getting a few hundred meters out of the pub before discovering I had left my poles there!
I don’t remember much about the next section except that the flag stones ran out and the ground was very boggy and therefore progress was slower. Eventually, I arrived at Middleton and CP3.
It was the usual checkpoint process but I decided to go for 3 hours sleep rather than 2.
On waking up, I had breakfast, did the necessary admin and prepared to setoff again. I then saw Colin just arriving at the CP. He said he had overslept at Hawes. I also saw Will who said we had slept at Malham Tarn for an hour or two and felt fine so had continued and was obviously doing very well.
Section 4, Middleton to Alston, 38.5 miles 2,002m
Setting off from Middleton, the Pennine Way heads west towards Dufton. The first part of the route is quite straightforward along the River Tees and some rapids.
The weather had improved again and the sun was out, so all was well. As I followed the River Tees so the terrain became more and more remote. Some quite long scrambling sections followed that were slow going. The light was fading so I was keen to get as far as I could before night settled in.
After quite a while I came to Cauldron Snout which is scramble next to a cataract upto the Cow Green Reservoir. At this point I got out my head torch and prepared for nighttime.
The next section was fairly easy to travel and then we arrived at High Cup which, by daylight is supposed to be a spectacular view. Visibility was low when I got there and staying on the path at the top not easy. The path got easier further down, though, and was easy to follow to Dufton. I met up with Carlos and Ken and we started travelling together.
Checkpoint 3.5 was in Dufton. It was another of the x.5 checkpoints, that are not really checkpoints. Just before the CP, was a cafe that was open. We jumped in for a meal which was great.
They were just closing up so one more Spiner got in before the cafe closed.
After the cafe we moved along to the checkpoint. We only stopped there a few minutes.
After Dufton the path is very muddy as it heads north and starts to climb. The is the climb to Cross Fell the highest point on the Pennine Way, at 893m. The weather was getting worse and we were told in Dufton to expect high winds, snow and -18C at the top. It did not disappoint. I was struggling to get moving after the stop at the cafe and Carlos and Ken pulled away from me.
At the top I saw a head torch and headed over thinking I was near Gregg’s Hut. It turned out to be a guy called Javed who was camping out there for some reason. He gave me a biscuit and a piece of cheese which was very nice, and pointed me in the direction of Gregg’s Hut.
Gregg’s Hut is not a checkpoint but a welcome aid station on the Spine. There is an entrance porch that leads to an outer room which itself leads to an inner room. In the inner room, John Bamber cooked us chilli noodles and hot chocolate. Perfect!
Carlos and Ken were in the hut so we determined to set off again together.
It was good to get over Cross Fell and as we descended so the wind eased. It was very cold though and we hurried along to stay warm. The descent is quite easy to navigate and we soon picked up a road that took us down to the village of Garrigill.
I thought we were close to the checkpoint here and refused the offer of some refreshment that a Filipino lady was making. Probably a mistake as it took forever to travel the last few miles. The navigation across fields was awkward and slow. Ken had disappeared by this point and Carlos and I trudged on slowly.
Eventually we arrived at CP4!
Usual checkpoint procedure with a 3 hour sleep. Again, as usual, on awakening I sorted out and packed up kit, ate breakfast and set off.
Section 5, Alston to Bellingham, 40 miles 1,674m
Andy suggested we travel together and this sounded good so we set off from the Checkpoint.
The section after the CP at Alston is low lying farmland which is muddy and moreland and quite boggy. Blenkinsopp Common eventually leads to the village of Greenhead. There is a pub and cafe in Greenhead off route but we were not confident they would be open when we got there so we passed on by.
Instead, there is a museum as the Pennine Way leaves Greenhead. And associated with the museum are some public toilets which are unlocked at night. So in we piled. There were already some other Spiners there and inside the building was much warmer than it was outside.
So this was time to use my stove (with a urinal providing a water feature in the background) and try a freeze dried meal.
After our meal some people wanted to bivvy down for an hour or two but I decided to push on. Andy came with me.
The next section was quite hard as it followed the undulating ground of Hadrian’s Wall. Navigation is, of course, quite easy as we just followed the Wall but the terrain is quite hilly so progress was slow. The weather had improved and the moon was out which was quite spectacular. I attempted to take some photographs but for some inexplicable reason failed to take any!
Andy was getting tired by now and kept sitting down for a catnap. I would head on and then he would catch me up. This happened a few times then I think I pulled away.
I eventually headed north through the wall. I went through some wooded areas and some moorland. It was very cold.
I had used up the water in my soft flask and then realised that my bladder had frozen up. Initially I thought it would just be the outflow pipe that had frozen but after removing it from my backpack I realised that the screw cap fill had also frozen.
Although there was some ice in the bladder most of it was liquid. I just could not get at it. It would have been easy to make a hole in the bladder and decant the water to my soft flask but that would have been a bit destructive. I tried warming the bladder on me but that did not seem to work.
So i decided to pee on the frozen inflow cap. That worked and thawed the ice sufficiently for me to be able to remove the cap and decant water to the soft flask.
I started noticing hallucinations at about this point. They seemed to follow the following format:
- In the distance I would see African animals (elephants, rhinos, lions) or cartoon characters or zombies.
- If I looked away and back again the original hallucination would be replaced by a European type animal; horse, dog, etc.
- When I got nearer the secondary hallucination would disappear and I would see a bush.
Sometimes the cartoon characters would laugh and point at me. The zombies would try and chase me. The African animals never took any notice of me.
Next up after a few miles was a farm called Horneystead which acts as an impromptu aid station.
The farmer seems to like walkers and has kitted out one of his outbuildings into a little den with food and drink. Perfectly possible to sleep there and top up on supplies. He even has some spare kit. I make a coffee and had a couple of snacks. I put some money in the honesty box and was on my way.
My feet were very painful by this point and each step hurt. A lot. They were very swollen and being crushed by my shoes. This seemed to be the major source of pain. I was thinking about cutting open my shoes to relieve the pressure but was concerned that on the boggy terrain this would lead to other problems.
In the end I left the shoes as they were.
It was not too far to Bellingham and CP5, but a miserable few miles just the same. I was very tired when I arrived just as the daylight began to fade.
I thought I would maintain the same checkpoint routine, eat, sort kit out, sleep 3 hours, get up, sort more kit out, pack up kit, get feet sorted and re-taped, eat breakfast and leave.
Section 6, Bellingham to Kirk Yetholm, 41.9 miles 2,146m
I got up and started on the painkillers straight away. The recommendation from the medics was for paracetamol and to avoid ibuprofen. I thought I’d start with paracetamol and keep the ibuprofen in reserve. My feet were not quite as swollen as before I went to sleep so that was a good thing.
I took my flask out of the drop bag for the first time at this checkpoint and it filled with sweet, milky coffee.
Setting off out of Bellingham, I was soon onto moorland. The next milestone was another x.5 checkpoint, CP 5.5 at Bryness so I was motivated to get there.
After the moorland there was a long section of road and then forrest fire track. Progress was quite reasonable. A couple of miles before Bryness I met two Mountain Rescue folks marching straight towards me. They asked me how I was before marching off the way I had come.
I continued on towards the x.5 checkpoint (that is not a checkpoint).
I got there and Chris, Carlos and Ken were already there. They make us a drink and I got my flask refilled with coffee. Then there was talk of the “casualty” which did not sound very good.
A few minutes later the two Mountain Rescue folks burst into the CP matching a competitor who was shivering badly. They went straight into a small room next to where we were, that evidently had been warmed considerably to reheat the guy suffering from hypothermia. Apparently he was bivvying outside and had become hypothermic and pressed his emergency beacon.
Then we got the nod that our half hour at the CP was up and we had to move on. Chris, Carlos, Ken and I decided to move on together to the Cheviots.
We were told it was going to be very cold and very windy.
Next up was a steep climb through a forest up Byrness Hill. There was no wind and we were all overdressed and sweating. As we came out onto the moor the breeze picked up and the temperature dropped. It was now cold!
The next section was, for me, the worst of the race. The sleep monster was calling to each of us and our pace was very slow. Not only that, we were lurching along in a zig zag pattern rather than staying on the path. We would each fall half asleep then trip on a rock or tussock which brought us back into the world of the conscious only to slowly drift off again.
And on we trudged. We were all quiet; even the normally talkative Carlos.
I was cold because we were moving so slowly. My feet were getting painful again, making progress more difficult.
Had there been anywhere to rest, we would have done. I was certainly concerned to stop after witnessing what we had back at Bryness, and I think the others would have felt the same. I am not sure how we kept going through the night but we did.
As it started getting light so the sleep monster’s grip on us started to wane and the others picked up the pace. I was struggling at the back with my very painful feet. Eventually the others pulled clear.
The hallucinations were back. I remember seeing a field of sheep with an elephant and 2 lions. I wondered way the sheep were not bothered by the lions. Then the lions and the sheep turned into bushes.
Around Lamb Hill we came across Hut 1. Not much had been made of this by the organisers so we were not sure what would be there for us but as I arrived I saw a few sets of poles outside so it was obvious there was something going on.
Inside a couple of folks were making hot drinks and food. Chris, Carlos and Ken were there as well as a couple of folks just leaving. I got a hot drink and made up a freeze dried meal.
Chris, Carlos and Ken were keen to move on so left. By the time I packed everything up they were out of sight.
The next section along the Cheviots was relatively easy to navigate. The Pennine Way follows a fence marking the boundary between England and Scotland and the path is reasonable. Everything was frozen so it was nice not to have negotiate bog.
As usual getting going after a stop was very painful and slow.
I trudged on alone for several hours before the ground starting rising sharply. After a while there was a sharp left handed bend and we started descending towards Hut 2, the last timing point on the course before the finish.
I caught up with Carlos.
It had been foggy for some some time and as we descended so the fog came and went. Then the sun appeared on the left and over to my right I saw an apparition. It was not an average hallucination! I knew what it was, as I had seen photos but have never seen one in real life before; a Glorie or Brocken Spectre. I got my phone out to take a picture but it disappeared!
I walked on a bit and suddenly it reappeared. Wow!
So the figure is my shadow (the sun is behind me) distorted by perspective and the halo of light is the sun reflected by the mist. The “white” light of the sun is broken into constituent colours like a rainbow. But there are some interesting things here:
- Blue light is nearest the centre, red furthest away. This is opposite to a rainbow where red is nearer the ground, blue furthest away.
- There is a fainter set of rings outside the primary blue to red set of rings.
If you are interested I did a bit more research on Glories here.
A little bit further along we came to Hut 2 and had a chat with the folks there.
It was mid afternoon and I thought it would be good to see if we could finish before dark. Carlos was not too keen so we separated.
It is mainly downhill from Hut 2, but there are a couple of hills before the descent proper starts. They told us it was about 7 miles down to the finish.
I hobbled on as fast as I could; which was not very fast.
It was dusk when I saw Kirk Yetholm in the distance after climbing the last hill. A short jog later I was at the Border Hotel, touching the wall to finish my Spine race.
Colin, Carlos, Ken and Andy all finished. Hypothermia guy was at the Border Hotel as well looking pretty chipper!
The race distance is 268 miles long with 36,000ft of elevation.
There were 123 starters and 70 finishers. I came 46th. I took 153 hours to complete the course. I tried to sleep for 13 hours, and probably did sleep for 11 hours 15 minutes during the race.
- My backpack weight just under 9kg without water so would have been between 10 and 11kg during the race. If I really tried I could probably cut this in half.
- My strategy of sleeping only in the CPs worked but was inefficient. It would be more efficient to sleep along the route as you can sleep when you want and without disturbance. I would practice this before doing it though.
- My backpack (UDFP35) was big enough but only openable from the top so not possible to take the bottom items out without taking everything out.
- I think cat-napping for 10 minutes when really tired, for example, at Bryness would have helped.
- Shoe / sock combination did not work very well. I think waterproof socks would have really helped in the first 3 days when it was very wet. My feet got waterlogged which I think contributed to my blister problems. Feet also swelled up significantly which I think was due to lack of training in the run up to the race due to injury. A bigger size of shoe in the drop bag would have been good.
- Hokas were OK (not so much grip on the muddy sections) but gentler on the feet.
- I carried poles but did not feel I really needed them. They are useful on very steep ground (not much on the Pennine Way) or when very slippery. The rest of the time I did not find them very useful.
- My primary headlamp (LedLenser H14R2) stopped working, due I think to water ingress. Good to carry 2 headlamps.
- Navigation is generally quite easy with a GPS on the Pennine Way. I used my watch and a Garmin Etrex 30x. This combo worked well. I did hear of people’s GPS units freezing in the cold weather so it is worth having a backup unit. Going to map in high winds, low visibility is not very practical unless you are a hardcore map user.
- Good waterproofs are vital. Use many clothing layers to allow for large temperature variations.
- The goggles on the mandatory kit list got quite a bit of use. The winds were for the most part side winds with the occasional head wind. Some people did have eye issues from the winds.
- Some folks took a front pack for easier access to things like food. This is worth considering.
- Waterproof gloves. I’ve never owned a pair despite trying a few pairs that have claimed to be waterproof. I wore a thin pair of liner gloves and a thicker pair of “waterproof” gloves over the top. This was OK except on the wettest sections when my gloves became waterlogged. I saw a few folks with toughened rubber over gloves that would be genuinely waterproof. I would get myself a pair of these if I was to do the race again.