The Irish ultra-runner arrived at the Border Hotel, Kirk Yetholm, the end point of the Pennine Way National Trail and the Spine® Race at 18:37, in an overall time of 130 hours and 37 minutes. (That's slower than her record winning-time of 109 hours and 54 minutes last year, but this year's race was paused for 12 hours due to severe weather.)
In the final 42km section across the remote Cheviot Hills Morgan battled 50mph winds, severe wind chill and thigh-high snow drifts for nearly 17 hours, solo. “What a grand finale – It was very beautiful!” she said. “There were big open expanses, with blue skies and no one there. I was eating ice, because I was so thirsty. I'm tired though. It's been really tough.” “Wow,” she added, with a big smile at the finish line, amidst heavy snow. Morgan has overcome “some big downs” during the race, but has won by a margin likely to be upwards of 10 hours.
Kirsty Williams (GBR) is still in second place in the women's race and has started to cross the Cheviots, with Daphné Derouch (FRA) still third, around 18km behind her.
Earlier in the day, Switzerland's Simon Gfeller and Britain's John Knapp claimed the other two podium spots, following Pavel Paloncy's earlier victory, after running most of the Cheviots together. They'd met at last year's race, both improving their positions this year.
“It was much tougher this year,” said Gfeller, “especially the winds and snow. The snow was worse in the Cheviots, but Cross Fell was the coldest.” At the finish line the liquid in his water bottles was frozen.
“I wanted a winter adventure and I got it,” added a smiling Knapp.
“I can see why it's called the most brutal race,” said Gavin Woody from the US, who finished joint fourth with Mark Turner and Gwynn Stokes. “It was intense. I've been in some bad storms before, but never for this duration, or honestly, with this intensity. I was very glad of my goggles on Cross Fell [the highest point of the course]. "The terrain in Britain makes it really challenging. This isn't trail running here – you only see a trail every once in a while. It feels really good to finish. Really good.”
There have been 61 retirees from the race so far, with nine finishers, while 48 runners remain on the course.
The runners have until 08:00 Sunday 21 to get to Kirk Yetholm.
The MONTANE® Spine® Race continues through the night...here
Images: ©Mick Kenyon/Spine Race.