All eyes in the endurance sports world were on Keswick in the Lake District this morning (Friday June 14th) as ultra-runner Paul Tierney began his attempt at a new record time for summiting all 214 of Alfred Wainwright’s Lake District peaks in one go. Paul is running in memory of his friend and fellow endurance athlete Chris Stirling, who tragically died earlier this year, and is raising money for the charity Mind UK.
The run coach and former policeman began his 318-mile challenge, which involves a mammoth 36,000m of elevation gain (the equivalent of four times up and down Mount Everest), at 8am from Moot Hall, Keswick.
The current record is held by Steve Birkinshaw, who, in June 2014, did it in 6 days, 13 hours and 1 minute. Prior to that the record was held by another fell running legend, Joss Naylor, who clocked a time of 7 days 1 hour and 25 minutes in 1987.
Paul will follow a similar route to Steve, who spent months mapping out what he believed to be the quickest, continuous on-foot route over the 214 peaks that featured in Alfred Wainwright’s iconic seven-volume pictorial guide to the Lakeland fells.
The Windermere-based 36-year-old said: “I’m under no illusions as to how tough this challenge will be. I fully expect it to test me to the absolute maximum and probably beyond what I can imagine. I will run what I can, but obviously there is going to be a lot of fast-hiking and, as time goes on, slower hiking involved.
“I’m lucky to have a fantastic support team and be part of a fell running community that has really got behind me. Being supported by inov-8 – a brand that produce the perfect kit for a challenge like this – means that’s also one less factor I need to worry about.”
The Ambleside Athletics Club member will eat on the move and sleep in a van at road crossings. He will be supported throughout by family and friends, with groups of runners taking it in turns to pace and navigate him over different sections of the route.
Current Wainwrights record-holder Steve was amongst those who ran this morning’s first section with Paul. He said: “My advice to Paul was to focus on small, achievable goals; be that getting up the next climb or pushing on through to the next rest stop. If you think too far ahead it becomes too daunting.”