On Thursday 20 June 2019, endurance athlete Paul Tierney broke the world record for being the fastest person to complete the Wainwright's Lake District peaks in one go, with a finishing time of 6 days, 6 hours and 5 minutes.
Covering the 214 peaks (or fells) described in Alfred Wainwright's Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells series of books, the challenge is one of the most revered amongst trail runners around the world. The previous record across the 318 miles of terrain and 36000 metres of elevation was held by Steve Birkshaw in 2014 with a time of 6 days and 13 hours.
Paul's toughest challenges saw him battling against night-time storms and dealing with sleep deprivation, only resting sparingly in a van at road junctions. “The hardest bit was definitely the lack of sleep," Paul said. "I think I averaged just two hours of sleep in every 24 hours."
But the memories weren't all bad. “Seeing so many people in the street in Keswick cheering me on, then being up on the finish steps with my family and friends, having beaten the record, that was more than I could have hoped for," Paul recalled.
Paul, an ex-policeman turned running coach is also an ambassador for running and fast-hike brand inov-8. “Achieving the record wouldn’t have been possible without the brilliant support team I had," Paul said. "They literally did everything for me, so all I had to do was keep going!”
Paul ran in memory of his friend Chris Stirling who recently passed away. The challenge has so far raised over £25,000 for the charity MIND, UK and Paul finished the route wearing Chris's Ambleside Athletics Club vest. Donations can be made via Paul’s Justgiving page.
Paul followed a similar route to Steve Birkshaw, who spent months mapping out what he believed to be the quickest, continuous on-foot route. The full and impressive map of all 214 peaks can be seen here.
Main image credit: Pete Aylward/inov-8.com