ULTRA-RUNNER Paul Tierney has broken the record for summiting all of the Wainwrights in the Lake District in honour of his friend Chris Stirling, writes Kirsty Reade, editor of Run247.com.
This extraordinary challenge involved visiting all 214 of the peaks described by Alfred Wainwright in his famous Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells, all but one of which stand at over 1,000 feet (with the highest at over 3,000 feet). To put it into context that’s 318 miles, with over 118,000 feet of ascent, over some of the roughest terrain that England has to offer.
Images courtesy of Pete Aylward
Many walkers complete the Wainwrights over the course of several years. Paul completed this in June in an incredible six days and six hours.
Paul was a good friend of CurraNZ ambassador, Chris Stirling, (pictured right) who sadly died earlier this year. He dedicated his run to Chris and used it to raise funds for Mind, a charity who gives support to those experiencing mental health problems.
So far he has raised over £30,000 and it's still possible to donate (https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/paul-tierneywainwrights214).
Chris was a huge inspiration to Paul, who finished his run wearing Chris’s Ambleside AC vest, in tribute to his friend (pictured, left).
The Wainwrights record was previously held by Steve Birkinshaw, who set a mark of six days and 13 hours in 2014. Before that it was held by Joss Naylor, who was the first person to complete the challenge in 1987.
Even plotting the route is a feat of organisation and the logistics involved in the challenge were huge. Paul had a fantastic core crew of people supporting him at road crossings and on the hills and throughout the six days the local community came out to cheer him on.
Hundreds were in Keswick to see him finish, in very emotional scenes.
One of the key challenges was the lack of sleep. Paul slept for only a few hours each night (at the roadside in a camper van) to stay on track for the record and he kept rest stops to eat, change or get physio short.
He endured some very tough conditions in the first few days, with strong winds and heavy rain during some of the night sections. While he looked to be moving well throughout the six days there was a huge amount of pain involved, particularly in the latter stages when his knee and achilles were very sore.
Unsurprisingly, Paul is no stranger to very long races. He’s a previous winner of the Lakeland 100 and a two-time finisher of Tor des Geants (a 330k race in Italy with 24,000m of ascent). He credits Tor des Geants with helping him to develop both the mental and physical resistance needed for a challenge like the Wainwrights, saying, “I knew how bad I would feel after four days.
"After last year’s Tor des Geants I knew that I could feel terrible early on but I could finish strongly and still run well at the end. That was such a positive experience to have.”
Two weeks on and Paul’s recovery is going well. He has no injuries and is able to run again. He’s having to get used to his new-found fame though, as people will now come up to him at races and in cafes and say “congratulations on your amazing Wainwrights record”.