Steve Birkinshaw in training with fellow ultrarunner Helene Whitaker

Steve Birkinshaw in training with fellow ultrarunner Helene Whitaker

Ultrarunner Steve Birkinshaw is 12 hours into his attempt to break a 27-year-old record for summiting all of the Lake District’s Wainwright peaks.

The Threlkeld-based athlete began his run at the Moot Hall in the centre of Keswick this morning with the aim of setting a record time for the round of 214 mountains.

By 9pm on Saturday, he was coming off Great Borne and heading for Hen Comb and Mellbreak overlooking Crummack Water.

The Newcastle University research associate, who won the gruelling Dragon’s Back race last year, had 28 peaks under his belt by that time, including Hay Stacks, where Alfred Wainwright’s ashes are scattered.

Berghaus-sponsored Birkinshaw’s quest it to better the seven days and one hour record set by legendary Wasdale shepherd and fellrunner Joss Naylor.

Although the 45-year-old reckons he will spend more time on his feet than Naylor, he thinks he can make up time by passing on the slap-up meals and pints of beer the record holder enjoyed during his round.

Writing on his blog on Thursday, Birkinshaw said: “My main goal is doing all the Wainwrights. It will be great to spend seven days on the fells with my mates.

Joss Naylor: record attempt is secondary, said Birkinshaw

Joss Naylor: record attempt is secondary, said Birkinshaw

“The secondary goal is beating Joss Naylor’s time of 7 days 1 hour. Everyone who knows me will realise I will be pushing it hard but there are so many unknowns over this distance I have no idea how long it will take me.

“I can feel the strength returning to my legs as I am now taking it very easy. But I have been for a couple of short runs and every click and slight pain I am now worried about.

“What will it be like after 300 miles? Training hard stops me worrying about everything, now I am not training hard but tapering, I am getting stressed by small things.

“Amazingly the weather looks perfect for the week: dry with light winds but not too hot. Together with the support team lined up – thanks everyone, the hard training I have been doing, I stand a good chance of doing this. I just hope my body holds together.”

The Wainwrights are the 214 peaks described by the curmudgeonly writer Alfred Wainwright in his series the Pictorial Guides to the Lakeland Fells, which have become ‘bibles’ for many hillwalkers.

There is live tracking of Steve Birkinshaw’s progress via his blog.

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