Steve Birkinshaw pauses briefly on a felltop during his Wainwright's attempt

Steve Birkinshaw pauses briefly on a felltop during his Wainwright's attempt

Ultrarunner Steve Birkinshaw has passed the halfway point in his bid to break the record for summiting the Lake District’s Wainwright peaks.

The Berghaus-sponsored athlete topped Red Screes early this morning, to begin the second half of the attempt on the fastest circuit of the 214 mountains.

Threlkeld-based Birkinshaw is presently on target to break fellrunning legend Joss Naylor’s 27-year-old best time of seven days and one hour.

The 45-year-old Newcastle University research associate faced problems in the early stages with his eating and getting enough energy. His problems now are major blistering of his feet and also knee pain, which prevented him getting any real sleep at his Rydal Hall stop last night.

Shane Ohly, who organised the Dragon’s Back race down the spine of Wales which Birkinshaw won last year, has been following the runner’s progress.

He said: “I caught up with Steve at the top of Kentmere late this afternoon. He arrived at the Kentmere checkpoint at approximately 3.20pm, about 40 minutes up on his schedule.

“Overall, Steve is in good spirits and I had a chance to chat with him while his blistered feet were treated by nurse Mel.

“However, he explained that he has been getting some significant knee pain, especially when stopped, which was bad enough to stop him sleeping overnight. His feet are badly blistered with some very deep and painful wounds, which are obviously causing a lot of discomfort.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if all his toenails fall off having had a close look at them.

Steve Birkinshaw, centre, rises above a temperature inversion with two support runners

Steve Birkinshaw, centre, rises above a temperature inversion with two support runners

“On the good side, we joked about being over halfway through and how Friday would come round soon enough. It really is about pain management and tolerance for Steve now and doc Lisa provided some more, stronger painkillers to help with long leg 13 tonight.

“As Steve gets further and further into his amazing challenge, his schedule allows for his pace to drop all the way to average speed of 7kph starting tomorrow. Steve knows that this speed can be maintained at ‘brisk walking pace’ and much like Joss Naylor all those years ago, Steve seems determined to grind out the last few days.”

Ahead of him tonight lie the eastern Harter Fell, followed by the High Street range and the fells to the East of Ullswater before he drops down to Patterdale tomorrow morning.

Steve Birkinshaw began his attempt at Keswick last Saturday on the 214 fells described in Alfred Wainwright’s Pictorial Guides to the Lakeland Fells. If he can keep to his schedule, he should arrive at the town’s Moot Hall about 11pm on Friday.

More details of Steve Birkinshaw’s Wainwrights are available on his blog,  including gruesome pictures of the state of his feet. You can also follow his progress via an Opentracking website.

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