Javed Bhatti

Javed Bhatti. Photo: Bob Smith

Ultrarunner Javed Bhatti is on course to complete a remarkable winter double run of the Pennine Way this weekend.

The Lichfield-based athlete is celebrating his 52nd birthday today pounding the national trail through Yorkshire.

He says he will have a ‘party by telephone’ later today when he pauses his gruelling run.

Bhatti completed The Montane Spine Race early last Saturday and spent a few hours recuperating in Kirk Yetholm before turning round to attempt the full 431km (268-mile) route again, this time southwards.

grough caught up with the runner as he approached Top Withins on the West Yorkshire moors, reputed setting for Emily Brontë’s novel Wuthering Heights. Appropriately, he was in high spirits as he tackled the penultimate day of his two-week-plus challenge.

He said: “I’m feeling really good. I’m really enjoying it, it’s getting better and better at the moment. We had a cold start, sunshine, a little bit of wind but that’s quite pleasant.”

Bhatti revealed it was always his intention of heading back along the route after completing The Spine Race. The management consultant, who also works as a running coach, said: “I was always planning to do a double and I was hoping to do the second leg a little faster than the first, but the weather unfortunately on the mountains was against me with the snow, the ice and the wind direction straight into the face.

Javed Bhatti approaches Top Withins on the Pennine Way

Javed Bhatti approaches Top Withins on the Pennine Way

“I had to use snow shoes across the Cheviots. And Cross Fell was pretty bad, straight into the wind, and Tan Hill too.”

Javed Bhatti is using his challenge to raise funds for Mountain Rescue England and Wales. He was accompanied on the West Yorkshire leg by a small band of supporters and well-wishers, including at least one member of a local rescue team.

He said: “It’s interesting to have a great connection with the landscape with people who enjoy the fells as much as I do.”

Physically, he said he was bearing up well. “My legs still feel fine. I can run on the flat and on the downhill sections. I’ve got one gammy big toenail which happened on the very first day when the boot creased into it. Otherwise my feet are in a really good condition.

If he completes his 536-mile trek, it is believed he will be the first to do the Pennine Way double in winter conditions. “I’m hoping to finish Sunday lunchtime. We will be stopping overnight but we haven’t decided where yet,” he said. “People have been really generous; we’ve been put up along the way.

Javed Bhatti with two supporters

Javed Bhatti with two supporters

“It’s my birthday today so I’m hoping to have a party by telephone later today. I’m 52 years young.”

Bhatti said the Pennine Way double was a logical step for him. “I’ve done all the long races I can in the UK, and I’ve started to double them.”

His ambition was to raise £500 for mountain rescue, but donations have already topped four times that amount. Members of the public can donate online via his justgiving page.

His progress can be tracked live via his GPS unit on the Open Tracking website. At the time of writing, Javed Bhatti was approaching Hebden Bridge in Calderdale.

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