Joss Naylor embraces Nicky Spinks at the end of her challenge run. Photo: Pam Topham

Joss Naylor embraces Nicky Spinks at the end of her challenge run. Photo: Pam Topham

A record-breaking ultrarunner celebrated her 50th birthday by smashing another record.

Nicky Spinks ran the 50 or so miles of the Joss Naylor Lakeland Challenge in just over 11 hours, a new women’s fastest time.

The Yorkshire farmer turned 50 on Saturday and used the occasion to tackle the route, which starts in Pooley Bridge and ends at Joss Naylor’s home area of Greendale Bridge in Wasdale.

The challenge is only open to those aged 50 or over and retraces a run undertaken by the Lakeland fellrinning luminary Naylor in 1990. It is commonly regarded as an ‘older person’s Bob Graham’ and challengers have to pledge to raise cash for charity too.

Depending on age and sex, the challenge has to be completed within a set time. The fastest known previous time set by a woman was Jane Meeks’s June 2011 run, completed in 12hrs 17mins. Nicky Spinks ran the route in 11hrs 2mins.

She was met at the finish by Joss Naylor himself.

The record follows her double Bob Graham Round time of 45hrs 30mins set in May last year, beating Roger Baumeister’s 1979 record by more than an hour.

The Joss Naylor challenge entails summiting 30 peaks and tackling 17,000ft (5,182m) of ascent.

Writing on her blog, Nicky Spinks said: “After the double Bob Graham and setting the new record time for that Lake District route – 132 miles over 84 summits – came the inevitable question: ‘what next?’

“I always said I was going to give myself a year off so that I could enjoy my running without the pressures of recceing for and organising another big challenge. However, on Saturday 22 April I turn 50 years old and that has got to be a worthy of big celebration.

“Not only am I 50, but 10 years ago I turned 40, the year after being diagnosed with breast cancer, and so for me my 40th was a personal celebration of reaching that milestone birthday.

“I survived breast cancer but I had also lived 10 years longer than my mother did. She died when she was only 30 years old and I was aged 10. I often wonder what she would have been like as a 40 or 50 year old. Now as I approach my 50th year I want to celebrate these birthdays for her because she never got to see them.

“For years I have thought that the Joss Naylor Lakeland Challenge would be a lovely running challenge to undertake. It’s a nice 48-50 mile distance traversing 30 summits with a total ascent of around 17,000ft. It starts at Pooley Bridge in the north-east Lake District and finishes at Greendale Bridge, near Joss’s house – the same place I see him on the Wasdale race each year.

Nicky Spinks with Joss Naylor at the finish of the challenge. Photo: John Burland

Nicky Spinks with Joss Naylor at the finish of the challenge. Photo: John Burland

“The inaugural run was made by Joss in 1990, at the age of 54. In very bad weather he clocked a time of 11hrs 30mins. The challenge is open to fellrunners over 50 to complete inside the times set for their respective age groups. It is done with support from other runners and pacers and money is raised for charity.

“The maximum time allowance for men aged 50-54 is 12 hours. This is no easy task to complete it in less than 12 hours. However, the ladies’ time for the 50-54 age category is a maximum of 14 hours. The older the age category, the more time is allowed to complete the challenge. Joss likes to meet finishers at Greendale Bridge.

“As soon as I realised my 50th birthday fell on a Saturday, I knew how I was going to celebrate.”

inov-8 brand ambassador Spinks set off from the start at 5am and arrived at Greendale Bridge at 4.02pm. She is raising money for Odyssey, a charity that enhances the quality of life for people with cancer through programmes of outdoor activities. Donations can be made via her justgiving page.

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