Dave Stevens is in training for his record attempt

Dave Stevens is in training for his record attempt

A British ultrarunner will attempt to break the record for the fastest completion of the Pennine Way later this year.

West Midlands-based Dave Stevens hopes to better the time set by Mike Hartley almost 29 years ago.

The fastest recorded time for running the 268 miles of the national trail is 2 days 17hrs 20mins 15secs. Last year Czech runner Pavel Paloncý abandoned his attempt on the record about 95km (59 miles) short of the finish when he realised Hartley’s time was beyond his reach.

Paloncý is no stranger to Britain’s oldest national trail. He is three-times winner of the Montane Spine Race, which involves running the full length of the Pennine Way in winter conditions during January.

Despite support along part of the route from Mike Hartley, the Czech gave up his attempt in May when his pace slowed on the approach to Hadrian’s Wall.

Pavel Paloncý on the Pennine Way in West Yorkshire during his attempt. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Pavel Paloncý on the Pennine Way in West Yorkshire during his attempt. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Dave Stevens, of Sutton Coldfield, has been in training with an eye on the record since the beginning of last year. The former Parachute Regiment member and firefighter says running is ‘his life’.

“Running has been my tonic during tough times in life and it’s provided wonderful experiences that I’d never of had the opportunity to experience had it not been for running,” he said.

“For most running and fitness in general is a leisure activity but for me it’s life and provides a purpose whether it has been the employment benefits or the enrichment it gives me – I have my own performance personal training business.”

His training for the record attempt has included route familiarisation trips and regular runs along section of the Pennine Way.

Stevens said he joined Enfield Harriers at the age of 10 and has enjoyed running ever since.

“I’m a natural adventurer and thrill-seeker, always challenging the perception of personal capability always pushing the boundaries of expectation,” he said.

“I think it started at the age of 15 walking into the Army careers office and declaring my intention to join the Parachute Regiment and the recruiter virtually laughing me out of the office.

“Fifteen months later I’d passed the infamous P Coy [the Pegasus Company pre-selection course], had ‘my wings’ and was a fully fledged member of the Parachute Regiment.

Dave Stevens: 'running is my life'

Dave Stevens: 'running is my life'

“Over the next 10 years I found that I explored various distances but had found a real niche on the roads racing distances up to the marathon.”

He worked as a firefighter in Tamworth between 2006 and 2012 finished second in the World Firefighter Games half marathon in Hong Kong.

“From there I progressed to running several sub 2:45 marathons and gradually racing longer distances up to 100 miles including standout events such as the Fellsman.

“In 2013 I took a break from competitive running. The birth of my son Oliver, who was born eight weeks premature was the kick-start to resume running. Oliver is a perfect healthy little boy now. However in the early stages he was very fragile and clung onto life during a 10-week stay in hospital.

“During this time I found that I used running as a way to make sense of the situation and in March 2016 I ran a self-supported 100-mile route in the Peak District to raise money for Birmingham Children’s Hospital, raising several thousand pounds.”

Dave Stevens plans to make his Pennine Way record attempt in May this year. More details are on his blog.

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