Sabrina Verjee in action during the 2020 Montane Spine Race. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Sabrina Verjee in action during the 2020 Montane Spine Race. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Ultrarunner Sabrina Verjee is attempting a continuous round of all 214 Wainwright summits in the Lake District.

The 39-year-old, who was the fastest Briton in January’s gruelling Montane Spine Race, began her attempt at the Moot Hall in Keswick at 3am on Monday.

She will be chasing record holder Paul Tierney’s time of six days, six hours for completing the 525km route, which involves 36,000m of ascent. Tierney took the record in 2019, beating previous holder Steve Birkinshaw’ time by seven hours.

Unlike the two men’s completions, Ambleside-based veterinary surgeon Verjee will have to tackle the challenge with minimal support, because of Covid-19 social-distancing rules. She has also appealed to supporters not to join her on the fells or at road crossings, nor even at the Keswick finish.

Paul Tierney is the current record holder. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Paul Tierney is the current record holder. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Former Irish police officer Tierney, who now lives in the Lake District, was greeted by cheering crowds in Keswick town centre when he completed his round in June last year.

Verjee posted the fastest women’s time in the 2020 Montane Spine Race, which involves running the full Pennine Way length in winter. She finished fifth overall. She also won the previous year’s Montane Spine Fusion, run over the same course but in June. She has competed in the Dragon’s Back race down the length of Wales three times.

If she completes the Wainwrights round, which involves summiting every fell described by the late writer in his Pictorial Guides to the Lakeland Fells, it is believed she will be the first woman to have achieved the challenge in a continuous run.

Alan Heaton ran the Wainwrights in nine days 16 hours in 1985 and within a year Joss Naylor had reduced the record time to seven days, one hour and 25 minutes, a time that was unbroken for 28 years until another Cumbrian runner Steve Birkinshaw rain the course in six days 13 hours. Paul Tierney currently holds the record for fastest time, set in 2019.

As Verjee approached the end of the first two days on the mountains, she was tackling the hills north of Coniston, having already summited more than 70 fells, including those around Ennerdale, the Scafell range, and the Coniston Fells.

Runners Nicky Spinks and Josh Hartley have been helping her with pacing. Her progress can be followed on the Open Tracking site.

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