Sabrina Verjee is the first known woman to have completed the round

Sabrina Verjee is the first known woman to have completed the round

Ultrarunner Sabrina Verjee has completed her round of all the Wainwrights.

The 39-year-old arrived back in Keswick on Sunday evening after summiting the 214 fells in one continuous round. She was greeted in Keswick by two previous record holders, Steve Birkinshaw and Joss Naylor.

She is believed to be only the fifth recorded person to have achieved the feat, and the only woman to have completed the challenge.

The Ambleside-based veterinary surgeon began her challenge at 3am on Monday at the Moot Hall in Keswick and arrived back at the same point at 8.51pm on Sunday. Because of the social distancing necessary during the coronavirus pandemic, she had to run with minimal support teams and has asked the public not to meet her on the fells or at road crossings.

Her provisional time of 6 days 17hrs 51mins is the third fastest ever recorded.

Her original goal was to run the route in six days. She remained ahead of her planned schedule until midway through Wednesday, aiming for Paul Tierney’s record time of six days and six hours. In the latter part of the week, Verjee’s time slipped a little more.

She summited the 214th and final peak, Cat Bells, just before 6.25pm on Sunday before beginning the descent to the finish at Keswick. Her time is the third fastest recorded for the gruelling challenge, which involves running 525km (326 miles) with 36,000m (118,110ft) of ascent.

Current record holder Tierney, and Steve Birkinshaw who previously posted the fastest time, joined her for part of the route on Friday.

The first recorded continuous round of the 214 peaks described by Alfred Wainwright in his series the Pictorial Guides to the Lakeland Fells was completed by Alan Heaton in 1985, in nine days and 16 hours. Two years later, fellrunning luminary Joss Naylor set a new record of seven days, one hour and 25 minutes. That stood for 27 years, until Berghaus athlete Steve Birkinshaw knocked almost 12 hours off the time in 2014, when he completed his run in six days and 13 hours. Last summer, Paul Tierney, from Windermere, lowered the record by another seven hours.

Sabrina Verjee is one of the UK’s leading ultrarunners, having completed the five-day Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race in Wales on three occasions, finishing second place in the women’s race in 2017 and 2019. Last year, she was the fastest woman and first Briton across the line in the Montane Spine Race along the Pennine Way, finishing fifth overall. She began planning for her attempt on the Wainwrights record many months ago, before the Covid-19 outbreak.

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