Sabrina Verjee in contemplative mood at the end of her challenge in Keswick. Photo: Chris Lines

Sabrina Verjee in contemplative mood at the end of her challenge in Keswick. Photo: Chris Lines

The woman who completed a continuous round of the Wainwright fells on Sunday has told the fellrunning community said it should not be considered a record.

Posting on the Fell Runners UK Facebook page, Sabrina Verjee said she feels she relied too much on her support because of a painful knee.

The 39-year-old Ambleside runner said: “I do not claim any record for this achievement. However, I do look forward to taking on the challenge again in the future.”

She finished her round of all 214 fells detailed in the late Alfred Wainwright’s Pictorial Guides to the Lakeland Fells on Sunday evening, after being on the hoof for 6 days 17hrs 51mins, the third-fastest recorded time for the challenge and the first known woman to have achieved the feat.

But explaining why she does not feel the achievement should be recorded officially, she said: “I set off on my schedule that would see me challenge the overall Wainwright’s record.

“Things were going well but a few days in and my right knee became agonisingly painful and swollen. I needed assistance down Clough Head to the Old Coach Road – I had to lean on little Dave to take the weight off.

“At this point I realised that I was not going to be on a record pace and that it was going to be a struggle just to finish but I was committed to finish.

“I did what I needed to do – have my knees strapped up and took some painkillers and struggled on through the rest of the summits. However, there were other points that I required assistance. I had to descend backwards down Carl Side to Dodd Wood and to do this I held on to two supporters to guide me down between the rocks.

“There were a few more descents where I had to lean on my supporters and I think that this allowed me to descend far quicker than I would have on my own. I visited every summit and made the entire way on my own efforts with every step taken by myself but having to lean on supporters to descend is not appropriate for taking a record.

“I certainly would not have tried to claim another’s record by using these methods.

“I completed the Wainwright’s round to my own satisfaction but I do not wish my attempt to be ratified or acknowledged by the [Fell Runners Association] or any other claiming some right to the Wainwrights.”

More than 200 people have replied to her post, many praising her humility and lauding her achievement in completing the round.

Because of the coronavirus pandemic restrictions, the veterinary surgeon had to undertake the challenge without the usual large support group, and also pleaded with supporters not to take to the fells or meet her at road crossings, which traditionally helps runners’ morale during such endurance challenges.

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.

The first recorded continuous round of the 214 Wainwright peaks 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.

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