Sabrina Verjee in action during this year's Montane Spine Race. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Sabrina Verjee in action during this year's Montane Spine Race. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Endurance runner Sabrina Verjee has begun a challenge to run the Pennine Way in a personal best time.

The 39-year-old Ambleside-based long-distance specialist left Kirk Yetholm early on Saturday in a quest to cover the 268-mile route in record time.

She is the third athlete to tackle the gruelling national trail in a fastest time. Her Open Tracking site simply states: “Sabrina is exploring the Pennine Way from North to South hoping to beat her previous time of 82 hours 19 minutes.”

In July Damian Hall posted a new fastest time for running the Pennine Way, arriving at Edale in Derbyshire 2 days 13hrs 34mins after starting from Kirk Yetholm. He beat a record set eight days earlier by his friend John Kelly, who bettered Mike Hartley’s time by 34 minutes, 31 years after it had been recorded.

Verjee became the first known woman to complete a continuous round of all 214 Wainwright fells in the Lake District, achieving the feat in the third-fastest recorded time of 6 days 17hrs 51mins, also in July.

She encountered a seriously inflamed knee during the Wainwrights challenge, leading her to request the running community not to consider her time a record, as she believed she had received more support from her running companions than warranted the claim to have completed the round under her own steam.

She vowed to return to attempt the Wainwrights again in the future. In the meantime, she has begun an attempt on her own fastest time for the Pennine Way, just two months after completing the 525km (326-mile) Lake District challenge.

Damian Hall in action during his record Pennine Way run. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Damian Hall in action during his record Pennine Way run. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

However, if she maintains her target pace, her time will put her close to Hall’s fastest time. At the time of writing, she was heading south from Hadrian’s Wall and was about an hour and a half up on her estimated arrival times.

In January this year, Verjee took the women’s trophy in the Montane Spine Race, along the complete length of the Pennine Way, finishing in fifth overall place with a time of 108hrs 7mins 17secs.

The Spine is run south-to-north and has a slightly different course, involving diversions off the Pennine Way to overnight checkpoints. It also avoids the out-and-back leg up The Cheviot on the Scotland-England border, which Pennine Way record attempts must include.

Sabrina Verjee’s progress can be followed online via the Open Tracking website.

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  2. Sabrina Verjee completes continuous run of 214 Wainwright fells
  3. Runner Sabrina Verjeee hits the Lakeland fells in Wainwrights record attempt
  4. Runner Damian Hall on track to beat Pennine Way record
  5. Runner Damian Hall smashes Pennine Way record by more than three hours