John Kelly on his way to victory in the 2020 Spine Race along the Pennine Way. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

John Kelly on his way to victory in the 2020 Spine Race along the Pennine Way. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Endurance runner John Kelly has set off on a quest to reclaim the record for traversing the full length of the Pennine Way.

The UK-based American athlete set off from Kirk Yetholm at 9am on Saturday, attempting to beat Damian Hall’s time of 2 days 13hrs 35mins.

Kelly set a new fastest known time for the 260-mile route in July last year, only to see Hall run the national trail in three hours less, just eight days later. Before that, Mike Hartley’s record for the Pennine Way had stood for 31 years.

John Kelly is running the route from north to south this time, as did Hall when he broke the record. Sabrina Verjee also ran north to south in 2020, setting the third-fastest time for the challenge, and the quickest for a female athlete.

Kelly’s target time to arrive at Edale in Derbyshire is 10.30pm on Monday. At the time of writing, he was about 55 minutes ahead of his schedule, and running faster than Hall’s 2020 time for the equivalent distance.

Kelly posted on social media: “I’ll be having a crack at reclaiming the record for the 260-mile Pennine Way from @ultra_damo’s [Daman Hall’s] incredible performance last year of 61h 35m.

“Thank you ahead of time to everyone who has been such a wonderful support in getting back here, including my returning end-to-end crew chief Nicki Lygo. This time I’ll be going north to south running back towards home!”

John Kelly’s progress can be followed on the Open Tracking website.

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