Damian Hall in action during his 2020 Pennine Way run. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Damian Hall in action during his 2020 Pennine Way run. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Record attempts are coming thick and fast at the moment, and runner Damian Hall is having a crack at another fastest known time.

The 45-year-old athlete set off from St Bees Head on Tuesday morning in an attempt to post the fastest time for traversing Wainwright’s Coast to Coast Walk route.

The record for completing the 185-mile route was set 30 years ago by Mike Hartley, who ran the distance in 39hrs 36mins 52secs.

Hall who, until last week held the record for running the whole length of the Pennine Way, is aiming to complete the Coast to Coast in a time no longer than 39 hours. By Tuesday evening, he had already left the Lake District national park and was entering the Yorkshire Dales park at Kirkby Stephen heading, appropriately, towards Hartley Fell, more than two hours up on his schedule.

When Alfred Wainwright devised his Coast to Coast Walk he was not prescriptive about the route, encouraging those undertaking it to ‘vary it in places’, but Hall is following, as closely as possible, Hartley’s 1991 route.

Hall is sponsored by outdoors brand inov-8. Writing on the brand’s website, he revealed he walked the route in 10 days, 14 years ago. “Coast to Coast takes most people 12 or more days to hike, so I was pretty chuffed to complete it in 10, thinking I was quite the endurance hero.

“I didn’t know at the time, but in 1991 someone called Mike Hartley ran it in 39hrs, 36mins and 52secs, beating his friend Mike Cudhay’s record by seven hours – and my time by eight and a half days.

“I like revisiting trails as a runner that I’ve previously explored as a hiker, especially if they’ve had a Mike Hartley record.

“I’m going to see how quickly I can do it. I’ve had this run in mind since not long after last year’s Pennine Way bimble. Though it must be said, runners today have many advantages Mike and his contemporaries didn’t have, such as GPS and other technology, better shoes, kit and nutrition nous.

“In some ways this may be harder for me than the Pennine Way. I don’t mind the distance. But I do mind that speed. The C2C route has changed at times down the years, but I’ll be making a real effort to mirror Hartley’s run as closely as possible. I’ll also pick up litter as I go and fuel without animal products – which is easy and fun.”

He is also attempting to make his challenge carbon negative by using local support runners and sticking to a vegan diet. Hall will offset his support crew’s transport emissions via the Trees not Tees organisation.

Damian Hall set a fastest time for running the Pennine Way in 2020, beating his friend John Kelly’s time eight days after he achieved it, but Kelly regained the record this month, beating Hall’s time by 3½ hours.

A Coast to Coast Walk was published by the late guidebook author Alfred Wainwright in 1973 and traces a route from St Bees Head on the Cumbrian coast, through three national parks, to end on the North Yorkshire coast at Robin Hood’s Bay. It is not yet recognised as an official long-distance route or national trail, but is completed by thousands of walkers each year.

Damian Hall’s progress can be followed on the Open Tracking website.

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