John Kelly. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

John Kelly. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Athlete John Kelly has abandoned his attempt to set a new record for running the Wainwrights.

Searing heat and problems with his feet forced him to pull out of his challenge on Monday afternoon.

Kelly had summited 85 of the 214 peaks when he aborted his bid for a new fastest time. He set off from Keswick on Saturday morning as a heatwave enveloped the Lake District. The endurance athlete pulled out of the run after ascending Steel Fell about 1.20pm. He had already fallen more than four hours behind his ambitious schedule, but was still on track for a record-breaking time.

Sabrina Verjee retains her title for the fastest completion of the Wainwrights, in 5 days 23hrs 49mins 12secs, achieved in June this year.

Her time beat the record set by Paul Tierney in 2019 by more than six hours and was third time lucky for Verjee, 40, who had to abort a similar attempt in May when sub-zero temperatures and blizzards exacerbated her asthma, putting an end to her run. She had completed the Wainwrights once previously in but publicly stated she did not want her 6 days 17hrs 51mins to be considered for the records as she had needed substantial support from fellow runners after suffering a knee injury.

The challenge involves completing all the peaks described by Alfred Wainwright in his Pictorial Guides to the Lakeland Fells.

In May this year, runner Tom Hollins set a time of 6 days 21hrs 33mins 8secs to complete the Wainwrights round in brutal weather conditions, fourth-fastest overall, but considered at the time by many to be the third-fastest because of Verjee’s statement following her 2020 challenge.

Paul Tierney set a new fastest time for running the round in 2019, completing the route in 6 days 6hrs 5mins, beating Steve Birkinshaw’s previous record of 6 days 12hrs 58mins.

Before that, Joss Naylor held the fastest time, 7 days 1hr 25mins, beating Alan Heaton’s time of 9 days 16hrs 42mins. Mel Steventon completed a round of the Wainwrights in September last year in a time of 13 days 12hrs 16mins 21secs, while raising money for Women’s Aid and Community Action Nepal.

In May, Kelly reclaimed his record for running the full length of the Pennine Way, completing the 268-mile national trail in 2 days 10hrs 4mins 53secs. He dubbed his latest attempt the Full English, adding the Wainwrights to his Pennine Way fastest time.

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