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British runner becomes first woman to run all 214 Wainwright peaks

Sabrina Verjee ran the more than 500K challenge covering each of the 214 Wainwright summits in less than a week

Photo by: Harshan Gill

It’s been a busy week for fell runners in the U.K. Kim Collison set the Lake District 24-hour record over the weekend, Barkley Marathons finisher John Kelly set off to run the fastest known time on the 431K Pennine Way and Sabrina Verjee became the first woman to run the 214 Wainwright Peaks in Britain’s Lake District. She averaged more than 75K per day and finished her 525K route, which featured 36,000m of climbing, in six days, 17 hours and 51 minutes, which is the third-fastest Wainwrights run in history. 

The Wainwrights

The Wainwright Peaks gained prominence when fell-walker and author Alfred Wainwright published his seven-volume work titled Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells. They’re located in Lake District National Park in northwest England, and all but one of the 214 peaks are taller than 1,000 feet (304 metres). Since Wainwright’s Pictorial Guide was published, summiting these peaks has been an obsession for British runners. The rules of the Wainwrights record are simple: runners start and finish in Keswick, a town in the national park, and they can take any route they like, just as long as they summit each of the 214 peaks. 

RELATED: ‘Paul Tierney: Running The Wainwrights’ film released

Verjee’s running history 

Verjee has a long history of fell and trail running, and although the Wainwrights record was probably unlike anything she had ever attempted before, her experience surely helped her along the way. She has many race wins to her name, including an overall win at the 2019 Montane Spine Race, a 429K run which she completed in 81 hours. She also ran the Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc in 2017, where she was the 21st woman across the line. She’s accomplished a lot in her career so far, and she’s only 39 years old, so she has a lot of time to grab even more race wins and potentially shoot for the overall Wainwrights record in the future. 

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First woman, third all-time 

Only two men have run the Wainwrights faster than Verjee: Steve Birkinshaw, who completed his run in 2014, and Paul Tierney, who owns the current record, which he set in 2019. Birkinshaw ran the 214 peaks in six days and 13 hours, just four hours ahead of Verjee’s result, and Tierney covered his route in six days, six hours and five minutes. 

RELATED: John Kelly wins Montane Spine Race