Just nine days after American ultrarunner John Kelly set a new FKT on the UK’s historic Pennine Way, British runner Damian Hall has surpassed Kelly’s mark, finishing the run in 61 hours, 34 minutes on Friday. Hall beat Kelly’s time by over three hours. Prior to July 2020, the record had stood still for 31 years, held by the iconic Mike Hartley.
He did it! @Ultra_Damo has set an incredible new record time for the 268-mile Pennine Way.
He ran it in 61 hours 34 mins, beating John Kelly’s previous record by more than 3 hours.
— inov-8 (@inov_8) July 24, 2020
The Pennine Way, which is travelled during the UK’s Montane Spine Race, is a 268 mile (431k) trail up the middle of England from Edale to Kirk Yetholm. Over the course of that 431K, the path gains just shy of 12,000m of elevation, which, for context, is nearly twice the height of Mount Everest and the distance from Toronto to Sudbury.
Beyond setting the FKT, Hall was looking to complete his run without creating any waste. He achieved his goal of finishing in a carbon-negative state – which meant running without consuming any animal product, without creating waste from plastics and collecting any litter he found. Hall told Fast Running the he believes alongside the Wainwrights, JOGLE/LEJOG and the Bob Graham Round, this is the UK’s most prestigious running record.
Beyond being one of the most prestigious trails in England, the Pennine Way is important to Hall personally. He wrote ahead of his run on the inov-8 blog, “I first hiked it in 2011, half of it just before I became a parent and the other half not long after. I’d been commissioned to write a new official guidebook for it and was also getting to know my country of birth again after a decade overseas. So there were more than average emotions swirling in the peaty air. Perhaps it was inevitable that I fell in love with it.”
Runners can travel south to north or the reverse, and Hall chose to do the reverse. He wrote ahead of the attempt that Hartley travelled north-south and he wanted to do the same. “I’ve also chosen to go north-south, as Mike did, which may throw weather in my face and is less familiar. But that direction gets some tougher terrain done earlier, I’ll be ‘running home’ and I’ve always wanted to see the Pennine Way this way – I don’t want to get bored of it.”
Check out highlights of Hall’s attempt in his video diary of each day.