In 2019, Paul Tierney summitted each of Alfred Wainwright‘s 214 peaks in Britain’s Lake District in just six days and six hours, a new record. Tierney ran the 511-kilometre challenge in memory of his friend and teammate, Chris Stirling, who passed away in 2019. On the final day of his run—which is the subject of a film, ‘Paul Tierney: Running The Wainwrights’—Tierney wore one of Stirling’s singlets. He has raised £36,000 (over $61,000 CAD) for the charity MIND UK.
The Wainwrights were featured in fell-walker and author Alfred Wainwright’s Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells seven-volume work, and they can be found in Lake District National Park in northwest England. Of the 214 peaks, only one measures under 1,000 feet (304 metres).
The previous record was held by Steve Birkinshaw (who is also in the documentary), who summited each of the peaks in 2014 in six days and 13 hours. Fell running is a foreign sport to Canadians. It began in Britain when shepherds would race up hills and back down to see who was the fastest.
“It’s like trail running only you don’t need to go on paths,” said fell runner Nicky Spinks. “We don’t actually like going on paths, we’d rather go in the rough stuff.”
The film was presented by inov-8, the British trail running and hiking gear company for which Tierney is an ambassador. Tierney is a 36-year-old ultra runner and running coach from Cork, Ireland who now lives in Windermere, a town under an hour away from Keswick.
The documentary takes viewers along on Tierney’s journey, not only putting the incredible beauty of England’s Lake District on display, but also showcasing the region’s incredibly difficult terrain, from steep climbs to sharp descents on loose shale and stones.
Viewers can see how brutal this run is—with the sheer distance, the terrain and the unpredictable weather runners must face—and although he completed the challenge and broke the record along the way, Tierney was close to breaking throughout.
In the end, though, Tierney summoned all of his inner-strength and pushed himself to the finish. Even when he was on record pace, he refused to let himself believe that he would break it.
“I never let myself think I was going to do it,” he said. It wasn’t until the final morning when he allowed himself to believe—just a bit, at least—that he would break the record.
The final shots of the film are of Tierney and his crew making their way back to Keswick, back to where he’d started six days earlier.