Ambleside AC runner and inov-8 ambassador Paul Tierney is to make an attempt on the UK’s toughest individual mountain challenge, to run all of Alfred Wainwright’s 214 peaks in the Lake District in six days.
Paul (36) is hoping to beat the record time set by Steve Birkinshaw in 2014 who ran the circuit in six days and 13 hours.
Steve Birkinshaw broke the record set by Joss Naylor in 1987, who completed the challenge in seven days, one hour and 25 minutes.
Paul is running the route to raise money for the mental health charity MIND, in memory of his close friend and fellow athlete Chris Stirling who died suddenly last month.
An Irish international trail runner – who also played the sport of hurling at county level – Paul came to live in the Lake District in 2013. He’s a sports therapist who runs Missing Link Coaching with his partner, the Irish international runner Sarah McCormack. They live in Windermere.
Paul and Sarah are both inov-8 ambassadors, running for the Lake District brand which specialises in footwear, clothing and equipment for committed athletes. Forged on the same fells that Paul will be crossing in his Wainwrights attempt, he will rely on the brand’s iconic grip in the rugged off-trail terrain.
Photo: Steve Ashworth
Paul will eat on the move and sleep in a van at road crossings. He will be supported throughout by family and friends, with groups of runners taking it in turns to pace and navigate him over different sections of the route.
An endurance expert, Paul is a former winner of the Lakeland 100 mile race, and has twice competed in the four-day 330k continuous race in the Italian Alps, the Tor des Geants. He and partner George Foster recently won the 37-mile Old Counties Tops fell race. He completed the Bob Graham round (66 miles, 42 Lakeland summits) in 2012.
The latest challenge, which starts in Keswick on June 14, is 320 miles, with 118,000 feet of climbing. The attempt is sponsored by inov-8, and supported by a number of local companies including Cedar Manor Hotel, Sally’s Cottages, McClures of Windermere and Wilsons of Kendal, and staff at Elterwater independent hostel.
Paul said: “I’m under no illusions as to how tough this challenge will be. I fully expect it to test me to the absolute maximum and probably beyond what I can imagine. I will run what I can, but obviously there is going to be a lot of fast-hiking and, as time goes on, slower hiking involved.
“Once I started recceing the route the scale of the challenge in front of me really sank in. But it is great to know I have Steve’s support and he has been very good to me with his advice and encouragement.”
“I’m also lucky to be part of a great club in Ambleside AC and plenty of my clubmates have already offered their support, as have others among the local fell running community.”
Steve Birkinshaw said: “It’s nice to see someone giving it a go again. The nature of the fell running community means I have offered Paul any help I can with this attempt and will be out supporting him on his run to break my record.”
Paul said: “I want to honour the memory of Chris who overcame so much in his short life and epitomised all that is great about endurance sport. He was an inspiration to me, in how he went from knowing nothing about triathlon to winning the world’s toughest, the Celtman, in just a few years.”
The 214 peaks were described in Wainwright’s seven-volume Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells.
Paul with Ben McClure of the Windermere food wholesalers who are providing some of the energy requirements for the athlete and his support team, including Lucozade, chocolate bars – and huge quantities of Wilsons Kendal Mint cake!
You can donate to the charity here: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/paul-tierneywainwrights214