Yesterday, Sabrina Verjee successful completed a continuous round of Wainwrights – in a time of six days, 17 hours and 51 minutes – making her the first woman to do so.
Starting in Keswick at 3:00am last Monday, Sabrina finished her 525 km route on Sunday evening. She became the first female athlete to complete a continuous round and in doing so recorded the third fastest time ever, behind Steve Birkinshaw and Paul Tierney.
History of the Challenge
The first recorded continuous round of the Wainwrights was completed by Alan Heaton in 1985. It took him nine days and 16 hours. Two years later, fell running legend Joss Naylor set a new record of seven days, one hour and 25 minutes. That stood for 27 years, until Berghaus athlete Steve Birkinshaw knocked almost 12 hours off the time in 2014. He and his team found what they believed to be the optimal route – and it certainly worked. He completed his run in six days and 13 hours. Then last summer, Paul Tierney, from Windermere, lowered the record by another seven hours.
Surely it was only a matter of time before a female athlete looked at the route and thought, “I can do that.”
Due to continued social distancing guidelines, Sabrina ran with a minimal support team. She asked the public to not join her at any time on the fells, in contrast to scenes during previous rounds. Both Paul and Steve were part of her crew at times, running with her for sections of the route. Steve was also at the traditional finishing point, the Moot Hall in the centre of Keswick, to welcome Sabrina back.
Joss Naylor said at the finish, “This was brilliant. Sabrina has done something very special and set a tough target for other ladies to aim for. What she’s achieved will inspire others to have a go, but it’s a mark that could stand for many years.”
Speaking after her round, Sabrina Verjee commented, “I’m so happy to have completed my round and more than a little relieved. My right knee hasn’t been happy for a couple of days, so the final sections were very tough, especially as the fatigue really started to kick in.
“I’d have loved to have invited more people to be part of the adventure, but in the current climate that wouldn’t have been responsible. However, my small team shared loads of messages of encouragement with me, which were a big boost.
“I’m so grateful to everyone who supported me during the round and it was very special to be joined by Steve and Paul, and then to see Joss at the finish. That says everything you need to know about the incredible camaraderie that there is in the endurance running community. I look forward to repaying that support during future attempts on the Wainwrights, but for now, I think that I’ll rest up for a while!”