The British ultrarunner Sabrina Verjee has shattered the record for completing all of the Lake District’s 214 Wainwright peaks in less than six days – making her the fastest athlete, male or female, by more than six hours.
The 39-year-old veterinary surgeon from Ambleside finished the 325-mile route in five days, 23 hours, 49 minutes and 12 seconds, sleeping a few hours a night to keep ahead of the previous best, set by Paul Tierney in 2019.
Verjee, who completed the course with the help of her husband, Ben, and a large support crew of friends and fellow runners, was said to be “tired but elated” after finishing on Wednesday morning.
Her extraordinary performance, which included 36,000m of ascent, is the latest in a growing trend of records set by women in long-distance races. In January 2019, the British ultrarunner Jasmin Paris became the first woman to win the 268-mile Montane Spine Race along the Pennine Way – shattering the course record by 12 hours while also expressing breast milk for her baby at aid stations along the route.
In September 2019 the US swimmer Sarah Thomas became the first woman to swim the Channel four times in a row, a feat that took her 54 hours and 10 minutes.
Verjee iswell-known in ultrarunner circles, and last year set the record for the fastest known female time on the Pennine Way, completing the 268 miles in three days 2hr 28min.
In 2020, she was the first woman to run the Wainwrights, which get their name from Alfred Wainwright’s seven-volume Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells, and include the summit of England’s highest mountain, Scafell Pike, non-stop in six days, 17hr and 51 min.
It was the third-fastest time but Verjee said that she did not want it to be considered for records as she had needed substantial support from fellow runners after suffering a knee injury.
An attempt at the overall record in May had to be abandoned due to sub-zero conditions and blizzards that led to an exacerbation of her asthma and caused breathing problems. After pulling out, she said: “This story isn’t over. I love running and I love exploring the Wainwrights. We have unfinished business.”
It proved to be a case of third time lucky for Verjee, whose record attempt began from her home in Langdale last Friday. As she pulled far ahead of her target time, she attracted a growing online following who monitored her challenge. While the gap to the record began to close as fatigue took its toll, finished in an official time of 143hr 49min 12sec.