Paul Tierney breaks 214-peak Wainwright record

Posted by Sarah Stirling on 25/06/2019
Paul faced all weathers on his challenge. Photos: Pete Aylward & Nick Ray
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Last week, Paul Tierney summited every one of the 214 peaks that feature in Alfred Wainwright’s iconic, seven-volume guide to the Lakeland fells - in one go. It took him 6 days, 6 hours and 5 minutes. The Lake District resident broke Steve Birkinshaw’s record by almost seven hours and raised over £28,000 for the charity Mind, UK.

At 8am, Friday June 14, Paul set off from Keswick. When he arrived back in the same spot at 2pm on the following Wednesday, he’d been almost constantly on his feet - eating on the move and sleeping as little as possible in his van at road crossings. He had covered 318 miles - the equivalent of two marathons a day - and climbed 36,000m of ascent - four times the height of Everest from sea to summit.

The 36-year-old was supported throughout by his partner, Sarah, as well as plenty of family and friends; groups of runners took it in turns to pace and navigate him. At the finish he was greeted by fell running legend, Joss Naylor, who was the first to envisage and complete this challenge, back in the 80s.

WATCH Paul finishing his challenge:

Joss completed the round in 7 days 1 hour and 25 minutes, and his record stood until June 2014, when Steve Birkenshaw decided to have a go. After spending months mapping out what he believed to be the quickest, continuous on-foot route, Steve ran the round in 6 days, 13 hours and 1 minute. Posing Productions made a film about it: Wainwright Record Attempt.

Steve helped Paul with his preparation for this attempt, commenting: “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."

Ahead of the challenge, Paul, an Inov-8 sponsored runner, wrote on the brand’s blog: “I am attracted to a challenge that might well be beyond me, but I really do like running in the hills - and this will definitely be an opportunity to overdose on that!” 

I really do like running in the hills - this will be an opportunity to overdose!

On finishing, Paul wrote on the Inov-8 blog: “The hardest bit was definitely the lack of sleep.  The best bit was finishing! Seeing so many people in street cheering me on, then being up on the finish steps with family and friends, having beaten the record, that was more than I could have hoped for.”

“There were lows… times when I thought I’m not sure if I can do this anymore, but I just kept pushing on. That awful Sunday night in the storm up on the fells around Fairfield, that is something I won’t forget. I’m looking forward to a rest now, but not before drinking some beer!”

WATCH: Paul tackling bad weather during the night

Paul is no stranger to long days in the mountains - he has twice completed the notoriously-tough Tor des Geants – a 205-mile race through the Italian Alps that includes 24,000m of ascent - and is a former winner of the Lakeland 100 event.

Originally from Cork, Ireland, and formerly a policeman, Paul now lives in the Lake District with his partner Sarah McCormack. Both are well-known in the UK mountain running community. They work together, running Missing Link Coaching.

Paul was running in memory of his friend and fellow endurance athlete, Chris Stirling, and has so far raised over £28,000 for the mental health charity, Mind, UK. Donations can be made via Paul's Justgiving page here.

Paul was wearing a tracker while he ran - check out the route via the link below

Further reading

Check out Paul's tracking map from his challenge

Read: The write-up of Paul's run on the Inov-8 blog

It has been a busy time in the British fell running world. Read: Finlay Wild Breaks Records for Welsh 3000ers and Snowdon Horseshoe and Nicky Spinks Completes a Double Paddy Buckley Round. We are also awaiting confirmation that Damian Hall has just broken the record for the Paddy Buckley Round, running most of it unsupported.


WATCH: Nicky's Bob Graham Round on BMC TV


WATCH: Finlay Wild runs a sub-three-hour Cuillin Ridge Traverse in summer


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