Sunday, 23 June 2019

Paul Tierney's Wainwrights Round

Congratulations to Paul and his support team for breaking the Wainwrights record with an amazing time of 6 days 6 hours and 5 minutes (almost 7 hours faster than my previous record). 

Paul first contacted me about 18 months ago to say he was planning on having a go at the Wainwrights. I only knew Paul a bit, however,  I knew of his achievements such as winning the Lakeland 100 and finishing the Tor de Geants in Italy in four days. So I knew he was capable of beating my time if everything went well for him.  We had a nice run out together and a good chat in a tea shop. Paul was well aware how tough it was going to be, both physically and mentally, having read my book and seen the film about my run. Hopefully I offered him some good advice. I also lent him my map so he could get a good feel of the route and the logistics that needed sorting. 

Earlier this year he said he was definitely having a go and was going to start on 14th June, which was exactly 5 years after I started. I offered to help on the first leg, which is a bit tricky navigation wise as there are fields to get round and small unobvious tops in places. I also offered to help on a later section near Blencathra. 

I was impressed by the support team he had put together and how well the logistics were sorted out (he had contacted Jane Saul, who organised all my logistics, to get top tips). He had sorted out things like getting a shower at four locations on the way round and massages at various points. He had put together a faster schedule than me, keeping my times for the fell sections but reducing the rest/sleeping time. This was very sensible as I started to get some big stops later on as my feet were in a bad way and needed a lot of work doing to them. 

So Paul's big day came. The first leg with him went well. The bridge over the Greta was still down from Storm Desmond so he changed into another pair of shoes just to cross the river, he was determined to avoid blisters at all costs. By the end of the section Paul was 30 minutes behind my time but I was very tired at the end of leg 1 and Paul seemed relaxed and strong. 

His weather was certainly very different to me. I had dry and settled weather all week, although it was a bit hot for me. Whereas, for Paul's attempt it was more unsettled with horrible weather on the 3rd night (which could easily has wrecked the whole attempt) but other than that generally OK and much cooler than I had it.

Before I got out to see him again I was obsessed with following his tracker and comparing his times with mine. Overall he was gradually getting slightly ahead. I could not wait to see him on Blencathra so as well as doing that leg I decided to run out to see him on Great Dodd, a couple of legs before.
Not surprisingly, as he had been going for over 4 days he was suffering various pains. But he was moving really strongly on the climbs and managing to jog the descents. Perhaps most importantly he was eating (chips seemed to be a preference) and drinking well and he only had one small blister. Paul was also very with it mentally and you could sense he was determined to finish it however hard it was. At this stage I was pretty sure he was going to break the record the only thing that was going to stop him was a really bad overuse injury. 

Steve and Paul on Stybarrow Dodd

After this I had to go away with work to Nottingham,  so I was going to miss the finish but I was following the tracker, so as he approached Keswick I knew he had done it. 

It was really chuffed to see Paul break the record. The video of him at the Moot Hall brought back many happy memories for me. He and his support team, including his parents were so happy and Paul was obviously happy but completely shattered. So similar to how I felt five years previously. I have to admit I am slightly sad that I no longer hold the record. But Paul has been so gracious saying how much I helped him and it is nice that the route I devised lives on. Paul has raised over £27,000 for Mind UK in memory of his friend Chris Stirling who passed away in April this year (

As I am a bit of a map and timing geek I have compared mine and Paul's split times. The first chart shows the cumulative difference in time between the two attempts. A value greater than zero on the y axis means Paul is ahead. So he gets ahead of me after about 30 hours of running and then this difference increases to 7 hours at the finish. The big jumps are because we rested at different times. After the first night I rested after an earlier leg than Paul. So on the next leg Paul would be a long way ahead before he rested and I caught up.

The second chart shows the difference between us but with the rests/stops removed. So this chart is just comparing our moving times. In this case Paul is generally behind until hours 70-80 and is then 1 ½ hours ahead of me at the finish. 

Overall Paul was 7 hours faster than me. Of this 5 ½ hours were because he had shorter rests and 1 ½  hours were because he was moving faster. So his plan of shorter rests worked as he hoped.


  1. Hello Steve, I'm just reading your book again for the second time after suffering massive blisters in the Alps last week on a mountaineering adventure. Your experiences of pushing through pain on the Wainwrights really helped me when all I wanted to do was sit down and take my shoes off. Just wanted to let you know!

  2. Hi Steve, just wanted to say enjoyed hearing you talk last night in Keswick it was very inspiring. Thanks 😊

    1. That is really good to know. I enjoyed it as well, it was really interesting listening to Paul's experience.