…again! John Kelly’s single-minded efforts to retain the Pennine Way fastest-known time (FKT) have resulted in another new record, as he stormed across the finish line in an amazing two days, 10 hours and 4 minutes.
Just ten months ago, Kelly had beaten what was then a 31-year-old record by traversing the 261-mile route in two days, 16 hours and 46 minutes, only for friend and rival Damian Hall to snatch a quicker time a mere eight days later.
Clearly this left unfinished business, and the Bristol-based ultra-runner and La Sportiva team member set off from Kirk Yetholm in the Scottish Borders at 09:00 on Saturday 15th, running in the opposite direction to the previous year, and arriving at the finish at Edale in Derbyshire at 19:04 on Monday evening.
Kelly had set a fast early pace, immediately gaining time on his schedule. Conditions proved very mixed, however, with weather described as ‘constantly grim’ delivering heavy showers and poor visibility. Kelly’s strategy was to keep moving; after 48 hours he had snatched only around an hour’s rest, so sleep deprivation began to take its toll on the closing stages.
The Pennine Way is the oldest and most well-known of the UK’s National Trails, and one of the most challenging long-distance routes. Many strong and well-known runners had attempted to break Mike Hartley’s 1989 record, before Kelly beat the time by 34 minutes. However, just eight days later, Damian Hall bettered Kelly’s time by over three hours.
Kelly is a well-known ultra-runner, having previously established a men’s record time for the Spine Race, a winter ultramarathon along the Pennine Way, and is also a winner of the legendary Barkley Marathons in the US. Kelly wore La Sportiva running shoes throughout the challenge, relying on the latest Jackal model for its combination of grip, security and comfort over long distances.
We featured John previously here.