Ultrarunner Damian Hall has set a new record for the 185-mile Wainwright’s Coast to Coast route.
Running west to east, from St Bees on the Irish Sea coastline to Robin Hood’s Bay on the shores of the North Sea, the inov-8 athlete completed the iconic cross-England challenge in an incredible time of 39:18. Halls time beat Mike Hartley’s previous record, which had stood for 30 years, by 18 minutes.
Established by legendary guidebook author Alfred Wainwright in 1973, the Coast to Coast passes through the Lake District, Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors National Parks. The route is hugely popular with hikers who usually complete it in 12 or more days. Damian – who picked up litter along the way and led a mini beach clean at St Bees the day prior to starting – did it in just over one and a half days.
Battling sleep deprivation, heavy rain and boggy underfoot conditions along the route, which includes 28,000ft of ascent – almost an Everest, Damian said: “I hiked the Coast to Coast in 2007, but I don’t remember it being as tough as it was this time around! Of all my record attempts this one proved to be the most difficult and the one which forced me to dig the deepest.
Mike’s record was so brilliantly fast that I had to give it absolutely everything I had – and then some more – to beat it. That meant me running faster than I would normally do for such a long distance. I started aggressively and felt good throughout the first day. I got myself about 2 hours ahead of schedule and felt buoyed after receiving support from Mike (Hartley) at Shap. During the night, however, I began to suffer a bit with tiredness and a few stomach issues.
The second day saw the heavens open and it became really tough going. I had some wobbles in the last few hours and my fuelling went awry. Tendonitis in my calf didn’t help either and by the end I was shuffling my way towards the sea.”
The dad-of-two from Wiltshire, who is an ultramarathon coach, author and freelance journalist added: “There’s no way I would have broken the record without the support of my team who went above and beyond to feed, water, pace and encourage me throughout – thank you! They also helped collect rubbish along the way and we filled one bin bag.”
The climate change campaigner, in working with Our Carbon, made the challenge, along with his family’s lifestyle for the year, carbon negative. He will offset emissions from vehicles used by his support team by working with Trees Not Tees. Damian also had the letters NPB (which stood for No Planet B) written on his arm and is raising money for Greenpeace.