Highs and lows on the Wainwrights

After an amazing week of running in the Lakeland fells completing all 214 Wainwrights in a record breaking time of 6 days and 13 hours, Steve Birkinshaw runs us through the highs and lows of his astonishing achievement:

Day1 (Keswick – Ennerdale):

High – setting off on my epic journey with a small group of family and friends watching.

High – Climbing to the top of Latrigg – one down 213 to go.

Low – getting very hot on the tussocks around Armboth Fell.

Low – climbing Glaramara felling dehydrated and tired after only 6 hours.

High – a bit of rain on Allen Crag and I immediately feel a bit better.

Big Low – being violently sick towards the end of the first day and wondering if it is only going to get worse.

Big low – lying down unable to sleep after the first day.

Steve birkinshaw on his wainwrights record

Day2 (Ennerdale – Duddon):

High – a lovely sunrise and then a cooler cloudy day and I am feeling OK.

High – On top of Scafell Pike (25% done) and no injuries or blisters.

Low – My first blister approaching Hard Knott Pass.

High – the toughest, highest rockiest sections completed. Better running from now on.

Low – The midges at the Duddon, the worst I have known in England.

Big Low – 4 more hours lying down unable to sleep as the knees throb with extreme pain.

steve birkinshaw grabbing some rest

Day 3 (Duddon – Rydal)

High – A lovely morning over the Coniston Fells.

Low – the tracker shows we have missed Dow Crag and my wife (Emma) rings us up at 6am to see what has happened.

High –We can confirm to Emma that the tracker is wrong and we went the correct way.

High– A shower at the Great Langdale Bunkhouse.

Low –The section to Silver Howe seems to take forever and the climb to Loughrigg is extremely hot.

Big Low – More lying down unable to sleep but I finally drift off after some physio from Phil.

putting in the miles

Day 4 (Rydal – Howtown)

High – A night section over Fairfield nice and cool.

High – Red screes (50% completed).

Low – Tendonitis at the front of my ankle in my right leg.

Low – A hot day and feeling shattered as I climb out of Kentmere.

Low – In agony from my blisters as we approach High Street.

High – Manage to drain the blisters and move better again.

High – Finally reach Howtown after nearly 24 hours on my feet.

High – Finally get a good nights (4 hours) sleep.

steve birkinshaw descending wainwrights

Day 5 (Howtown – Troutbeck):

Big low – My blisters and tendonitis are really sore. Walk up Hallin Fell without shoes on and come down very slowly. Begin to doubt if I can achieve this.

High – Climb The Nab really strongly and can manage to jog downhill on rocky paths.

High – Two hot showers and houses as support points.

Low – Extremely hot and draining as we climb out of Glenridding.

High – lots of people out to see me including a family with 9 and 10 year old children.

High – Clough Head (75% complete) and a nice view of my house.

Big Low – The steep descent off Great Mell Fell is agony on my tendonitis.

High – Another good night (4 hours) sleep.

stunning lakes view

Day 6 (Troutbeck – Pheasant Inn, Wythop):

Big Low – More agonising treatment on my blisters and then I hobble out of the campervan barely able to walk.

High – I climb strongly up Souther Fell and I am moving better again.

Low – I start to feel sick and bloated again. I take it easy and don’t eat or drink much for a while.

High – Emma comes with me up Carrock Fell.

High – Loads of people come out to see me over the northern fells. There is an England flag up for me at Longlands Fell and I get an ice cream at Longscale fell.

Low – I go through a really tired spell and need a 5 minute power nap at Great Cockup.

Low – If I land wrongly I scream in agony as the shoe presses on my blister.

High – My supporters find a nice route off Ullock Pike avoiding the rough descent.

Low– I try to hide from my children how painful the blister treatment is.

Low – The road out and back to Binsey is as horrible as I expect and I am unable to run much as I am feeling sick and tired.

Big low – my whole body feels like it is gradually disintegrating. I have a bad cough, I feel sick most of the time, I am struggling to hold a conversation and concentrate for more than short periods of time. The end is in sight but I still sometimes doubt that I can make it.

High – Another good 4 hours sleep.

steve birkinshaw resting

Day 7 (Pheasant Inn- Keswick)

Big low: wake up feeling awful and burst into tears at the thought of running all day on painful blisters.

High: We make holes in my shoes to relieve the pressure on my blisters.

High: I am still climbing strongly.

Low: Descents are still extremely painful.

Big High: it gets to 4pm at people start appearing from all sides to join me.

Big High: A brilliant atmosphere as I arrive at Newlands.

Big High: Loads of people on the last leg with me many of whom have helped me on the way round .

Big High: Even more people are waiting on my final peak Cat Bells.

Big Big High: The final run into Keswick is absolutely amazing and really emotional. There are loads of people clapping and cheering me as my journey comes to an end. It still brings tears to my eyes thinking about it.

Below: Steve receiving his medal alongside his family in Keswick

ultra runner steve birkinshaw receiving his medal

There are so many people I would like to thank for turning my dream into reality. I really appreciate all the help you have given me without which I would not have managed to complete my journey. Eventually I will write my journey up in detail and properly thank you all. Also thanks to everyone who has donated to the MS charities, your support makes a difference.

I would also like to thank Berghaus for their support of me on this amazing challenge and supplying me and my supporters with some great kit.

Photo credits: Paul Dobson at http://fellrunner.net/ at Mike Pearson at http://www.mikes-eye.co.uk/

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  • John & Margaret Rose

    Many Congratulations Steve.
    Amazing feat/feet!!

  • Anne

    Huge congratulations to Steve. What he’s done by beating a record that’s stood for 27 years by such a big margin is truly amazing, his name will be up there with Joss Naylor & Bob Graham. His family must be so proud of him for completing this challenge and raising so much money for MS. Steve you’re awesome !!!!!!!