Ultra runner John Kelly has created a staggering new record by completing his Grand Round project yesterday, in a total time of 5 days, 10 hours and 43 minutes (130:43).
The Grand Round links all three of the UK's big fell running rounds - the Paddy Buckley Round in Wales, the Bob Graham Round in the Lake District and the Charlie Ramsay Round in the Scottish Highlands – consecutively, and connected by bike.
Over the route he put in roughly 185 miles of running with 84,000 feet of elevation gain over 113 summits, plus over 400 miles of cycling. You can see a map of his route here.
The goal at the outset was for each round to be completed in under 24 hours. Kelly achieved this on the Paddy Buckley and Bob Graham legs, but ended up over 10 hours behind on the Ramsay.
Encountering very poor weather in the mid-section overnight, cumulative fatigue and lack of sleep really slowed his pace, and unsurprisingly Kelly was in a lot of pain by the time he reached Glen Nevis.
"I just wanted to make sure that everyone in the US was up and about", he joked at the finish, at 21:43 Friday.
Setting off last Sunday the US athlete, now based in Bristol, had learned the lessons of his previous attempt in 2019 when he set off too fast, on an over-ambitious schedule and into a poor forecast. On that occasion, he fought through the Paddy Buckley and Bob Graham before stopping on the way to Scotland due to exhaustion and sleep deprivation.
"In a way, the very fact that I failed at my first attempt shows that it was a good challenge - one that forced me to learn, grow, and develop a better plan", he said.
This time, he sensibly extended his target time to allow more sleeping, and improved on his bike route and support planning.
Last month Kelly broke the 31-year-old record for running the Pennine Way, traversing 261 miles in two days, 16 hours and 46 minutes (a time since beaten by Damian Hall). The former triathlete was also the winner of this year's Spine Race, the winter ultramarathon along the Pennine Way, and is a previous winner of the legendary Barkley Marathons in the US.
Kelly decided to raise funds for the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust on the Grand Round and Pennine Way.
"Their mission statement resonates perfectly with me" he says of its help for kids, "Particularly those who have the cards stacked against them just by where, when, and how they happen to enter the world."
- As of his finish time, he had raised well over £10,000: Donations can be made on justgiving
John Kelly is sponsored by: La Sportiva