For the second time in less than a year, John Kelly has set a new speed record on the Pennine Way. John's time for the 268-mile route now stands at 2 days, 10 hours and 4 minutes, and restores the Pennine Way title to the UK-based American runner.
Today's record comprehensively beats the previous fastest time of 2 days, 13 hours and 34 minutes set by Damian Hall in July 2020.
3 minute stop in Tan Hill for a rice pudding and sprite top-up. He's still moving well and is in decent spirits, if a little, erm, achy...— Nicki Lygo (@DrLygo) May 16, 2021
Apologies for my shrieky hello to Sabs! #JKPWFKT #PennineRecord #PennineWay pic.twitter.com/nKVB3TNVI5
During an explosion in ultra running speed records that took place over last year's summer hiatus between lockdowns, the Pennine Way record changed hands between the two runners in rapid succession, when John Kelly first recorded a time of 2 days, 16 hours and 46 minutes on 16th July 2020, only to see his effort bettered two weeks later by Damian Hall.
The 'rivalry' between the two could best be described as good humoured:
Unless that earthquake arrives or a Krispy Kreme factory opens en route, I won't be the owner of the Pennine Way record much longer.— Damian Hall (@Ultra_Damo) May 17, 2021
A, Can anything stop @RndmForestRunnr?
B, What should I do with my last few hours as record holder, other than sob uncontrollably? #SweatTeavenge pic.twitter.com/lcovaoTwaH
Setting off on the morning of Saturday 15th May from Kirk Yetholm, and running the route north to south, John maintained a fast pace throughout. Avid dot watchers tracked his progress over the weekend, as he stayed comfortably ahead of both his own schedule and Damian Hall's 2020 times all the way.
John Kelly just reached Wessenden pic.twitter.com/vOJlWLI7nP— steve hewitt (@steveh471324) May 17, 2021
John Kelly has quite a history with the Pennine Way, having also won 2020's Spine Race. His time for that was 3 days, 15 hours and 53 minutes - however, that race is held in mid-winter when participants have to deal with far more challenging conditions and only eight hours of light per day.
During his new record run, John of course had a lot more daylight to play with, though the weather was wet at times. Conditions were described as 'constantly grim' with 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 in the closing stages.