John Kelly reclaims Pennine Way FKT

·2-min read
Photo credit: Farm Images - Getty Images
Photo credit: Farm Images - Getty Images

US ultrarunner John Kelly has reclaimed the fastest known time (FKT) for the 260-mile Pennine Way. Kelly completed Britain’s oldest National Trail in a time of 58 hours 4 minutes – more than three hours faster than the previous record, held by Britain’s Damian Hall.

It marked the latest chapter in a remarkable rivalry between the two runners. Earlier this year, Kelly, one of only a handful of runners to have completed the notorious Barkley Marathons in Tennessee, ran a new FKT for the Pennine Way, only for Hall to beat his record just eight days later.

Kelly’s first attempt, however, was hampered by persistent stomach problems. He also ran from south to north, as opposed to the north-to-south route favoured by Hall and female FKT holder Sabrina Verjee.

Kelly followed suit this time, starting in Kirk Yeltholm in the Scottish Borders and finishing in Edale in Derbyshire. He was up on record pace from the start and, despite encountering torrential rain for lengthy periods of the route, held on to finish strong.

Realising his record was about to be taken, Hall wrote on Twitter: ‘What about another lockdown? It’s been a while. We should probably have another lockdown. Boris?!’

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Before 2020, the FKT for the Pennine Way had stood for 31 years. The holder, fell runner Mike Hartley, ran a time of 65 hours 20 minutes in 1989. Kelly’s new record is the first sub-60-hour time on the National Trail, and Hall was the quick to congratulate him:

‘We knew @RndmForestRunnr had a better PR run in him, if his tum behaved. But that was still effing impressive. Relentless. Humbling. Inspiring. You git.’

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