On Tuesday morning, before you’d even started grinding your coffee beans, Damian Hall was dipping his foot into the Irish Sea and setting off to break the long-standing Wainwright’s Coast to Coast record. The route was devised by Alfred Wainwright in his 1973 book “A Coast to Coast Walk”. It starts in St Bees on the west coast, travels through the Lake District National Park, The Yorkshire Dales National Park and the North York Moors National Park and ends in Robin Hood’s Bay on the east coast. Tradition suggests you should dip your feet in the sea at either end.
Anyone who follows Damian’s social media accounts will know that environmental issues are close to his heart and he’s worked to minimise the carbon footprint for this attempt, using local pacers, fuelling on a vegan diet and even picking up litter along the way.
The record has stood for 30 years, set by ultrarunning legend Mike Hartley in 39:36:52 and is considered to be one of his stronger records. With his long-standing Pennine Way record beaten in 2020 by both John Kelly and Damian (John re-took the record last week as we reported HERE), was the record about to be taken for the Coast to Coast as well?
The live-tracking site has displayed a trophy icon moving steadily across the country at an even pace to show where Damian has been in relation to the record. He crossed the Lake District at an impressive pace leaving the National Park late-afternoon on Tuesday around 1h 50m ahead of schedule. He stopped for a quick “elbow bump” in Shap with Mike Hartley and shortly afterwards crossed the M6 for the overnight section through the Yorkshire Dales.
We’ve received fantastic video clips and images direct from Endurance Creative (a collaboration between Summit Fever Media and Steve Ashworth Media) throughout the attempt and have been posting them on our Instagram page HERE.
With wonderful drone footage, video from ground-level, along with snippets of interviews with Damian and the support crew, they really capture the grandeur of the landscape and the challenge itself.
Wednesday morning saw him entering the North York Moors for the final section of the route still maintaining a strong lead. There was frantic dot watching during the final few hours as he ran around the coast towards Robin Hood’s Bay. The final footage shows him almost staggering along the last few cobbles before landing his trainers firmly onto the beach with a magnificent finish time of 39:18:40, breaking the record by just over 18 minutes.
With the lack of races over the last 18 months there’s been a lot of focus on FKTs and exploring local challenges and routes. With the gradual return of races over this year, are we likely to see fewer FKT attempts? With the beauty of these routes and the community spirit that goes along with them, then maybe it will have captured the hearts of many runners to go out and give them a try.
Damian’s book “In it for the Long Run” (RunUltra review coming soon) covers his progression into the world of long-distance running and the mind-set it takes to not only take on these epic challenges, but to break records and become a world-class ultrarunner.
All images courtesy of Steve Ashworth/Endurance Creative