ULTRARUNNER DAMIAN HALL
WHO RECENTLY RAN 260 MILES IN 61 HOURS AND 35 MINUTES TO BREAK THE PENNINE WAY FASTEST KNOWN TIME FKT
FOR THOSE UNFAMILIAR WITH THE PENNINE WAY, WHAT SORT OF TERRAIN WERE YOU TACKLING?
“Bogs! It’s a lot of moorland, and those moors are like plateaus – they’re not like the fells of the Lake District that drain away quite well.
at means it gets boggy when it rains, and it stays that way.
“It’s pretty rocky in places, too, and the overall ascent exceeds the height of Mount Everest. So it’s challenging terrain, and pretty slow going at times.”
WHAT KIND OF PHYSICAL AND MENTAL BATTLES DID YOU HAVE TO OVERCOME?
“e biggest challenge was the sleep deprivation – I got about 45 minutes in total and that was the thing slowing me down.
“I managed to deal with the mental challenges fairly well, because I worked with a sports psychologist leading up to the run. She advised me to think of my ‘why’ – why am I doing this? – and to make visual reminders of it, so I got a permanent marker and put ‘FFF’ on my arm.
“at could mean three swear words when things went badly, but mainly it stood for Family (do it for my kids to make them proud), Friends (the whole support team and road crew around me), Future (concerns about our climate emergency). I had those three things to keep me going when all I wanted to do was sit down and cry!”
HOW DID YOU KEEP YOUR ENERGY UP FOR THE 61 HOURS?
“I started o with the classic bananas and
apjacks, and my crew bought me chips a couple of times, which was nice. Towards the end it was easier to stomach liquid calories, so soups and a hell of a lot of tea.
“e other thing that made the whole nutrition side of things more complicated was that I did it without any animal products or plastic waste, which took a lot of research.
ere are ve or six companies out there doing compostable wrappers and so on on, so we got round it in the end and it was gratifying doing it that way.”
WHAT WERE THE OVERRIDING EMOTIONS WHEN YOU ARRIVED AT THE FINISH IN EDALE?
“ere were 50 or 60 people there to greet me, which I wasn’t expecting at all. It was amazing actually. I timed it just right, too, so that I made it just before last orders at the local pub. Someone kindly bought me a pint and that tasted pretty good.”
WHERE DOES THIS RANK IN TERMS OF YOUR BEST RUNNING ACHIEVEMENTS?
“I think this and the fth-placed UTMB
nish [in 2018] are the two things I’m most chu ed with. It’s overwhelming really, and it may well be the greatest thing I’ve done in running. I don’t want to sound too smug, but I am sat here feeling very satis ed.”