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Photo credit: Jen Scotney

The Pennine Way FKT: John Kelly Reclaims the Record

18-May-21

By Dan Stinton

With dot-watching almost becoming a sport in itself, social media has been awash with exciting updates over the weekend about John Kelly’s Pennine Way Fastest Known Time (FKT) attempt. To add to the drama, his tracking page also displayed a trophy icon travelling along the route, replicating Damian Hall’s previous FKT set in July 2020 (61h 35m).

A little over a week before Damain’s FKT, John had broken the 31-year-old record set by Mike Hartley as part of his 2020 challenge, the Hartley Slam: The Pennine Way followed by a Grand Round (all three UK rounds including cycling in-between). See our interview with John last year HERE

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After holding the Pennine Way FKT for such a short period of time, clearly John wanted it back. His original record had been set travelling south to north (Edale to Kirk Yetholm) whereas Damian had travelled in the opposite direction. On Friday, John announced his attempt on social media stating his intention to reclaim the FKT from Damian, this time running from north to south.  With the closing line “Sweet teavenge is best served ice cold” the challenge was set!

Setting off at 9am on Saturday morning, John maintained his lead against the record pace throughout, with some fantastic support along the route, demonstrating what an amazing community spirit there is on these solo challenges, and pizza seemed to be a common energy booster.

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There were some bad patches of weather reported as he passed through the Yorkshire Dales but of course John pushed through it. With fatigue setting in at Torside, but only a few hours from the end, John cut his rest time short and pushed on over Kinder Scout before the final descent into Edale.

Damian Hall was watching intently, but kept in good spirits throughout, with Twitter requests for rain, path closures, new lockdowns and even earthquakes, but ultimately congratulations at the record-breaking time.

Finishing just after 7pm on Monday evening, John knocked an amazing three and a half hours off the previous record finishing in 58h 4m. It seems customary to rest upon a plant pot at either end of the Pennine Way and, after being reunited with his family, he did just that outside the Old Nags Head in Edale. What an amazing effort and it’s wonderful to see a new FKT on this iconic route.

All photos courtesy of Jen Scotney

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