The record has once again been broken for the 23 Before Tea fell running challenge from Elterwater Independent Hostel.
Mark Burley, a member of Macclesfield Harriers & AC, and Manchester and District Orienteering Club, completed the circuit of 23 Wainwright summits in 6 hours 34 minutes. That’s 8 minutes faster than the time set earlier this year by Gavin Dale, Mark Darbyshire and Dan Weller.
Over the last couple of years the round has been tackled by some of the top long-distance runners, with the record tumbling regularly.
The route isn’t prescribed, just needs to be 23 tops which are in the Wainwright guides, but an established circuit has emerged and this is what Mark followed last weekend: Silver How, Blea Rigg, Pavey Ark, Harrison Stickle, Loft Crag, Pike of Stickle, Thunacar Knott, High Raise, Sergeant Man, Tarn Crag, Calf Crag, Gibson Knott, Helm Crag, Nab Scar, Heron Pike, Stone Arthur, Great Rigg, Fairfield, Hart Crag, Dove Crag, High Pike, Low Pike and Loughrigg.
Mark says: “I wasn’t very inventive. I looked online at the current FKT (fastest known time) and found a few places where I could take a slightly more optimum line. I did look at the map and consider options of tackling a different set of Wainwrights, and I do think there might potentially be a possible loop which goes solely to the west of the Hostel (via Pike of Blisco, Crinkle Crags and Bowfell to start, and then back via the Langdale Wainwrights) but in the end I elected to just try and shave some time off the established route.”
Mark lives on the edge of the Peak District just outside Macclesfield, “but I’m a passionate fell runner and like to get up to the Lakes as often as possible.” His parents have recently moved to Kendal which makes this easier. “I love the Lakeland Classics series of fell races that takes place each year, and alongside those I’ve also been tackling the longer distance challenges, this year completing the Charlie Ramsay Round (in Scotland) and the Denis Rankin Round (in Northern Ireland) to add to prior completions of the Paddy Buckley Round (Wales) and the Lakes’ own Bob Graham Round. “Next year I have my eye on the Wicklow Round (Ireland), to complete the set – so before the days get too short and the weather gets too miserable, I was keen to have a go at something mid-length this year such as 23 Before Tea.
“I think the recent emergence of these ‘shorter’ rounds, such as The Hodgson 4 and Abraham’s Tea Round, are a great way to encourage people out for longer days in the mountains, providing a challenge that is a bit more accessible than the 24-hour rounds, but still a significant day out to be proud of.”
Says Christine Thomas: “We are thrilled that Mark enjoyed such a good day out, and that our challenge is becoming such a popular one to try. And as a new record-breaker, Mark will be invited back for a free stay here at the hostel.”
For further background see our post on the history of the 23 Before Tea