The Wainwrights 214 represents the 214 fells chronicalled in Alfred Wainwright’s seven-volume Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells. Many British walkers aim to summit all 214 peaks in their lifetimes. The less sane attempt to summit them all in one continuous round.
On May 7, 2022, John Kelly solidified his place in the later category by completing a continuous round of the Wainwrights – setting the record in the process. His time of five days, 12 hours bested Sabrina Verjee’s record by 11 hours. Yes, we’re using “record” strategically here. Fell runners, the colloquial term for trail runners in the Lake District of the UK where the Wainwrights 214 takes place, have their reasons. Tune into the latest episode of the FKT Podcast to find out why.
John and host Heather Anderson unpack the logistical quagmire of linking together the summits and viewpoints that make up the Wainwrights 214 in the most efficient line while factoring in the weather and ground conditions. Haunted by sleep deprivation issues on big efforts in the past, John discloses how he overcame that challenge this time. He, an American who lived in the UK for the past two years, explains the unique beauty of the fell running community, and the collaborative effort required in these round record attempts.
A data scientist and father of four, John also opens up about how he balances his various athletic goals with each other, along with the rest of his life. He also makes the case for why everyone should attempt these iconic routes, whether they are going for the record or not.