Cumbrian fell runners attempt “impossible” extreme endurance charity challenge with the help of sports science

the runners

Two Lake District fell runners in training for a 350km race for charity have benefited from the latest expertise from Lancaster University’s Human Performance Lab.

Kirk Wadsworth and his friend Tim Jenner aim to raise £10,000 for three local charities by tackling “The Cumbrian” on July 22.

This extreme challenge is a 352 km race across Lake District fells, lakes and mountain passes in less than 60 hours.

In total, the event involves running 170km over the fells, swimming 3 km across four lakes and cycling 180 km over all the high mountain passes, with a combined elevation gain of over 17,000m.

The Cumbrian has three stages:

· The Frog Graham Round is a mountain run / swim challenge involving a 64 km run, climbing 4,750m over 18 designated peaks and swimming across four lakes totalling 3.2km.

· The Bob Graham Round is the classic Lake District mountain ultra marathon. To complete the challenge participants must run 106 km, climbing 8,230m over 42 designated peaks in less than 24 hours.

· The Fred Whitton is a mountain cycling challenge. Participants must ride the 182 km route over five of the highest mountain passes in the Lake District climbing a total of 3,950m in less than 12 hours.

Kirk said: “It’s very hard. Lots of people spend lots of time and energy training to complete any one of these but no one has ever tried to combine them and do the Frog-Bob-Fred back to back. Anyone in the fell running, cycling, and swimming community who hears about the challenge thinks we’re mad and it can’t be done. “

Both men are from the South Lakes, where Kirk lives in Slackhead, near Beetham and Tim in Storth. They are also both members of fell running clubs, with Kirk in the Helm Hill club and Tim in the Ambleside club.

They are training with the help of Lancaster University Sports and Exercise Science whose team, led by Dr Sarah Powell, conducted fitness testing at Lancaster Medical School’s Human Performance Lab based at the University’s Sports Centre.

Dr Bob Lauder of Lancaster University said: “I’m delighted that the Sports and Exercise Science Team here at Lancaster University are supporting Kirk and Tim in their extraordinary challenge. This never-before completed triple is an excellent example of the way that knowledge and understanding of Sports and Exercise Science theory, and application of that in testing, which are gained by our students, can be used to provide actionable outcomes for athletes to help them succeed.”

Jack Cunnington the manager of the Human Performance Lab, ran the VO2max test to measure the maximum amount of oxygen that your body can use during exercise and also Lactate Threshold testing.

Kirk said: “This test has allowed us to gauge our current ability to deal with the accumulation of lactate in the blood. This is really important to know because it tells us how to manage our energy levels and output during the challenge. If we get that wrong, we’ll fail. It has also told us how to train, what type of training and intensity will maximise the adaptation we need.”

Sports psychologist Dr Jenny Meggs also provided resources about resilience and psychological skills to manage the demands of endurance sports such as pain or fatigue management and coping with lengthy monotonous periods.

Kirk said: “We’ve learned a lot about training methods and where to get further information. It’s not only been a very useful ‘mechanical’ tool, it’s been a massive psychological boost to have met and be in touch with the team and know they are behind us. “

The pair aim to raise £10,000 for three local charities in Cumbria – Jigsaw Hospice, Keswick Mountain Rescue Team and the Brathay Trust for young people.

Tim is a care worker who looks after a young man with disabilities.

He said: “We have chosen three Cumbrian charities that have a direct and positive impact on our local community. Both Jigsaw Hospice and Brathay Trust do incredible work supporting children with lifelong illnesses and giving young, disadvantaged people experiences in the Lake District that will positively change their lives. The Keswick Mountain Rescue volunteers are local people who go out into the Lake District mountains 365 days a year and save lives. These three charities are full of incredible people who humble us all. Let’s all help them.”

Kirk said: “We’re very much hoping that with enough reach, we can raise a lot of money for three worthy causes. We know that the financial landscape is so very hard, for most people at the moment, but the people who are set to receive this money need it more than we do.”

Back to News