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Kim Collison breaks Lakes 24-hour running record

Written by Fiona

July 14 2020

An audacious running record in the Lake District has been broken by Kim Collison. The Lakes 24-hour record was held for 23 years by Mark Hartell, until Kim, 40, managed to run one extra peak on the weekend of July 11 and 12.

Kim, a running coach, made it to 78 peaks of at least 2000ft in under 24 hours. He covered 145km and made a total ascent of 11,750m in 23 hours and 45 minutes.

I caught up with Kim to find out more about the record-breaking run.

Kim Collison breaks Lakes record. Credit: Steve Ashworth Media | @lasportiva

What is the Lakes 24-hour?

The Lakes 24-hour criteria is detailed by the Bob Graham 24 Hour Club. The aim, according to Dr A W Wakefield in 1904, is “to ascend the greatest number of peaks over 2000ft and return to the starting point within 24 hours”.

The record had been unsuccessfully attempted seven times since 1997, including two attempts by Steve Birkinshaw. Nicky Spinks is the women’s record holder with 64 peaks in 23 hours and 15 minutes.

Credit: Steve Ashworth Media | @lasportiva
Credit: Steve Ashworth Media | @lasportiva

Kim’s 24-hour record breaker

Kim, who is sponsored by La Sportiva, revealed, like many other run challengers just now, that the attempt on the 24-hour record was a “lockdown decision”.

He said: “After my record winter round of the Bob Grahams, the Lakes 24-hour seemed like a logical thing to do.”

The former British trail running champion set a record for a winter Bob Graham Round last year in 15 hours and 47 minutes. The Bob Graham Round has 42 hill tops.

In lockdown, Kim was able to train and recover consistently.

He said: “I think my ability to have consistent training block and to recover properly was the key to the Lakes 24-hour record. I live in the Lakes, too, and my home looks on to Souther Fell, so I could run from my doorstep.

“Added to this, I also believed I was able to do it. You have to want to do a challenge like this and I thought I had the speed and experience to go for it. I’d already shown I had the endurance over 16 hours on the winter Bob Graham and I guess the last eight hours was more unknown but I was confident as I started.”

A friend of Kim, Adam Perry, had tried a few times unsuccessfully to break the Lakes 24-hour record. This summer, he also tried again and Kim was a support runner. Kim said: “Sadly, Adam suffered stomach issues on his latest attempt and had to stop. But shortly after this I decided I would give it a go. It was simply that I felt fit enough.”

Credit: Steve Ashworth Media | @lasportiva
Credit: Steve Ashworth Media | @lasportiva
Credit: Steve Ashworth Media | @lasportiva

The record run: Lows and highs

Like any endurance challenge, Kim suffered both lows and highs. He said: “Around 14 hours into the round, as I started up Yewbarrow, on a steep ascent from Wasdale, my stomach started to give way. I felt like I was hitting the wall and this is when it became much harder.

“But I know from experience that these feelings will pass and by the next hill I had picked up again. I just had to trust that I would be able to keep going.”

The final few hours were very tough as well. Kim said: “My stomach wanted me to slow down again and it became a mental battle for me. I was also running in the dark and that is never easy mentally.

“There is a point in any long race or challenge when you are saying to yourself: ‘I really want this, but it hurts so much’.

“I used the psychological training that I have learned and coach to keep going. When I am suffering, I tell myself I’ll get through.”

Unlike other timed challenges, the Lakes 24-hour sees runners racing against a clock that is counting down.

Kim said: “You can’t get away from this clock counting backwards from 24 hours. To break the record, I needed to make it to an extra peak so that meant gaining around 30 minutes over the 24 hours of running.

“That extra 30 minutes would be enough to reach an extra peak but you are always so aware of the clock counting down. It is only right at the end that you know if you will have a chance of reaching that extra peak, or not.”

Highlights for Kim included a sunrise on the first leg. He said: “I set off at 3am and it was such a highlight to see the sun rising.

“My support teams were also key to my record and without them it would not have been possible.

“And then, on Grisedale Pike, when I knew I was going to break the record, it felt amazing. As I ran into Brathwaite at the end, I knew I would never have that moment again, of breaking the record, and it was so special.”

Kim finished in 23:45:32 and reach 78 peaks in the Lake District over 2000ft.

Credit: Steve Ashworth Media | @lasportiva

Here is a map of Kim’s route.

Kim is not sure what his next challenge will be although he says he has long thought about The Spine Race. He also mentioned the Ramsay Round and the Paddy Buckley Round. For now, he will recover from the Lakes 24 Hour running record. Find out more about his coaching and guiding.

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