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Jamie Aarons sets stunning non-stop Munro round record

Written by Fiona

July 24 2023

I interviewed Jamie Aarons for The Scots Magazine. I regularly contribute to the outdoors section of the magazine.

A Munro Miracle

A female ultra runner has broken the record for the fastest round of all 282 Munros in Scotland by 13 hours and five minutes.

Jamie Aarons, 43, completed the self-propelled challenge in just 31 days, 10 hours and 27 minutes on June 26.

She started on Ben More, Isle of Mull, on May 26 and finished on Ben Klibreck in Sutherland.

The social worker ran the mountains, which are all at least 914m (3000ft) tall, and then cycled or kayaked in between.

She has broken the record of 31 days and 23 hours set in 2020 by Donnie Campbell, then aged 35.

Jamie, originally from California and now living in Stirlingshire, said: “It is undoubtedly the toughest challenge I’ve ever done.

“It was always going to be an ambitious schedule to reach all the Munros non-stop and as fast as I could go on foot, by bike and kayaking.

“I never set out to break a record – but it is a bonus that I have set a new fastest time.”

A huge Munro round feat

Jamie’s round saw her climb 135,366 metres, which is the equivalent of more than 15 times the height of Mount Everest. In total, Jamie also ran 1315km, cycled 1249km and kayaked 11.5km..

She faced extreme weather conditions, including very high temperatures at the start of the challenge, thunderstorms and the threat of lightning, as well as high winds and rain later on.

She suffered injuries to her knee, hamstring and feet throughout the round. Two painful blisters on her heels and then a sore forefoot slowed her pace over the final few days. 

Yet Jamie didn’t take any time off and kept moving day and night. She slept for no more than four hours at any one time, preferring to nap when needed.

She calls her ability to go for long periods on very little sleep as “my super power”. She is a successful veteran of many long-distance and multi-day running races and has previously completed two other Munro rounds.

Jamie said: “During an interview with Donnie Campbell after he set his record, I heard him say he had slept for eight hours each night, except for a final 48-hour push. 

“While I knew I’d never be as quick as Donnie on the hills or on the bike, I’ve got other skills and one of these is the ability to keep going with only micro-naps wherever and whenever I need them. Sometimes I need only 60 seconds to feel refreshed.

“This was where the start of an idea to do the non-stop round come from.”

She added: “I wanted to take on a challenge in Scotland’s mountains  – the place I love to be – and to do something I didn’t know if I could.”

Jamie, centre, and Andy, left, on the final Munro. Credit: Andy Stark

Setting a route – and pulling off an audacious challenge

Jamie and a group of friends planned a route that they thought would be as as efficient as possible over and between all the Munros.

Throughout the round, she was supported by a team of more than 100 people, including her partner Andy Taylor.

She said: “I am indebted to so many people and I am grateful for all the support on the mountains and in between. 

“I really could not have succeeded without everyone’s help. We succeeded in this challenge, not just me.”

Donnie, who joined Jamie on a Munro on day 30, described Jamie’s new record is an “absolutely amazing achievement”. 

He said: “I am very impressed, especially by how she has managed to keep going on so little sleep. 

“It looks like it has been a massive team performance from planning to execution. Congratulations to her and her team.”  

The Munro round has raised more than £21,000 for the World Bicycle Relief. To donate see JustGiving.

Also see Jamie’s Munro Challenge.

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