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Pawel Cymbalista reclaims Ben Nevis record

Written by Fiona

June 18 2024

Lochaber runner Pawel Cymbalista has reclaimed the record time for multiple non-stop ascents of the UK’s highest mountain in under 24 hours. The 36-year-old from Mallaig ascended and descended Ben Nevis seven times in 20 hours, 40 minutes, 40 seconds.

In 2023, Javier (Javi) Cabrera Valdes took the record completing seven laps of the 1345m tall Scottish peak in 21:09. He beat Pawel’s previous record of the same number of climbs in 21:43 in 2021.

After his latest Ben feat, Pawel said: “Ben Nevis means a lot to me. My life has changed for the better since the first time I set foot on its slopes. Having the Ben Nevis 24-hour record back in my name lifts me up.”

Read about Pawel’s first Ben Nevis 24-hour record.

Ben Nevis record and a fundraiser

Dad-of-two Pawel took on the Ben Nevis challenge as part of a series of endurance events this year as he aims to raise funds for a project close to his heart.

He said: “I am raising money to support our local Mallaig Community Hub and Shop. My wife Ashley is in charge of the project and she is doing an amazing job. 

“By pushing my limits and setting new records, I am not just chasing personal glory but rallying a community around a cause that benefits us all.”

Pawel’s record Ben Nevis run

Pawel’s Ben Nevis record run on June 12 saw him complete seven laps of the mountain near Fort William. His total distance was 105.97km and a total ascent of 9511m.  

He reveals: “The challenge itself started before the run. Trying to find a good weather window to have the most optimal conditions wasn’t easy. I was weather watching for almost a month before I made the decision five days before the challenge to go for it.

“The risk of announcing it just days before starting was trying to find support.  But thankfully wasn’t too hard although I had sent out a lot of messages.

“Choosing a mid-week day also gave me the advantage of having fewer tourists on the path.

“On the day, there was a massive difference in temperature between the summit and bottom of the mountain. It was -7C windchill on the summit with strong winds at times.

“The top of Ben Nevis was also completely covered in snow making it very slippery on the ascent and descent.

“Yet in the glen, the temperature rose to more than 10°C down with no wind. I was fortunate to have a great team to help me to deal with the weather changes.” 

Patel describes each lap, which took him an average of three hours. He said: “The first two summits were windy and very cold. The next three laps were perfect all the way. 

“The weather was deteriorating by the sixth lap and the summit brought lots of strong wind. 

“By the seventh summit, there was thick cloud with hardly any visibility, plus lots of rain landing on the snow cap to make it more slippery than before. The stronger wind gusts made everything much harder.”

Pawel said he had only one wobble during the feat. He said: “At the start of lap six, the humidity, temperature and overheating caused me to hit the bottom very hard. 

“My team looked after me and helped to pull me out of the hole of feeling exhausted. I perked up and continued pushing on. 

“I decided to settle for seven complete laps because all the climbing and descending had taken a massive toll on my joints, especially my knees. I took the sensible option, rather than pushing on, to avoid injury. I have other challenges I am doing this year.”

‘Thanks for the support’

Pawel is very grateful to the support for his Ben Nevis record run. His team included family members, friends and the local running community. At the base of the mountain, his brother-in-law Shaun MacDonald kept everything organised. Ashley helped to coordinate and organise hill support from home via social media. 

Pawel said: “I was very pleased with how many people came to see me and help me out. It was a great day and we all made new friends and connected the running community.

“It’s amazing how people get together to support one another and join in with the running community spirit. I really want to thank everyone for supporting me.”

See Pawel’s gofundme to support his fundraiser.

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