The Lake District 24 Hour Fell Record
The first stated criteria for what we now know as the 24 Hour Fell Record were set down by Dr A W Wakefield in 1904. Dr Wakefield said the aim was to ascend the greatest number of peaks over 2,000 feet and return to the starting point within 24 hours.
Strangely, Bob Graham's own round of 42 peaks contained 2 peaks (Steel Fell and Calf Crag) that didn't meet the Wakefield criteria. As Bob Wightman has pointed out, the 42 peak round that the vast majority of successful contenders follow now is the round that Alan Heaton completed in 1960.
During the 1960s, the men's 24 Hour Fell Record was extended by Alan Heaton, Ken Heaton and Eric Beard.
The women got in on the act first in 1977 when Jean Dawes became the first lady to complete Bob Graham's circuit of 42 peaks. Jean's time for the 42 peak round was reduced by Anne-Marie Grindley in 1978, and then by Ros Coates in 1979. Anne-Marie then completed a 58 peak round later in 1979.
The progression of the record for men and women can be seen on the Records page.
The Men's 24 Hour Fell Record is held by Kim Collison with 78 peaks in 23hrs 45 minutes in 2020 while the Women's 24 Hour Fell Record is held by Carol Morgan with 65 peaks in 23hrs 57 minutes in 2020.
With so much focus on the Record during the 1960s and 1970s (there were 2 further extensions of the men's record by Joss Naylor in 1971 and 1972), there was a need for potential contenders to be clear about the parameters of the challenge that they faced. The committee of the Club was asked, in the informal way that things are done in the fell running community, to establish some formal criteria for the challenge.
In 1971 criteria were set down that in order to break the record, a contender must traverse on foot the same summits as the current Record holder in a faster time and/or with the addition of a separate summit or summits of 2,000 feet or over within 24 hours.
Controversy about whether certain summits over 2,000 feet were "appropriate" for Record attempts led to the criteria being refined in 1978, when the Club committee (again having been requested to bring further clarity to the issue) added an additional requirement that to qualify, a 2,000 foot peak must have a minimum of a 50 foot drop in all directions between it and any neighbouring peak.
In 1989, the criteria were amended again so that additional peaks must be over 2,000 feet requiring ascent and descent of at least 250 feet and being at least 0.25 miles from the previous peak.
To summarise, here are the current criteria. In order to break the existing 24 Hour Fell Record:
- a contender must either traverse the same peaks as the current Record holder in a faster time.
- or traverse the same peaks plus at least 1 additional peak.
- For these purposes:
- a peak must be over 2000 feet high.
- be at least 0.25 of a mile away from the nearest other peak on the round.
- involve at least 250 feet of descent/re-ascent from the nearest other peak on the round.
- The round must be completed within 24 hours.
- It must also start and finish in the same place, which does not have to be the Moot Hall.
Back in early 1989, without the benefits of Memory Map, Sat Nav or other gadgets, Fred Rogerson produced a listing of the 76 peaks traversed by Mark McDermott in his 1988 Record round and noted all other Lake District peaks which qualified (in accordance with the 1989 criteria) for future Record attempts. Fred asked for his additional peaks list to be approved by the then BG Club committee, which it was.
This document Valid Peaks for the 24hr Record lists all the peaks on the basic Round of 42 and the current men's and women's records. It also indicates the valid additional peaks according to the 1989 criteria.
While the standard 42 peak Round has, since the days of the early repeats, always started and finished at the Moot Hall, the various extensions and super challenges have chosen different locations. Here's a quick rundown of what's required.
- 50@50, 55@55
- Start and finish at the Moot Hall as for the standard Round.
- 24hr fell record
- Start and finish at a place of your choosing. The men's round appears to have settled on Braithwaite.
- Start and finish at the Moot Hall.
- Stephen Parr Round
- Start and finish at a place of your choosing. Must visit the Moot Hall.