Damian Hall managed to reach Robin Hood’s Bay and the shores of the North Sea just 39 hours and 18 minutes after he set off from the coastal village of St Bees in Cumbria.
The 45-year-old followed a popular coast-to-coast route, which usually takes hikers around two weeks to complete, and he beat Mike Hartley’s 1991 record by 18 minutes.
After five months of training and planning, he completed the gruelling run without any sleep but made a few short stops to pick up litter and eat some vegan pizza, rice pudding and hummus and avocado sandwiches.
The father-of-two overcame steep ascents in the Lake District, boggy ground in the Yorkshire Dales and long stretches of road in the Vale of York, before he traversed the North York Moors National Park.
The varied terrain and heavy rain did not trouble Mr Hall, but his record attempt was almost derailed by hyponatremia, as he took on too much water and the level of sodium in his blood dropped.
“I was comfortably around an hour and a half to two hours ahead of the record and all was going well, but towards the end I got a bit messed up and I was confused about what I was doing,” he said.
“I sort of forgot all about the record and only broke it by 18 minutes in the end, so I really slowed down. It was really down to my team who got me focused and got me to the finish line, because I was away with the fairies.”
He added: “Mike’s record was so brilliantly fast that I had to give it absolutely everything I had – and then some more – to beat it. That meant me running faster than I would normally do for such a long distance.”
Mr Hall, from Wiltshire, felt “relieved” when he crossed the finish line, where he was met by a small crowd of welcoming locals in Robin Hood’s Bay on Wednesday, May 26.
The ultra marathon runner and coach, who is also a passionate climate change activist, took on the challenge to break the record and raise money for Greenpeace.
He has broken several records since taking on his first ultra marathon in 2012, and revealed that his secret to success is going “easy and slow in training”.
“That’s a safe way to train and build up a really big aerobic engine,” he said.
“Sometimes, I think that when people start running they go ’I must try and run fast’ but you don't need to at all. Running slowly over a few weeks will really improve your fitness and you'll get faster naturally.”