NHS doctor runs up 30 mountains in the Yorkshire Dales non-stop

An NHS doctor has completed an incredible lockdown challenge - by running up all 30 mountains in the Yorkshire Dales National Park without stopping.
Ultra-runner Dr Tom Hollins climbed 30 mountains in the Yorkshire Dales in 41 hoursUltra-runner Dr Tom Hollins climbed 30 mountains in the Yorkshire Dales in 41 hours
Ultra-runner Dr Tom Hollins climbed 30 mountains in the Yorkshire Dales in 41 hours

Dr Tom Hollins, from Ilkley, completed the gruelling challenge in 41 hours and has become the first person in the world ever to do so.

The 46-year-old has named the route the 'DalesMountain30'. He covered 130 miles, ascended 30,000ft in total and conquered 30 hills. He finished at 12.30am on Monday, having not slept for the entire 41 hours, and rounded off the epic feat with 30 press-ups.

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Dr Hollins, a consultant anaesthetist at Airedale Hospital, is an accomplished ultra-runner who is sponsored by outdoor clothing brand Montane, and he decided to undertake the challenge after the races he had planned to compete in this summer were cancelled.

It's the first time the challenge has ever been completedIt's the first time the challenge has ever been completed
It's the first time the challenge has ever been completed

His wife Sara, who is head of midwifery at Bradford NHS Foundation Trust, and a friend acted as his support crew.

He also raised £1,500 for domestic violence charity Safe Lives.

Dr Hollins carried his own kit and did all of the navigation himself, as he wanted the run to be 'Covid-safe', although he was joined on some sections by fellow runners.

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He believes the route has never been completed before because some of the 30 peaks have only been part of the Yorkshire Dales National Park since 2016, when the boundaries changed.

"I wasn't actually moving all that quickly; it's more about mental toughness and just keeping going. It helps that it's such a beautiful route, and the weather was ideal for running - not too hot or wet.

"I've never really explored some of the less popular areas of the Dales - I tend to go to places like Malham to train - and I thought it was a good opportunity to explore while also staying close to home during lockdown. In 2016, the National Park was expanded to include the Howgill Fells, which I'd always wanted to do, and I thought I could link all of these mountains up."

Planning the route proved difficult, as in some of the more remote areas there were few clear paths and he had to follow farmers' quad bike tracks and ensure he avoided ground-nesting birds while staying on open-access land.

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"As I work in a hospital, I didn't want to risk infecting anyone else, so I did a 'distanced' run and carried all my own food and drink, and navigated myself. I took no naps at all. With nutrition, it's all about consuming as many calories as possible while also keeping your stomach settled, so I was actually eating quite normal meals. I took army ration packs, and I also ate a lot of chocolate biscuits!"

Dr Hollins felt in remarkably good condition by the end of the run and returned to work by Wednesday, although he will not resume his clinical shifts in intensive care until the end of the week.

"My big toenail looks like it's going to fall off, but other than that I'm not too tired - I'm quite pleased. I was careful to ensure I didn't get injured, as I'd had a knee niggle before I set off and I didn't want to end up having to call mountain rescue. I slowed down towards the end, when it got dark, to stay safe.

"My favourite peak was Wild Boar Fell, which I'd never heard of before. It was one of the new hills added in 2016. I thought the Howgills were going to be the hardest in terms of the ups and downs, but actually they were the easiest because they had the clearest paths. The worst was Tarn Rigg Hill - the terrain was awful, it was an horrific bog."

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He chose the charity Safe Lives after seeing the impact that lockdown was having on relationships while working on an intensive care ward.

"I was grateful to be able to still go into work and have a purpose, but we saw domestic violence really rise during lockdown and I wanted to raise awareness of people in these difficult relationships."

Dr Hollins now hopes to resume competing in 2021, when he plans to enter the Spine Race, which he has previously won - a 268-mile, non-stop race across the Pennine Way trail that must be completed within seven days.

His achievement comes in the same week that his friend and fellow ultra-runner Sabrina Verjee became the first woman to summit all 214 of the Wainwright fells in the Lake District in one go.

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"Sabrina runs at a similar pace to me and I have considered doing the Wainwrights. For now I'll be training locally on Ilkley Moor and in the Dales, then hopefully racing again next year. Every holiday involves running for me!"

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