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Tom Hollins running down Pendle Hill

Airedale Hospital Anaesthetist and elite runner Tom Hollins has smashed more records, this time with a gruelling vertical run (started on 8 October), raising over £2000 so far for the charity Covid Aid, for those with Long Covid.

Tom, who lives in Ilkley and runs with the Wharfedale Harriers, is an expert in extreme running events and a previous winner of the Montane Spine Race, a 7 day non stop race.

This time he chose Pendle Hill in Lancashire and to achieve his goal Tom had to run 195 miles up and down an average gradient of just under 28%. This meant going up the hill 223 times with an elevation gain each time of 622ft. That’s the same as climbing Everest from sea level 4.75 times back to back.

Tom also set new records – In the first 24hrs he set a new UK & I 24hr vertical record (most ascent in 24hrs).  He then set several Everesting records with the fastest time to do the same ascent as Everest.

Tom describes the challenge:

“To complete the run took me 112hrs 5 minutes, so more than 4 days! I started on Saturday at 8am and other than for toilet and meal breaks I didn’t stop at all until the second night and then had 2hrs sleep each night.

Like all of these really long events it was beautiful and awful in equal measure. I did think that this one would be particularly awful given the repetitive nature but a lot of friends came out to keep me company on the hill at all hours of the day and night. That shared experience made it something really quite special. And I am super proud of the profile and money raised for Covid Aid.”

Tom says:

“This vertical marathon project started with this thought – to many who have long Covid climbing a flight of stairs is like doing a marathon. I knew it would be hard but after a few days rest I will be back to normal. Those with long Covid will still need support every day.”

Tom explains:

“I’m aware that I had a very fortunate passage through the Covid pandemic.  As an NHS worker I was given a purpose and able to work where so many others were having to stay at home because they were vulnerable, or needed to protect the vulnerable. I know I would have found staying at home very difficult.

I didn’t catch Covid for two years and when I did, I got a mild cold and was back out running 2 weeks later. Similarly, I had no one close to me who got severe disease. So many others died, or developed Long Covid, or had family and friends who were affected.

Now we are moving out of the pandemic I feel privileged again to be enjoying my re-found freedoms and the ability to get out and explore the hills. I am aware of many who struggle to climb a flight of stairs, and the need for NHS support.”