Chris Gaskin takes on the Wainwrights 214 challenge, unsupported.

With restrictions beginning to ease across the UK, most people are starting to make plans for weekends involving more people. Not Chris Gaskin, he is off to the hills for the next few weeks, completely solo.

Starting on the 18th May, Chris is looking to set the record for the Fastest Known Time (FKT) for the unsupported Wainwrights 214. The Wainwrights 214 is a challenge which sees competitors complete all 214 of the original English Lake District fells listed in A. Wainwright's classic 'Pictorial Guides to the Lakeland Fells', in a continuous, non-stop round. Linking all 214 fells will see Chris cover over 500km and 36,000m of ascent…that’s the equivalent of summiting Mount Everest four times.

What’s your why? 

Typically, when people decide to take on a challenge which pushes their mental and physical boundaries, there is a story behind their decision. For Chris, it is a long-standing fascination and love of the Lake District, along the mental space of being outdoors. Most importantly, Chris is completing the challenge to raise money for Walking With The Wounded, a British charity to help injured former British Armed Forces servicemen and women in their career transition from the military to civilian life.

“I first became aware of the Wainwrights 214 Challenge when reading the book ‘There is No Map in Hell: The Record-Breaking Run Across the Lake District Fells’ in 2017, and it was a challenge I knew I wanted to complete, then when Paul Tierney broke the supported record in 2019, it reignited the passion and drive to take on the challenge”

Chris was due to compete in the 2020 Marathon des Sables (MDS), a six-day ultra-marathon covering 254km in the Sahara Desert, but due to Covid-19, the event has been delayed until October 2021.

“The Wainwrights 214 challenge seemed to be the perfect training event for the MDS, whilst the conditions are clearly different, and the time frame is longer, the self-supported back-to-back days of exercise in a tough environment will all help towards my training.”

Unsupported record is yet to be set 

If successful, Chris will be this first person to complete the Wainwrights 214 unsupported.

Unsupported means Chris is not allowed to accept any external support of any kind, he must carry all his supplies from the start, including his food, camping equipment, and clothing. Aiming to cover 40km a day, setting off at first light (around 5am), continually progressing until last light (between 8-9pm) Chris will be carrying his backpack which weighs around 20-25kg, similar to the weight of an eight-year-old child, and wild camping overnight.

The current supported record (which means a competitor can have a dedicated team to carry and supply whatever is needed for the event, overnight accommodation etc) was set by Paul Tierney in 2019, with a time of 6 days, 6 hours, and 5 minutes.

The self-supported record (meaning a competitor doesn’t carry everything they need from the start, but can put out stashes of supplies to collect on route prior to the trip) was set by James Forrest in 2020 with a time of 14 days, 11 hours, 5 minutes, 45 seconds.

Fuelling the Wainwrights 214

When Chris got in touch about taking on the Wainwrights, the opportunity to really push the limits on lightweight nutrition was obvious. Being unsupported, it is essential to minimise the weight of the food Chris needs to carry, whilst ensuring he consumes sufficient macro and micronutrients to fuel the run itself, all whilst minimising damage and maximising recovery. As weight, and the ability to eat on the move, are so critical an unsupported event, Chris will be using Resilient Nutrition Long Range Fuel, our innovative nut butter which provides up to 646 calories per 100g pouch, at the core of his nutrition strategy. And with empty pouches weighing less than 10g, he will be retaining his waste to pop in our Terracyle Zero Waste bin. Chris will be using the Energise and Energise & Rebuild variants of Long Range Fuel during the morning and the Calm and Calm & Rebuild variants during the afternoon and evening. Chris will be supplementing this with a range of super lightweight Firepot Food dehydrated meals.

Hydration is key to Chris’ success, so he will be using an innovative system from Water-to-Go to filter fresh water from streams, and lakes on route, and will be maintaining his electrolyte and sodium levels with Precision Hydration tablets throughout the event.

With a background of 13 years in the military, the latter years of which were in the Special Forces, Chris has an incredible amount of experience in arduous and unforgiving environments. During Special Forces training, he spent many weeks in the wet and inhospitable Brecon Beacons, navigating and performing drills including gruelling 65km marches carrying 25kg of weight. With his body already fatigued, sleep deprived and undernourished he went on to the jungle where he was tested even further. 

The Wainwright’s will allow him to call upon those experiences to get him through this challenge.

Keep up to date and donate

Chris is looking to complete the challenge in around 14 days, and you can keep an eye on his progress through the live tracking link and donate here.

Written by Charlotte Halkyard