Sometimes you need to take a drastic turn and change your whole life. In 2013 I cut down drinking, stopped smoking and I took up running. I joined the Lochaber Athletics Club and proved someone wrong when I made it to the summit of Ben Nevis at 1345m on Easter morning in 2014.
I weight 16 stone and completely disagreed with the comment on Facebook that I will never make it to the top. After changes in life and dropping down to 10 stone I was about to take on the biggest challenge of my life. Runnig uo and down Ben Nevis as many times as I can in 24h.
“First, I came across a story of a teenager who had done it five times in 2018. Then I heard about the record by Charlie Anderson. In 2006, he completed Ben Nevis 6 times, up and down.
“I contacted him and he was kind enough to give me advice and support for my own record attempt.”
Charlie Anderson, of Fort William, held the Ben Nevis 24 hour record for 15 years.
In preparation for the record I completed 3 UK Classic Mountain Rounds, all under 24h. The Charlie Ramsay Round, Paddy Buckley Round and the Bob Graham Round. By doing so I became the first Polish person to fully complete all 3 Classic Rounds.
I was aiming for 8 up and down on the Ben but the poor weather made the attempt even more difficult.
I set out on Saturday October 9 at 11am and finished at 9:43am the next day on Sunday 10.
I climbed in total 9450m and ran 108km. Absolutely amazing to go higher than Mt Everest summiting Ben Nevis 7 times in 21h 43min.
For my own safety and safety others I had to make sure that we will have the best weather possible. It’s very hard to judge that as Ben Nevis has a climate of his own which changes multiple times during the day and night.
I made sure I have at least 1 person for each up and down for safety. I made a rota and managed to get people involved, happy enough to come out at crazy o’clock at night to keep me company! We faced 12h of darkness which made everything a bit slower. The bottom base camp was ready to accomodate supporters and keep them sheltered and fuelled. For extra support I made sure I have someone at the top at all times. For safety they were advised to head down if the weather turns and it gets unbearable.
I carried my food every up and down as I wanted to control what I eat and know what I have without guessing and asking, just reaching for it and getting it down. Supporters carried all the extra layers and safety gear that we had with us at all times.
The day started with a drizzle and few dry spells, visibility at the top was pretty poor for the first climb without any significant wind. It wasn’t great to get wet from the start but I had to go with it. As the climbs and descents continued the day improved! I was treated to a beautiful evening on Ben Nevis. I managed to dry out which was just perfect! The night started dry and continued like this till the end. At night visibility from 1000m up got very bad. No more than 3m at times! The thick cloud and no wind just sat there over the Ben all night making it very hard to navigate. It was a very long night of at least 12h of darkness.
I was eating very well, focusing on fuelling on average every 30-40min to keep a steady flow of energy through my body. First 12h I focused on sweeter food but after the 12h mark my stomach started to demand something savoury. Porrige and pot noodles came to the rescue. I felt super energised after having some solid food down my stomach. Coffee was a great treat at the summit made by a friend from work, hill walker Brad Cain. He even surprised me cooking fresh mac and cheese with quality parmigiano reggiano cheese at the summit of Ben Nevis! How posh is this! His quality coffee from Knoydartfreshly brewed on the stove at the top was worth having every time! Definitely a good motivation to keep climbing back up knowing there is food and hot drink waiting for me! Before the last climb one of my work collegues surprised me with a Costa coffee at the bottom base camp! I think I was requesting a Costa at some point! And it got delivered! Thank you so much! Climbing to the top for the last time with Helen Rennard I’ve spotted she has a ham and cheese croissant. I politely asked if I could have it. It tasted absolutely amazing. That is what I needed there and then.
Below is a list of food I had with me and mostly consumed with few extras.
Mountain Fuel Sports Nutrition Sport Jellies, Ultra Chia Gels, Sports Jelly +
Helen’s cheese and ham croissant
Baby food (chicken casseroles, banana, apple fruit pouches)
Mac & Cheese on the summit made by Brad Cain in his pop up cafe.
Loads of fresh coffee on the summit made by Brad Cain
PREP 8 FOOD bags for 8 UP/DOWNS with gear
Emergency Dextrose glucose tablets at all times with me.
1 2x MF gel, double decker, banana pouch, 600ml water,
2 2x MF gel, mars bar, banana pouch, 800ml water,
3 lucozade, chicken casserole pouch, rice pudding, double decker, pasta, 800ml water, coffee at the top
4 lucozade, fruit pouch, kabanos, pot noodle at the bottom, banana pouch, pasta, mars bar, 1x MF gel, 800ml water
5 coke, mars bar, fruit pouch, pasta, kabanos, potatoes, 1x MF gel, 800ml water, coffee at the top
6 lucozade, rice pudding, pasta, double decker, 1x MF gel, 800ml water
7 pot noodle, coffee at the bottom, vegetable pouch, fruit pouch, brownies, pasta, mars bar,
8 coke, double decker, lucozade, double decker, mars bar
When it comes to my kit! I was very happy with the feeline SL shoes which kept my feet protected from the sharp rocks, the grip was solid even on wet rocks. The toe protector saved my feet few times from giving them a good bash.
I had a pair of long leggings which was enough to keep me warm. Technical t-shirt and a long sleeve layer under the jacket with a head buff.
I was feeling really warm and I don’t remember feeling cold which is really good. I haven’t changed anything through the whole attempt as I had plenty spares just in case.
Dynafit Feeline SL, Alpine
Dynafit Waterproof Jacket
Dynafit Windproof Jacket
Dynafit socks, Waterproof Otter socks + Dexshell
Homemade Buff – White/Red
Gloves – Dynafit + waterproof from Helen
Sports MMA Polish long sleeve underlay – Husaria
Lochaber Athletic Club Vest
Inov8 Race Elite 3 waist pouch
Headtorch Petzl Tikka RXP + 2x spare battery
Garmin Etrex 30x navigation GPS + batteries Garmin Fenix 3
Garmin Forerunner 235
Powerbank 50000mAh + watch charging cables (thankfully I didn’t use them, too heavy)
With me at all times: 2x paracetamol, 1x ibuprofen, water, food, hand warmers, GPS navigation, watch + backup watch, headtorch for night + spares, flasks, GPS tracker
On the ground at the base camp my wife Ashley doing an amazing job organising supporters and making sure I have everything I need before every climb. She didn’t sleep that night at all as well.
1st rep 11:00- 01.30 – Ali Kennedy – It was great to start running with my first club coach from LAC, that gave me a massive boost and reminded me about the long way I came to be at this point.
2nd rep 01:30 – 04:00 – Lee Anderson – friend from Mallaig, youth worker
3rd rep 04:00 – 06:50 – Norbert Skrzeczkowski – friend from work (MOWI), keen hill runner
4th rep 06:50 – 09:50 – Liam Hutson – LAC runner from Fort William, great craic
5th rep 09:50 – 00:40 – Keri Wallace, Liam Hutchson (half way) – Girls on Hills founder and a great inspiration.
6th rep 00:40 – 03:40 – Rob Hamilton – Friend from Mallaig
7th rep 03:40 – 07:10 – Helen Rennard – Friend from LAC and a great climber
8th rep 7:10 – 10:40 – Markus Mertens – Best friend since many years, from my first days I came to Scotland.
Donna MacDonald half way support all night. She took good care of me and my supporters.
Charlie Anderson – Half way to top support all night, setting up glow sticks.
On the Summit – Brad Cain with his friend Glen stayed there all night at the ‘Pop Up Ben Nevis Cafe’ supplying us with coffee and mac n’cheese
Roman Ballaun – half way, half day – friend from work (MOWI)
Piotr and Radek (friends from work – MOWI) hiked to the top around midday and down supplying me with what I need. The left water at the summit with Brad and few extra bits of food.
I wanted to do something to help my friend Davy Duncan who suffered complications after covid while working offshore and running is what I do, so the Ben Nevis 24 hour challenge has been my way of helping him.
“When things got hard on the Ben, I thought that if Davy can keep going, then so can I.”
On the 11th of September this year I am going to be doing the Ben Nevis 24h challenge. The challenge
was created by Charlie Anderson from Fort William in 2006. He set the impressive record of 6 repetitions
of the mountain, nearly reaching the height of mount Everest!
Starting at the Ben Nevis Inn in Glen Nevis I will be going up and down Ben Nevis throughout the day
and night with the aim to break the 15 year old record. A successful repetition will take me up to the
summit and down to the Inn, 10miles and 4413ft each time.
Lets do it for Davy Duncan.
At the start of this year Davy, from Fort William, got Covid while working offshore. To save his life he was
put into a coma and looked after in the hospital in Mexico. Davys partner Helen Smith, joint owner of
LEAP and previous owner of Not Just Desserts, went over to Mexico to be with him. After some long
weeks and lots of complications Davy was taken out of the coma to start his journey back to good health.
Its not an easy task but with Davys determination and inner strength and from Helens unwavering
support and love, he has made great progress and is now in Raigmore hospital in Inverness doing his
Davy and Helen have been pillars of support for many in the local community and have supported many
runners in their past challenges, including my runs and have fundraised for various charities themselves.
One thing that has never left Davy is his care for others and his belief in their success which I have found
The hope is for Davy to be home by the end of the year but it is likely the house will need some
adaptations to get ready for Davys return, I would love to raise some money to gift to the Duncans to
make this journey smoother. Nobody is 100% sure what will be needed for Davy just yet but when he is
ready he should be able to leave hospital and come home to his family, friends and community to aid his
The challenge I am setting myself will be tough mentally and physically but knowing we are doing this for
such a worthy family will push me on.
Any donation will be gratefully received.
Having this record is a dream come true and going through a life change to get to this stage in life makes it very special to me. Every time I look at the top of Ben Nevis I have a smile coming to my face.
Davy is recovering, working really hard to get back to normality. The raised funds are a big help to his rehabilitation which makes me happy.
He will be go to the top of Ben Nevis one day again.
Thank you everyone that supported me in this extreme adventure.
There was a number of articles written about the challenge. Here is the list.
The Scottish Sun by Mike Merritt
Ian Fergusson from Lochaber Times taking photos and writing articles
Fiona Russel from Fiona Outdoors writing a great article on her blog and Scots Magazine March issue.