A record-breaking ultra runner has set a new record on the Caribbean island of Saint Lucia.
Sabrina Verjee ran a new fastest female time on three highest peaks, Petit Piton (2438ft ), Gros Piton (2618ft) and Mount Gimie (3117ft).
The British runner completed the climbs in a total of 5 hrs, 16 mins on March 3, 2022.
The run is a new Fastest Known Time (FKT) for the route and just 4 minutes off the fastest time set by a Saint Lucian male runner.
Caribbean mountain running challenge
Sabrina was invited to take on the challenge by Saint Lucia Tourism Authority and Cap Maison Hotel. The aim was to challenge a record of 7 hrs set by Julian Toussiant and Jason Sayers. But Julian, a successful long-distance runner and massage therapist at Cap Maison Hotel, went back in December 2021 and took the record time down to 5:12.
Sabrina said: “I thought Julian’s time was an impossible target. I just went out to do my best to try to beat the record and I was chuffed to bits to only be four minutes off.”
The challenge is to reach the summit of all three mountains. The time is recorded for the climbs.
When Julian did the record, he stopped the watch at the top of each climb and restarted it after he had eaten, drunk water and recovered.
Sabrina decided to do it a bit differently. She said: “I could have done the same as Julian, but that didn’t feel quite right to me.
“I did, however, have to stop the watch on top of Petit Piton for less than three minutes to allow the media team to catch up so that they were off the ropes for me to descend and, again, on Gros Piton for a minute to allow a couple of tourists to get out of the way. There wasn’t a soul on Mount Gimie, so I didn’t have to stop there at all.
“The challenge involves untimed drives between the mountains. Each took about 45 minutes to an hour and it would be hard to make these part of the overall timed challenge due to the poor conditions of the roads and lack of passing places.”
Sabrina’s new mountain challenge
Sabrina Verjee has a list of podium places to her name and also set the overall record for the 325-mile circuit of the English Lake District peaks called the Wainwrights, in 5 days, 23 hours and 49 minutes.
St Lucia 3 peaks challenge: the stats
Elevation climbed: 648m
Sabrina said: “The statistics of the first mountain give you an idea of how steep this one is. I have never gained so much height in such a short distance. At least half of it would be considered a scramble/rock climb but there are fixed ropes that you can use to muscle your way up, but nothing to clip yourself into for safety.
“This is an amazing climb and achievable for outdoor enthusiasts with a head for heights, but I cannot emphasise enough the need to go carefully. It was the most rewarding climb with amazing panoramic views from the dramatic pinnacle.”
Elevation climbed: 764m
Sabrina said: “This was the most runnable of the three peaks and I gained the most time on this one as I didn’t have to worry about falling over."
Elevation climbed: 849m
Sabrina said: “This was my favourite mountain because it was deep in the rainforest, muddy and rooty. It really feels like an adventure and you get to hear all those amazing jungle sounds. Naturally, it’s quite wet there, too. I couldn’t descend this too quickly either as the wet tree roots were very slippery.”
Cap Maison Hotel and Saint Lucia Tourism hope that Sabrina’s achievement – and the island’s incredible scenery – will inspire others to visit for active and adventure holidays.
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Fiona Russell is a widely published adventure journalist and blogger, better known as Fiona Outdoors. She is based in Scotland and is an all-round outdoors enthusiast with favorite activities including trail running, mountain walking, mountain biking, road cycling, triathlon and skiing (both downhill and backcountry). Aside from her own adventures, Fiona's biggest aim is to inspire others to enjoy getting outside and exploring, especially through her writing. She is also rarely seen without a running skort! Find out more at Fiona Outdoors.