Where There’s a Hill – Sabrina Verjee

Sabrina Verjee is an ultrarunning phenomenon. In June 2021, on her fourth attempt, she became the first person to climb the Lake District’s 214 Wainwright hills in under six days, running 325 miles with a colossal 36,000 metres of ascent, more than four times the height of Everest.

Where There’s a Hill tells the story of an outsider who was never picked for a school sports team yet went on to become an accomplished modern pentathlete and adventure racer. After switching her focus to ultrarunning in her thirties, Sabrina moved to the Lake District, where she could hone her mountain-running skills in the local fells. High-profile success in endurance events followed, as she completed the Dragon’s Back Race three times and was the outright winner of the 2019 Summer Spine Race, beating her nearest competitor by more than eight hours.

However, it was the Wainwrights Round which really captured Sabrina’s imagination. Having learnt about the challenge from fell-running legend Steve Birkinshaw, Sabrina began to plan an attempt of her own. Despite multiple obstacles – including lockdown regulations, bad weather, injury and controversy – Sabrina’s grit and determination shone through. Where There’s a Hill is a frank and inspirational account of how one woman ran her way into the record books.

Where There’s A Hill is one of two books I’ve read recently about women who have gone on to do some incredible feats of running, the other being Jenny Tough’s excellent SOLO. Both very different books, and both well worth your time!

In Where There’s A Hill, we follow Sabrina from her childhood, treated as an outsider and picked last for games, through to her move into top level adventure racing across the globe, initially as the token women on a male team but very much determined (and better prepared than many male athletes) to compete on her own terms.

Sabrina moved to the Lake District and her focus changed to ultrarunning. Success at the Dragon’s Back Race in Wales and the Montane Summer Spine Race followed, and her attention turned to a challenge closer to home.

The Wainwrights Round consists of summiting the 214 peaks mentioned by Alfred Wainwright in his Guide to the Lakeland Fells. And Sabrina planned to run this 325 mile challenge in under six days.

It’s a fascinating story of her multiple attempts to complete the challenge, with the added complications of lockdown, weather (surely it’s always sunny in the Lake District?) and the inevitable injuries that she picked up along the way. It’s a story of determination, of a sole focus to complete a task that very few people could ever do, alongside support from a great bunch of friends and fellow fell runners, some of whom had done it before, or others who went on to try the Wainwrights Round themselves.

I can’t even begin to imagine running such distances, having struggled recently to do a 13 mile walk in the Lakes. Huge respect to all the people who chose to run up and down those mountains!

Really enjoyed this book, and highly recommend it.

Where There’s A Hill by Sabrina Verge is published by Vertebrate Books and is out now. Many thanks to the publisher for the ebook copy to review.

Author: dave

Book reviewer, occasional writer, photographer, coffee-lover, cyclist, spoon carver and stationery geek.

One thought on “Where There’s a Hill – Sabrina Verjee”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: