Pawel powers on to beat 15 year-old Ben record

Want to read more?

We value our content and access to our full site is only available with a  subscription. Your subscription entitles you to 7-day-a-week access to our website, plus a full digital copy of that week’s paper to read on your pc/mac or mobile device.  In addition, your subscription includes access to digital archive copies from 2006 onwards.

Just want to read one issue? No problem you can subscribe for just one week (or longer if you wish).

Already a subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Mallaig endurance athlete Pawel Cymbalista reached the dizzying heights on Ben Nevis seven times last weekend, breaking a 15-year-old record.

A member of Lochaber Athletics Club, the Polish runner was attempting to run up and down Britain’s highest mountain as many times as possible in 24 hours to raise funds to help his friend Davy Duncan.

At the time of writing, Pawel had raised £3,810 to help with making Davy’s home in Fort William more accessible to aid his recovery from Covid-19.

After managing seven ups and downs, one more than the previous record set by Fort William’s Charlie Anderson in 2006, of the mountain Pawel said that running through the night in bad weather just after midnight was the worst, but he thought of Davy and what he was going through to keep him going.

‘It was definitely a challenge and the weather in the morning had me questioning if it was a good idea but with the seasons changing this was probably the last chance I could try before things become too extreme,’ added Pawel who was forced to postponed his challenge due to bad weather last month.

‘I had an amazing team supporting me throughout. Each and everyone had a role to play in keeping me going physically and mentally.’

Happy to be back, Pawel with his family, wife, Ashley and daughters, Freya (3) and Maiya (10). Photograph: Iain Ferguson,

Pawel’s wife Ashley was at base camp taking care of logistics, while friends Brad and Glen were camped at the summit for the 24 hours.

‘Having friends and family dotted about kept my morale high and videos of Davy kept my head going when things were getting tough.

‘The 12 hours of darkness and the low visibility was the most challenging part of this event. There was fog all night with one to two metre visibility.’

A bright and smiling Pawel sets off on his first ascent of Ben Nevis and almost 24 hours later finished his seventh exactly the same way. Photograph: Iain Ferguson,

Pawel was accompanied on parts of his run by several Polish friends as well as previous record holder Charlie who said: ‘This was a great achievement by Pawel and I am glad he beat my record – 15 years is long enough.

‘We met up and discussed what I did when he was planning it and the difficulties I had to give some idea of what to expect.

‘I was also delighted to take part and spent a lot of the night on the hill laying out lights to indicate where the path was as visibility was often as little as two metres.

‘I definitely won’t be challenging Pawels record!’

Pawel added: ‘I really appreciated Charlie being there and his advice beforehand was invaluable. Having him there was inspiring. It was also great having my friends from the Polish community there too. Just being able to talk in Polish was a big help.

‘I would like to thank the Ben Nevis Inn for their amazing support as well.’

Anyone wishing to donate should visit Pawel’s Go Fund Me page at Pawel will also be giving a donation to Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team.