New record for seven times up Ben Nevis in 24 hours

Pawel Cymbalista giving the thumbs up during his Ben Nevis challenge
It is the second time Cymbalista has set a record time for the challenge [Pawel Cymbalista]

An endurance runner has set a new record for going up and down Ben Nevis seven times in 24 hours.

Mallaig fish farm worker Pawel Cymbalista took 20 hours and 40 minutes to complete the challenge on Britain's tallest mountain on 12-13 June.

He first broke the record on the 1,345m (4,413ft) peak in 2021 after managing it in 21 hours and 49 minutes.

Inverness-based Francisco Javier Cabrera Valdes completed the feat 40 minutes quicker in 2023, but Mr Cymbalista has taken the record again.

His run raised funds for the Mallaig Shop and Community Hub charity, and came just 10 years after he gave up a 20-a-day cigarette habit.

Pawel Cymbalista running on snow on Ben Nevis
Pawel Cymbalista encountered snow and a wind chill of -7C during his challenge [Pawel Cymbalista]

Mr Cymbalista had to contend with a wind chill of -7C and snow around the summit of Ben Nevis, and temperatures of 10C and higher lower down.

He risked overheating as he moved between the different conditions.

"I ran the easier parts and power-hiked the steep parts - basically putting my hands on my knees and pushing," he said.

"You just grit your teeth and push all the way up."

He kept himself going with drinks of water and eating Jelly Babies.

Mr Cymbalista was back to work a few days after completing the challenge.

He said: "I was struggling with my legs - and my poor knees.

"But there are no excuses. It is all self-inflicted, as my wife says."

He now plans to set a new time for summiting Scafell Pike in England and Yr Wyddfa in Wales in 24 hours.

Pawel Cymbalista running down Ben Nevis
Pawel Cymbalista on one of his runs back down Ben Nevis [Pawel Cymbalista]

In August, he hopes to take part in the 215-mile (346km) Race Across Scotland.

Last year, Mr Cymbalista set the fastest known time for completing a long-distance walking route in the Highlands.

He took just over three days to cover the 240-mile (386km) Cape Wrath Trail from Fort William to Cape Wrath.

He was also the first person to finish the route unsupported, carrying all the food and clothing he needed to sustain him along the way.

Mr Cymbalista slept for a total of 95 minutes on his run.

The dad-of-two works for a fish farm company and has been raising funds for Mallaig Shop and Community Hub, an initiative to redevelop a former Spar shop.

It already has a Post Office and work is ongoing to create spaces for community use.

Mr Cymbalista's wife Ashley is project manager.

"I run up mountains to raise money for the hub," he said.

Ten years ago he said he was stuck in an unhealthy lifestyle.

"I was overweight, drinking too much and I smoked 20 cigarettes a day for seven years. I tried to change my habit many times, but it was hard," he said.

Mr Cymbalista, who is originally from Poland, had first started smoking when he was 18 and on a visit to Fort William.

"Maybe it was because of the midgies," he joked.

He later returned to Scotland to find work and gave up cigarettes a month after after moving to Fort William.

"I have not touched a cigarette since December 2013," he said.

Working outdoors in a forestry job and then joining Lochaber Athletics Club helped turn his life around.

Mr Cymbalista said: "You can't smoke cigarettes if you want to run."

He added: "I had more energy, felt better and food tastes started to taste nice."

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