* Since the publication of this story Paul Gray has also confirmed with the Guiness Book of Records that he has broken the vertical mile record in a fantastic time of 2hrs 16mins 5.13secs. Paul also managed to raise a fantastic £4197.77 for Orkney’s Blide Trust’s depression support charity.
Post World Record Attempt Success – Completing the “Fastest mile on a climbing wall” #verticalmile in 2:49:06 (official time to be verified by Guinness)
It all started with a great sleep. A restful night allowed Brandon to start the day bright and early, 6am, and prepare for the day ahead. A normal day would have him running, cycling or even Bionic Running to work, but today was different, today was special. Today was the day that Brandon would take the car and not feel guilty about doing so. While at a school in Herefordshire, Brandon ensured that he had all the nutrients and was properly hydrated for the day ahead. After an early finish, a quick trip back home and a couple of pick-ups-Tony Brooks and Brandon’s father Ian Hall-it was off to Summit Centre for the big day. The first hurdle was getting there, being caught in traffic was not ideal for anyone’s nerves.
Finally arriving around 2:30pm, the first protocol was to get a cup of coffee, but then it was down to work. ‘Team Fastest Mile’ ensured that everything was in place by 5:00pm to allow ease of mind and allowed Brandon to prepare for his World Record attempt. Brandon tried multiple set ups in order to see what would prove to be the best and quickest combination of equipment on the day. Once all the equipment and procedures had been gone through, it was a matter of preparing physically and mentally for the next 3 hours. A quick warm-up to include stretching and bouldering was perfect for this.
Before Brandon was able to set off on the World Record he first had to meet the individuals that would be monitoring his performance and more importantly his times. Two independent witnesses and two independent time keepers were appointed to ensure that all criteria were met for the record attempt to be official. Finally, Brandon’s father was the official ‘book logger’ where he was responsible for logging the times Brandon started and finished the event, any breaks that were taken and their duration.
Brandon had a structure prior to the event – to ascend and descend 20 times and have an interim of 2 minutes in between each and repeat. This allowed Brandon and his belayer Jan Williams, (his father-in-law) to take a small break to rehydrate and refuel with Mountain Fuel, which would ensure that proper preparation was taken for the next 20 ascents and descents. Planning on taken breaks at 20, 40, 56 (the half way point), 76, and 96 completing the event after 112.
6pm saw the time to put all his preparation into practice. He was off, the adrenaline pumping and the excitement building up. Relief, excitement, nervousness-these emotions were fuelling Brandon to succeed. The first 20 repetitions of ascending and descending flew by. The first 20 were completed in 20 minutes – taking scheduled breaks and hydrating with Mountain Fuel. Completing the first section this quickly was not a sustainable speed but Brandon was not experiencing any aches or pains. So far, so good. Brandon stood in a confident stance appearing very relaxed and composed from the side lines, “I was very confident that I was going to do this, I was going to achieve a World Record with a huge smile on my face.”
The next 20 ascends took Brandon a little longer, 25 minutes went by before he could take a scheduled break. However, this pace was a more sustainable and it appeared that he had found a rhythm.
“The third break was a relief after 56 (half way) ascends and despite acquiring a rhythm I started to feel the pressure, especially on my legs and thighs.”
Ascends 57-76, despite appearing to have some aches, was a successful run and was seen as “effortless climbing”. However, ascent 76, Brandon noticed some wear and tear on his hands, with a blister appearing on one of his fingers – there was a moment of panic. But Brandon did not let this phase him.
Although enthusiastic and determined, the climb was taking effect on Brandon’s body. Fatigue was setting in, more aches and pains were becoming more apparent as well as having a psychological effect. Brandon said afterwards “The wall is psychologically demanding and exhausting. Every time you reach the top it is a great feeling. But while you descend you know you’re going to have to start all over again in a matter of seconds – and that’s the killer”.
From the 96th ascent Brandon had too much – it was time for a break. What seemed to Brandon as another 2 minute break was recorded as a 5 minute. Obstacle after obstacle being faced, Brandon was near his limit but knew only another 16 ascents and then it’d be done. He dug deep and started his 97th ascent. Brandon commented, “I didn’t want to fail everyone who had supported me throughout my training and the supporters who had turned up to see a Guinness World Record being set. I knew I was close and that it was just a little bit closer.”
Brandon soldiered on and knew that he was fighting all the aches, pains and blisters. The 100th ascent was a turning point for Brandon, slowly being broken after each descent was taking its toll. Brandon had to resort to taking a 10 second breather before each ascent, battling physical exhaustion. Thought this was easy compared to the psychological duels that he first had to conquer before each ascent.
“The final ascent was a relief, 112 done and dusted. The time was all I could care about, both time keepers had different times, one at 2:49:04 and the other at 2:49:06. I was overcome with relief, satisfaction, fulfilment and of course, tiredness.”
The event was a great success and achieving a Guinness World Record is something that you are able to brag about to your friends and family.