Nothing could stop this British woman, and her bad knee, from hiking 318 miles in 6 days

In a year where Major League Baseball has been delayed, the 2020 Olympics have been postponed, and the NBA season has been moved to something called a "bubble," a new sport has emerged as the ultimate athletic challenge in our COVID-19 world, at least for one British woman.

"Peak bagging" is an activity where hikers, mountaineers, and sometimes runners attempt to reach the summit of every mountaintop in a published list of peaks, and Sabrina Verjee, a British ultra runner, has just become the first woman to complete the 318 mile route through the 214 English peaks known as the "Wainwrights." Oh, and she did it with a bum knee.

The 39-year-old veterinary surgeon ascended over 35,000 meters on her run, completing the trek in just 6 days, 17 hours and 51 minutes, just eleven hours short of the record, which was broken last year. She completed the race on July 12th, after beginning it on the 6th, and plans to do it again in the near future. When she finished there were two previous Wainwright record holders, Joss Naylor and Steve Birkinshaw, waiting to congratulate her at the finish line.



"I'm so happy to have completed my round and more than a little relieved. My right knee hasn't been happy for a couple of days, so the final sections were very tough, especially as the fatigue really started to kick in," Verjee said in an interview.



Sabrina Verjee isn't new to pushing the limits of human endurance, just last year she took fifth place in the Montane Spine Race, a 270-mile ultramarathon through the blistering winter cold across the Pennine Way, an English national trail that runs through Scotland. She was also the first woman to complete the race. Before that, she came in second in the 2017 Berghaus Dragon's Back Race, a Welsh mountain race that boasts ascents adding up to twice the height of Mount Everest. Despite her resume of being, perhaps, the greatest walker alive, Verjee claimed in a Facebook post that she doesn't "claim any record for this achievement," on account of her relying on her support due to a knee injury. She does, however, look forward to completing the challenge again in the future. More than 200 people have responded to the post, praising Verjee for her endurance and humility, and congratulating her for completing the challenge.

Despite being one of the most prominent athletes in her field, Verjee is also a veterinary surgeon based in Ambleside. She had been waiting for the go-ahead from Prime Minister Boris Johnson for British citizens in the pandemic to be allowed to participate in "unlimited exercise." As soon as she got it, she completed the hike, despite having minimal support due to her insistence on taking COVID-19 precautions.

Verjee exhibits perseverance in an unprecedented time of anxiety, uncertainty, and immobility for the world as it faces the current pandemic. By continuing to train throughout quarantine, adjusting her support system to lower risk for potential COVID-19 transferrances and continuing to push through a knee injury that threatened to spoil the whole hike, Verjee proves that global pandemics aren't an excuse for people to stop doing amazing things, as long as they're gone safely, that is.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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When "bobcat" trended on Twitter this week, no one anticipated the unreal series of events they were about to witness. The bizarre bobcat encounter was captured on a security cam video and...well...you just have to see it. (Read the following description if you want to be prepared, or skip down to the video if you want to be surprised. I promise, it's a wild ride either way.)

In a North Carolina neighborhood that looks like a present-day Pleasantville, a man carries a cup of coffee and a plate of brownies out to his car. "Good mornin!" he calls cheerfully to a neighbor jogging by. As he sets his coffee cup on the hood of the car, he says, "I need to wash my car." Well, shucks. His wife enters the camera frame on the other side of the car.

So far, it's just about the most classic modern Americana scene imaginable. And then...

A horrifying "rrrrawwwww!" Blood-curdling screaming. Running. Panic. The man abandons the brownies, races to his wife's side of the car, then emerges with an animal in his hands. He holds the creature up like Rafiki holding up Simba, then yells in its face, "Oh my god! It's a bobcat! Oh my god!"

Then he hucks the bobcat across the yard with all his might.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less