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British former pro Emma Pooley has set a new women’s Everesting world record, taking roughly 15 minutes off the previous mark set last month.
On Wednesday, the 37-year-old completed 10 laps of the punishingly steep Haggenegg climb (6.8 km at 13%) near the town of Schwyz in central Switzerland, accumulating the necessary 8,848 metres (29,029 feet) of climbing in 8 hours 53 minutes and 36 seconds. Her ride measured just 129.8 km in total distance.
Pooley is the first female rider to complete an Everesting in under nine hours. Her ride eclipses the previous record of 9:08:31 set by fellow Englishwoman Hannah Rhodes on June 4 on Kirkstone Pass in England’s Lake District.
The segment Pooley used for her record-breaking ride was pre-verified by Hells 500 — the founders of Everesting — using topographic maps from the Swiss Federal Office of Topography and included an extra section at both the top and bottom of the regular ascent in order to maximise Pooley’s ascent per lap.
In the Strava activity for her ride, Pooley wrote that she had “insufficient gearing” for the punishing gradient. “I blew up on the 8th ascent and no amount of gels and water stops would revitalise my legs,” she wrote. “[I was] close to puking near the top of the last 3 laps.
“The whole point was to challenge myself: find my limits, and push them. Well ok, it felt more like my limits found me and punched me into a ditch but still: it was tough, I genuinely enjoyed it, and there was plenty of time to think.”
Pooley celebrated her impressive ride with her first visit to McDonalds in 20 years.
Pooley is widely regarded as one of the best climbers and time-trialists of her generation. She took silver in the time trial at the 2008 Beijing Olympics before becoming world time trial champion in 2010. In a career that included more than 40 victories she also won three British time trial titles, one national road title, three stages of the Giro Rosa in 2014, two editions of Trofeo Alfredo Binda and GP de Plouay, and Fleche Wallonne.
After finishing second in the road race and time trial at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games, Pooley retired from pro racing to focus on triathlon, duathlon and long-distance running. She returned to the pro peloton in 2016 and early 2017 before again stepping away from road racing. More recently Pooley spent roughly a year as a presenter for the Global Cycling Network.
The current record for the overall fastest Everesting belongs to Australian WorldTour rider Lachlan Morton (EF Pro Cycling) with a time of 7:29:57.