I don’t remember when I heard for the first time about the Bob Graham Round, probably it was in 2007 or 2007 when racing in Zegama or Canazei with Rob Jebb or Ricky Lightfoot. Some years after I started to look into the history of running in the mountains and fell running was on the very beginning. And in the history of the fell running in the Lake District Bob Graham Round had a important significance.
Is in the early 1864 when Revd J M Elliott of Cambridge run the first recorded long distance Round ascending Scafell Pike, Scafell, Great End, Great Gable, Kirk Fell, Pillar and Steeple, Red Pike and Stirrup Crag in 8h30 from Wasdale. In 1870, Thomas Watson from Darlington link all the 3000 footers. Then the challange was on and many attempted to climb as many hills in the Lake District as possible in 24h. It was 1932 when Bob Graham reach the amount of 42 peaks (to celebrate his 42 years old) in 24 hours. In 1982 Billy Bland, from Borrowdale run the Bob Graham round as he was used to run fell races, pacing very fast from the begining and marking an incredible time of 13h53.
Even if the BGR was on my mind for some years it was in the last 2 years when I was thinking to try it. Last year in september I was to tired from a long climbing and running season and decided to not come to the Lake district. This year I had some injuries and I was a bit worried about my leg, so I did some racing (MonteRossa SkyMarathon with Emelie) and Mont Blanc Marathon. Feelings were good and no pain in the leg so on tuesday morning I decided to give a try. I found a ticket to Manchester and contact Martin Stone to help me to find pacers, as the tradition writes that the route should be completed with witnesses in every one of the 42 summits and with pacers for safety and help, so Martin looked for 8 pacers with me, same as Billy had 36 years ago.
Martin was a young fell runner in 1982 when Billy did his run and he was there crewing for him, giving water and food. It was a honnor to have Martin helping. When I came in Keswick I did some reco of the last 3 sections and go to give a visit to Billy and Ann. The first day Billy was for a long cycling tour, and Ann was very welcoming. The day after we get there after the daily training Billy is still doing in his bike and he give me a lot of great advices and great stories about his runs.
Rob Jebb, who is one of the best fell runners in England, and in 2005 he was Skyrunning World Champion when I just started running. Jebby was planning to do an attempt on Saturday but with the hot conditions he decided to wait a bit. In Thursday I called Rob and he accepted to help me on the run, him and the pacers who was going to help him were coming to help me with their knowledge of the terrain and the round, I coudn’t be more grateful.
Sunday moring I wake up at 5AM and eat some bisquits. Some minutes before 6AM I walk into the Keswick Moot Hall and meet Martin and Shane Ohly, who with Jordi Lorenzo will crew me. I meet also Carl Bell who was going to be my pacer for the first leg, and is one of the strongest, if not the strongest, english fell runner right now.
Martin Stone, Shane Ohly, Jordi Lorenzo and Neil Talbott were doing the assistance and giving me foot and water at the road crossings and mountains.
At 6AM I start running with Carl Bell from Keswick.
Pacer: Carl Bell
This terrain is fast, a good trail drives us to Skiddaw summit, then some runnable downhill and uphills to Gt. Calva and Blendathra before a beaufiful steep ridge downhill to the road crossing at Threlkeld. Feeling great.
|Gt Calva||Sun 07:14:50|
Pacers: Rhys Findlay-Robinson and Chris Arthur
A steep uphill in the grass, followed by a large ridge with plenty of summits, beautiful narrow ridges descending on the sides. From Seat Sanda a very steep downhill to the road. We run in a confortable fast pace.
|Clough Hd||Sun 08:36:59|
|Great Dodd||Sun 08:55:28|
|White Side||Sun 09:23:54|
|Lower Man||Sun 09:32:49|
|Seat Sandal||Sun 10:27:11|
Pacers: Rob Jebb, Josh Jardine and Martin Mikkelsen-Barron
It starts again with a steep grassy uphill, many parts off trail. Then it follows some rocky ridges and some srambling parts, terrain is slower than before but feeling good we can go fast on the rocky sections, a scramble up takes us to Scafell and from there a steep downhill first on rocks, then a gully and then steep grass to Wasdale.
|Steel Fell||Sun 10:55:41|
|Calf Crag||Sun 11:08:47|
|High Raise||Sun 11:32:14|
|Harrison o Stickle||Sun 11:51:30|
|Pike o Stickle||Sun 11:59:44|
|Bow Fell||Sun 12:45:54|
|Esk Pike||Sun 12:57:11|
|Great End||Sun 13:10:51|
|Ill Crag||Sun 13:19:20|
|Broad Crag||Sun 13:24:32|
|Scafell Pike||Sun 13:31:32|
Pacers: Andrew Schofield, Paul Aitken and Steve Birkinshaw
It was starting to be really hot so I did a longer stop and eat and drink well. Then we started climbing a very steep grassy terrain to Yewbarrow. From there it is a incredibly beautiful circus that we follow by its ridge, with some steep rocky uphills before going down to Honister. I started to feel really tired at the half of this leg, ironicaly in the downhill to Honister it was also where Billy fell really tired. It was hot, I was a bit dizzy and needed to really focus on pushing and keep going.
|Red Pike||Sun 15:03:23|
|Kirk Fell||Sun 16:04:34|
|Great Gable||Sun 16:26:47|
|Green Gable||Sun 16:34:13|
|Grey Knott||Sun 16:47:55|
Pacers: Paul Cornforth, Carl Bell and some of the young guys from Keswick club joined me.
This section starts with a moderate uphill, followed by a nice large ridge with wonderfull views of the Lakes and the ocean, not that I was able to really look-it and enjoy it fully since I was tired and even if we coud run in a ok pace, I needed to really push and focus. After a steep dounhill we hit the route, and 5 miles of flatish asphalt drive us back to Keswick at 6:52PM
Thanks Billy, I had better conditions than you, the best pacers and your inspiration to give everything! And even like that it was so hard!
Thanks to Carl, Chris, Rhys, Martin, Josh, Jebby, Steve, Paul, Andrew, Neil, Paul and all the guys who has been helping out, without you guys it wouldn’t been possible !
Big big thanks to Martin for making it real and such an organization last minute, thanks Shane, Thanks Jordi and thanks all the people cheering on the route.
This Bob Graham Round was an amazing experience!