The Write up of my Bob Graham Round June 10/11th 2011 “It’s in the Bag Now!”
“For me it’s all about the Adventure and the last 6 months has been one long Adventure, I’ve enjoyed every minute!”
“I think it’s also about being in the outdoors and enjoying the freedom of movement, every step and run is a joy and privilege, I am thankful to have the physical state to enjoy such freedom, and to live in an area of such natural beauty and opportunity!”
Firstly a huge thank you to all my training partners over the last 6 months who’ve shared the long days out on the fells and kept me going, it seemed there was never a moment where any of you thought I wouldn’t make it, this in itself gave me the confidence to continue!”
Also a massive thank you to my wife Ariane and for her unwavering support and patience throughout my training, especially with caring for our 2 small children Carla 3 and George 2 on the days I was running about on the fells. She never seemed to doubt I could get round the BG!
Also to one Dallam member who frustratingly has been injured but played a massive part in my psychological preparation with weekly motivational phone calls and sound advice all the way through, I don’t want to single anyone out, but you know who you are , and it was a big help mate, cheers.
Finally an immeasurable debt to the club for their support throughout, and on the Day, in the words of my mate Lanny who did leg 4, “it was the most Mega day out in the Lakes I can ever remember”, the support was truly amazing and humbling and I am privileged to be part of such a club.
And in the words of Matt Beardshall who ran with us most of the way on his solo attempt and witnessed the cheers from the Dallam juniors as we descended to Honister “Are you sure you’re not a member of Take That!?” such was the cheering!
Having successfully completed the BG on June 10/11th 2011 with the support of Dallam running club and friends , now all that is left is to put some of the build up and experience into words, not an easy task, and one where the sentiment could easily be lost amongst long lists of fell top names and schedule times.
Having supported my Dad Stan on legs 1 and 5 back in 1987 on his successful BG round it has always been in the back of my mind to have a go.
As a child you look up to your dad as superhuman, and for me certainly my dad was superhuman, and I never thought it possible that I could emulate him and achieve the BG. That was until last year when several of my fellow Dallam team mates showed unbelievable focus and determination to achieve just that, and show that with the right application anything is possible, even for us ‘Pub Runners’ from Dallam!
Last year’s guys had paved the way and set in motion a set of events that would result in me achieving my dream of 24 years, a seed sown when I was just a child. If after all these years with the right preparation I could pull it off, I could then wear my Dads slippers around the house and sit in his chair with pride.
November saw the start of my training with a road Marathon in Inverness. Then followed several months of going out on the fells most weekends in all kinds of weather, wearing full winter gear and micro spikes and carrying heavy packs, training through to spring when finally we could shed and few pounds from the rucksack and get back in shorts. The days started off at 4-5 hours then slowly increased over time to 7-8 hours, finally resulting in 3 or 4 , 11 to 12 hour days, most of which were on or incorporating bits of the BG route.
Training with your mates has its advantages though, and I can honestly say I have enjoyed each and every day we have been out on the fells, good or bad weather it has been an Adventure from beginning to end, I never found it a chore (except the early starts!), it was a joy to be out in the fresh air on the fells training with your mates and gaining a more intimate knowledge of the Lakes fells. What a laugh! Some of the winter days with snow up to your waist were the best laughs we had!
So the Big Day arrived, I’d been working quite hard all week so hadn’t really had much time to think about it until Friday morning. I piled all the stuff and shopping for everyone into the Hallway to wait for Dave arriving at 3pm. 320pm no Dave, the Van had gone in for its MOT that morning, had it not passed?! Anxiety creeping in due to nervous energy, Robo decided to take me up the start with Tom, out of the way so we could relax a bit.
The forecast looked ok but the sky began to cloud in over Keswick with a few spots of rain, I crossed my fingers and hoped it wouldn’t rain too much.
Touching the Moot Hall door, I just wanted to set off, and then the countdown and we were off!
It had been great to see quite a few Dallam folk at the start and this gave me a boost.
I had a very experienced crew on leg 1 , composed of several BG members, but the pace felt too slow, surely climbing skiddaw this was too slow!? I began to get anxious we should speed up, then Stu listed all the BG members around me stating “if we feel you need to speed up, we’ll speed up, trust us and stop fretting like an old ......!”, that was the moment I realised I had to let the control go and just trust the team around me to set the pace and deliver me in 1 piece to the changeover.
My Dad and his mate Bryan (both BG members from the 80’s), were stood on top of Skiddaw to shout us on and hand over a couple of bottles, it was great to see them on the first summit!
As usual it was a little waterlogged over to Calva and then to Blencathra and as we started the ascent up Monks Common I started to feel sick, stomach cramps kicking in and my energy began to drop! This wasn’t a good feeling and had never happened in training! I was just going to have to keep plodding and hope it eased off! Hopefully I’d make the end of Leg 1!!
Threlkeld checkpoint, only the first one and I didn’t feel great! I struggled to keep much down, some rice pudding going in my shoe, and my coffee spilled on the floor. Mick giving me a pep talk and a quick shiatsu massage on my calf muscles making all the difference as he confidently stated “ don’t worry it’s in the bag now!”, we were well ahead of schedule and set off feeling refreshed towards clough head. We had a good team going up Clough Head and the banter distracted me from the climb, though I was conscious of Stu telling me to “get my head on, and stop talking as much, focus on what you’re doing!” , but the pace felt ok and I just relied on the team to set it!
Topping Clough head and the nausea was back, I couldn’t eat anything solid, and this was bad news! Then Andrew stepped in to pull things together, he was experienced with this sort of situation from his Ironman exploits, and knew exactly what to do, switch to gels every 30 mins with water. This we did for the rest of Leg 2, and it saw me through!
In addition we had a good crowd on 2 , most having trained with me and done leg 2 numerous times, so there was plenty of banter and I chatted away to those around me for most of the leg which helped distract me from the nausea.
Supporters at Sticks Pass handed a welcome mug of coffee to keep me awake.
Dropping to Grizedale tarn Rob and Rae kindly offered to go straight to Seat Sandal and stand on the line off with their head torches so we could aim for them and pick up a good line down to Dunmail, this worked a treat.
John, Andrew, myself and Mark heading up Fairfield while the others dropped off to Dunmail.
The descent to Dunmail was quite slippy and I had to tuck in behind Rob and just take it easy so as not to fall.
Straight back in the Van at Dunmail, Mick was straight on the shiatsu, a fresh pair of socks and a small cup of soup and we were ready to go on 3. Though the Nausea was still with me and my energy quite low.
After a brief word of ‘Hello’, Steve took charge straight away and set the pace up Steel Fell with Jess, Jarv and Baz just tucking in around me and talking nonstop to keep me awake, Baz as usual doing most of the talking, and Jess providing a positive a calming influence throughout.
Topping Steel Fell more or less on time then began the long trudge over towards the Langdale Pikes. Again it was very boggy and slow going and I seemed to keep going in up to my ankles and occasionally knees! I still could only take the odd Gel and the boggy terrain seemed to be sapping my energy more and I knew we were dropping time on each peak. All I could do was just dig in and hope we didn’t get too far behind schedule!
Daylight at High Raise and spirits seemed to lift considerably, apart from a little bit of hill fog which soon cleared, visibility was good. We started to make better progress and were back hitting the peak times, Steve reassuringly saying we were still on schedule and just needed to stay on track now.
I was still living on diluted orange juice and the odd gel, and was now fixed on getting to the welcome sight of Shinny and my mate John at the base of Bowfell for another swig of coffee.
And there they were what a welcome sight, a gulp of coffee and a bite of shinny’s fruit cake and we were off up Bowfell, shame I couldn’t eat more of the fruit cake but the nausea was still with me!!
Approaching the Scafells the nausea started to fade slightly , then Jarv pulled out a small fruit pot in syrup, I grabbed it and downed it in 1, immediately asking for more, to Jarvs dismay as he’d been saving them for himself, but I had to have them and they were just the ticket! Approaching the scafells I could feel my energy beginning to power back up, just like a characters energy indicator in a computer game, we were back in business!
After a terrifying interlude on Broad Stand coaxed through by Steve and my mate Bruce and his son George doing a sterling job on the ropes, we were in that amazing long run off to Wasdale, with the fantastic scree descent! I couldn’t wait to see the ground crew again and get a bit more to eat and some more shiatsu, the weather and views on the descent were amazing, I felt for the first time I might be in with a chance, Steve reminding me my legs looked ok and I would have at least 9 hours to do the last 2 legs, I still had that hour in hand if needed, we’d lost only about 30 mins on 3 so were now back on schedule.
Sitting in the van, having run all night I now felt ok and was fairly confident we could now finish if I just kept hitting the peak times, having suddenly realised there was a chance we would succeed I suddenly felt quite emotional and had a momentary lapse of emotion until Mick suggested he’d give me a kiss unless I got a grip! That was enough to get me straight out of the Van and up Yewbarrow in a hurry!
The Fresh crew on 4 with Dave leading did a great job, Marcus up way ahead and taking some great action shots! Penny, Karen and Lanny doing a great job running back and forth with drinks and items of clothing and generally chatting away keeping the atmosphere nice and jolly.
4 seemed to fly by, my spirits were higher and the finish was nearer, and we shaved the odd minute off the peak times here and there.
Shinny popping up again on Kirk Fell for support, then Rob,Rae and Sally appearing on Green Gable were a welcome sight as we headed toward the last pit stop at Honister.
Matt Beardshall now back running with us as we descended to Honister YHA to the cheers and rattles of the Dallam juniors and ground crew, I’m not sure Matt knew what to make of all the cheering!!
Dave led us down to Honister in good shape, just over 4 hours left to leg 3, plenty of time, spirits were high!
A bit more Shiatsu from Mick and another slug of soup and the team was off up Clough head, most of the Dallam juniors deciding to do the climb with us and keep cheering! My mate Steve at Honister saying “you looked liked the Pied Piper, with all those kids following you!”
I could finally relax and enjoy the whole of Leg 5, we just kept a steady pace and talked all the way, smiles all round, and the weather and views still glorious! Again my support worked like a well oiled machine constantly giving me sips of juice and bits to eat every 30 mins or so.
My Dad making another appearance on Robinson summit meaning a brief interlude for photos was a must, we maybe stopped for another 8 to 10 mins here, but I couldn’t care less, we had plenty of time, there was no rush.
A gentle jog off Robinson down to Newlands, no need to trash the Knees now as surprisingly they felt ok, Helen W expertly leading the way after her BBC success!
A quick change to road shoes and we were on the home stretch back to Keswick, I really couldn’t believe it, but yes we were actually on the final straight!
We all jogged and chatted together, my Dad still running with us! I hadn’t seen him run as fast for 15 years or more!
The atmosphere was great as we approached Keswick, Mike S out in front saying if we ran a bit faster we could go sub 23, I couldn’t give a monkeys and just wanted to enjoy the moment! In fact I’d have happily run further just to drag out this amazing day!
As we came into Keswick Baz got out in front to direct traffic giving me a clear run to the Moot Hall! I slapped the door with a resounding thud, job done 23 hrs and 5 mins! What an amazing feeling Adrenalin was pumping round and I felt great!
I was overwhelmed with everyone there to share the success with me including my Dad and Ariane and my new best mate Matt Beardshall who had finished with me on his solo round(what an amazing achievement for him too!), all the training and preparation had paid off, I was now a member of the BG club!
I felt so good I was tempted to turn round and go for the back to back, but later as we drove home and the adrenalin wore off , true fatigue overtook me, I think I’d done enough!
So the Bob Graham round was in the Bag! What an amazing adventure from start to finish, just one thing will always remain a mystery to me, just how on earth did Mickey P ever get round an hour quicker than me, that can’t be right?!