Wednesday, July 31, 2013

How it all finally came together

At Honister there was already a bit of a party atmosphere, a feeling of 'its all over bar the shouting', a knowledge shared by everyone involved that I would soon be in Keswick celebrating a great Bob Graham Round.

That didn't help much when it came to climbing Dale Head though. It was a bit of a tough slog and I think I was ONLY JUST on 24hr pace for that summit. I remember seeing my dog Scamp way ahead up the hill bounding around Andy Slats heels and thinking "bloody hell I'm struggling here compared to Slats". Turns out (and I only discovered this 7 weeks later), that Slats hadn't stopped at all in Honister  so I was never going to be up there alongside him.

My good pal Plucky was running with me. Plucky doesn't like fell running very much, and that's a severe understatement if ever there was one. But with half an hour of walking followed by fairly simple ground to cover over the three tops then plenty of tracks, paths and roads to end with, this was an ideal section for him to join me on. He never left my side, not once. Exactly what you need in a BG support runner. 

I was really struggling to run downhill by this point. My legs weren't tired, or sore, or anything like that. I was just really really slow at anything with any decent gradient.  This wasn't too bad inbetween the 3 tops but once we had done Robinson and had a longish descent it was a problem. I know for sure that I was losing a lot of time - I was scarcely moving any faster than walking pace. Handily, as the incline lessened, so did this problem and I sped up until by the time we reached the track out of the valley I was once again 'running properly' (though I'm sure it wont have been very fast).

I hadn't eaten much, if anything, since Honister. I'd been drinking plenty, and I was fine, but when Nick Ray asked if I wanted anything to eat I thought a minute then asked for Haribos. 

They tasted BRILLIANT. The first sweet thing I'd eaten for the whole round and they went down a treat as we tackled that monstrous climb from the bridge over the river up  toward the few houses. 

And then we were into the fields (which avoid dropping down into Stair and therefore having to climb up to Swinside Inn) and soon at the gate to the tarmac which marks the very end of the fell running. Just along from here I was delighted to be joined by a load of extra people who had come along to 'see me home'.  Carl Bell and Jen, my mate Popsy and Christine, Mark (from leg 1) and Cazzy and 'Phil the van' too making a tentative return to running after injury. 

Once we had merely a couple of miles to go I was beginning to finally feel proper tired and would walk instead of run on the merest of gently slopes. Phil was always in my ear during these spells, urging me to press on again, to run not walk. 

'Get every minute you can' he said 

'just keep pushing on', 

'this discomfort is temporary but whatever time you do will be your time forever, so get the very fastest time you can manage'

Great encouragement. Just what I needed too. Many people may have agreed with what I was saying, that I was easily going to beat 20 hours even if I walked the last 2 miles. 

'dont make do with 19.59' Phil said,  again and again urging me on. 

I'm so pleased he was there, saying those things. 19.43 is a great time. I know that now. If I had settled for a leisurely walk home and 19.59 then the sprint finish may have been essential. 

Mark had held Scamps lead since we came out of the marina onto the road section through Portinscale, and once running alongside the road and shops near the town centre Phil asked if I wanted to take him. I didn't realise what he meant at first but then I figured out that running in with Scamp by MY side would be a great way to finish. As it turns out this was another superb idea by Phil as the photo shows

(Dave H's best ever photo)
Job done - ta folks

Saturday, June 15, 2013

The making of the Round

A few extra folk were at Dunmail - Haz had joined the party  to take folk back to their cars after  running leg 2. Plucky and Gill had made a very early start to their Saturday morning to say hiya and see me on my way before heading back to their Keswick Hotel for breakfast, (they were hotel guests eating breakfast, not hotel owners preparing breakfast) and Paul Tierney has came along too, although I didn't actually spot him until I had climbed over the ladder-style, walked a few metres swigging my tea, and then looked back for a glimpse of what everyone was doing before I got  far up the climb.
Dunmail Raise melee 
Sopa de tomate - one of my faves
As I sat briefly in the camping chair Phil always had ready for me, slurping down tomato soup like it was an eating competition, changing footwear and clothing, Plucky asked if I was 'tired yet'? I had covered well over 20 miles and goodness knows how many thousand feet of ascent, taking just inside 7 hours to do so, but I realised that, actually, no, I wasn't tired at all. In fact I scarcely felt I had done anything tiring yet and was positively relishing the forthcoming section. 

Once we were off and making our way up the hill I was fully able to take stock of who was here now, accompanying me on what I knew would be the crucial part of the day. That may sound odd - I knew who was there because they were the people I had requested be there, but when you're at the changeover there is such a mass of bodies all around, some finishing, some new faces, some carrying on, some getting food, some keeping out the way until I'm sorted and off, that it's not at all obvious which of those figures massing around nearby are the ones whose company you will be left with once you leave the camp.

Making our way up the hill
Soon we were off again and it was Steve Murdoch, Andy Slattery and Ian Davies taking care of me now.  And what a crew these lads were! Everyone, all day was great but this leg and these fellas will stick in my mind for a long time. 

Steve I will always remember for his meticulous attention to detail over the route. As a BGR man of much experience he had initially offered to navigate me saying he knew it 'like the back of his hand'. This I can well believe anyway, but during the course of conversation over the next few hours I discovered that he had made a dozen or more trips over various parts of the leg to familiarise himself again, refresh his memory, seek out any tiny nuance of a better line. And all in a bid to maximise MY chances of getting to Wasdale in the best possible shape and with the least possible effort.

As someone I've known since I began running a dozen or so years ago, Steve was someone I considered an acquaintance, a chap who I would probably see once or twice per year, usually at a race, and have a general craic with. But now I regard him as a good friend, as someone who can be trusted and relied upon. Someone with a wealth of experience and knowledge who delights in passing on that knowledge to those who share a similar interest, passion, mindset as his own. Top man!

Ian Davies - packhorse and waiter
Ian Davies had my food in his pack. I know I was strong on this leg and was often jogging along at a decent la'al clip even when the terrain  or incline might suggest a walk be more suited to Bob Graham length days. This meant that whenever I asked Ian for something in particular to eat he had to stop, take off his pack, delve into it and find whatever I had asked for, close up and put the pack back on, then make his way after me, obviously at faster pace than whatever I was managing at that time or risk taking an age to catch up. As the longest leg and with me eating quite well now I'd discovered what I could eat and still feel good, this all happened to poor Ian QUITE A LOT. He never once failed though. Every single time he turned up soon after, with whatever I and asked for. Nothing was ever too much trouble. Even when I jokingly suggested I had changed my mind and fancied something different, Ian just said again that it was my day and he was there to help me.  Ian Davies epitomised everything needed in a BGR hill  support man. 

Yer man Slats
Slats (Andy) was always somewhere close on leg 3. I remember chatting to him now and then but certainly not as much as Ian or Steve. But once we were at Wasdale and personnel changed again, Slats didn't stop. Then once we got to Honister and were on the final victory leg to Keswick, Slats was STILL THERE, running leg 5 too. He ran over 35 miles of the Bob Graham Round  with me , (and remember this was a sub 20 hour round - so not exactly hanging around). By the time we were running through those final few fields after Littlewtown it felt like he had been there with me all day long. 

Once I had finished and had spent a few minutes shaking hands and speaking to the folk who had turned up to see me succeed, I spotted Andy sitting quietly alone on the steps up the the Moot Hall.  To me he had seemed to be a powerhouse all day long. Always dancing away just ahead of me, apparently effortlessly as he was forced to go no faster than my pace. But now we were both shattered. I must surely have looked so, and to my eye Andy was now finally showing the signs of a man who had ran around most of Cumbria for over half a day. I went over to him and we shared a few words - can't remember exactly what was said, but I think we were both of the same mind......

"what a bloody fantastic day this has been, thanks for sharing it with me"   

Stustod got a photo of just the moment.... 

.....that is one of my favourite photos of the whole day, because in a hundredth of one second it sums up every emotion I felt throughout the previous 19 hours and 43 minutes.

Oh, leg 3  featured a few hills worth mentioning too. The first half dozen were ticked off without paying much attention - too busy chatting away. Then we got into the Langdales and Rosset Pike and the big fellas were looming ahead. We climbed Bowfell on a superb line, popping out really close to the summit. Thereafter we could not only see exactly where we were going next, but I knew these summits quite well myself from so many trips up here recently I was still climbing really well at this stage too. I felt I was and Steve kept telling me I was too. Up to this point I had kept on saying how anything up to the 10 hour point was still early days and lots could still go wrong.  But once were were onto the Scafells I was beginning to feel really confident - nothing was going wrong, my legs felt great, I was eating well and in good spirits. Even the weather was perfect, never too hot and only when the sun went behind a cloud was it cool enough to need my gloves on. 

As we descended from the Mickledore stretcher box I knowI was having a bit of a moan. The reason ? I could see Broad Stand climb  just there above us. We were jogging down a rubble strewn hillside when we could have been climbing up the rock face. We dropped for what seemed an age before reaching the exit of the Foxs Tarn gulley. But once we were into it and climbing using hands as well as feet I was once again enjoying myself. The final stoney section to the plateau was a  bit of a pain but I remember Steve and Ian being real close by me here and I just kept on attacking it again and again, refusing to be beat or annoyed by the loose rocks underfoot, seeking out the biggest rocks that might offer a sturdier foothold or hand grip.

When we were jogging across to toward the final rock clambering section to Scafell summit I noted it was a couple of minutes to eleven o'clock in the morning. As I had set off at eleven oclock in the evening, this was significant!

I did it. I summited Scafell before 12 hours (and therefore potentially half the allotted time) was up. The final summit on the longest section was over and done with, and now all I had to do was drop down into Wasdale and then complete another 8 hours of easier running than I'd just done - but I had 12 hours in which to do it! And I still didnt feel particularly tired!!

Get the kettle on Phil - hungry runners coming down to Wasdale

Last bit of descent from Scafell

Yes, leg 4 may have been when I realised a special time of sub 20 was on the cards. But it was during leg 3 that I allowed the most special feeling of all to creep into my head... I allowed the thoughts of 'this could still go wrong, theres a long way to go' to be replaced with "this is not going to go wrong - I am definitely going to complete the Bob Graham Round". And  once that thought was firmly planted in my mind it just grew and grew, and with it my confidence, my enjoyment, my mood, my banter. 

Beforehand, I had written about this day. How it would be my day, my hills, my Cumbria. I'd hoped it would be a day to be remembered forever, the best legs, the best head, the best views, the gathering of friends. 

Now I was living it for real, playing it out with my friends alongside me for company. It was everything I had hoped for and then ten times more. It was indeed my day. The hills were all mine for the taking - I hammered most of them into submission whilst enjoying every moment of all they had to offer.  I took in the views and looked back often at where I had been. From the Scafells the view all the way North to Derwentwater, Keswick and Skiddaw seemed so distant that I could scarcely believe not only had I already been there, the long way round, but I was going all the way back there again, another very long way round. It didn't phase me at all. I even remember making a joke along the lines of "bloody hell imagine if we had to go all the way over there"

Leg 3 is usually the crucial part of a Bob Graham Round. Mine was no different. Leg 3 saw me shed the concerns and simply get on with and enjoy the day. My day in my Cumbrian hills.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Sparky, Lee, Nick and me

Before leg 1 could begin we had to get to Keswick, before that, to Threlkeld to collect Sparky (Mark Ryan) and Nick Ray, before that, to Phils house so he could meet his home for the next 24 hours - my van.

I left home at 9 o'clock and collected Phil who drove to Threlkeld and thereafter around most of Cumbria - twice. Phil set a new record from the trip from Carlisle through Greystoke, Motherby etc to the A66.  Its a journey I'd made myself at least twice a week, every week of  2013 to date. But at least when I drive I arrive with all the sandwiches still in their packets!


In Keswick we stayed inside the back of the van a while, me faffing on getting myself ready. It didn't seem real. Didn't seem like I was about to begin  the Bob Graham Round. It felt like I was just going for another run. It didn't begin to  feel real, like I was finally doing something I'd thought about for 5 years, decided 12 months ago that, yes, I did actually want to do, and then trained hard for for the last 6 months solid, until well into leg 3.

Eventually it seemed like we should go to the Moot Hall. We got there and met Lee Newton, my third support man. Phil had my camera and took a few flash-lit snaps….

We popped up onto the Hall steps  - more flashes. Time dragged interminably slowly. My watch said 10 57 on three separate  occasions I looked at it - each of which felt like a minute.

I asked if anyone though we should set off early, but decided without waiting for an answer that to do so would merely serve to confuse the timings and throw off the rest of the day - and starting on the hour made the maths simple - so we waited.

Then , when my watch finally ticked over to show 11.00 I had to go - conversation had to stop mid sentence and we took off toward the alleyway next to the pink sweetie shop (painted pink not selling solely pink confectionery).

Earlier in the day during a phone call to Stu he asked if I was OK with the way out of town to Fitz Park - of course I was - stoopid Stu, who did he think he was talking to here? I may not know legs 3 and 4 very well but I know Keswick! ( I still almost ran past the left hander up the steepish lane though).

On the bridge over the Greta something came adrift in Sparkys pack and the other two also stopped to help. So here was Steve on his Bob Graham Round, planned in finite detail over 6 months, 15 strong support crew arranged throughout the County, running alone across Fitz Park with the crappiest head torch available to man - struggling to note exactly where the far corner was, opening the first gate of the Round myself and out onto the Brundholme Rd and first to go down Spooneygreen Lane.  By the first gate up the lane however,  I had been caught back up and was able to run through it as Mark held it open for us all.  So I stopped for a pee.

The Latrigg path soon gets steepish and although I had told Mark, a week earlier, that I would jog up that section, I decided to walk after all. It seemed the right thing to do somehow. As soon as  the gradient eased though I was jogging again and did so until we reached almost the Gale Rd carpark where we walked up the steep grassy bank shortcut which is allowed in the Skiddaw race but not in the Round Latrigg Race. (its important to know how to optimise (reduce)  distance within the rules.)

Jogging past the monument thingy ( I've never stopped to read it and see whats its there for), we then reached the gate beyond it and thus began the steep walk up the grass (not allowed in the Skiddaw race  - you have to stay on stoney path). Next gate reached, and now path is only real option. Theres the shoot off to Lonscale and we are almost at the big spoiled cairn on the LHS where,in my opinion it is time to jog again. (note - in the Skiddaw race there should be no need to run again because walking should not have been contemplated yet).

Nick was on my back - often. Telling me the slow it down a bit. He'd taken 3.20 for this leg (same as my schedule) on his own round, and he hadn't been running on this bit, just walking. 
I knew he was right, I knew I would be feeling good compared to everyone else. After all, we were all as fresh as each other on leg 1 but I had nothing to carry and they had quite a lot (oops, soz lads).

I knew Nick was right but I also know myself and my legs and my body - other people too had said I would go off too fast. I don't think I did though. It was a good pace I was setting (68 mins to Skiddaw summit) but I was always keen to pare away at my schedule to hopefully give me a 20 hour round rather than the 21.15 I'd published.

Lee said he knew a good way to miss out the boggy climb over Hare Crag, by going around to the right. Sounded good but I wasn't so keen to try out new routes on my actual round, especially in the dark. Besides , Sparky going into said bog above his knees was one of the comedy highlights of leg 1. Just a shame I didn't get to see it, as I was trailblazing down toward the crossing point over the Cumbrian way.

I carried on setting a great pace up Gt Calva, prompting more shouts from Nick. Then at the first top he waited while I visited the real summit with Lee and Sparky. Nicks line off Calva is a good one, avoiding the ankle twisting stones that lie in wait below the heather. The heather still has to be bounded through though, and this was something Sparky wasn't comfortable with. It was a refreshing change to be running downhill and leaving him behind. I'm sure that if he was to practice this type of running in the dark more often he would soon be able to leave me behind at will, just as he does on any descent in the daylight.

The final climb of the leg saw me finally calm down a bit and I don't think Nick felt the need to tell me 'slow it down a bit' at all over Mungrisedale and up Blen. We took the scree path across to the right to save a bit of climbing and were soon approaching the final short pull up out of the saddle toward the trig. 

Doddick was the way down so only myself needed to actually go to the trig, the others waiting 10-20 metres back while I jogged over it then turned almost 180 degrees back toward them.  I'd written a couple of weeks earlier about visiting Blencathra on my round. I knew it would be the briefest of visits, but on the night I found myself thinking back to what I'd said and as I placed one foot on the cement circle I said aloud

"hey how you doing auld lass?"

That was a huge moment for me. Thinking of how many times I had been there in the past. How many more times I would surely visit again in the future. None of the other 41 summits have such special meaning to me. Yes, many are great places to be with superb views. This was one very special, very fleeting visit to the summit I know and love best of all. 

It felt a bit like I was rushing through a party where everyone I ever knew was waiting to see me, and really, although I hadn't time to speak to anyone, I nevertheless took an extra second to ensure this particular friend knew I was there, had seen her, knew she was special and knew I would be back again for a proper visit when time and circumstances allowed. 

At the top of the second zigzags  Nick shouted we had gone the wrong way, saying Doddick was down from where he was stopped. It was, but not the best way - me and Lee were already making down those szigzag for the slightly lower path which then cut across right to the main Doddick ridge, missing altogether the rocky section higher up. It was a few seconds of standoff - with Nick stationary, calling us back up, whilst I carried on regardless. Clearly going to be left behind otherwise, Nick caught us up and within seconds we were all on the main path downwards - Threlkeld now in sight and maybe even... was that my van?

Hilariously (possibly not for him) Sparky was once again falling behind as we descended. It was a path I am very familiar with, and my headtorch on full beam (I had changed to my good one at Skiddaw summit) was lighting it up like Blackpool prom'.  I made a mental note to tell Plucky all about Sparkys descent.

In no time at all we were down to the tarmac and heading into Threlkeld. Some cars parked up on the left by Josh's dads yard probably meant more BG contenders coming later in the night, but although still pitch black dark, I felt we had now completed the night section and would soon be emerging into daylight , if not quite daytime itself. 

A great leg of 3hrs 11 mins. Only 13 minutes slower than fastest time I managed myself during the winter, (when I was deliberately running as hard as possible to see what I could do over just the one leg).   And 9 mins up on schedule, not so fast to be concerned about starting too fast but certainly a great headstart on my plan to beat the 21hrs.  Nick even agreed that the Doddick route was a very good option (he is a firms man and always opts for Halls Fell with high detour to the right).

Friday, June 7, 2013

Leg 2 - Eden Runners 3 - Keswick AC 2

Craig Smith, Steve Bennett, Sam Ware and Stustod ran from Threlkeld sewage works (where I had enjoyed an early breakfast) up the road to Newsham House with me. By the time we reached Newsham House itself I had been unable to shake them off so decided to stop trying to and just run with them in the hope they might be going the same way as I was intending to.

It turned out they were going not only the same way as me, but were also planning to visit the same 12 mountain tops as I was too! What are the chances of that happening ay?

Unlike the recce on my own a couple of months earlier, I felt grand this time as I slogged up Cloughy and it was soon dispatched and written in to the wee green book. Eh Craig?

Still dark of course, but by the time we reached Caflhow Pike (no we didn't go to it this time - I ensured I got in front of Craig lest he took the RHS path again) the first signs of morning were around (I'm not country folk but Craig must be - he pointed out Skylarks flitting back and forth, low across the grass) Penrith Stu isn't country folk either, he thinks he is but he lives in a town. Stu pointed out a head torch  glowing , way ahead of us on the side of Gt Dodd. this was slightly exciting - perhaps we would catch them up and have a chat about what on earth they were up to, so high, so early?  Snow! The head torch was in fact a patch of remaining snow in a shallow N facing gully, reflecting palely in the faint starlight. Perhaps Penrith Stu is Country folk after all…….. the village idiot!

On Gt Dodd we climbed into clag. The clag remained for an hour or more as we ticked off the next tops - Dodds, Raise, Whiteside, Helly Lower Man, Helly, Nethermost.

Then, as we toured around toward Dollwagon Pike and lost a little height, the sun made an appearance. We had missed the actual sunrise and it had been light enough to do without head torches for quite some time now, but the low strong sun, casting shadows all around us was something very special. I knew from the day I first  chose my 11pm start time that the early sun on this leg would make for some great memories. I'd hoped for great photos too and Stu duly obliged, snapping away again and again was we toured Grisedale Tarn, climbed Fairfield and Seat Sandal, then descended to Dunmail.  

Stu was actually taking photos before it was really light enough to get any decent results. He would pop off ahead and lie in wait for me to come past - clicking away as I did. I'm very grateful for Stu's input on my BGR -not just in this leg that he joined me for, but for his constant interest, attention, shared knowledge, encouragement, and general bloody great craic, always, but in particular since the announcement of my BGR. Notwithstanding all that - when I noted him jogging to get ahead of me on one of the smaller climbs, say Raise, I would then notch it up myself from the walk we might have been doing to just a light easy jogging pace. Then after about a minute or so, he would figure he had the 10-15 seconds in hand required to stop, kneel down and compose a photo - only to find me immediately behind him still - so he'd have no option but to abandon the photo opp' and then either try to get ahead again or abandon the idea altogether for a while. This was incredibly amusing (to me) and incredibly annoying (to Stu). Later on when the sun was out, I was only too happy for Stu  to get the shots, and now and again I even posed momentarily (In case Billy Bland ever reads this - I mean like for 1 to 2 seconds max' - Billy isn't a fan of folk messing about on the Bob Graham Round). Sorry Stu - it amused me and helped make my day everything that it was, and anyway - one shot of me in the clag is exactly the same another - and I think you got about 10.  

I have just noticed that my laptop keeps changing CLAG to FLAG!

Apart from the sentence 'as we climbed Fairfield I sensed Benno and Sam were beginning to flag' I do not intend using the word flag in this report. If flag comes up again and I don't spot it and replace it - presume I mean flag - ffs! CLAG!!

As we dropped off Seat Sandal down toward the main road it felt like I was running into the Moot Hall to complete the round - aware that Haz would be taking photos too and not wanting any more featuring my colourful windproof, I stripped it off and left it behind for someone to collect for me. Same with my Fleece. A poor descender, I nevertheless felt I ran down that final slope as fast as I have ever done, the others struggling to keep up. I expect they were almost tripping up over me in actual fact - but Stu knew the craic - he knew I was having the time of my life and he made sure I was first in the line as we came into sight of the waiting support crew.

Final climbing of leg 2 was over the stile onto the A591

We'd gained some more time on the schedule over leg 2 (I know I have written leg 1 yet but will spoil the surprise anyway by mentioning we gained 9 minutes over it).  I was about to begin the crucial middle section and I felt bloody brilliant. The 6 hours 58 minutes of running I had already done felt like no more than a wander up Lattrigg. I felt great inside too, my guts hadn't given any real trouble so far - the food i'd eaten had apparently gone down well and stayed down without quarrel.  Great inside my head too - the day, my day, was now getting serious but going well, very well. We were about to set off to get to where we really needed to go - to get to the 10 and 11 hour markers which hadn't been visited since last August with IWC. To get West too - we had to get West so we could start the journey North, and home.

I didn't say anything, but at Dunmail I felt a confidence come over me. A confidence which, as I began hitting the tops of 3, stayed with me for several hours, and was itself only replaced much later with an ever growing certainty. 


Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Steves Bob Graham Round (leg 4)

It's now two days since I completed my round (will probably be five by the time I complete this - but its two now, as I begin writing it). Two days and two hundred messages, two hundred messages and two thousand emotions, and two million memories. 

The most memorable thing about the whole day was the people involved. Its a cliché to say it but its true. I wouldnt have got to the end of leg 2 within 24 hour pace without my team, never mind ahead of the 21hour 15minute schedule. 

I always wanted to make just one attempt at the BGR so I figured a big round was the best way of ensuring success. Have 3 people helping on each leg would allow for dropout or injury etc without compromising the leg or meaning I had to carry any of my own gear. On the day nobody dropped out or had any problems (that I was made aware of) and we all got to where we were going safely and in one piece. Some people were, I think, at times struggling with the pace of a very exuberant Steve Angus jogging up massive hills in a T - shirt while they were labouring away with half the contents of Morrisons shelves  in their packs. Sorry chaps (and Clare) I never managed in training to sort out my eating plan so I just packed a little bit of every food I like - I'm still making my way through the leftovers now (Monday evening).

But hey - I see the Freddo Frog choccy bar wrappers ended up at the bottom of the food box !! 

So shall we have a leg by leg account of the round?  or an overview of the day without examining the minutiae of every hilltop and  split time? 

I think a leg by leg is needed - the more words I write the better to help me remember when Im old and grey. 

But to add a bit of interest for anyone who is bored but feels they should stay now they've bought a ticket, I will begin with leg......4.

I came into Wasdale full of good humour. Clare McKeown was waiting on the road to guide me to the van. Clare was my leg 4 navigator and I noticed she wasn't wearing a pack so as I reached her I continued full stride and said  'come on lets go I'm not stopping here'. She realised immediately I was joking though - I'll have to think up something funnier or practise my acting for next time.

Same routine at the van - sit down, eat tomato soup - fast. Eat bacon rolls - fast. Change top for a fresh one. Swig small can of tonic water. Take tea with me on the road as I leave within 10 minutes. This time I didn't change footwear - Fellcross size 9 go onto their second leg.

As we started up Yewbarrow, we being Clare M, Martin Spooner, Colin Murrell, Gary Johnson and Richard Ellwood - as well as Andy Slattery who had been officially on leg 3 (as you  know if you read ahead to keep  yourselves in the correct order), I immediately started to feel utterly crap. As you wont know yet because I havent written it yet - this is the normal pattern. I eat a decent amount and then feel dreadful. But this doesn't matter. When I climbed Clough Head a few weeks ago after doing leg 1 on my own then eating at Threlkeld, I felt so crap that I quit the reccy and considered quitting the whole plan to do a BG. But I also learned that day that after a while I will feel better again, and I wasn't losing time either, so its best to just grin and bear it and keep going.

I did start to feel better once Yewbarrow was done. But not only did I grin and bear it while I was climbing it and feeling crap - I positively forced myself onward - I walked up that big bastard as hard as I could. Being at the back of a group  of 6 because I had stopped for a wee once we were away from the crowded campsite area was not ideal. (and also pointless - see photo) But I was not in the mood for politeness and I think I barged past some of them on the narrow trods like I was passing competitors in a race.  

This new crew must have wondered who the hell this bloke Angus was - I knew Clare of 10 years or so, and Gary was an acquaintance of a couple of years, but I only met Richard twice before, very briefly, and Colin once also and Martin never. 

I knew that walking up at a pace dictated by someone 5 people ahead of me in what was in effect a queue was not what I needed to happen here - I needed to be dictating the pace myself, and as soon as I was I felt in charge again. 

Later in the day Clare told me we had got up a couple of minutes inside 21.30 pace. So not bad at all for what was by far and away the very worst period of the round in terms of my mood and my innards.

Shortly after Yewbarrow, once I was running well again and feeling good again I said to Clare 'you know all those questions you asked me when we began this leg?  Well if you want to ask me them all again now I will be much more responsive '

The next few tops soon seemed to be ticked off and always with those final two big fat lads of the leg in view, creeping ever nearer. 
I didnt fear them, Kirk and Gable, not one little bit. In fact, I had been looking forward to the hands on climbing since making the acquaintance of those particular lines up their flanks just a couple of weeks earlier with Clare. Of course my legs were tired - I'd been going 15 hours or more by now, but now I could use my very fresh arm muscles to help haul myself up through Kirks gully and Gables huge rocks.

Half way up Gable came a shout... 

'hey up Steve Ive been waiting for you coming along'

It was only Karl Edwards sitting in the rocks snapping away with his camera 

Kirk Fell behind us as we climb Gt Gable

Karl had been hoping to take me round leg 3 but had suffered a virus that laid him low - but here he was waiting and what a great boon to have him climb up with me the remaining metres to Gables summit then chat some more down to Windy gap and up the other side. Karl once told me that when we first met (over leg 3 of a 2008 round by Pete Beer) he thought I was a candidate for a round of my own.  4 years passed before I began to think similarly, but now here I was bidding him farewell on my way down to Honister with 7 and a half hours left until my 24 was up. On Green Gable we shook hands and parted company. Karl, I hope to see you again real soon - keep on running fella.

Somewhere along the route of 4  Clare pointed across towards the Scafells and said ' you were up there not long ago'. I looked across to where she was pointing, put on my best serious acting voice, looked a bit sheepish and said 'oh, we didn't bother with those ones - they seemed a bit too hard'

Perhaps you needed to be there, but we laughed.
Coming off Grey Knotts I realised I was indeed starting to feel the 50 odd miles - not with sore legs or cramp  - just an inability to run downhill with any pace whatsoever. I was scarcely jogging and everyone else was constantly leaving me behind despite, im sure, that they were making no attempt at all to descend with haste.

Closing in on Honister I could hear a dog barking. Then I could pick out my crew waiting. Once I was really close Janet let Scamp off his lead and he sprinted up the 100m or so towards.... and straight past me to Clare and Colin. 

Collies? Loyal? I bet Joss doesn't have this trouble!

Next episode - Leg 2, The Phantom Menace

Friday, May 24, 2013

Sitting and thinking

Without a clear plan of how to spend these last Two weeks up to the day I do my Bob Graham Round, I opted to visit an old friend last night - Miss Blencathra.

Last year and early this year I would beast myself up the shortest possible ascent route, from Mousthwaite Comb carpark to the summit via the walkers path including all zigzags. 

As it seems to be commonly held that you should still do plenty of training in a taper period, just not to exhaustion and certainly easing back on the volume, I figured a blast up my favourite route was in order. After all, it would only take 40-50 minutes to go up and down - so about 3 -4 hours less than what Ive been doing most Wednesday of late.

Strong headwind most of the way up meant I was nowhere near cracking 30 minutes for the 2.2 miles. But 33 and a half is good.

I was originally intent on then flying straight back down to test my descending ability and get a non-stop time from carpark to summit and back again. But it was a lovely clear evening so  at the top I stopped to admire the view a while. 

I found a sheltered spot inbetween the trig point and the top of Gategill - kinda nestled in the bosom of the East/West saddle, high above but looking straight down onto the farm at the valley bottom.

It was a real windy evening but there was no wind to speak of from my sheltered spot - t'auld lass was protecting me, and warmth from the bright shining sun  was felt through my all-to-flimsy-for-sitting-still jacket.

As I looked out, I saw everything at once - all of Lakeland before me in a mass attack on the senses. Near and far, lakes and hills, sky and haze. Almost too much to take in at once, and a scene I had seen time and again. 

Minutes passed and I began to look more closely at what lay before me. 

Closest was Clough Head, looking diminutive compared to its neighbour Gt Dodd, but a slog of a climb nevertheless. I traced back down from  Cloughy the line to the coach road, then the rough field to Newsham House and the road back to the A66.  I'd be running there in a week or so, but in the dark.

As I continued my study of the panorama I realised for the first time that I now know so much more about these hills, this beautiful landscape than I did just a few months ago.

I picked out the Dodds to Helly, they are easy. I also knew exactly where Fairlfield was hiding and Seat Sandal. I could see Dunmail beyond Thirlmere so theres the entrance into Wythburn valley from where me and IWC emerged on the three thousands day. Steel Fell and High Raise then became obvious to me, and though not prominent I knew where the Langdales were - so that must be Esk Pike? Yes, because I can definitely tell thats Great End centre of Styhead and Esk Hause.

I was on a roll - never before had I realised how much detail I could not only see, but put names to, I could visualise exactly a stony path 15 miles away that currently occupied about one ten thousandth of what I could see before me.

Further right - the Scafells - Gable - Kirkfell was an interesting one. Only 8 days since I first set foot on its summit, but thanks to that day I now recognise its flat aspect compared to Gables more rounded  mound. I don't know if Pillar, Steeple etc were within my view but again, I knew where they lay in reference to others. 

Off Gable - Green Gable, a poor cousin of diminutive height, then Brandreth and Grey Knotts scarcely discernible as tops from so far away, but there they were and then the gap to Honister. 

Only 3 more to go - all easily picked out on this glorious evening - a long lens would have allowed closer inspection, perhaps revealed cairns and shelters. But who needs a telephoto when a still head and long stare can reveal so much. 

I didn't look too closely across at Catbells, Sail etc, and Grisedale was behind Gategill fell from here anyway. It was the round I was following. I stood up and there was Skiddaw and Calva behind me, and the concrete ring trig of Blen' herself was a mere 20 metres to my left.

The Bob Graham Round was laid out before me. And I was looking at it for the first time. I'd seen all this many a time - yes I'd picked out Swirral Edge and Gt Gable and Catstye Cam and Catbells and Robinson before. But tonight was different, tonight there was  something else happening on this ugly beautiful mountain. Something new, not to see, but to know. 

I realised right there and then that this was MY LAKELAND, MY CUMBRIA, MY MOUNTAINS and that the Saturday after next was going to be MY DAY. My day to run, to walk, to eat drink and be merry, to fall, to hurt, probably to throw up, almost certainly to cry, to laugh with friends, to be quiet and remember, to recognise and to be lost, to rely on good people who are giving up their time to help me, to do something that afterwards I may wonder, as Stu says, 'what all the fuss was about', but right now is everything.

Something had brought me to this place, this mountain - my favourite in Cumbria - on this night. A place I have already been to countless times before, and that I hope to visit a hundred times again. Blencathra has always been my favourite, and now here she was reaffirming her top billing.  

Next week I will be scarcely registering my umpteenth visit of the year to that cement trig. I'll be there and then gone - heading for slopes of Doddick and the comforting lights of Threlkeld beyond as I approach the end of just the first leg of a day long journey. Somebody will register my being there of course, it should be aroundabout 0100 hours on June 1st. She will be number 3 of 42. But of course, however long I spend away from her, she will always be number 1

Blencathra. A place where I have shared the very best, most amazing, unforgettable, special times with the very best, most amazing unforgettable, special people I have known. 

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

One man and his Bob

I wonder if that would have been a better title for this Blog?

Less than 4 weeks to go now - I'm getting nervous and really really excited about my big day.

Why have I not blogged on here since mid March? Because things went badly, thats why.

When I returned from Majorca it was the Easter hols and I was hoping for some long days in good conditions. But the weather was even worse than t had been in the winter months and I took another fall. Nothing serious, just sore for a couple of weeks while I grew new skin on my arse cheek.

Leg one and two strung together fell apart climbing Gt Dodd and I skulked off home (via some more minor tops and over 25 miles for the day). Then one night I was climbing Skiddaw on my own in the dark and rain and just stopped dead in my tracks and said to myself " this is shit, I'm not enjoying myself here, why am I here doing this". And then instead of carrying on up I returned to the van and  tortured myself to sleep with thoughts of packing in the whole stupid BGR idea.

I know I am a weak minded fool (Jabba the Hutt), and should have pressed on until/unless it was physically impossible to do so. If I'd completed 2 full legs that day I'd have grown in confidence, instead I let myself down.

But I also know that on the day these bad spells will soon pass and will seem less of a problem with folk around to chivvy me along and keep me moving. In the 4 x 3000's I remember feeling so bad running behind Ian Charters out of the Wythburn valley toward the A591 that I thought I may have to quit. But an hour or so later I was positively bounding up Hell'y like it was the first top of the day and then even running to the summit itself.

Since those poor runs Ive had a couple of really good ones too - a 28 miler over some BG ground and other tops that came in well above 4mph (BGR needs to be 3mph to succeed). More lately I was on leg 1 of an actual attempt (successful I'm pleased to say - well done Scott), and 3:37 in quite poor weather (constant rain and strong wind) felt like the one of the easiest fellruns I'd ever done in my life.

Last weekend I ran (not all the way but certainly most of it) from Seathwaite to Styhead to Scafell Pike summit then to Esk Hause then Styhead again and retrace to Seathwaite. This is the route for the Scafell Marathon on 19th May. It also tours Borrowdale from Portinscale - Grange - Castle Crag -Seatoller-Rosthwaite-Watendlath -Keswick. I reckon it will take me between 4.5 and 5.5 hours to complete, so should be a decent final training run before tapering down for Bob.

So, I'm looking forward to it now. I'm fit enough and have great support in place to give me the very best chance of completion. I Imagine it's gonna be the most excruciatingly painful fun I've ever had.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

BG Thoughts

Can I do the Bob Graham Round?

Course I can. Its only 65 miles after all. Oh and  few hills too. and during the notoriously fickle Cumbrian summer with it's unpredictable weather.

I'm not sure of the latest figures but I recall reading a year or three back that the majority of attempts on the round actually fail. I wont fail. I refuse to consider the possibility. To allow thoughts of failure would lead to thoughts of subsequent re-tries and I reckon it's important to channel all of thoughts and my energies, on and off the fell, toward 1st June 2013.

When I mention I'm doing the BGR, everyone asks me the same question - "what time are you going for?"

Its an obvious response to say "I dont care as long as it's less than 24 hours" and that is true. Whatever my time is I'll be in the club.

But I hope its not being bigheaded to say that most people who know me and know something of the BGR would expect me to take several hours less than 24.

I expect as much of myself if I'm being honest. If the weather is kind and the nav' is spot on then I should be capable of a quick round.

Of course the weather could be terrible, slowing progress and getting cold. And poor weather could lead to nav' errors which lose yet more.

So I reckon I should plan from the outset for the weather to be kind and to be a few hours inside 24, then if circumstances dictate I will have a good time cushion in hand.

The toughest part should be the as yet unknown world of +14 hours on my feet. All I can do about that is train train train. On the fell.

On most training runs I have encountered at least one problem of some sort or another. Falls, weather issues, extreme tiredness, nav' errors. But I know that all the time I've spent out there, especially the ascent, is being banked and should pay off on the day.

I've a week away in the sun coming up. Plenty of running will be done, offroad, but lacking in climbs I think. Hopefully when I return (Easter) I will be reinvigorated, and, armed with the extra daylight, can really push on through some long days.

After Easter I have 6 weekends until the Scafell Marathon marks the end of my training and start of taper period. Unlike the year to date, I'm going to plan out these weekends to include specific long runs as well as shorter faster ones. Handily, there are many particular events happening (Alberts JNC, Joe's 40 mile race, the TWA, Stu's 25@25) once the days draw out and weather improves (!). By making specific plans to attend some of these I should be well served with training opportunities and enjoy the build -up even more than I am anyway going out mostly on my own.


Thursday, March 14, 2013

and it was all going so well

So off I took myself (and Scamp) to Threlkeld with the plan to run Leg 2 and back again. I wanted to run for about 7 hours so was never planning to include Fairfield on the return trip. As things turned out though, not only did I not do Fairfield twice but I didnt do any summits at all on the way back......and I was probably lucky to get to Dunmail in the first instance.

Early doors of the leg, looking back to Blen'

With the tricky icy section I encountered with Lee on Sunday gone in mind, I kept well around to the left of the two scars that run vertically up the N face of Clough Head. It wasnt a bad way up to be honest, though I encountered a few rocks high up that got in the way a little. I wll probably stick with the direct line on my round however - suppose it depends on my super Penrith navigation crew and which way they know best. The direct line now has some decent sized steps in it and is easy to find (when there's no snow).
Champ waits for me to climb Clough Head
In some ways it is a shame that new footways like this open up throughout the district. The line down to Grisedale Tarn from Dollywagon Pike surprised me yesterday. Last time I descended it  about 2 or 3 years ago it was a vague line of dirtier grass. Now it's an ugly scar of loose earth stones and mud. I wonder how many proper paths of any description Bob Graham used on his round?
Lonscale & Skiddaw as seen fr CLough Head Trig
At Clough Head summit I stopped the clock on 49mins, 10 mins less than allowed on a 24hr round. After a few photos I set off properly (ie running). The climb to Gt Dodd featured some icy patches on the main path, but all easily avoided. 25 minutes to Dodd, another 5 inside 24hr pace. This good running inside 24hr pace continued over the next  tops of Watsons and Stybarrow Dodd, coming in at 7.5 mins each (9) and again to Raise 15 (18).
Since the beginning I had been running at a very easy pace and walking whenever the gradient was any more than a gentle up slope. I lost a little time to Whiteside but  its only an 8 minute section so I probably took a couple of photo stops there.
At Helvellyn Lower Man I again gained time (6 mins) but then coming off HLM and onto the easy drag round to Helvellyn proper I encountered a very large patch of ice.
For no reason other than I am an idiot and should have known icy sections were likely, I had omitted to pack my spikes.


As I set out gingerly across the ice I almost immediately fell over. Landing on my backside there was no problem and I picked myself up and continued even more carefully. I was probably 90% of the way across what must have been about a 30 metre wide patch when the ice type changed from smooth to very rough. Not rough enough to get any grip unfortunately and I went down like a sack of potatoes, this time landing with almost full force on my face.
The smack of my head against the ice sounded so loud it alarmed me. Immediately I was aware of blood running down my face and as I got to my knees the ice below was already being splattered with drips of the red stuff. My camera was around my shoulder and I was concerned it might have got damaged so I took the lens cap and pressed the shutter button - thankfully, it clicked.
crap photo but at least it worked

There wasnt much else I could do other than dust myself down and get moving again as soon as possible. I soon neared the Top of Helly and encountered more similar icy patches to and from the trig point. Same story on the next two summits which caused what felt like huge detours to be sought out to avoid the worst ground and so all three were outside of 24hr pace. I met a few folk picnicking hereabouts - funny glances were noted, I presume at my bloodied face, as I chatted briefly then skipped off again, zigzagging between the rocks and ice, occasionally tottering, frequently stopping to change direction arms a waving sail like to keep balance.

Dropping down to Grisedale Tarn was a welcome relief away from the danger, but my confidence was at a low and I even slipped on the wet grassy descent - at least only a wet backside resulted this time.Going around the tarn on the Seat Sandal side the snow was at least a foot deep mostly. I expect it was driven there by the wind and has had little chance to melt since due to being in the shadow of SS most day long. 

As I reached the hause that marks the top of the climb up from Grasmere but only the bottom of Fairfield I considered leaving my bag somewhere while I popped up Fairfield and back. It seemed a faff though and to be honest although it was quite heavy, I'd got used to it and didnt notice it most of the time anyway. I was rather pleased to have my bag by the time I was halfway up to Fairfield mind you. The wind picked up and it was bloody freezing (obv' it was always actually freezing in terms of the degrees C - but now it felt so for the first time all day).

At the top of Fairfield were  two people at one of the cairns. Its funny how you (I seem to anyway) gravitate towards people on a summit even if they are not at the actual summit point. I wasnt really sure which was the trig point so I visited another cairn and the shelter just to be sure. Then I set off back down. But I didnt take exactly the line I had just used up. I'd encountered some icy patches coming up but somehow found many many more as I made my way off the summit plateau to the main steep path down. At times I opted to sit down and sledge my way across the ice rather than risk falling over. Trouble is, this isnt smooth ice like in a skating rink of frozen pond - its old compacted snow, partly melted then refrozen time and again. So its rough. Bumpy with ridges. And even on a gentle slope you tend to gain speed quickly. and going over this stiuff quickly whilst sat on your bum aint so comfy!!

Nearer the hause again I elected to descend on the Grasmere side of the broken wall. Here the snow was deep and virgin and I found that by going as quickly as possible I was lifting my feet up again before they had time to get buried too far down in the snow. Such fun.

Less fun was the climb up to Seat Sandal. Again, its own shadow saw little in the way of any path sections clear of snow and ice. At times I had to use my arms to haul myself over the large rocks left and right of the path to avoid almost certain mishap. I say less fun because despite the added difficulty over a normal (non snow & ice) passage of my route - it was lovely sunny day and I was off work doing something fun,challenging and enjoyable. What better place to be?

Eventually I found myself dropping off SS toward Dunmail.  The road was reached at 4hrs 04 mins. thats about 30 minutes inside 24hr pace. I was delighted to have done a decent time in poor conditions. Hopefully, despite darkness for the first few tops, I hope it will go as well on the actual round.

Coming off Gt Dodd - the next tops line up to be had
First Glimpse of Ullswater is as you near Sticks Pass crossing point

Beginning climb to Raise but looking back to the descent off  Stybarrow Dodd to Sticks Pass

So there I am at Dunmail Raise. About 8 miles from my van and not really wanting to get back up in the Helvellyn area again this day. I figured I may as well just set off on the reverse of the Tour De Helvellyn route - through the woods opposite Thirlmere. 

Its not a flat route by any means but certainly easier by far than climbing up and down proper fells. By the Swirls carpark I was feeling quite good (after having had a short low spell of energy and walking up a not particularly steep climb), so I elected to use the TdH route all the way to Stanah rather than the main road. Its a tough wee section with lots of upping and downing on a path which at times is scarcely any more than a possibility of a route through rocks. 

Spectacular frozen waterfall
As I neared Stanah I felt so good that I reckoned getting back up onto the route proper was a good idea. But instead of going all the way to Sticks Pass I turned E earlier and made up Fisher Gill where I found a rather spectacular frozen waterfall. A little higher up and the path was bearing round to my right. I looked out the map and noted that if I continued I would actually regain the main route South of Raise. I should have looked earlier. That was too much of a prospect this late in the day so I turned back on myself and jogged all the way back down again.

I stopped for a final photo at Stanah and decided I may as well just use the handy tarmac all the way back now. It was probably 4 or 5 miles and although I wasnt running fast and was running low on energy again, I never once stopped or even slowed up - poor Scamp.
Final photo of the day. Blencathra seen through St Johns Vale

Back at base boxing the software I've never been so pleased to see my little van waiting for me. I'd parked in the Cricket Ground carpark and left it at a jaunty angle that it might catch the sun through the big windscreen as the day grew on. Now though it was surrounded by about a dozen cars all parked much better. Worse to come was a few minutes later and heres me sitting in the drivers seat shovelling pasta, Hula Hoops, cake , green tea, diet coke and tomato soup into me, one side of my face blood splattered the other probably white with dry sweat, when 10 mams and about 20 sprogs emerge from the pavilion, guessing there must have been a birthday do for one of the sprogs, I am parked more or less at the top of the steps down from carpark to pavilion so they all file right by me, looking horrified mostly, ushering the weans into people carriers and 4x4s.

Bout 24 miles then (stopped GPS unknowingly at Fisher Gill so lost the track). First proper look at Leg 2, confidence knocked, lessons learned, experience gained. 

Shirley says its all in the head, that the BGR is a mind game. I think i'm beginning to see Shirleys point - the physicality of this thing is far from the only consideration.


Monday, March 11, 2013

I tell you what though....'s buddy chilly out.

One year ago it was positively balmy. This year the winter has dragged on and on. The biggest problem this brings to Bob Graham Round training is the snow and ice that make progress slower than it should be, and also the intense biting cold some days when you get any height up.

Yesterday was a day with both those issues to face.

I was wanting a long run of at least 6 hours and planned out a circuitous route of about 25 miles that would see me cover some of the round and a couple of other tops I hadn't been on for a few years.

All went well initially as I left Keswick with Lee (toast) Newton, heading up to Gale Rd then over the back o' Latrigg and onto Blencathras Blease Fell. The wind was strong in the East but didn't affect us at all as we jogged along the summit ridge to Blen's famous circle for what must be at least my 12th visit of 2013.

As is my wont we dropped into Threlkeld via Doddick, stopping thereon to check out my wee lines and shortcuts to avoid rocky bits, (though whether I remember them in't dark on my actual round is another matter altogether)

At Threlkeld we were on about 15 minute mile average pace and had scarcely broke into a sweat. Ideal in my opinion. 15 min/miling is 4mph and 4mph is way more than enough complete the round inside 24 hours.

Once over the Coach Road and trudging up the steep face of Clough Head things got tough. I reckon on this occasion I should really have gone around to the back a little further and utilised the walkers path. But I stubbornly stuck to my pre-existing BG knowledge and forged on upward. On the high bit inbetween the rocky areas,  where there are now steps formed, it was just a sheet of ice covered in new snow. I naturally lowered my centre of gravity by going onto all fours and continued picking my way up. Lee didnt seem at ease at all. I was concerned he was going to freeze out of fear of going up or back down so stayed where I was a while until he got confident enough to carry on up toward me.

At this stage, despite being almost fully white with frost and snow sticking to him, and closing one eye against the raging wind that pebble-dashed everything solid with the top layer of  snowcrust and fresh hail - Scamp was hunkered down in a familiar position that I know means he had found a stick and placed it on my route to throw for him. On this occasion I declined his offer.

As we got higher, and safely onto the main drag up to the summit cairn, Lee somehow got into his bag and put on more clothes. I felt sure if  did the same I would lose them in the wind so I battered on over the summit and down t'other side. We headed for Calfhow Pike and found a bit of shelter behind one of its larger rocks. I took an absolute age to put on my £80 gloves, thicker hat and jacket.

A couple of mins later we were off up toward Gt Dodd

A couple of mins later we were coming back down from (not very far at all up) Gt Dodd.

It was hideous. Wind so strong that running was impossible despite the gentle-at-first gradient. And so cold ( I later discovered Helvellyn was -18 windchhil so I reckon we had at least minus 10 or 12). It wasn't really possible to talk to each other properly so we retreated back to Calfhow and took stock.

We considered looking across to just above Wanthwaite Crags then trying to get down to Threlkeld Knotts but its tremendously steep ground - not a safe place to go adventuring. So we took the valley out NE until we reached the Coach road again, then toured around Cloughy until we were back at our original point above Newsham House. By the time we retraced our steps to Threlkeld we'd done 16 miles. Lee suggested we could call his dad up for to come and get us and give lift to Keswick.

I'd never heard such a crazy idea in a long time. We weren't knackered or owt. Its just the weather had forced a re-think of our plans. No no no, the jog back to Keswick would help warm us up some more and would make a shortened day not too short after all. As we jogged along the old railway line at a decent enough 8mins/mile, Lee revealed that at 17 miles covered, this was now his longest run, EVER. The lad done good.

So 20 miles covered in total. The average pace of 4.37 mph (13:43 min miling)  was upped due to the flat run-in to the finish (and would have been a lot higher than that if if not for the lengthy stops at Calfhow) But to be honest as only the first couple of hours were on true BG ground, the final pace becomes much less relevant.

Note - the original plan would have seen us visit all 3 Dodds then drop down Sticks Pass to Stanah. I was then considering back o' Thirlmere and up to High Tove, High Seat, Bleaberry etc. One for another (warmer) day I reckon.

One thing I learned training for road marathons is that its important to do short fast running as well as the vital long slower stuff. I see no reason not extend this theory to BGR training and with that in mind I recently made a full scale attack on leg 1. With Andrew M the other week I'd taken 4:15 for leg 1. On my own I'd done it in 3:17 (or 3:22 if you add in Moot Hall to SpooneyGreen Lane). So I reckoned  sub 3 hours was achievable....

I ran almost all the way up Skiddaw and then ran most of the remainder of the leg too to record 2:58, comprising Skiddaw ascent in 66 mins, Calva in 32mins - Blen' in 55 and 25 off via Doddick. As this was with still some icy patches on the summits I have every confidence I will be able to go faster still. Going as fast as possible rather than retaining reserves to keep going for hour after hour was a lot of fun and much more the kind of running I enjoy and am used to, but I know that wherever possible I need to spend the days I have off work 'going long'. With this in mind I will be taking some Wednesdays off work to allow for two long runs per week to be completed.