My Bob Graham Round
17th / 18th June 2005
This is the article I wrote on my Bob Graham Round....
I first thought about attempting it last April after doing Edale Skyline and then the 3 Peaks and successfully getting round both (just to make sure one wasn’t a fluke). I planned to increase my mileage and my ascent alternatively and picked the Heart of Granite in Scotland as a starter. Although I took 9 hours I was happy with it and then trained for Tankies following a plan from a book on endurance. When I was First Lady and came in just under 4 hours I was over the moon and felt great. The photo that Sue C took at the finish is my all time favourite !!
My intention was then to do the Lakeland Classics in 2005 to get some experience in the Lakes and some more hills in my legs and attempt BG in 2006. Getting a place in the Watershed (42 miles) in March and then getting round in atrocious conditions while still enjoying it (I know I need my head testing) put the idea in my head that I could actually be fit enough this year. Two weeks later I set myself the target of 4 hours for Edale Skyline (… and then I would do BG). I set off feeling tired and lethargic. By a fluke everybody got lost and I ended up being first lady at the 2nd checkpoint. I only just hung onto first place by a minute until halfway (Brown Knoll) when luckily for me we ended up in clag again. I can say that I thoroughly enjoyed the second half of the race and (I cannot let the moment pass – sorry Ian) when at the finish I realize that somehow I had passed Ian Charlesworth also !!! My time was an amazing 3.53 . So that was it – I was doing BG
I was confident I could do the distance but unsure about the amount of climb so spent 3 days in the Lakes (while surprising my brother on his birthday) reccying the BG route. I did 46 miles and 25 peaks and felt good so took the plunge and asked Dark Peak if I could join their attempt on 17th. Telling everybody was really scary – it meant it was real.
The month leading up to BG I thought of nothing else and was probably terrible to live with. I organised food, clothes, boxes, maps, shoes, knickers even !! I had asked Amanda Heading (who stepped at the last minute to do the Watershed with us) to be my road support and she was a great support before and during BG. So also was Martyn Goodwin who answered my endless stream of questions with very useful answers and told me I could do it when I was having doubts.
I asked Charlie my brother to run the road section with me because I knew I would push myself to the limits to get there then. He was coming up on Friday night and would see me at Dunmail. It was something to really look forward to.
The start is from Moot Hall in Keswick and we set off at 6.45pm on Friday. The first section takes in Skiddaw, Great Calva and Blencathra and takes 4 hours. There was mist on the tops and we had to descend in the dark but other than that it was fine and the pace seemed bearable.
The next section climbs up onto the Hellvellyn ridge and lasts 4 and half hours but at least you get to knock off 12 peaks. The fog had really come down now and navigation was very hard. I think the navigators did a brilliant job as some of the peaks are hard enough to find in good conditions. The pace was faster as we needed to make up time to stay on schedule. I felt good and was able to eat and drink quite a bit. The third from last peak; Fairfield is a pig but it seemed ok as we took a direct line straight up it. It was good to be running down to Dunmail but we had a shortened stop to make up time. My clothes and rucksack plan had gone to ratshit as the weather wasn’t as predicted but with help from Amanda and Charlie I set off intact!
At Dunmail I ate some pasta and changed into shorts. The next section was when I had my “bad spot”. I think that my stomach had had enough. What was I doing giving it pasta to eat at 4am? I didn’t know what was wrong – I felt sick and had stomach cramps. Steel Fell was ok but Calf Crag to Rosset Crag (5 peaks and 2 hours) passed in a blur. I wasn’t sick and was still force feeding myself in an attempt to keep my stomach working and still never felt like giving up. I told myself “no-one said it was going to be easy”. Barry Needle met us somewhere on that route and had black coffee. Although I burnt my mouth off drinking it I think that really sorted me out because by the time I was at Rossett Crag I felt a lot better. The pull up Billy Blands Rake was ok but it was soon after on Bowfell that we lost Andy Plummer. Time was very short and leaving him was very hard. When we got to Broad Stand (the rope section) it had started raining and the rocks were very slippery but having strong arms helped as I pulled myself up a lot. Once we had touched Scafell it was downhill all the way to Wasdale.
From Wasdale I felt confident and determined. I would have liked more time at the stops as was always behind but felt ready to tackle the last “big barrier” – Yewbarrow. Having reccyed it I knew it was a tough and I was surprised that I felt ok. The clag was still down meaning that we were still losing time navigating and on slippery rocks. At Great Gable I was sure we too far behind schedule and my tired brain couldn’t make sense of it. Down into Honister we went.
At Honister it was hot and I chose the wrong clothes (yet again) to do the last 3 peaks in. I was far too hot and it was lucky that Bernice had a spare top for me to change into. I was still very hot from then on. I was actually enjoying it now although didn’t have any spare breath to say anything. When I got to the road I changed again – by this time my modesty had all but disappeared and I ended up sat on my chair in my knickers waiting for shorts to appear. It does terrible things to you this long distance running !!
The road section was easier than expected but my breathing was shallow – I couldn’t get a deep breath no matter how hard I tried. After walking the first couple of hills though I got determined to run them as they seemed so poxy compared to all those I had climbed. I did manage to run it all after that. It was lovely having my brother there and I would have liked to have talked. Keswick was busy and Bernice stopped the traffic for me to cross. I was unsure where the Hall was but when I realized I was only 100 yds away it was wonderful. I can remember “sprinting” up to it and touching the railings. I was handed a bottle of champagne by Amanda and had loads of hugs and pictures.
I would like to thank all the supporters from Dark Peak for their organisation, navigation, pacers and extras (like fudge). I didn’t mention any of the Penistone pacers that accompanied me round as the article would have run into a book; they are Ian Charlesworth, John Rowe, Nick Whittingham and Bernice Nixon – it was great having you all there and I wouldn’t have done it without. Thank you Charlie, Carol, Teresa, Andy, Sarah and all the pacers from other clubs (especially Lewis). And special thanks to Amanda for keeping my head and stomach in order, Martyn Goodwin as behind the scenes mentor and Steve without whom it wouldn’t have been possible.