BOB GRAHAM ROUND (CLOCKWISE)
BY ROBERT GREEN
21 HOURS SCHEDULE
I suppose it was inevitable that one day I would attempt the Bob Graham round following in the
footsteps of so many Achille Ratti members. I entered the Fellsman Hike in May and Leo Pollard
suggested that if I could complete the hike in under 18 hours I should attempt the BG the following year. I completed the hike in 15 hours 15 mins so I thought I may as well attempt the BG this year. With work commitments and holidays the weekend of the 20 th August was chosen, late in the year but I felt quietly confident.
As the time approached 2.00am standing by Moot Hall the tensions of the last few weeks were
beginning to flow away and disappeared as soon as we started running down the road to Fitz Park and Skiddaw with my father in law Leo Pollard accompanied by Neil Sale and Wes Jones who were pacing me over the first important section. The night was clear with almost a half moon to help us. The weather was very warm so I decided that shorts and Halley Hansen top only would be sufficient, at times even that was too hot. I felt very strong and reached the 1 st top on schedule. The terrain from Skiddaw was difficult up to Great Calva and even tougher from Great Calva to Blencathra. Climbing up Blencathra I pulled away with Wes Jones and we decended Halls Fell Ridge in day light. Leo and Neil followed about 1⁄4 hour behind. We arrived at Threkleld fresh and ready for a drink of tea from my wife Diane along with Howard Smith who were the support team. I had a bowl of rice pudding and cake. The new team for the Dodds were Colin Jones, Colin Mathews, Albert Sunter, Eddie Hicks and Jeff Hollaway.
With a change of socks and another cup of tea we were off. With the recent weather the importance of the fluid intake was foremost in my mind, so frequent drinks was the order of the day. Clough Head come easily and we moved steadily over the Dodds. The sun was heating up as we reached Helvellyn. Dollywagon and Fairfield was tough but I still felt strong. Descending Seat Sandal I could see that the support car was not there, then there was a red flash as the car arrived. We had started this section 15 mins down and came into Dunmail 30 mins up, so there were not quite ready for us. With a change of socks and food and drink, I put my sun cap on and set off 30 mins up with a new team Bill Mitton, Alan Kenny, Dave Hugill and Eddie McGrath my long suffering running partner who had helped in my training and build up to the BG. We also had Howard Smith and Robert Hope who came to Steel Fell with us and then went back to Dunmail.
The heat was now making me drink more and more. The pace was kept up. Bill Milton dropped off into Langdale at Harrison Stickle after he got a sore back. We had arranged to meet Peter McHale on Rossett Pike. By the time I reached there I needed a rest, food and drink. Peaches and tea revived me enough and after 15 mins we set off for Bowfell and Wasdale. Progressing over to Scafell Pike, Broadstand loomed in the background but we soon climbed up it with no problems and descended down to Wasdale. The descent down to Wasdale was hard and Yewbarrow across the valley looked awesome. We arrived at Wasdale 30 mins up but tired, I sat in the shade and had potato pie, rice pudding and cake.
I needed 24 mins rest to tackle the next section with help from John Hope and Arthur Daniels. Arthur had set off 10 mins before us and we met him at the fence. It did not seem to take long before we reached Yewbarrow, 20 mins up, this section proved to be very difficult to keep eating and drinking. Although I felt I was slowing down all the time I remained 20 mins up all the way through this section. When we reached Great Gable the thought of finishing within the schedule seemed possible. The descents became painful but we kept moving and I felt happy with myself.
At Honister I wanted a quick change and to be off again. Here I was greeted by a cheering crowd from the Youth Hostel. I found out later that they had seen my wife setting up the food stall and asked what was on, so someone explained and they waited for me taking pictures and clapping. I had a lot of encouragement from my wife and brother in law Gary Pollard (who had taken over from Howard Smith at Dunmail in the support car) to keep going and I would finish it easily.
I had a quick drink and cake, changed a T shirt to a long sleeved running top and set off after 6 mins.
The team for the last section was Colin Jones (who had also run the 2 nd section) Alan Jones, Jeff Sale, Gary Pollard and the only lady runner Natasha O’Boyle. We did not need torches until we started to descend off Robinson towards Newlands Church. I became impatient and wanted to finish within 21 hours the crags hurt but as soon as we got to the track I began to loosen up. I sent a message to my wife with Colin Jones to get some road shoes ready for a quick change over. When I arrived at Newlands Church I found out that I had not brought my own shoes so Diane had to borrow Leo Pollard shoes (that ‘what families are for). A quick drink and shoes on and I was off it was 10.15pm I had 45 mins to get to Moot Hall. Was it possible? I thought I’d give it a go. I took me head torch off and ran by the other lights, every uphill I had to walk. I reached a sign 3 miles Keswick, 15 mins to go, no chance! But I had to keep going as soon as reached the bridge outside Keswick it was still not 11.00 pm. I sprinted across the park, the sound of my watched echoed in my head I had not managed sub 21 hours. I managed to keep going even sprinting the last half mile to reach Moot Hall 11.04.44. I slapped the door, FINISHED!
When I was running up the main street there was music playing, Glen Miller, I think, crowds of people dancing. Surely not for me? No, it was Keswick V J Day celebrations but there was enough supporters and my family present to see me finish that I had my own party and after 5 mins they played the National Anthem. What an end to a tough hot but enjoyable day.
My thanks to all those who helped, runners, supporters and friends. A special thanks to Leo and Freda who helped to organise the run and Elaine Garstang, with her children Robert, Jill and Gwen who helped to look after our children whilst we were out enjoying ourselves. Without the support of family it would have been impossible to complete the Bob Graham round.