It started with a handful of club runners, then slowly but surely, the word spread, a Whatsapp group was created and a few months later 24 fresh legs stood at the bottom of Dunmail Raise ready for a three-day Bob Graham Round.
The Bob Graham Round (BGR) is a renowned route in the Lakes that takes in 42 peaks over 66 miles and 27,000 ft of climb. To join the Bob Graham 24 Hour Club you must (spoiler alert) complete the route in 24 hours. But we thought a “leisurely” three-day attempt would be a good place to start.
The Round is split into five legs, starting and finishing in Keswick. As we needed accommodation every 20 miles or so, we did a slightly different version and started at leg 3 from Dunmail Raise which gave us:
Day 1 Dunmail to Wasdale: 15miles, 6640ft
Day 2 Wasdale to Keswick: 20.8miles ,7171ft
Day 3 Keswick to Dunmail: 25.2miles, 11,145ft
With it being close to the summer solstice weekend we were blessed with long days, green fells, lark song, and mild weather. For many of us this was our first attempt at piecing together all 5 legs and luckily we had some top notch navigators in the group. While the common experiences were enjoying each other’s company, sore knees and consuming more snacks than you could ever imagine, we each have a tale to tell…
Never have I ever eaten so many calories in 3 days! Perks of long-distance running! Sausage rolls, crisps, battenbergs, crisps, satsumas, crisps, Snickers, crisps, bananas. Did I mention crisps? Plus, double pub dinners, living the high life. Sore knees resulted in a few descents on the derriere and day three soggy bogs resulted in some seriously wrinkled toes! Thank you Caroline for the dry socks and Phil for day 3 company. The best thing about doing the BGR is how you get to know the skyline ahead and behind you. I’m proud to say I can now stand atop Helvellyn and name the peaks in my view.
Ah…The Bob Graham Round. Already I’m viewing this adventure with rose-tinted spectacles and only remembering the moments of euphoria and fun. But everygreat adventure brings challenges and I had mine. For me, it was Hell’s Fell or more commonly known as Halls Fell and our chosen descent off Blencathra. My, I was not happy! I started to lose faith in my shoes and felt quite nervous. Thanks to Andy and Helen for patiently guiding me down and not making me feel like a complete idiot. But back to the good stuff (and there was plenty of it): one of my highlights was the injection of energy from new people joining the group on day 2 (take a bow, Hilary, Sheelagh, Caroline and Ian) and Phil on day 3. It really lifted my spirits seeing these guys. Tips for next time? Ear plugs (in case we have the grave misfortune of having a stag party opposite our YHA room again) and more comfortable shoes. Mudclaws were not a wise choice. Thanks to the whole group: you were all magnificent. Special mentions though to Emma the trooper, Helen the captain of chirp and Adam the entertainer/cameraman.
The Bob Graham Round is something I’ve been wanting to do (over a few days) for a long time, so I jumped at the opportunity. I was extremely nervous, mostly because we had planned to do it in one big group. I’m certainly not the fastest runner in the club and I knew there were going to be loads of speedy people for me to attempt to keep up with! As it turned out, it was a steady, social pace and my nerves settled almost straight away.
Day One: Banter, food, sunshine, food, rain, mist, food. I fell over on Great End and split my knee open (again). That was fun. Thanks to Phil for the first aid and to the others for reassurance/putting up with me. Bigger thanks to the girls for letting me have the double bed all to myself in the hostel!
Day Two: £60 taxi, West Cumberland A&E, a doctor scrubbing the inside of my knee with a toothbrush, 5 stitches and a lot less food. Massive thanks to Hilary (aka Mum?—ed) for driving miles to collect me and saving me a small fortune.
Day Three: More banter, more food, a few tears descending Halls Fell (with Helen kindly reminding me that tears weren’t going to help me down!). STUNNING views, numerous pairs of sore knees, a fair bit of swearing, great company and the feeling of joy in finishing.
Same time next year?
Days completed: 2 (legs 3-5)
For some reason I had it in my head that it would be good practice, though I’m still not entirely sure what for, to follow suit with a few of the party who were carrying full packs for the weekend in preparation for their upcoming Mountain Marathon. The realisation that this was not a good idea and entirely unnecessary hit me about three quarters of the way up Steel Fell, roughly fifteen minutes into the weekend.
The rough weather forecasted for the afternoon of the first day turned what were lovely vistas into a bitterly cold, closed-in day. At no point did it escape me that while the rest of the country was experiencing a heatwave, we were in some truly miserable mountain weather.
Down to some misplaced exuberance, a nice stretch of downhill coming off High Raise, and ultimately a deceptively deep bog, I soon found myself muttering expletives whilst trying to walk off a sprained ankle. It would ultimately cause me to call it quits at the end of day two, having hobbled and cursed my way down Robinson.
Now I’ve got my grumblings out of the way, it’s worth saying that the weekend was lots of fun with great company. Legs 3 and 4 are challenging but beautiful and I’m already keen to go back and revisit them.
Kudos & thanks: Fair play to Emma for trooping through to Wasdale YHA, having cut her knee open on the top of Scafell Pike – impressive stuff! And for coming back for more on the final day too. Big thank you to Hilary for kindly lending me some poles for Leg 5, it really helped take the weight off the ankle. And thank you to everyone who joined, both for the full weekend and in part, and made it a wholly enjoyable experience.
I have just started to recover from the Bob Graham three-day event, my knees are still slightly swollen, thats almost six months of recovery. However, it was one of the best adventures I have had in my running career and I almost certainly put the injury I sustained down to my own lack of conditioning for this epic.
If my memory serves me well, it was approximately a marathon a day for three days straight, with an enormous amount of climbing on steep sharp fells.
I very much enjoyed every minute of the trip, apart from the final descent back to Dunmail Raise when I could no longer actually run due to the pain in my knees. I especially enjoyed the company of the fellow NLFRs including Nodders who was very cheerful throughout and appeared to be filming the whole thing (release date?), singing Cumbria Ma Lord, Cumbriaah with Andy and a special shout out to Caroline for providing dry socks!
Immediately after we finished I was so psyched for long-distance running (despite my injury) that I entered into the Kong Mountain Marathan on Arran, which I later had to pull out of. Next time I will make sure I am ready for this type of trip before embarking upon it. No regrets though. 🙂
Here are some photos!
Big thanks to Helen Freeman for being the Bob Graham write-up High Sheriff