A lot of people reading this will already know what a Bob Graham Round is and what it entails, but just in case here’s a quick summary… A Bob Graham Round is a loop of 42 mountain peaks starting and finishing at the Moot Hall in Keswick. It’s broken into 5 sections or legs and if you get the navigation spot on it’ll be about 66 miles long and there’s roughly 27,000 feet of ascent
(and 27,000 feet of descent) along the way and it has to be completed in less than 24 hours. It was first run in 1932 by Bob Graham who ran a B&B in Keswick, on his 42nd Birthday. There’s now a club for people who’ve completed the challenge called the Bob Graham 24 Hour Club and in order to join the club you have to register your attempt and be witnessed at the top of each peak during your round.
My first attempt at a Bob Graham Round was also on my 42nd birthday on 12th August 2016. We started at 10PM and had horrendous weather starting with low cloud and wind on Skiddaw strong enough to lift me and leg 1 runner Al McCaig off our feet resulting in Al being blown over and smashing his knee off a rock. Things got worse with heavy rain and cold temperatures starting on leg 2, which continued until leg 4. I battled on and made it as far as Honister, but it had taken 22 hours, so I decided to abort and come back another day.
I still wanted to complete a round while I was 42, so once I’d picked myself up after the first attempt I decided to have another go, but thought I’d go a bit earlier in the year to hopefully get better weather and daylight. Phil Smith (Who’d navigated Leg 3 excellently in the clag on my first attempt) recommended trying to go on a full moon as it would give extra light during the night and in his experience the full moon also usually brings calmer weather. So based on this I picked the 9th and 10th June 2017 as it was to be a full moon, just a couple of weeks before the summer solstice and on a weekend.
I then approached everyone who’d helped on my first attempt to ask if they’d help out again second time around and I was very happy when most of them agreed to come back.
The months between the first attempt in August 2016 and June 2017 were spent training, reccying the route as often as I could and occasionally racing.
Paul Bonser who had helped me with big event road support on three occasions previously in 2016 (The West Highland Way Race, my first BG attempt and The St Oswald’s Way 100 Mile Race) agreed to help again, which was a big relief as he knows the drill, knows what I like/don’t like and really gets in to the role. We met up about a week before the run to chat about food, kit, schedule and support runners, etc.
After our meeting I contacted everyone again to start firming up plans for who was doing which leg, etc. Unfortunately mainly due to work and/or family commitments some of the support had to drop out. I put out a request for help on Facebook and Phil Smith also started rounding up some additional help and as June 9th drew closer I was now happy I had enough support lined up.
I drove down to the Lake District on the morning of the 9th with Elaine and our 3 kids; Olivia, Niamh and Callum and we arrived in the early afternoon to a breezy, but warm Keswick, which was bustling with the Keswick Mountain Festival just getting underway. Unfortunately the weather forecast for the rest of the weekend wasn’t looking so good, but I tried to remain optimistic hoping that the forecasters might’ve got it wrong. How wrong I was proved to be!
For a bit of last minute inspiration I’d made plans to meet Paul Bonser and Mike Scandrett at the Theatre By The Lake to listen to a talk by Jasmin Paris and Nicky Spinks about their Bob Graham and fell running achievements. The talk was very motivating and I came away feeling really positive. After we left the theatre I returned to our tent and gave my boxes of food, drink and spare kit to Paul Bonser and then he and Mike went off to get some food and leave me to try and get a bit of last minute sleep. Sleep didn’t come, but at least I got a few hours rest.
It was now around 9PM, so I started to get my gear on, have a couple of last minute snacks and a strong coffee and then at about 9:35 we set off on a walk from our camp site to the Moot Hall meeting up with my sister Deb, brother in law John, niece Emily and nephew James on the way.
When we arrived at the Moot Hall we were met by various people who’d be helping out over the round including Lee Tait, John Barker, Tony Holt, Martin Ormston, Spencer Grant and Paul Bonser. John Barker and I popped for a quick last minute pee in The Skiddaw Hotel, then after a few minutes nervous craic with the lads and a few photos in front of the hall it was almost 10PM. John Barker, Tony Holt and I got ready and after a count down from Lee Tait as the hall’s clock was broken we were off on the start of leg 1.
I have known John Barker since I was about 17 or 18 when a couple of mutual mates started at uni and we all started going out drinking together. He was there for my first attempt (on leg 3 with Phil Smith). Tony and I have mates in common, but had only met very briefly on a few occasions. The first was on Lee Tait’s round in July 2015 when I handed over kit from leg 1 to him at the start of leg 2, the second was a random meeting on Scafell Pike during a trail marathon and then the third was in a café in Northumberland during The St Oswald’s Way 100 Mile Ultra. He had been roped in by Phil Smith and had agreed to run legs 1 and 4. Tony completed his own round in July 2016.
It was still light, but the breeze brought a slight chill with it, so I’d decided to start off with a warm layer over my t-shirt. We set off at a decent pace, chatting along past the shops, B&B’s, the park and the leisure centre and by the time we were crossing the bridge over the A66 I was starting to warm up. The lads were carrying all my stuff and all I had to carry was a small inov8 pouch with a couple of gels inside and my tracker taped to it and a handheld soft flask and I felt light, full of energy and positive.
We were making decent time on the long ascent of Skiddaw, past the Latrigg car park and on towards Jenkin Hill. The evening light was starting to fade now and with no sign of the full moon Tony handed me my head torch to put on, which I’d end up wearing right through until Dunmail Raise.
As we got through the last gate on the approach to the summit of Skiddaw a layer of cloud started to come in and the wind picked up, but it didn’t stop us finding our way to the first summit and we were straight off again dropping down on to the back o’ Skiddaw.
We found the sty and hopped over the fence and started off running and bouncing down the hill over the spongey plants heading for Hare Crag and picked up the trod. It was getting darker now as we made our way through the bogs heading towards the Cumbria Way, but we were still making good time.
We crossed the Cumbria Way and hiked our way up Great Calva. When we reached the fence near the top John waited while Tony and I continued on to the out and back summit. We started on the steep descent down through the heather and bracken and were soon at the round sheep pen.
We carried on at pace through the peat bogs towards the river even though we were sometimes knee to thigh deep in mud with everything still sodden from the heavy rain during the week. We reached the edge of the river Calva, which we were expecting to be in spate, but were happy to find it flowing only slightly deeper and faster than usual. Still trying to keep the momentum going I jumped in, took two steps forward, stumbled, one step back, then fell and ended up sitting on the river bed with the water now flowing up above my belly! I was up as quick as I went down, but I was now soaked through. The evening temperature wasn’t too cold, but there was a decent wind, so I felt a bit cool, but decided to continue on without changing hoping the wind would dry me out.
We started the long slog up Mungrisedale and on through the bogs towards Blencathra with the cloud low, but not too thick, so we had a bit of visibility. We were soon on the top and making our way towards the summit, the cloud a bit thicker now.
We quickly found the ring marking the summit of Blencathra and as it was still pretty dry at this point we decided to head down my preferred route of Halls Fell Ridge. The rocks were mostly dry, but the cloud was still in and we started to drift slightly off the path to the right towards middle tongue, but Tony quickly put this right and had us back on the main trod in no time. I started to get a bit of rush when we could see the lights in Threlkeld and descended quickly. When we got to the bottom I looked up, but couldn’t see John’s head torch anywhere. Tony told me to carry on while he waited for John (who was carrying all the spare kit), so I ran alone down past the kennels and through a quiet sleeping Threlkeld crossing the A66 and into the cricket club car park where Paul Bonser was waiting along with Marti Ormston, Paul Walker and Spencer Grant. Leg one had taken 3:45, so I was about 9 minutes up on my 23 hour schedule.
I’d told Paul Bonser in advance that I didn’t want to hang around too long in Threlkeld, so I was directed straight into a chair for a quick rest of the legs, I was handed a tub of rice pudding and a cup of tea and while I had these Tony and John turned up and handed my spare gear and food for leg 2 to Marti while Paul Walker took a spare water bottle for me and we were off.
Like John I’ve known Marti Ormston since I was about 17 or 18 and he was also there for my first attempt (on the same Leg 2 with Mike Scandrett and Adam Maynard) whereas I had only known Paul Walker a couple of months after meeting him very early one morning near the A66 foot bridge in Keswick when we were both starting a recce of Leg 1.
The three of us set off at a jog down the lane towards Newsham chatting along the way. Marti joking with us that he wasn’t happy at all about the weather as last time he’d wanted to see the sun rise over Hellvelyn and it was looking like the weather was going to thwart his chances again.
We followed the fence up towards the old coach road and were still chatting away when I realised we were heading up the coach road in a bit of low cloud. I asked Paul if we’d over shot the gate we needed to find and he said he thought I was taking a different line, so we quickly turned around, found the gate and started on the long steep trod up towards Cloughhead falling silent as we hiked our way up in the dark, Paul now leading the way and setting the pace. As we ascended, the rain, which had been very fine since leaving Threlkeld started to come down faster and by the time we were at the summit it was getting heavy, so I asked Marti for my jacket, and then we were off again towards the Dodds.
With the weather getting worse now we pretty much just got our heads down and cracked on ticking off the Dodds, Raise, White Side, Lower Man and on up to Helvellyn – no sunrise for Marti again – just more rain, wind and cloud. Next came Nethermost Pike and Dollywagon Pike. Paul took us off Dollywagon via the zig zagging steps down towards Grisedale Tarn, which I’d not been down before, but was happy to use in the conditions as the steep grassy alternative would’ve been very slippery in the rain.
We made our way around the tarn and as Paul and I made our way up the steep out and back scree slopes of Fairfield Marti decided to catch his breath and wait for us at the bottom. After ticking off Fairfield we made our way back down collecting Marti on the way and started the climb up Seat Sandal and the last peak of leg 2.
As we got to the summit the rain was coming in horizontally now stinging our faces and making it difficult to see where we were heading and I had a little moment where I lost it and started shouting and swearing abuse at the weather to give us a break, frustrated to get bad conditions again! When I’d calmed down we set off down the steep slippery descent towards Dunmail Raise just about managing to stay on our feet for most of it.
I climbed the stile and crossed the road to where a number of cars and campervans were parked – some of them ours, some of them maybe belonging to crews of other attempts, but in the rain I couldn’t make out which ones were empty and which were occupied. I picked out Paul Bonser’s car and as I made my way towards it spotted Brian Stallwood’s face poking out of a window in his campervan; recognising him from his Facebook pictures. I was handed a warm coffee by Paul and another rice pudding and directed into the chair. At this point I was completely soaked to the skin, so while I tried to eat and drink Paul started trying to remove my jacket, top and t-shirt, then came the most surreal part of the whole round when I was stood in the nip between two car doors at the roadside at 6am in the pouring rain trying to towel myself dry and get fresh clothes on! I put a base layer on with a t-shirt over, then going on how bad the weather had been on leg 2 decided to add another t-shirt, then put my waterproof jacket back over the top making 4 layers and also slipped my waterproof trousers over my shorts to try and keep dry and warm for as long as possible before putting my wet Inov8 Mudclaws back on – I had a spare pair of shoes, but the Mudclaws had been great up to now, so I decided to stick with them. I was handed a bar and another coffee, which both went straight down. Leg 2 had taken 4:21, so including the short stop at Threlkeld I was still up about 13 minutes on my schedule, which I was happy with given the bad weather on that leg.
Paul Walker had planned to continue on leg 3 with us, but after a brutal 4 hours leading the way he decided to stop at Dunmail, so I thanked him for his help, said a quick cheers to Marti and John Barker and then Mike Scandrett, Brian Stallwood and I set off up Steel Fell.
I met Mike Scandrett in 2016 while we were both reccying Leg 3 before his successful round in June that year and we’ve become good mates since. Brian Stallwood had offered his services a week or two before my attempt, so this was the first time we’d met, so we ended up shaking hands and doing proper introductions on the way up a soaking wet Steel Fell. Brian completed his round in 2013. Brian was also joined by his dogs; Harry a border collie and Teasel a border terrier who he informed me have done all the Bob Graham legs at various times.
With my layers of dry clothes I was starting to warm up on the ascent, so had to undo my jacket zip to cool down a bit. Mike was having a bit of bother with his shoes, so fell slightly behind going up the steep bit, but by the time Brian and I reached the summit he’d caught up again and we were all off towards Calf Crag, Brian and dogs leading the way while Mike stuck with me.
It felt like no time at all before we’d been to calf crag and were on our way to Sergeant Man and although the rain was still hammering down with water streaming off the hills covering all the paths around Broadstone Head I remember feeling much stronger at this point than I had at the same point the previous August.
We followed the trod up parallel to the beck, Brian taking us up a line closer to the beck than I’ve gone before, but it gave us a few minutes shelter from the wind. As we approached Codale head I had to stop for a quick toilet break – not the easiest of tasks in the howling wind and rain and wearing multiple layers and waterproofs!, then on to summit Sergeant Man and then over the open ground to High Raise, where I was nearly blown straight over past the trig point. Then we set off south over Thunarcar Knott and onto Harrison Stickle. In the clag we missed the path and went up the wrong peak first and ended up coming all the way around it before getting to the summit and then down and over the stepping stones and on up to Pike O’ Stickle with a tricky scramble over the slick rocks to reach the summit.
After Pike O’ Stickle we decided to take the lower approach to Rossett Pike hoping the drop in to the valley would shelter us from the battering we were taking from the wind, but knowing we’d have a bigger climb up to the summit. Unfortunately the wind and rain were every bit as bad lower down and as we started our steep ascent the rain started to come in hard and almost horizontally, lashing off our faces and starting to dampen my spirit, but I knew it wouldn’t be too much further until we’d meet Lee Tait with fresh supplies.
We slowly climbed up to the summit and as we dropped off over the other side spotted Lee Tait sheltering as best he could from the wind and rain, but looking totally soaked through. I first met Lee in July 2015 when I helped out on leg 1 of his round, which was my first proper Bob Graham experience; and today he’d offered to hike up from The Old Dungeon Gill Hotel car park in Great Langdale with supplies for the second half of leg 3. He had everything out ready for us and had made coffee, which really hit the spot. The weather was still howling around us, so we quickly topped up water and supplies, had a bite to eat and after thanking Lee we were on our way again up the steep slopes of Bowfell.
As we started up Bowfell from Rossett Pike the water was streaming off the hill. We turned south looking for the small cairns marking the way across, but missed our line and ended up picking our way round a much steeper approach than planned and as I was starting to feel a bit fatigued I found this really hard going and relied on Mike for assistance up through the rocks while Brian went ahead trying to pick out the line to the summit. We eventually found the line we’d been chasing and worked our way across the slippery boulders to the summit.
Then a bit of running down off Bowfell towards Esk Pike, Great End, Ill Crag and Broad Crag having to pick my way careful across the wet, greasy rocks to each of the summits.
Down off Broad Crag and over the path and on upwards to the highest point of the round on Scafell Pike, which was still busy with tourists even in the terrible conditions. No time for photos for us today as we dropped down to Mickledore, along the West Wall Traverse and then up the steep Lord’s Rake towards the summit of Scafell. We’d gone the same route on my previous attempt and the views and conditions were equally as bad on both occasions.
We got to the top of Scafell and then immediately started on the long descent into Wasdale, Mike leading the way down over the rocks and grass towards the ridge and then a fast descent on the Rakehead Crag scree run, skating down the steep slope through the loose rock at speed. Then a bit more steep wet grass and a couple of slips (Mike sliding on his back for about 5-10 metres on one of them!) before we reached Lingmell Gill, which was in full spate and flowing at an alarming rate. Mike and I had to link arms to get across and when I got over found my water proof trousers had filled to the knees with water, the elasticated bottoms holding it in. Mike said he’d wait for Brian and the dogs to help them over, so I set off on the final ½ mile or so of Leg 3 alone feeling very low and broken after the relentless battering the weather had given us, with thoughts of pulling out starting to enter my mind.
I got into the busy Wasdale car park and found Paul’s car and again was directed into the chair, handed a cup of tea and a warmed up tub of rice pudding (I’m still not sure how Paul had warmed it up) and then stripped of my soaking wet top layers, which were replaced with 2 long sleeve tops, then a t-shirt, then my jacket back on top in an attempt to keep me warm. I also decided to ditch my waterproof trousers, which had been great at keeping the rain and wind out, but not so great at staying up and I’d spent the whole way round leg 3 pulling them up again and again.
Mike, Brian and the dogs had now arrived, so I thanked them and Paul Bonser for their help and set off through the car park with Tony Holt, Spencer Grant and Spencer’s dog Amber.
Due to the awful conditions Leg 3 had taken us just over 7 hours, so I was now over 50 minutes down on my schedule.
Like Tony Holt, Spencer Grant and I have mates in common, but had only met very briefly previously on Lee Tait’s round in July 2015 at Dunmail Raise. Spencer completed a very fast round in 2014.
We jogged the short stretch of road over the bridge and along to the gate marking the start of the long steep ascent of Yewbarrow (which has now become known as YewBastard!). The gate wouldn’t budge, so we all climbed over and Tony took the lead while Spencer fell in behind me keeping me steady when I would occasionally stumble backwards in the well-trodden foot holds on the way up. We’d started off chatting, but by the time we were nearing the top I fell silent and just kept moving onwards and upwards. We got to the top and lads gave me a little cheer, then one of them handed me a chunk of flapjack and told me to eat it and said they’d be giving me a cheese sandwich to get down shortly. I had a short walk from the summit trying my best to wash the flapjack down with my water, and then we were off at a jog overshooting our line very slightly towards Stirrup Crag before quickly back tracking and making our way down and contouring along the rocky path towards Dore Head and the start of the long slog up Red Pike.
Somewhere around here I was handed a couple of jelly snakes and told to get these down. This became standard throughout leg 4, bits of flapjack, jelly snakes, gels, bars – just keep eating!
I hadn’t really noticed, but the rain had stopped somewhere around Wasdale, but the cloud was still in around us and the wind was still howling and buffeting us on the way up Red Pike. The forecast had been for strong southerly gales, but it was coming from all angles. The top finally came and we set straight off for Steeple the lads running in front now, setting the pace to pull me along.
Due to the gusts of wind Tony waited back with Amber the dog while Spencer and I headed across the short ridge to summit Steeple and then after picking my way slowly back across the rocks we were all off again on our way to Pillar. Occasionally the odd runner would appear out of the mist running towards us during the Ennerdale Horseshoe Fell Race, but other than that the mountains seemed empty. With Pillar summited we worked our way along and down towards Black Sail Pass. Somewhere along here the cheese (and ham) sandwich appeared and again I was told to eat and after struggling with the first mouthful for what seemed like ages my belly decided it liked it and would have some more and I wolfed it down.
The rain was coming and going now, but the wind continued to howl and blow the mist around us and my now tired brain was telling me I might not be able to finish in time (I’d pulled out at Honister last time after 22:00 hours). When I’d asked about my time at Wasdale Paul Bonser had said don’t worry about the time, just keep moving, and when I’d asked Tony he told me it was still doable, but I was convinced he was just trying to keep my spirits up, but physically I was feeling ok and kept moving as fast as I could not wanting to be beaten by the weather.
When we reached the foot of Kirk Fell, Spencer led us along a path I hadn’t used before. I was told this was the way to the racing route up Kirk Fell and we soon reached the bottom of a long rocky gulley heading up into the clouds.
I started thesteep climb up through the red rock and shingle and reached a shelf marking roughly two thirds of the way up. The walls of the gulley were giving us a little bit of shelter from the wind, but it was still hard going, so I stopped for a quick breather. While I was stood there getting a quick picture taken by Tony I was passed by Jim Mann who was taking part in the Billy Bland Challenge. Jim shouted “Are you going to do it?” I replied something like “I hope so” and as he sped past he yelled “Well done, you’ll get major points when you finish in these conditions”, which gave me a little boost.
There was no hanging about when we got out of the gulley and Spencer and Tony went ahead following the old fence line towards the summit. I was trying my best to catch up and slipped on a wet rock and rolled my right ankle. There was a moment of bad pain and fear that I’d done some damage, but it eased off and I continued on up the hill to the extremely blustery peak struggling to pick my way over the rocks to touch the shelter/cairn. Then as we worked our way down through the grass and rock towards Great Gable, Spencer reminded me that we only had one more big climb to do on this leg.
We gradually worked our way up the single track gravel paths of Great Gable trying not to be blown off course or off the hill by the gales. Tony was leading the way at this point and managed to take us a line that didn’t require too much scrambling, which I was glad of. We kept progressing upwards and all of a sudden were at the top. A quick climb up to touch the stones of the cairn and we were soon heading North East over the rocks for the descent back down to Windy Gap and on up the next hill.
At the top Tony asked me what the name of this hill was. I thought he was testing me to see if I was still focusing ok, but when I asked him about it afterwards he said he’d genuinely temporarily forgotten the name of Green Gable. From here we made our way down off Green Gable and back up towards Brandreth, the wind now finally on our side and behind us helping us along.
After Brandreth we followed the fence along to Grey Knotts having to use boulders as stepping stones to get over the larger than usual tarn. As we approached the huge chunk of rock that is Grey Knotts the sky suddenly started to clear and I saw the first proper sunshine and daylight since the previous day.
To make things even better Tony told me it was now 6:00pm and it would take us another 15 minutes to get down in to Honister, giving me 3 hours 45 minutes to finish in under 24 hours. Spurred on by this we made our way down the steep boggy slopes towards a busy Honister, where I could already see cars parked and people milling about the car park.
As we approached the old tram way down to the car park Spencer and Tony dropped back and I ran in to the busy car park alone now feeling up beat knowing that unless something went very wrong on Leg 5 I now had this. I spotted Paul’s car and headed straight for it and found everyone in good spirits.
Leg 4 had taken us 4 hours 52 minutes.
For the final time that day I was directed in to the chair and handed another rice pudding and a cup of tea. I also ate a jam sandwich and was handed a bar by Paul, which I stuck in my pocket for on the way. I removed one of the long sleeve tops, stuck my jacket back over, had a quick picture taken and then Emma Holt, Al McCaig, Spencer Grant and I were off on the final leg.
This was the first time I’d met Tony’s wife Emma Holt. Tony told me during Leg 4 that she was going to be joining me for the final leg. I’d first met Alistair McCaig when we were both supporting Lee Tait on Leg 1 of his round in July 2015 and he’d been there on Leg 1 of my previous attempt.
We set off through the car park, crossed over the road and headed up the hill towards Dale Head going up the right of the fence, where I’d always gone up the left on my recces.
Spencer continued the forced feeding from leg 4 and handed me some flap jack to eat. He also offered me a can of Red Bull, which I really didn’t fancy, so he drank it instead. With Spencer on food duty Al and Emma were on drink duty handing me bottles to drink from then taking them away again, so I had less to carry. The wind was still blowing strong, but the sky was clearer and the sun was out and I was feeling a bit more relaxed now and chatted to Emma as we hiked up the hill, until Spencer told us we were chatting too much and still had a job to do, so we picked up the pace a bit. I always forget how long the climb up to Dale Head is, but we eventually made it to the 40th peak and were greeted with amazing views of the surrounding mountains. We stopped for a quick photo and then were on our way again.
With thoughts of finishing at the Moot Hall starting to enter my head Hindscarth, peak 41 came and went, the still strong wind not bothering me anymore. Somewhere around here I stopped to remove a long sleeved top starting to finally warm up in the late sunshine.
Then came the hike/jog up the final big climb of the round up to the 42nd and final peak of Robinson. The wind was on our side again coming from directly behind us helping to push us up the hill. After touching the stones I was congratulated by Emma, Al and Spencer and started on the descent down to Newlands.
At this point Emma spotted an almost new looking Garmin watch lying in the trod just down from the peak. She put it in her bag and said she’d try and re-unite it with its owner somehow, and then told me about various other finds her and Tony had made and re-united with their owners! (I later found out via Strava that the watch belonged to Dave Teggart, who started his round an hour before mine and finished just ahead of me, so I put Emma in touch with him so she could return the watch).
We dropped down over the crags and I thought we were about to head straight along the ridge, which is the only route I’ve used off Robinson, but I was assured by Spencer that the steep grassy drop to the path below was a better route, so off we went down the hill. My legs were still working okay and my shoes were gripping well, so I ran down at a good pace. The wind wasn’t as bad down here and the sun was still shining and I was warming up again, so off came my jacket. We headed along the path, spencer asking which route I preferred (I don’t mind either) and then we were through the gate and on the way down to Newlands Church. As we approached the church I spotted Paul Bonser snapping away at us with his camera. I’d already decided that as my shoes had gotten me this far I wasn’t going to bother changing them now and let Paul know this. Paul and Mike were parked up just round the corner from the church, so we kept the run going until we reached the car and quickly topped up water and I grabbed a couple of gels and off we went on the final push along the roads back into Keswick.
I was feeling great – I think it was a mixture of adrenalin, elation and all the food that Spencer and Tony had been making me eat!, so I took off along the roads through Stair and on towards Portinscale only slowing on the steeper hills. I felt strong, but could now feel every step on my right ankle where I had gone over on it during leg 4 but we were still hitting 7-8 minute mile pace as I realised that I could still get under 23 hours. Emma was counting down the distance; 5 miles, in to Stair, 4 miles, 3 miles, through Portinscale, 2 miles, over the bridge and along the path then we were into the final mile of my Bob Graham Round and before we knew it we were on the main road heading for the High Street. As we got to the small roundabout outside the Co-Op I could see Elaine and everyone waiting near the market area and waved to get their attention. When we got to where they were waiting Olivia, Niamh, Callum, Emily and James started to run in with me. I didn’t burst into tears at the sight of them as I’d warned everyone I might, but I was grinning ear to ear and as we approached the Hall I could hear shouts of encouragement and support from both complete strangers and people I knew. Then I was at the steps and up them and touching the doors of the Moot Hall 22 hours and 51 minutes after I’d left there the previous evening. GET IN!!!!!!!!
Including the short break at Honister Leg 5 had taken us 2 hours 31 minutes.
I staggered down the stairs not quite believing I’d done it and spent the next 5-10 minutes hugging and shaking hands with family, friends and those who’d been involved.
I didn’t make it to the pub afterwards, but I did get handed fish & chips and a can of beer and sat outside the Moot Hall for the next half hour eating and drinking and trying to take in what I’d just achieved.
What did hit me straight away was that there was no way I could’ve completed my round that day without the help and support of some amazing people for which I am extremely grateful – in order of appearance….. Paul Bonser, John Barker, Tony Holt, Martin Ormston, Paul Walker, Mike Scandrett, Brian Stallwood (and Harry and Teasel), Lee Tait, Spencer Grant (and Amber), Emma Holt and Al McCaig and also Elaine and the kids for putting up with my training and constant BG chat!