Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Bob Graham Round Reccie, Legs 1 & 2

BGR Leg 1 and 2 Route. Starting Keswick then crossing the
A66 and over all the Helvellyn Range. Simples !
26 miles, 3600m

Well, seeing as we were in Grasmere anyway I thought it would be rude not to.  Especially as Teresa gave me a full day pass out on the understanding that she has 2 short MTB rides over the weekend - DEAL !

Original intention was to hook up with a couple of guys from the FRA Forum, but illness ruled that out so I headed off from Keswick at 8am on mi tod to find out what it was all about.

I've not really done a lot of long running this year, but have felt great every time that I have, for instance the last one was 33 mile Long Tour of Bradwell route a month ago in 6h 10mins.  I was understandably anxious but confident that these two legs would be in the bag no sooner than saying "where's my compeed".

The morning was stunning. Cool, clearish skies, with some wispy cloud clinging to the tops which looked like it would burn off. Sadly, I was travelling light, so no phone or camera !

First climb up Skiddaw was a pleasure and made the summit easily with me losing 5-10 mins attempting a shortcut trod, which turned out to be a long detour! Light mist shrouded the descent down to the round sheepfold, but it soon became clear - phew. Didn't see a soul now for an hour or so, until I summited on Blencathra. Again, another 5 mins lost on suboptimal route choice but nothing major.

The Halls Fells Descent was a pure pleasure ! What a great scramble - I'd only ever done Sharp Edge, but I think this is probably better than that - even if not ideal for running over. Still got down to Threlkeld in around 30 mins I think. Water top up.

I think it's fair to say I was keeping an eye on the watch, but was not rushing to a schedule. I'd got 2 numbers in my head.

* 3h50 at Threlkeld (end of Leg 1)
* 8h to Dunmail Raise (end of Leg 2 just above Grasmere)

When I put more thought into it, I realised that I had no idea what overall schedule these times were taken from, but thought they were 23hour schedule. I'd got to Threlkeld in 3h50 so was bang on schedule but I would be the first to admit I wasn't going slow so was a little surprised to only be 'on schedule'. Hmmm, something to mull over for the next 4 hours then !!!

The climb up Clough Head was the first tough one to be frank. It's virtually hands on knees at the top, so I was glad to pop out on the summit next to some handgliders. Pleasantries exchanged.

I knew it was easy running from then on all the way to Fairfield so just relaxed into it. Well, as much as I could as my toes were getting increasingly angry with me for putting fell shoes on which were too big and only 1 thin pair of socks ! Not good.

5 minute chat to some folk on one of the tops and at last a time to simply admire the stunning views. It was amazing tbh. Tops then just ticked off with very easy running interspersed with the odd steep shuffle-cum-walk. Helvellyn was littered with people and a tent so no stopping there then, quickly off to find Dollywagon to be reminded just how steep the descent was to Grizedale Tarn.

BGR Route Profile Legs 1 and 2. Note Clough Head
around 14 miles and the descent to Grizedale Tarn
around 24 miles.
With my feet in a very poor way now, the descent looked awful, but no time to stop and dither - it went quickly and after a quick waterstop, the climb up the screes to Cofa Pike was equally quick much to my surprise - it looked almost vertical about 10 minutes earlier !

The descent off Fairfield to Seat Sandal was again very hard on the feet, now getting to the point where it was all I could think about. Looking at the watch with more scrutiny then now as I knew the finish was around 20-30 mins away and I was 7h35 in heading up Seat Sandal. The final descent was dreadfully slow and painful (no painkillers today) to finish in around 8 hours which was the original intention of the day.

I've since found out that I was on 22hour schedule there and not 23hour schedule which explains why I found it harder to hit the timescales than I'd expected.

Conclusions of the Reccie ?
* Legs need more descending (not climbing). They're not used to it and have felt very sore in the days afterwards !
* I need to pay attention to footwear on the day.
* 22hour schedule is achievable with good feet.
* Accurate nav is essential as there's just no room for error in the schedule.
* There's only a little opportunity for water top ups on Leg 2. Seemingly even less on Legs 3 4 and 5 !
* Pacers will therefore be pretty important to ferry water more than anything.
* Do it when good weather but cool - the views are too good to miss !