Monday, 14 May 2012

Bob Graham Round Reccie, Legs 3-5

Note the amount of Cars parked for the Keswick / Barrow run!
4,400m & 45 miles, 13h

Saturday I awoke to clear blue skies and the forecast was good all day, so I knew that it was going to be a great backpack.

First shock though was that it was the Keswick / Barrow (40+) run and I couldn't even park anywhere on Dunmail Raise - couldn't believe the level of support and just how many were cooking fry ups !

Intention for the day was to take it steady checking lines and get around Gable then get the tent out and carry on to Keswick the next day. The first opportunity to check out lines came sooner than I thought at Calf Crag where before I knew it I was heading to High Raise and not Seargant Man. Oops !

View from Steel Fell
I started running with Ray and Ian (attempt on 15th June) from High Raise so it was fun having some company and picking up advice on lines. Lots of small climbs and some good running up there with time for a photo stop at Pike o stickle. The ascent to Rossett Pike was the first opportunity for a mistake - we took it spot on but visibility was perfect and in clag it could be tricky - need to make a note of the bearings...

Rossett was where we started to encounter rocks and from there we eyed up "Billy Blands rake" - it seemed quite obvious from below but once you're on it, it never seems so clear ! The climb to Bowfell passed a lot quicker than I'd feared, and it was here that I bumped into Duncan and his support crew. I soon found out that he was on sub20 schedule so I hooked up with them as I knew they were doing all the route (and more) that I intended.

The pace could best be described as "keen" but manageable and with a full pack on I didn't know how long I'd last but figured it ought to MTFU and at least try !

View from Pike o Stickle
It was on Scafell Pike that Duncan and me got chatting and I found out that he'd finished the Fellsman 2 weeks ago just in front of me - 13hours vs 13h15 for me.  Handy for knowing at the back of my mind that we must be similar in pace... Not often you get to see all the Scafell massif so now I know the lines - I've got to memorise them for when I'm in the clag as it's nearly always in cloud up there. I also got a good look at Broad Stand which didn't appear too bad, but Duncan is a good climber, so I'm not sure how that would convert to me !

Summitting Yewbarrow - photo courtesy of Bill Williamson
I missed Scafell out simply as they'd taken the rope up with them and if I'd done Foxes I'd have been well down. Leg 3 down, now for a 10 min break in the sunshine at Wasdale before leg 4.  A new support crew for Duncan now - Bart, Chad and Matt. Yewbarrow was bad, but there was a path all the way. What I had wiped from my memory however was how huge Red Pike, Pillar, Kirk fell and Gable all looked. This leg was a major undertaking in it's own right !!! We all ran out of water coming off Kirkfell and I've since found out there's a spring on the Wasdale side of Black Sail pass which may help next time.

Energy could best be described as "adequate, could do better" as the guys descended the rocky stuff a lot better than me (partly due to full pack, partly due to being crap at rocky descents) so I used up more energy keeping up with them.  The gable climbs and descent were both very rough - going up a scrambly gully then down through lots of rocks - lovely!

Buttermere about 7pm
Once you're past Gable on the Bob Graham it's in the bag really as the rocks convert into grass after that - a huge relief as it was my toes (again) hurting and not my legs. No pain killers taken though and I know I'd take them on the day. Lovely running again to Honister and a biggish crowd for Duncan - truly putting in a heroic performance now as he had not slowed at all.

No one was really clear on the schedule that we may hit and it wasn't for a while that we knew he'd be well under 20h and closer to 19h30. He only hit one tiny rough patch up Dale Head on the whole of the round, and after that was as spritely as ever ! The climbs never cease with Dale Head being big as was Robinson but as Robinson was the 42nd and final peak it didn't matter how big it was. The sun going down over Buttermere had to be seen to be believed - no time for a camera stop now sadly ! A 'keen' descent from a tree off Robinson meant my toes were well and truly mangled just in time for the 5 mile road run home. Nice.

Pace was then very slowly upped all the way back and thankfully my energy levels didn't dip below "good" so I found it comfortable. 19h 32 was Duncan's final time at the Moot Hall - very very impressive and I think I'd been running for just over 13 hours.

So - gotta be pleased with that - the stats...

45ish Miles, 14000ft of ascent and descent, 19h30 schedule and a full pack on, 13h+ on my feet.

In my mind that day was harder than the Fellsman 2 weeks ago - simply due to the pack I was carrying - so that probably makes it the hardest run I've ever done. Glad I felt good at the end of it, with virtually no lows all day. The difference here was that I had enough food - I didn't on the Fellsman.

Just gotta sit down with a map now a try and remember all of those damn short cuts I should have remembered !
BGR 3-5 : Starting far right, around Wasdale,
then heading north to Keswick


Simon Anderson said...

When is your attempt Alan?

I supported on leg 2 on Friday night and have mine planned for 21st July.

Do you require any support?


Alan Billington said...

Yes, the more support the better! but I'm diarising either 14 or 21st July too! 1am start. Don't think that fits for us. What time do you think you will start ?

Anonymous said...

You're nails, you are!
If I support your attempt I just hope I can keep up!

Alan Billington said...

u daft sod. To be honest, it may be easier than the Solo unsupported MTB ride I did last year which started my blog. 23:59 and NOT hanging around Mark!!

Stu Stod said...

Good luck with your BG attempt. I'm sure after reading bits of this blog that your more then capable.

Alan Billington said...

Cheers Stuart - appreciated