Russels 2012 Bob Graham 2.0
2nd Jul 2012
Actually this was Wasdale
Kick Off in Keswick
Well, after months of training through a never ending winter it's finally here - we're assembled at the Moot Hall and the clock is ticking down the minutes to midnight, there's a good crowd to see us off, the weather is promising and I feel fit enough to sort out some unfinished business from that storm bound night in 2008.
This is a joint attempt with Brian Goodison of Abbey Runners - we've joint support to Dunmail then separate from there to allow for differing speeds of forward progress.
"One minute to go lads" - a hug and a kiss from Jeanette, the flash of cameras and that's it .... we're off!!
Keswick to Threlkeld - support Stuart Air, George Bate and Simon Anderson.
Steady away out of Fitz Park and off up round Latrigg, the Bingley midnight team take us early at a fast pace (we're not tempted to chase). We're all chatting away and cover the ground at a good pace up Jenkin Hill, mist and clouds blow in a for a while but then clear as we reach the summit plateau and we are treated to a great view of the full moon reflecting its light off Derwent Water ... the omens are good I think to myself.
We hit the trig point at 01.23 a few minutes ahead of schedule, we scamper along the ridge and down to the level ground of the shoulder where Stu takes us on a baring to the fence, over we go and find the trod down over Hare Crag. It's been pretty dry for the past 2 weeks but feet are quickly soaked by the bogs, strangely enough it feels a bit comforting having spent so much of the winter with soaking wet feet!
Nicely across to the path up Great Calva and hit the top at 02.08 - very happy with that. Stu leads us down the left of the fence line, on a great little trod through the gate, before I know it we're wading across the Caldrew and on a baring up Mungrisedale Common. I feel a bit sick up here, just the impact of the wee small hours I think, anyway the opening serenade of Skylarks brings me round and I can now see the faint outline of Blencathra looming ahead.
We take a nice line across the screes of Atkinson Crag and a few minutes later we're teetered at the top of Halls Fell ridge at 03.25, the poles are tucked away a deep breath is taken and Stu leads us on a predominantly left hander down into the abyss ... Simon is a bit windy on some of the more exposed sections but Brian and I take him in hand and steady his nerves allowing us to pass the Bingley crew.
This is all going great - we're on schedule, the weather is fine, the dawn is flooding in, the "drama free night" that I had hoped for is just about over .... THUD, I take a tumble and bray my right hand on the rocks, my immediate though is it's broken, I banish the thought straight away because that just can't happen not today ...
Ten minutes later we're at the handover - Chris Porritt is there all prepared with porridge and hot teacakes, she tends to the hand while we pass on food to Treena and Gary, the night boys pat our backs and send us on our way. Leg1 - job done.
Threlkeld to Dunmail
Support Treena Johnson and Gary Johnson.
Unsurprisingly Treena is a bit giddy and jabbers on about this and that all the way, across the boggy ground we scamper to the rail carriage and the big track. The Bingley boys are closing again, they take the direct line straight up Clough Head while we opt for the more efficient ridge crest line and enjoy a steady haul up to the top ... it always strikes me on a clockwise round that the first 4 peaks are really hard fought for and this is a further reminder of that - a bit puffed we jog on to the trig.
The chasers pass us and speed away - let them get on with it I tell myself and I really hope Brian doesn't want to chase them down, thankfully he's happy to play the long game.
Great Dodd falls to schedule and from there it's peak bagging heaven - a scamper to Watsons, a jog up Stybarrow, a saunter up Raise, Whiteside, Lowerman (baby Helvellyn per Treena!) - we hit Helvellyn bang on at 06.38, phew!
Back at 06.00 I've dispatched the text to Jeanette to let her know that we're on track but that I've had a bit of a knock to my hand and need her to bring the first aid kit to Dunmail, I've also textd Binnsey to say AOK for the Dunmail crew. One of the biggest stresses on a BGR are the logistics rather than the running itself, so you keep your communications to a small number of trusted people.
We make a slight bollocks of Dollywagon by taking a lower peak too early, but quickly rectify that by hitting the real summit and taking a good line down by the fence post sighted on the wall up Seat Sandal. It's a bugger of a descent down to Grizedale Tarn - steep and grassy - but after the odd slip and slide we hit the contouring path and head for the col, I feel good and I'm pushing on a little now, there's plenty left in the tank so I ease back again having tested the horsepower!
I really don't like the Fairfield climb - I would like to travel back in time and ask "Bob - why Fairfield?" The second question would be "Bob - why Steeple?"
Brian is moving strongly, meanwhile Treena has stopped for a comfort break and will wait for us to come back down, then Gary starts cramping badly and I shout back for him to wait also we'll be back in 20minutes. So up and down we go then regroup for the climb of Seat Sandal, Gary cramps again poor lad and hands the rucksack to Treena - I know he's gutted and I want to tell him not to be ... but no time for that, refocus Russ and press on.
I pull ahead a little bit up here so I can take a little breather at the top before we regroup and head off for Dunmail, before we know it the cars are coming into view, I can see some hurried activity then Brian and I jog in together 5 minutes up on schedule at 08.23 - this is dream stuff, it's sunny, I feel good, game on!
Dunmail is very busy and it's amazing how quickly 10mins passes, I just want 5 minutes peace and I just know it won't happen - Jeanette is focused and concerned, feeding me and changing socks/shoes, Binnsey gives me 2 HUGE painkillers, the hand is examined by many, I spill rice pudding down my front, the peaches go down my face, marmalade sarnie, cheese and ham sarnie, 2 cups of tea, gear and food to Binnsey/Almond. Julian races off "Broad Stand mate, see you there, yes?". Bang 10 minutes is over, the biggest baddest section of BGR lies ahead and that's it we're off again.
Binns post fun
Dunmail to Wasdale
Support Dave Binns, Dave Almond, Dave Hinchcliffe and Mike Ayres.
Brian is just behind with Dave Hinchcliffe and Mike Ayres, the six of us climb steadily and smoothly up Steel Fell - I didn't expect to be coming up here gripping the poles with a dodgy hand but the tablets are kicking in and I just grind it out. I take a quick look back and see Gary sprinting in along the road - really chuffed he's got through his cramps, I can see people are chatting and packing their cars, it looks friendly and welcoming ... whereas I'm trogging up a big steep grassy slope, I don't turn round again it's distracting me from the job in hand - head down Russ, crack on.
Binnsey and Almond, aka Wingman & Shotgun - I can sense the testosterone in the air and just know they are gagging to put it in the big ring and press the hammer down - so I do my best and away we go. I ask how they're going to get me up Broad Stand, they turn to each other, smile broadly and say " don't you worry about that Russ we'll get you up" ...my stomach churns!
We top out Steel Fell on schedule, then on the way over to Calf Crag I see that Brian is dropping a bit behind and I really hope that it's just a bad patch that he can get through. I send shotgun back to check and he reports all's ok so we crack on again.
The day's warming up now and it's great just to be out in the mountains in shorts and tee-shirt for the first time in 2012 - I keep drinking as much as I can, I have had enough of the nuuns by now and stick to plain water, shotgun introduces me to the delights of boiled salted spuds and keeps plying me with my sandwiches. Wingman is out leading the way and we track to time across Sergeant Man, High Raise, Thunacar, Harrison and Pike O'Stickle. Guts feel a bit bad so I manage to sneak out the biggest poo ever (sorry sheep) ...
Wingman takes a good grassy line to the left on the way over to Rossett, they look back and do a check on Brian who is a fair way behind now (I start to get a bit concerned), then the Bingley boys are being caught at a rapid rate - maybe it's me that's doing well ...Top of Rossett their man looks totaled and his boys look a bit worried ... can't concern yourself with them Russ, just keep going.
Bowfell - now 3 weeks ago up here in winter weather our lovely little pooch Gus dragged me all over the bloody place chasing sheep/lambs and I ended up in deepish shit shinnying across steep slabs with said idiot dog in hot pursuit of fresh meat. SO, I want a calm ascent, and we get that thank goodness and top out at mid-day just about bang on schedule. Wingman and shotgun look determined so I take a deep breath and prepare for the next few hours of rock hopping.
"How many false tops does Esk Pike have", shotgun informs it's three ... at the top of third false top we spot a fourth!! We get a decent line up on grass to Great End, we pass a team who are reccying Leg3 and they wish us all the best. Ill Crag and Broad Crag fall to some spritely hopping, the crowds in their Reeboks coming down Scafell Pike look at us like we're mad - we touch the top of Scafell Pike and wingman legs it on to Mickledore to herald my arrival.
I can see the rope men in position, I try another grip of my right pole - it hurts, oh shit I think this isn't going to be good. Wingman has already swarmed up the bottom two pitches as I squeeze through fat mans agony, Kev Hill dangles the rope and shotgun ties me on, shotgun informs me he's going to leg it to Wasdale to pre warn my arrival.
I just wish we could have filmed the next 5 minutes - Kev hauling, me squealing, Kev pushing, me squealing louder, Pete Hill hauling, wingman dangling off the cliff grabbing my left arm, Julian pinned ashen to the rock face ... bloody good job I went to the toilet earlier!!!
Major difficulties over the guys shout up the rock face to wish us well, we swarm up the easier scrambling above and soon enough Scafell is bagged and we're on the horrible descent to Wasdale - at nearly 3000ft down this is a real test of the old quads, but bit by bit we pick our way down, wingman finds good ground and spots the stile, soon enough there are people clapping, then I'm sitting down again, getting a hug, washed and fed. Secretly inside I know I can do this now, despite the useless hand I actually feel pretty good!
The guys tell me Brian has had to pull out, I'm gutted for him - all that bloody training - as it sinks in he walks in with Dave and Mike, he's dejected and is clearly in an emotional state, poor lad ... he'll be back.
Jeanette feeds and tends to me, the lads sort their gear, they secretly check out my eye balls to see if I've got it left in me, they pack their rucksacks and we're ready for the off again - 14.55 so we're only 10mins behind, the omens are good.
"Two more pain killers Russ - yeah, go on mate ..."
Cramming in Wasdale
Wasdale to Honister
Support Andy Cottier, Martin Kaye, Stuart Air.
Now on my first BGR back when I was a lad in 1996 the climb up Yewbarrow was utterly desperate and took me well over an hour, so I am not looking forward to this at all, but the lads lead me steadily upward on a good line and I just keep pegging away, then before I can believe it there's Andy saying "good work mate, you've pissed it, 48 minutes" - and away we go at a happy trot.
Red Pike is a drag but again we're bang on schedule, Stu takes a grassy line over towards Steeple (Bob - why Steeple?) and at this point the clag comes down and a stiff breeze picks up - long sleeved tops are donned all round.
Andy feeds me his loopy juice, Martin keeps me talking and Stu drops down to the south side of Bollock Crag (Black Crag, but christened otherwise per Cotts back in 2006 " ... we've hit that wrong crag again, bollocks .." ) and leads us on a nifty little trod to the col before Pillar. We climb up at a good pace and despite the gnawing pain from my hand I am inwardly smiling because I know this is going well, we hit the summit and move quickly off.
It's a nasty rocky descent off Pillar and it's blowing stronger now, Martin senses I'm shivering and offers me a jumper ... that's better, now lets crack on.
I've not been looking forward to the sharp end of Kirk Fell - a climb requiring two good hands whichever line you take, but Stu leads us up the fence line and Martin covers my rear end in case of a backward summersault and in next to no time we're up and there's Cotts a bit ahead indicating the line to the top. I don't like coming off this place - lots of sharp rocks when you've got weary legs - it brings back memories of 1996 and Chris McGuire's forward roll (sorry Chris I know you've carried that injury these past 16 years).
At the bottom of Gable we pass some supporters of the Bingley crew, they look cold and a bit dejected "have you seen them, they were 45 mins behind you at Wasdale" " sorry love seen nowt as yet, good luck to them if they make it through"
The lads are cheery "get up Gable Russ and it's all down hill mate" - so I duly oblige and at a steady climb we summit the Gable, it's cold and windy, I want off this rocky place, I want something hot to drink and a Ginsters - Stu scampers off and we chase hard to keep sight of him in the gathering gloom.
Time speeds up for me now - Windy Gap, Green Gable, Brandreath, Grey Knotts - the occasional "Stu, slow down" from Cotts and Martin ushering me forward. Soon we're scampering down towards Honister and I can see very few cars - I can see Jeanette s green jacket and a few other shapes milling around, one looks like Wingman, can't be you're hallucinating Russ ...
Now I've been through this descent hundreds of times in my head as part of the psychological preparations (visualisation really does work a treat!), I know for a fact that to be comfortable I need 3hr30 from here so I've been willing my watch not to go past 20.30 - I hit the slate mine car park at 20.17 ... phew, thank god, THIS IS DEFINITELY ON!!
"Wingman, what the hell are you doing here mate", "your other pacers are either injured or have decided to pull out mate, so you were in danger of having no-one,we're not having that so me Inky and Treena came up with Jeanette" - well what can I say, what a great bunch of mates these guys are!
They've been there a while and are all cold and wanting to get going, Jeanette is shivering - we all sort of huddle into the back of the Rav4, scoff as much as we can, I destroy the Ginsters, spill hot tea all down my face - no room for eating pretty at this stage.
"We're off at 20.25" - I'm talking for the benefit of myself rather than them but it helps me focus. Big jacket goes on, can't be arsed with long trousers, think I'm ready. Cotts and Stu have decided to make the last leg also. Jeanette gives me a hug and a kiss - "half eleven at the Moot Hall - got that, half eleven - be careful, you can do this now .." It's cold and gloomy but we're ready to go.
" Two more pain killers Russ, yeah go on mate ... "
Honister to Keswick
Supporters Dave Binns, Dave Hinchcliffe, Treena Johnson, Stuart Air, Andy Cottier.
Having such a big posse is brilliant - they're all chattering away and I just listen to what they're describing is unfolding around me - there are attentive looks round at me and they shepherd me upwards and onward.
Dale Head is normally a real pain on tired legs (ask anyone who has done Borrowdale!) but strangely I find it pretty easy, I'm not saying I'm going quickly but I'm going steady and that's all I need to do, a steady process of one foot in front of the other - I switch on the visualisation channel again to see what's left to be done and there's nothing to frighten me, this is SO ON just keep going.
It's dropping dark, the wind is whipping and I for one am pretty dam cold - so it's nice to just keep trotting along and keeping warm. The procession to Hindscarth and Robinson is a familiar one - Stu leads the way hitting every track perfectly, Cotts and Inky chase him to keep him in sight, Treena tracks them two, wingman does what wingmen do and constantly at my side or two yards behind me coaxing me ever forward.
Hindscarth - tap the cairn with the poles "41", Robinson - tap the cairn with the poles "42" - cheers and shouts go up around me. "It's nearly 10pm Russ, what can you do from here mate" Stu enquires "get me off this f.ing heap of rock as fast as you can mate"- he duly obliges and in failing light we descend to the rocky step (Treena says nothing but I know she's worried about the rock climb down), we negotiate said step incident free then it's the steep grass past the blossoming Rowen tree, soon enough we're on the path, head torches back on and we press on for Littletown.
As we run past the church we see lights descending Robinson, it's the Bingley crew - what a performance their man was dead 10hrs ago! Well it's 6mile of road jogging and I've got 90minutes, so I know I'm going to complete so I can relax and walk, jog, walk, jog all the way.
The guys are brilliant, laughing and joking, keeping my spirits up, "fish and chips and a pint if you keep this up Russ" Inky says. Time passes slowly "look Russ that's the lights of Keswick over there", " Portinscale 3 miles", " Portinscale 1mile", "look we're in Portinscale". The Bingley crew run past at quite a speed "brilliant effort lads well done" I say "see you at Moot Hall mate"
Then we're over the bridge and on the track through the fields, we get very strange looks from the people returning from their nights out, we hit the road, the team speed up, we hit the roundabout, the team speed up more, " I'm going to cry " (Treena not me), we hit the town centre - the team slow down "get to the front Russ and put on a sprint for the crowds", I try my best - people are clapping, I can see the Moot Hall, Jeanette is jumping up and down - I touch the Moot Hall and check my watch - 23.41 - job done!
Ask anyone who has completed The Round and they'll say that one of the best things at the end is very simple ... just to stop! So stopping is a true joy, the hand shakes, the hugs, the back slapping, the photos ... all the icing on the cake.
All knackered we beat a hasty retreat to the house HQ, Heather empties the cupboards of everything edible, we spend an hour scoffing the lot and have a well earned beer a piece - listening to all the stories going across the room I realise how much a BGR means to everyone involved not just the runners, I'm shattered but it's an absolute joy just to soak it all in. Eventually people start their long weary drives home, others bunk down on the floor and I crash in bed ... first sleep for 42hrs, very quickly zzzzzzzzzzz.
The next morning I realise that's it, I've put the record straight from 2008, a year in the planning and 9 months solid training - it's done and dusted. A feeling of immense pride and satisfaction overwhelms me, I bid adieu to the remaining supporters, texts are coming in from all over the place giving congratulations - it's all just so great to experience, moreover to share it all with loved ones, friends old and new.
By lunchtime my mind has already turned to the next time I can enjoy the utter joy and freedom of a great day out on the fells supporting a close friends BGR - my instincts tell me it won't be so long ......
Airedale Hospital A&E, young female doctor examines xrays of right hand "...yes Mr.Thomas it's a clean diagonal fracture of your 4th Metacarpal, that's the bone that connects your finger to your wrist, so in essence when fractured it's not connected - I do hope you iced and rested it immediately after your fall " .....
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