Dave Almonds Bob Graham 2011
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Moot Hall
Clockwise, Start at Midnight

What better way to spend your 31st birthday by taking in 42 Lake District Peaks in 24 hours.

Following a few supports last year, I decided to have a go at the Bob Graham Round. I picked the date because it was my birthday and didn't want a fuss with cards and all that stuff, although there was cake in good supply throughout the weekend.

After arriving on the Thursday and getting set up at the campsite I went to the local pub for a couple of nerve settlers. This didn't seem to work as I was awake at 08:00 on the Friday morning. Not quite the lie in I'd hoped for, but I was hopefull of dozing for a couple of hours late afternoon/early evening. This wasn't to happen as I seemed to be mainlining caffine throughout the day. I tried for a lie down, but this didn't work, so I opted for a few cups of coffee instead.

Throughout the afternoon and evening, the support crew were arriving. Kirsten and Richard Gilbert were in a bossy mood (which did nothing to help my nerves) and most things, eventually, got sorted.

Fast forward a couple of hours and it was midnight. The Moot Hall door was tapped and I headed off into the distance with Jim Mann and Tony Ward. As we climbed up past Latrigg, the coud was down low and we dropped a couple of minutes on the 21.57 schedule on the way up Skiddaw. Tony was struggling with the pace as well, but he kept up on the run off the back towards Calva. At the foot of Clava Tony was with us, then me and Jim dropped him. A minute was pulled back on Calva, then came the long drag up the back on Blencathra.

The cloud was still low on this part and after a bit of confusion in the cloud, we reached the summit about 15 minutes down. Off Blencathra and down Doddick Fell into Threlkeld. A decent descent which pulled a couple of minutes back, and some food and drink in Threlkeld.

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Is this Calf Crag Leg 3?
Leg 2

6 minutes later and with Chris Rainbow, Martyn Price and Stuart Little in tow we left Threlkeld.

The 1st section of leg 2 was brilliant. Despite being down at Threlkeld, by the end of the Dodds I was up on schedule and moving easily. I'd felt my stomach causing a few problems and it wasn't settling properly. As we hit Hlevellyn Low Man, my stomach rebelled against me and on a couple of occasions my food and drink nearly came back. The cloud was low, it was raining and I was getting cold and wet. I think this is whats called a bad patch.

I'd slowed down to a walk up until Dollywagon and did not want to carry on. Everything hurt and I couldn't get my legs going properly. As we dropped off Dollywagon things eased a little, but progress was slow and painful and my legs were starting to cramp. Coming off Fairfield, the attempt that had set off 5 minutes after me flew past, then as I was dropping off Seat Sandal, I could see them starting to tackle Steel Fell. The run/walk down Seat Sandall was painful, slippery and filled with cramp and I still felt rough, although I had warmed up slightly.

Any thoughts of throwing the towel in were dismissed as I came off Seat Sandal. I somehow pulled a minute back on the schedule on the descent and after a good shout and swear at the weather and the fells, I felt slightly better as I sat in the chair at Dunmail.
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Leg 3

Although I still felt like death warmed up. I forced about 3/4 of my food down my neck, had a change of clothes, Richard rubbed my legs better and I managed to not throw up over Kirsten.

With new runners ready to go in the shape of Dave Harrison, Dave Swift, Paul Jackson and Ronnie Turner I don't think I'd have been allowed to pack in at this stage. We set off steadily up Steel Fell and managed to hit the summit bang on schedule. The pain had dissapeared from my legs, the cloud had lifted a bit and I was back in a good mood again :) From Steel Fell all the way through to Esk Pike, things were superb. The weather held off, the cloud stayed at a reasonable height and I was starting to make time back on the schedule with the odd minute here and there being pulled back.

At the top of Bowfell the cloud was down and the rocky section was wet. As a result, Dave Harrison took the nav and pace steadily to avoid any slip ups and after Esk Pike we started losing the odd minute here and there, but there was no panic. We took the West Wall Traverse/Lords Rake option for Scafell. The pace slowed a little too much for my liking here and I could feel my energy levels droping. Out of Lords Rake on the top and Dave had an issue with his compass and despite being about 50 metres from the top, we were in thick cloud and he took a few minutes to get his bearings.

As a result, my energy levels had dropped and my knees were starting to ache. The initial decsent off Scafell was horrible and I was struggling to move properly, again. As we dropped out of the cloud, Paul Jackson fed me some chocolate and ibuprofen. Within a couple of minutes, everything was back in full working order. I picked the pace up, flew down the scree slope and then out ran all the supporters into the National Trust car park. Feeling good on the run in, I jumped the car park barrier on the way to my chair. I was still about 30 mins down on schedule but feeling good again and knew it was my day.
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Leg 4

At the change over I took nearly the full allotted amount of time for the break. I was to be joined here by Dave Harrison, Dave Swift, Ronnie Turner, Mark Ruscoe and Rich Gilbert leading the way. Rich led a charge up Yewbarrow and slowed the pace when he started to get a little out of breath ;) He cut away from Yewbarrow, leaving me and Mark to make the visit to the top and I was shocked to see I'd hit the summit in 40 minutes (schedule stating 47) The rest of the leg flew by. Leg 4 clockwise is by far the best leg. The cloud was up until Great Gable and the weather was perfect. I made time up all the way to Kirk Fell. At the foot of Kirk Fell Jim Mann rejoined us with a flask of fresh coffee.

At Great Gable the cloud had dropped, but the route was good back to Honister and I picked up a couple more minutes on the run from Green Gable via Brandreth and Grey Knotts. Somewhere inbetween Green Gable and Brandreth I left a little "present" for an unsuspecting walker to stumble upon! I landed at Honister after a cracking descent for the top, a quick change of tops, some food and tea and I left Honister in very god spirits 12 minutes down on schedule.
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Get in!
Leg 5

For the final leg, Dave Harrison, Dave Swift, Ronnie Turner and Mark Ruscoe continued the support and Alix Critchley and Clive King joined in. The pace up Dalehead was good and we hit the summit on schedule. From here a plan began to form. The plan was to get me under 22 hours. I wasn't actually told of this plan until Newlands Church. The supporters picked up the pace for me and over to Hindscarth and Robinson a couple of minutes was dropped off each summit. I was 8 or 9 down on schedule at Robinson, but I've been a road runner for over 10 years so the easy bit was yet to come.

Despite my knees complaining about the drop off Robinson, once on the trail pathn everything eased off. As we got to the fell gate, I was let in on the plan of getting me home under 22 hours. Someone mentioned 10 minute miles but this was revised to 9 minute miles. At Newlands church I changed into my road shoes and set off at 7 minute mile pace :)

On the roads I contiinued running flats and downhills and walking the ups, although the pace on the ups was a bit more spritely than it had been earlier in the day. As I got to the bridge to Keswick with 1 mile to go I had 16 minutes to beat 22 hours. I moaned and complained a bit about my feet hurting, then ran the rest of the route in. As we went over the hump back bridge and Keswick High Street came into sight I was shouted at to go faster so I obliged and dropped the pacers with a sprint up the High Street to collide with the Moot Hall door, 21 hrs and 51 minutes after I set off.

The next half hour involved chips, birthday cake and pub finding. Once the Dog And Gun was found, someone bought me beer and I was half cut after a few sips.

Two pints later it was time for 1st sleep in 40 hours.

I can honestly say, despite the bad patches, that was one of the best days of my life. The whole day, the fells, the friendship and support between runners and supporters was just fantastic. Despite having supported a few rounds, until doing my own, there is no way you can experience the whole thing. I'm still very much in recovery mode, but looking forward to doing some summer supports and repaying the assistance that I got during that day.

If anyone reading has any inclination to do this, then if you think you can do it and you want to do it, then do it. You will not regret a thing :)

Binnsy, can't wait for yours :-)

Submitted by David Almond
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