Mikey Brown Bob Graham Round - May 2023
29th May 2023
Waiting for the off
Keswick to Dunmail Legs 1 & 2
It's 4pm on Friday 19th May, Olga & Phil have driven me up to Keswick ready for my round and ready to do my Road support. The sun is out and we meet up with a few more of my team in the Keswick Mountain Festival village in Crow Park. We sit and soak up the atmosphere chat about a few last minute plans before heading for pizza to get the final carbs on board. Anyone who knows Mark Holden knows he performs his best when hes had a beer or 2 so I was relieved when I saw him walking towards me with a bottle in his hand.
A couple of hours pass and we go get ourselves ready, change into some running kit and pack the bags. Josh and Mark now loaded up with everything I'm going to need for the first 3 & half hours. 8:45pm we head towards the Moot Hall, a few people looking around a few others coming to wish me luck, and some with stories from their attempts on the round. With 10 seconds to go until 9pm Phil counts us down and off we go. 'Lets not mess this first part up boys, hardest part is getting out of town' we run away from the Moot Hall, through the pink alley and across the car park. 'Ok boys lets knock it back a bit there's a long way to go.'
All the way up Skiddaw we're making good time, not going all out but plodding along chipping away the miles. Mark is in good spirits talking away and handing me food & drinks leaving Josh to focus on keeping us on the right track. We summit Skiddaw and to no surprise were 3 minutes up on schedule, the perfect start. I wanted a bit of time buying on the first 2 legs as the weather conditions were much more favourable than the baking heat I was expecting on leg 3. Across to Great Calva we go again Mark on it with the food and drinks and Josh picking a line to keep us as dry as possible before the river crossing. Summiting Great Calva, again up on schedule, we descend towards the river, the ground is feeling remarkably drier than normal I'm hoping the river level is on our side as well. That it was, just over ankle deep so we marched straight through. Looking ahead we could see the headlamps of a couple out on a recce, we continued to chip away across Mungrisdale Common and by the summit of Blencathra we had caught them up not intentionally. I turn Josh and say guess what time it is? Without a response he hands me the Creme Egg, my little psychological boost for each leg.
Forget third time lucky this was going to be fifth time lucky, it took me until my actual round to get the line on to Halls Fell ridge nailed. We opted for parachute then Halls Fell and thankfully this was the best line myself and Josh had ever taken to get on it. Mark followed behind a little slower by this point but it did dawn on me half way down the ridge that this was the first time he had done and its midnight. Hats off to you Mark you Muled like a trooper and just took the scramble in your stride. Josh hangs around a little to make sure Mark is happy and I just keep plodding knowing Josh would see my light if I deviated from the line. I knew this section like the back of my hand so knew I would be ok. I arrive down to Threlkeld Cricket Club to the welcomed sight of my Road Support van and Lewis poised ready for leading me along leg 2 at 00:35.
Leg 1 time - 3hrs 35mins
A quick bite to eat, recovery shake, clean kit & feet in fresh socks and trainers its time to hit the fells again. Total stop time 11 minutes, 3 minutes more than my advised 8 minutes maximum from Dougie Zinis. Me, Lewis & Josh set off on to Clough Head with time in the bank, I'm still feeling string and Lewis is setting a cracking pace but Im not complaining. The more time we could bank in the night the better especially with the high temperature forecast for legs 3 & 4. Continuing to make good time we hit the summit of Clough Head and head onto The Dodds. Without going mad were still making good time and gaining on my schedule all the time, albeit only a minute here and there it all adds up.
As we're making our way towards Helvellyn, via Raise and White Side, we can feel the air temp rising, and the sky getting ever so slightly lighter. This was a good sign, the night leg was nearly over and it was going to be time to get the headlamps off and run in daylight once more. Helvellyn came and went pretty quick and onto Nethermost Pike and Dollywaggon Pike. As we dropped down to Grisedale Tarn me and Lewis briefly said a quick goodbye for now to Josh as he headed straight over Seat Sandal to my Road Support and gave them the heads up of my arrival. With the temperatures on the up I offload my wind proof with him to take down along with my order of coffee please.
I head straight for the ascent of Fairfield and Lewis takes my now empty soft flasks having drunk 1.5litres of Mix Hydration plus 500ml of caffeinated tailwind to a small stream that he had scouted out on previous little adventure the week before. Evidently my hill reps are now paying off as Lewis is practically sprinting around the Tarn and on to the climb to try and catch me up. Luckily for me he caught me just in time to witness me summit Fairfield. The sun is now rising nicely in the distance and Seat Sandal is glowing with the sunrise beaming onto it. This made me smile and forced me to put an extra dig in on the descent of Fairfield and then the climb of Seat Sandal. I remember running off Seat Sandal down towards Dunmail and saying to Lewis 'how am I for time?' 'You should have summited Seat Sandal in 10 minutes time, were 2minutes away from the van, keep going loads of time'. This was like music to my ears, I knew I was nearly half hour up on schedule. I run to the van jump in and again get myself changed, having struggled to eat on leg 2 I knew I needed to try and eat something here so a slice of pizza to accompany my recovery shake and coffee I'd ordered with Josh was the order of the day. Layla is here ready and waiting, Olga packing her bag only to realise there's not quite enough space. Not a problem I had my spare bigger pack in. Like the true warrior she is Layla swaps her stuff over with Olga's assistance and just got on with it. Fresh pack and probably more weight than shes used to carrying she is ready for 6 hours of Mikey on leg 3.
Leg 2 time - 4hrs 13mins
Dropping off Scafell Pike
Dunmail to Wasdale Leg 3
Now with another full kit change, into shorts and T-shirt and my lightest weight Attain. run cap, my small race vest packed with a couple of drinks and some snacks on I'm set for the ascent of Steel Fell. From the off here I could feel time starting to slip away, although it was still early in the day around 5:30am the heat was already getting to me. Not the start to leg 3 I was anticipating but I'm here now and it's happening I just need to dig in and see what happens. I reach the summit of Steel Fell in 36 minutes, 12 minutes more than I should have done and know I'm capable of. Quick drink and off we go picking one of the better lines across the bog but still losing time on the leg. It was from Calf Crag heading to Sargeant Man things went from bad to worse. The first and only bonk of my round. I felt like I was running in treacle, every step I took felt like a step backwards. I was struggling to eat and couldn't stomach many fluids. A good talking to from Layla (no idea what she said to me but it must have worked), force fed flapjack, Kendal Mint Co gel and 250ml of Mix Hydration I suddenly found myself a new lease of life and I'm back hitting the splits I needed to be hitting. From Sargeant Man I had 9 minutes on my schedule to High Raise and 9 minutes I hit. Continued to hit the numbers across into the Langdales clawing back a minute as we headed to Harrison Stickle via Thunacar Knott. Feeling slightly more alive now and back to drinking little and often and nibbling on mint cake I was feeling like it was back on. I was counting down the time until we got to our little checkpoint across this leg. A water drop by Danny at Esk Hause. Heading around for Rossett Pike from Pike O Stickle I could feel time slipping a little but Layla didn't mention it she just kept me moving and kept me drinking. The sun continuing to beam down on the back of our necks it was time to find a water source for soaking a buff to wring out over our heads and down our backs, this was soon to be a theme at every little stream or small tarn we passed. On to Bowfell we went and climbed strongly, so strongly I clawed back 3 minutes here. I asked Layla before we left Rossett Pike how many minutes are we aiming for, her response was 36 on the schedule. My instant response lets push and see if we can get 30 I'm feeling pretty good now and I think we can try hard here. Its a climb I've enjoyed doing on my recces. Again as we cross the stream we pause for 30 seconds to dowse ourselves with cold water down our backs. We reach the summit, 'YES weve worked hard there, lets keep going' I say and Layla smiles and agrees. 'One more summit and we have new drinks', this was a welcome discussion but what I was about to say was even more impressive in my opinion. Just before we summit Esk Pike I let out a huge 'WHOOP!! Less than a marathon to go!' To some this may seem like a strange celebration but when you're over one and a half marathons into your run having less than a marathon to go is big thing.
After summiting Esk Pike I see the cairn at Esk Hause and Danny waiting I set off towards him with Layla shouting at me to not get carried away and to make sure I'm picking up my feet. All these little things to tick off along the way to keep me going. All the psychological boosts are great they kept me moving and smiling. I arrive at Esk Hause to Danny and Leanne saying we heard you before we saw you, we heard the whoop. Oh yeah I just got excited as I realised I had less than a marathon to go. Again it's the little things like this that keep your spirits high. I can't tell you how thankful I was of a fresh batch of Mix Hydration drinks for the 2 of us. A soft flask each of Lemon & Lime and Forest Fruits, time to get some on board and the rest into our packs and hit the path again especially as the guy that set off at 11pm was coming off Esk Pike. Thankfully he was well up on his schedule and not me that's well down on mine. Quick thanks and bye to Danny & Leanne and we're off. All I'm saying to Layla at this point now is 'I just need to climb out of Wasdale, if I get up Yewbarrow with Oly and Tristan I will finish my round' the only question is will I get sub 24 or not? I don't get sucked into a chase I let the other guy come by and head off into the distance I just stick to my game plan and limit my losses. I've now not eaten since the Langdales but don't feel hungry and can't face eating. Drinking is all I want to do, keeping on top of hydration and regulating my body temperature in the heat is most important and then it's just a case of keeping on putting one foot in front of the other. We're now in a case of damage limitation. Let's try not to loose too much more time but not push too hard to make up time that I crash. Just get through to Wasdale, I can reset and go again. This is what we did, I didn't ask again about the times I just kept my head down and followed Layla's lead chatting away to keep me distracted from the numbers.
Looking at my splits now I didn't do too badly, we made up a few minutes on a couple of sections maintained on some and lost more time on others. Whats happened, happened, all I can do is learn from it and go again on leg 4 hoping I can make it up.
We summit Scafell Pike after ticking off Great End, Ill Crag and Broad Crag in what felt like no time at all. From here I knew it was one scramble along Lords Rake and West Wall Traverse to get to Scafell and I've done the longest leg of the round. We bump into a chatty couple on Lords Rake not wanting to hang around we try to not sound rude by quickly responding and pushing on climbing out on to West Wall Traverse as soon as we can to escape. Yes, a little time was lost here with such loose ground beneath us we are slipping backwards slightly with every forward step but this is still a faster route than dropping down to Foxes Tarn. We pop out at Symonds Knott and head off to Scafell, from here it's all down hill. Run the scree, my favourite type of descent in the Lakes. Go with the slide, dont try and hold yourself back. I knew by this point Olga, Phil, Oly & Tristan would be waiting, quite possibly worrying what had happened as I was nearly an hour longer than I should have been coming across this leg. I went from being 28 minutes up to 20 minutes down by Scafell. My descent to Wasdale was slower than expected as well meaning I ended the leg 30 minutes down.
I run through the car park speak to Olga, 'what's the lads got packed for me, I only want to have double concentrate Mix Hydration, in 4 soft flasks and the rest just water'. 'OK Mikey no worries', 'Lads we need to repack he's changed his plan'.
Hats off to Olga at this point, she's got Oly and Tristan emptying the bottles they've just nicely packed and refilling with my new requests. At the same time Tristan is knocking on the van door, 'Mikey eat 2 slices of pizza, some of that pasta and drink the coke'. I could tell by the tone he was concerned for the lack of eating I'd done on leg 3. Layla was discussing with them both how I had done and how little I had fuelled. All this is going on and I've got in the back of my head I dont want a long stop I want to claw back some time.
Leg 3 time - 6hrs 57mins
All smiles on the climbs
Wasdale to Honister Leg 4
I jump out of the van with a slice of pizza in hand and a softie of flat coke. Thank Layla and check in with Oly and Tristan, their packs are full and Oly has my poles in his hands so I can eat. 'Lets go, come on all I need to do is keep moving.' 13 minutes after arriving in Wasdale I'm leaving again, what a team effort to get all my bottles changed over and the lads packed up so quickly.
On to the slopes of Yewbarrow we go, pizza finished and coke nearly all drunk I swap the soft flask for my poles and set the pace ahead of Tristan with Oly slightly further back. I just want to push for the summit Oly is now shouting up to me, 'Mikey we're well up on this pace don't blow up'. Tristan checking in with me all the time 'are you sure you're happy at this pace?' Climbing was what I have been doing really well with my whole round so far so and I wanted this to continue. I picked off little features on the climb and at each one Tristan is handing me a drink or sending me up to Oly to drink as he has now come past me again. Every 10-15minutes all the way round this leg I would hear Tristan say 'Mikey it's been 10 take a drink' 'what are you eating?' 'Which drink next?' This was exactly what I needed as I just get my head down and plod away chipping away at the miles. 43 minutes after leaving Wasdale we summit Yewbarrow, 6 minutes faster than scheduled. No time to hang around we head off to Red Pike again more time banked here 11 minutes faster than my scheduled timings, I'm now thinking yes we're nearly back on track just 6 minutes down now. Unfortunately, things here take a slight turn, I twinged my right ankle with an over extension pointing my foot to far down to the ground which made descending painful and very steady.
Heading for Steeple I'm loosing a little time again, the work put in on the first 2 summits of the leg now slipping away but it's not horrific. I did a quick test and turned around to test the ankle on the uphill. No pain, winner!! Any time lost by descending I'll try make up for on the ascents. The next couple of summits come and go I keep plodding away and can hear Tristan and Oly having a conversation about how they can get me some time back on the descents as well as the ascents. I gingerly descend Kirk Fell whilst these discussions are taking place and then before I know it I'm pulling away from the on the ascent of Great Gable. I did tell them both climbing was going to be my strongest discipline today. Tristan works hard and catches back up to me to get me to the summit and Oly heads straight for the descent to Green Gable. Tristan turns to me at the summit 'Mikey I have a present for you, I just need your signature' 'NO I am not joining the deck chair runners, us road runners on the fells are a rare breed and I like it that way'. We stash the form and make our way to the descent Oly now disappearing into the distance as has found his feet on the gnarly descent line to Green Gable and nearly at the summit before I've started the climb but this was good as gave me someone to chase down on the climb. My ankle not getting any better Tristan sends a message to the guys waiting at Honister to order me some paracetamols and ibuprofen cream along with a caffeine gel and my recover shake. Green Gable and Brandreth came and went rather quickly and onto the last summit of the leg. Oly sees me through and then shoots off down to the car park leaving me to descend steadier with Tristan. Not 100% the message had made it I wanted Oly to go to limit my time at Honister the ideal scenario here would have been to run straight through but with the pain a break was welcomed.
Job done the boys got me to Honister in exactly the time I wanted. Cheers lads that was a tough day at the office for you, carrying 10litres of drinks between you both.
Leg 4 time - 5hrs
Just one summit to go
Honister to Keswick Leg 5
A quick break, 6minutes to be precise, to put the cream on, take the tablets, quick photo and I'm off. Tom is setting the pace, Paddy chatting away and Dan carrying my food and drinks. I'm sat on Toms heels all the way up Dale Head I didn't dare look at my watch I just kept going, didn't want to know the pace just knew as long as I stick with him I'll be good. A little panic from Paddy and Dan as they hear Tristan shouting and running up behind 'the tracker you need the tracker' Paddy gets a little hill rep session in running back down for the tracker and we're soon all back together. Hitting the summit of Dale Head 4 minutes faster than the schedule and now only 10minutes down on schedule. I tap the cairn and Tom sets off for Hindscarth, I play catch up and it's game on, these boys know the only thing they need to get me to do is keep following them and drinking plenty. Before I know it we are at Hindscarth, 'good work guys only 4minutes down now lets get to Robinson then its all down hill'. Dan hands me a drink, Tom and Paddy again picking the line to Robinson, I send a quick selfie to a couple of my supporters telling them I'm on the last climb and I'll see them in Keswick. Another minute chipped away and I'm now only 3 minutes down. The painkillers have now kicked in my ankle is in less pain so descending is a little easier. Again Tom picks the perfect descent to get me into the valley bottom and on to the flat to Little Town. We hit the road and Dan in his vapourflys sets off looking around for Josh with my road shoes. Oh wow how comfy are these when you've spent the last 13hrs in the same pair of fell shoes. Quickly swap my t-shirt for my Dewsbury Vest, lace up the roadies and off I go. Sub 22minute parkrun pace, oops. The boys let me have a minute at this pace then told me to reign it in a little there's a couple of little bumps in the road that will drop the pace a little so take it steady now and pick it up later. As we approach the 3km to go point I feel cramp starting in my right hamstring, this was the first bit of cramp in the whole round I knew it was going to be a when not if I cramp. Paddy hands me a drink I drink the whole thing thinking plenty of fluids and double concentrate mix will do the trick. I walk a bit and stretch at the same time and resign to the fact the sub 23 I was hoping for when I hit the road was now a distant dream. Oh well my schedule was 23:16 and coming across leg 3 I thought I'd be lucky to finish. I turn the corner into Portinscale and Phil is there ready to meet me to join the run in. We cross the suspension bridge and pick up the Cumbria Way path to Keswick. My head now full of its 1km to go now, come on don't mess up. Paddy runs ahead gets all the gates open for me and I hit the road by the pencil museum. Nearly crash in to Mark as he's sprinted from the pub to catch up so he can run in with me as well. As I pass Needle Sports on the left I hear the cheer of Amelia & Ruby see Dom with his camera and then hear the cheers from up Main Street. All I can do at this point is sprint for those steps. I touch the door and stop the clock 23hours & 4minutes after departing. Job done, at the first time of asking!
Leg 5 time - 2hrs 30mins
The Classic finish photo
This round was only possibly thanks to the ongoing support of the following companies making life as easy as possible for me:
Mix Hydration - keeping me and my team hydrated with their Performance M:X
Attain. run cap - providing me with the caps to keep me protected from the sun
Fenix Light - providing the light needed to see through the night
RUNABLE - providing the tracker I used for my supporters and team to know where I was and when I was going to finish.
As well as all of these amazing companies I couldn't have done it without my amazing support team. These guys worked so hard all weekend for me and I am forever grateful.
Leg 1 - Josh Ellis-Hill, Mark Holden
Leg 2 - Josh Ellis-Hill, Lewis James
Leg 3 - Layla Hirst, Danny Kirkpatrick
Leg 4 - Oliver Beaumont, Tristan Watson
Leg 5 - Dan Gibson, Tom Bamforth, Patrick Hyatt
Road - Phil & Olga McMahon + Pierre
Recovery shake at road crossings
Save caffeine for later in the round not necessarily through the night
Water drop at Esk Hause 4hrs into leg 3
Make life easy for road support have everything bagged and labelled
If youve got 2 support runners carrying your water drink from both runners and keep them happy. Tristan only mentioned he also had my bottles a couple of times
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