Bob Graham Training – a jolly up Dow Crag and Old Man

Here’s a report from last week’s Bob Graham training run by Alex Fairer. If anyone’s got any race or training reports they want us to post, please get in touch:

 

So, a few of us in the club have decided that it’s a good idea to give the Bob Graham Round a go – a fell running challenge to complete 42 peaks in 24 hours. (Ok, it definitely looks worse when you see it in writing, what are we doing?!)

I don’t know about the others, but it’s something that’s been niggling away at me for a while now. However, it’s only recently that I’ve started to think, ‘I could actually do this.’ Blame it on the crazy UTC influence if you like. A friend of mine first told me about it a couple of years ago and it instantly caught my imagination. I’d never heard anything like it before, people flinging themselves up and down a load of fells in an allotted time – it sounded insanely brilliant. I was then given ‘Feet in the Clouds’ to read, the story of one man’s attempt to complete the Bob Graham, and was sold. It’s such an inspirational and motivational read, if it doesn’t make you want to try fell running, I don’t know what will. It also kicked off my little Joss Naylor obsession, reading about his 72 peaks in 24 hours and other exploits. He might be losing some of his records now, but I doubt we’ll ever see the like of him again – taking up fell running despite having some of his back removed and being told he shouldn’t do any strenuous physical activity – he’s the very definition of mind over matter. To overcome your limitations like that and achieve things you wouldn’t think possible, it just impresses me no end. I could waffle on about the guy all day but I’ll spare you the essay.

Anyway, after a lot of big talk on ‘the thread that will never end’ on Facebook, we settled on a date and a time for our first jolly out. So just before 7.30am on a surprisingly mild Sunday morning, me and a half-asleep Josh Bailey pulled into Torver. There had been a bit of grumbling about the earliness of the hour on the way there (honestly, Joss would just be sitting down to have his lunch), but I was still buzzing. I was only a tiny bit nervous that I’d only done one proper fell run before, but that had been in the dark, at least today we would actually be able to see where we were going. Wayne and Mase arrived soon afterwards and we settled on a Dow Crag/Coniston Old Man route.

 

We were soon off, trotting up to the Walna Scar road. Wayne and I decided to hang back and let the other two go on ahead, we didn’t want to embarrass them too much on the very first outing. Ahem. We regrouped at the top of Walna Scar, where a stunning view suddenly opens out towards the western lakes with the Scafells visible in the distance. We were all unanimous in thinking ‘So this is why we do this!’ We also spared a thought for our comrades in Wasdale, thankful that we weren’t doing anything quite as ridiculous. Yet. The summit of Dow Crag was reached without much trouble, the wet rock was a little slippy underfoot, and after doing a bit of Bambi-esque sliding around I decided to pay a bit more attention to where I was putting my feet. Naturally some ‘1 down only 41 to go’ comments were made. Oh dear.

 

Next stop was the Old Man. I was rather enjoying the downhill stretch on the way to it when Wayne turned round and said quite mournfully, ‘that’s the worst thing about this, you go down only to have to go back up again to do the next one.’ Oh yeah, I’d forgotten about that. And sure enough, we were back down to a walk in no time as the ascent began again. As the summit came in to view we had a bit of a chuckle at Mase as we saw him bound off to get to the summit first. At the top it was just a sea of cloud, with little mountain islands peeping out here and there, one of the few properly impressive cloud inversions I’ve ever managed to see. And there wasn’t a soul around. I often think to myself when going about my day, ‘I’d rather be up a mountain’, and that morning we were, so happy days. There are definitely worse ways to kick off a Sunday. We all got out our energy food of choice, but it was Steve who was pushing the boundaries that morning, offering us something called a ‘Nutella wrap.’ I wouldn’t have had him down as a Nutella wrap kind of guy, but I think we’ve all seen the light now as far as fell running snackage is concerned. After refuelling and taking some snaps, it was time for the fun bit, a nice canter down to the bottom. I’d forgotten how much concentration was actually needed for this, I’ve read how the pros just let go and hurtle down – safe to say I don’t think I’m quite there yet.

 

We got back down to Walna Scar in what seemed like no time. All that was left was a little trot back to the car. I was still feeling pretty good by that point, but started to feel it in my legs a little as we left the path and made our way down the grassy slope back to Torver. But as I thought to myself, this is only a tiny fraction of what doing the Bob Graham would actually feel like, better just get on with it. And thankfully the shin was holding out! Eventually that happy moment came when your car comes into view and you know you’re done. First outing completed! Cracking. The guys looked at their fancy watch gadgets and said we’d done nearly 9 miles, not bad at all. So for all of us, a pretty encouraging start. Just 40 more to go now guys, yeah?

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