November 7, 2014 George Foster

Fellrunning: A Punter’s Guide No. 2 – The Bob Graham Round

No, that's not Lingmoor behind him....

I was reminded today, whilst Instagram stalking a certain Mr. Rickey Gates, an American man – or ‘Ameriman’ if you will – of the Bob Graham Round (BGR in hip parlance) and, more specifically, Billy Bland’s frankly ridiculous record.

I say ‘ridiculous’ because it was set by a man that has no proof. No hard FACTS. For instance, where is his blog discussing previous running records? Where is his twitter feed? I’ve looked and the closest I’ve found is “willy flan” – the details of which I shall not be covering in this particular post. Where is his Instagram account?! I see no video evidence anywhere! No GoPro footage. No Garmin tracking. Only spurious accounts from physical witnesses to his feats. Can we even trust our own eyes anymore? I worry. So you can see where I’m coming from. You’re a sensible, logical person. It’s extremely hard to take this man seriously. He has been humoured and tolerated for upwards of 30 years but come on……..66 miles (ish), 42 peaks, 28,000ft of ascent in a time a bee’s dick under 14 hours! What’s wrong with the other 10 hours you had left you show off?!? See? Ridiculous.

Now I’ve not done a BGR. I’ve never attempted one. I have, however, ran one leg of it and done some stuff in and around Langdale, Wasdale and Helvellyn where other legs of the BGR go. I’ve also lived in the Lakes for a while…, as I’m certain you’ll agree,  I’m pretty much an authority on the matter.

Bob Graham Round AL 66-72m 28,000ft climb

I’m assuming you’ve all heard of the Bob Graham Round, which is why I’m going to describe the route to you…..I did it for the Langdale Horseshoe post so it’s fitting that I do it here. Start at Moot Hall in Keswick, run either clockwise or anti-clockwise around the Lakes, taking in (deep breath)…….Skiddaw, Great Calva, Blencathra, Clough Head, Great Dodd, Watson’s Dodd, Stybarrow Dodd, Raise, White Side, Helvellyn (both of them), Nethermost Pike, Dollywagon Pike, Fairfield, Seat Sandal, Steel Fell, Calf Crag, Sergeant Man, High Raise, Thunacar Knott, Harrison Stickle, Pike o’Stickle, Rossett Pike, Bowfell, Esk Pike, Great End, Ill Crag, Broad Crag, Scafell Pike, Scafell, Yewbarrow, Red Pike, Steeple, Pillar, Kirk Fell, Great Gable, Green Gable, Brandreth, Grey Knotts, Dale Head, Hindscarth, Robinson……stop the clock. Now, I’m not being funny, but it’s taken me nearly 14 hours to research and type those fells. Are you seriously telling me someone ran around them in the time it took me to do that?! C’mon!

I don’t know why I’m bothering but here are the leading contenders to take this ‘crown’……

The Chamois

Kilian Jornet (Salomon) – evens

No, that's not Lingmoor behind him....

No, that’s not Lingmoor behind him….

World Skyrunning Champion every year since it was first run in 1863 – and yet he’s only 26! In 2008 he got the record for the UTMB. In 2009 he ran the Tahoe Rim Trail in 38 hours (I don’t know how good that is but it’s on his website as a ‘big thing’). Ran 800km in 8 days in 2010 across the Pyrenees. Got the speed record up and down Kilimanjaro in the same year. Was World Cup Champion in Ultrarunning, Skyrunning and the VK in 2011. Got the speed record up and down the Matterhorn in 2013. Then the Mount McKinley record in 2014. FML!!

For – see above.

Against – ummmm…..

Ricky Lightfoot (Ellenborough) – 3/1

Local as local does

Local as local does.

Yeah so he’s local. Yeah so he’s an international runner for Salomon. Yeah so he’s a sexy bastard. Yeah so his name was given to him by the ancient Cumbric gods of running. Yeah so he’s won some shit in the past.

For – local, knows the fells, has met Billy Bland and lived to tell the tale; has the ‘Power of Salomon’ behind him (Salomon, much like He-man’s ‘Power of Greyskull’, gives Ricky – and other sponsored athletes – superhuman powers of endurance and speed) – Salomon (in the Bible referred to as ‘Solomon’) are also very, very wise – the three Kings were also known as the three WISE men….you can see where I’m going with this…..; generally runs without a top – see ‘Rob Hope‘ for nonsense on drag coefficients etc.

Against – he’s a lah-de-daa international athlete now so doesn’t have time in between photo shoots and shampoo commercials to run around some bastard fells in’t bastard lakes eh?!; in actual fact he does run around ‘some bastard fells….etc etc’ quite a bit – I would argue that this knackers him out.

Steve Birkinshaw (Berghaus) – 5/1

No, that's not a map and yes, that's a bag with 100kg in it.....and?

No, that’s not a map and yes, that’s a bag with 100kg in it…..and?

Ran all the Wainwright fells in 7 days or summat crazy. Respect.

For – has run for seven-times as long as the BGR time limit in a oner so therefore (by plugging this data into my “Maths” computer) will be 7 times faster than the record, lets call it 3hrs 13 mins for the BGR. And that’s “Maths”. The Wainwright’s are 214 tops – there are only a measly 42 in the BGR – that’s one less number I had to type so again we can knock off 10 mins for that (based on my ‘one-number-every-ten-minutes’ typing skills). 516km is 320 miles – the BGR is 66! Subtract another 10 mins but add 3 mins cos Steve is getting on a bit and won’t be even warmed up by the time the BGR is finished. All of the “Maths” gives us a Fellicionado Predicted Time (FPT) of………2 hrs 56 mins.

Against – he’s probably worn his legs down to stumps just above the knee so best add a few minutes to the above FPT. It’s just not long enough (I get that all the time so I know how he feels).

Jim Mann (unknown) – 6/1

This may or may not be Jim's all I could find

This may or may not be Jim Mann….it’s all I could find.

Knows what it’s like to run a BGR….and how?!

For – current record holder for the Winter Round in just over 18 hrs; used to run with antelopes in the African savannah; the only white man to subsist by way of “persistence hunting”, chasing cats and dogs around his estate in Buckinghamshire until they drop down dead from exhaustion.

Against – made of ice so would melt if he tried to do a Summer Round; not many cats and dogs on the fells so would struggle with adequate nutrition; only drinks bottled Evian (disclaimer – other water is available) – supping from a beck is for peasants.

The Chamois-elles

Helene Diamondgeezerthing (University of Durham) – 6/1

That look on her face...the slight smirk....she's pitying the guy hanging off her. Of course SHE isn't knackered.

That look on her face…the slight smirk….she’s pitying the guy hanging off her. Of course SHE isn’t knackered.

An unpronounceable name means there’s probably some foreign blood knocking around there somewhere. We always get beat by foreigners. It’s what we’re good at. As with the ring from Lord of the Rings – there can be only one.

For – won the Dragon’s Back race in Wales. Heard of it have we? Yeah, she’s probably the reason; ran the fabled ‘Big-Three’in a summer, no?; ok……won the women’s events in the Mount Cameroon and Mount Kinabalu race….enough for you?! No pleasing some people; strikes me as a “double ‘ard bastard” and toughness gets you respect, which in turn gets you recognition – recognition begets fame, people are drawn to famous people, famous people get money, money gets good kit and time to train, time to train gets…..oh fuck it I have no idea where this is going….

Against – she’s how old now?!; got kids, so too busy putting them through their MOT or fitting a new chain ring to them or whatever it is you do with kids; VERY intense; who gives a funk about a BGR when you’ve won the Dragon’s Back??! Ask Steve Birkinshaw too.



NB: There’s been some skullduggery and tomfoolery with the Winter Round over the years. I’m not even gonna attempt to get around that! Stevie Ashworth claimed a sub-18 hr solo effort. It was widely disclaimed. Currently it sits with a dude called Jim Mann with an 18 hr 18 mins blast. Howay lad pull your finger out!!



Comments (6)

  1. Martyn Price

    I never realised it was so easy!! I must have been taking a lot of wrong turns ….. story of my feckin’ life!

  2. Joe

    Did it when I was a boy. Piece of piss. Billy had a walk round later with young Gavin.
    Mind you, saw him at a U2 gig…. obviously lost.

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