Double success in classic Lakes mountain challenge
THE Bob Graham Round is not a race, except against the clock. The challenge is to complete a continuous circuit of 42 Lakeland summits within 24 hours, starting and finishing in Keswick.
The iconic 66-mile challenge is attempted by around 100 fell runners each year with around one in three being successful.
Carl Hanaghan and Graham Brown completed their rounds over June 16 and 17.
Graham summed up the experience: “The Bob is by far the hardest thing I’ve done both physically and mentally.”
For Carl, this was his second attempt. “Last year I had a cold setting in and injured myself halfway round. This year was a completely different experience, both physically and mentally and I was so happy to have finished. But the one constant is the support I was given from my friends from Macc Harriers and from people I barely know from the wider fell running community. Without that support, I would never have got around.”
Graham agreed, adding: “None of it would have been possible without the camaraderie and support of the Harriers, and others, who made it to the Lakes, as well as those who supported my training or offered encouragement along the way.” Carl and Graham had separate support teams to improve the chances of them both getting round. Graham explained: “Despite starting together we always knew that we’d split up on route (Carl is both much younger and faster than me), but in the end the last 10 miles was the only section we weren’t within shouting distance.”
Navigators and pacers support the runners and witness their arrival at each summit. A road crew also provides food and drink. Carl’s first words on arrival at Wasdale car park were: “Anyone got toenail clippers?” Someone did! With 27,000ft of climbing the pace is not fast, but relentless. A schedule is key. On the descent to Honister before the last section, Carl suddenly became convinced he wouldn’t finish inside 24 hours, despite his navigator’s reassurances. “No pain, NO PAIN” shouted Carl, sprinting off.
Kathleen asked: “Have you had the caffeine gel?”
“NO PAIN,” replied Carl, continuing his hectic descent.
Graham was suffering too: “Each time I placed my foot I was getting pain on the outside of my knee, so I was glad when we finally got off Robinson (summit 42). I knew that it was mostly flat until the end.” Both managed a sprint finish!
Graham on Scafell Pike
Carl Hanaghan and Graham Brown