Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Bob Graham Round Recce Ultra 16

Bob Graham Round Recce Ultra 16 (Keswick to Dunmail)

Saturday 28th April saw four great races on one day, the ‘Fellsman’ the 3 Peaks, the Highland Fling and the lesser known East Yorkshire LDWA Woldsman 50.
After much deliberation I decided to enter the Woldsman, the Highland Fling I had run the year before plus Id also be on the same route while running the West Highland Way Race in June (the Highland Fling is the first half of the West Highland Way)
Then there was the Fellsman, I had never run the Fellsman before and was on my to do list. The deciding factor was that some of the top runners who usually take podium positions at the Woldsman would be running the Fellsman leaving me a good chance of getting a top 3 Woldsman placing, I knew I would be capable of pulling out 9 hours for the course (its always good to be optimistic ;0) ) Also at the Woldsman friends Steve Walker, David Cremmins, Mark Dalton and Danny Aldus would all be there too. Decision made!!

3 weeks before the Woldsman the ‘Bomb’ was dropped, I had to work :0( So 4 great races and I couldn’t run any of them! So Friday night I decided to hit the Cleveland Hills after work for 4 hours of Hill Reps
 (14 to be precise and 14000+feet of climb,) Dead legs helped a little way to ease my disappointment and Ultra fix.

Monday 30th April was to be the next Ultra after missing an Ultra the previous weekend. This Ultra was to be a Bob Graham Round recce (27miles 11000 feet) Keswick to Dunmail Raise (sections 1 and 2 of a clockwise round)

I met up with Rorie Macintosh from ‘Runfree’ in minimalist footwear, ie vibram fivefingers/Inov 8 Bare grips etc) at Scotch Corner. He is also having a bash at the ‘Bob Graham Round’ Rorie had brought me some Inov 8 X Talons 190’s with a 3mm drop and sticky rubber studs, today was the time to test them out..Rorie drove to Keswick and we arrived in sunshine at 0850!
We had packed numerous layers of warm clothing plus waterproofs expecting a very wet day after the weekend that had seen the ‘Fellsman’ close in the early hours due to weather conditions and people becoming hypothermic. Plus 8-10 hrs of food had to be carried too. Water was going to be a problem, I carried 1 and a half litres of water and 1 litre of Hammer’s Perpeterum ( Protein/Carb drink) So all in all 4 hours worth of fluids ( Im too spoilt with checkpoints providing water at races :0) )
Fingers crossed I would find another source of water along the way.

Hall's Fell Blencathra

We eventually stopped dithering about what layers we needed or didn’t need to wear and headed up Spooney Lane towards Latrigg and ultimately Skiddaw. Ten minutes later Rorie stopped in his tracks, he had spotted a Red Squirel, the Squirrel had vanished before I could understand what Rorie was going on about. The steep climb up Jenkin Hill soon passed and we reached Skiddaw summit dead on a 23hr BGR schedule time. The Summit was being assaulted by some very strong winds, we decided not to hang about Rorie found the best line off the back of Skiddaw towards Gt Calva and we lost 1000 feet in minutes. ‘Back of Skidda’ was boggy as per usual. We trudged up and down Gt Calva across a river (shin deep) and up to Mungrisdale Common. This climb was steep, very wet and relentless with no redeeming qualities apart from one; it eventually finishes!

Blencathra summit was cloud free with superb panoramic views over most of the Lake District. The continuation of our route ahead (The Dodd’s) was hidden in the clouds. We dropped down to Threkeld via the exhilarating Hall’s Fell Ridge.
Reaching the bottom of Hall’s Fell and hitting ground level we where taken aback by how warm it was. We stopped for 5 minutes then set off up the steep grassy slog that is Clough Head. The Roseberry Reps had trashed my calves (possibly the 2 hours of incline treadmill the day before the Roseberry Reps could also take some of the blame too) Within 10 minutes of the climb my calves had swollen up to the size of basketballs, so much so I had to pull down my calf compression sleeves to stop them from cutting off the circulation to my legs. Following Rorie’s technique I sidestepped up the slope for awhile to take the strain off my calves. We reached the summit and made our way over the Dodds which were now cloud free! I focused in the distance at Helvelyn. Once again the views where superb in every direction. The Dodds/Helvelyn range consists of the following mountains Clough Head, Great Dodd, Watson’s Dodd, Stybarrow Dodd, Raise, White Side, Helvelyn Low Man, Helvelyn, Nethermost Pike and Dollywagon Pike. We made short work of the range and eventually dropped down a 1000 feet or so to Grisedale Tarn. I filled my water bottle up from a small stream, circumnavigated the Tarn and headed up the steepest climb of the 2 sections, up to the summit of Fairfield.

This climb to me was arguably the toughest climb of the day and half way up the steep slopes my calves went on strike and started to go into convulsions. I dropped my bag off onto the floor (the route up Fairfield, bgr style is also the return journey, so I would be back to my bag within 10 minutes) As soon as the weight was taken off my back I found I could negotiate with my Calves and get on track , 5 minutes later I picked up my pack on the descent back down to Grisedale Tarn. After dropping off Fairfield a climb up Seat Sandal was in store, this climb was much easier on my legs and on reaching the Summit the views which we had been so fortunate to enjoy where still there waiting. Directly ahead after the main road which passes by Dunmail Raise sits Steel Fell and the start of the notorious leg 3 of the Bob Graham Round (Dunmail to Wasdale via the Langdales and the Scafells) To the south views of Fairfield, Rydal Water, Coniston and Esthwaite waters plus Windermere, it was tempting to sit back and take in the views while relaxing on the summit of Seat Sandal but we had a date with the 555 (bus back to Keswick) So we descended down to Dunmail Raise and jogged down the road to the bus stop .

Back in Keswick to keep the tradition we visited the Moot Hall Chippie (purely like I said for tradition, and it would be rude not to order food, wouldn’t it?)

We had kept to a 23hr Bob Graham pace all the way comfortably (except for the calves) while taking pictures, chatting and carrying weight.

I found the shoes to be perfect, exceptionally light and responsive to the ground, A great fell shoe and just right for the decent of Hall’s Fell ridge off Blencathra

NEXT Ingleborough Marathon - Saturday 12th May

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