Bob Graham Stage 1 Recce / Harewood Half Marathon – report

Mad Danj.

Setting off from home at 0600 Saturday morning for the lakes, Hinchcliffe (full of cold), Restell (full of pork pie), Danj (full of enthusiasm) and Leyland (full of sh*t) made the 120 mile journey to Keldwigkingham or somewhere to start a ‘recce’ of stage 1.

Here is an extract from website for those who don’t know:

‘All our members have successfully completed The Bob Graham Round; the 66 mile, 27,000 ft circuit of 42 of the highest peaks in the English Lake District within 24 hours.

First done way back in 1932 by Bob Graham, hotelier of Keswick, Cumberland, at the age of 42, the 42 Peak Round has become a testing ground for the supremely fit. Each summer around 100 of the most highly tuned ultra-distance fell runners will attempt the 27,000 ft of ascent within the allotted 24 hours. Only one in three will return to the Keswick Moot Hall before the clock runs down. Most of the rest will be back again …!’

So, in summary, it’s sheer lunacy.  Because it runs over 24hrs, athletes need to know their route and navigate the course through day and night.  We left the car park a little before 0900, with a Macdonalds breakfast (not a healthy Scottish serving as the name may suggest).  Approaching the first fork in the road, with the path naturally bearing left and a right that had the forbidding ‘no public footpath/no cars’, we of course went right.  This was a minor error, that then saw us climb fences, take a steep incline in thick heavy mud and generally start on an amusing note.  Danj, soon corrected us and we were back on track.  We then started a long climb up Skiddarangoon, or whatever it’s called.  This was a lung buster, I know I’m as fit as I’ve ever been, but this is a different proposition.  I already had doubts I could maintain any sort of pace that wouldn’t slow the others too much.  Hinchcliffe wanted to actually talk deep and meaningful on the way up, the silly plank, I couldn’t breathe, other than to say shut up.  The trail on this section wasn’t too bad, snow either side but plenty of grip, although the higher we got, it was evident snow would play a part.

We reached the summit, what a summit, the views were UNBELIEVABLE! clear blue skies and a snow covered Lake District, we were above the fog and clouds……..

Anyway, mustn’t dawdle, keep moving, down the other side, snow, snow, snow, thigh deep in places made the descent tricky and energy sapping, if not hilarious and fun.  The skinny lads, them three, managed in parts to walk on the frozen snow, but 18 stone me was going knee deep and more with every step, much their amusement and my annoyance……….

Not long then another ascent, it didn’t look as bad as Skiddarangoon, but it was.  Knee deep snow with no defined trail to follow meant full effort needed to get up Great Steep Thing, or whatever it was called.  Again, lungs working hard, thighs burning, sweat dripping……….get to the top, have a rest and sandwich? No, keep moving, bloody hell Danj !  The snow was even deeper, making it even harder, funnier and more fun getting down.  The ‘Skinnies’ bum sliding large sections, the ‘Fatty’ trying but sinking in every 5 metres, looking back up the hill, you see a perfect cast of my arse on each, sinking episode, in contrast to the lovely etchings of the ‘skinnies’.

We then considered the last climb of Hetty Wainthrope or go round, the snow made us take the latter route, making it a longer course, but less elevation.  It was the sensible option in the deep snow and the ‘go round’ was still hard work in the snow and a few uphill drags.

Getting back to the car was a huge relief for me, I was done.  The course was 15 miles, we were out five and half hours.  A fair effort by any standards.  Now pitch that one stage against the whole challenge, 66-72 miles, 42 peaks, 26,000ft of elevation (Everest)…………..

Harewood Half Marathon

This was the first running of this half, organised by British Heart Foundation, £23 entry and option to donate raise sponsorship.  I was dubious about how hard it would be.  I’m not now.

Starting behind the house, the course winds off through the fields and onto a road to the rear, it’s approx. 2 miles of steady downhill, give or take, then it became a winding, snaking, rollercoaster of a course, mainly on muddy trail paths and grass.  I was amazed and upset at parts with how many hills there were, although the day before had ‘toughened’ me up I think.

The scenery and views, where it was possible to look up were great, long views of the house and the surrounding hills, some lovely woodland and rolling fields……..hard going across the grass but some comfort knowing that regardless of time, it was a good session.  Three drink stations spread through course, well marshalled, although some athletes cut some corners (I didn’t and got some odd looks).  The mile markers were a out by about .2 and I was worried it would be short, marker 12 showed at 11.5 ! But the course came out at 13.5 on my watch and many others.  A long course in the end, with a brutal finish.  It took you up the hill in front of house, similar to Cusworth, then back down and up again round back.  It found a few out as many walked sections of course.  I ran every step (very slowly in parts).

Overall, a good race that I think will grow, about 1000 took part.  I will be doing it again, but hopefully not on the back of a day in Lakes and a lanced toenail to drain blood so I could get my trainer on………….

 

 

 

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