Thursday, 6 October 2011

My account of my Bob Graham Round

I am to attend the 24 hour club biannual dinner this coming Saturday to be presented with my certificate which will take pride of place in my home. No doubt the hotel will be crammed to bursting as the popularity of the challenge has really boomed in the last two years. Two of my friends will also be in attendance.

I thought it might be time to record my attempt within my blog - this is actually the account I sent to the club secretary to ratify it and is therefore quite a brief read. 

The story of my successful attempt is steeped in its preparation and the fact that it was actually my second attempt within a four week period.

My friend, Rob Kennedy asked me last year if I’d be interested in having a go with him. I prepared a training programme which began on the 2nd January of this year which Rob and I stuck to almost religiously. It involved training in the Cumbrian fells 9 weekends out of 12 leading up to the attempt.

The initial attempt was scheduled for the 26th June. In the lead up I had had a bout of food poisoning and a number of chest infections. Unfortunately this has left me with a stomach complaint that is made worse with the onset of fatigue.

By the time of the attempt I was still simply hoping that everything would fall into place with regards my stomach complaint as I felt comfortable with my fitness levels. We gave ourselves a schedule of 21 hours and unfortunately I started feeling nauseas around the four hour mark and gradually worsened until I was almost incoherent and in no fit state to carry on – at the 11 hour mark. Rob carried on and completed his round in just under 21 and a half hours, despite also having some problems to deal with of his own.

Clearly I was devastated but took heart from the wise words of some of our pacers for that attempt; Seb Pflanz, Doug Brown (two members) and Craig Malcolmson. They encouraged me not to give up and to redress the eating strategy. So it was with that as well as seeing Rob finish that I set the ball in motion to give it another go. The following weekend I trained again in the Cumbrian fells but this time eating different foods; staying clear of simple carbs/sugars and taking on board more stable things like sausage rolls, crisps and the odd banana. It worked – no nausea. It was back on!

I set myself the new target of 21 hours and 30mins but also this time did not wear a watch, leaving the pacing entirely up to my pacers. Thankfully I was blessed with the best pacers a man could have as well as the ground support – Rob’s dad.

We set of and were determined to take it easy for the whole day. The weather was absolutely perfect too; it was not too hot and there was just a slight breeze with clear skies all day. Unfortunately, I just couldn’t get rid of the thought of the nausea coming back and this hampered my enjoyment of my first two legs. By the time I got to Dunmail Raise I was 10 minutes ahead and was actually smiling and joking with my pacers. This is where I wanted to be and was now starting to relax into it.

I started to get a bit ill just after Esk Pike so decided to walk for as long as it took to settle down again. Never the less, I got back into my stride by Broad Crag and was delighted to get down to Wasdale almost on schedule with my favourite leg to come.

This is where the wheels came off! After Yewbarrow I felt ill again but this time no amount of walking was making me feel better. I almost collapsed at the bottom prior to the climb up Red Pike. Had it not been for my pacers being alert to my progressively worsening stumbling I could’ve ended up a little injured, I think. That was a low blood sugar attack, which I wasn’t too concerned about. However, the food I tried to take on board did not sit well and within 15 minutes I was violently sick.

From this point on the challenge was about keeping going at all costs. I was slow and I was ill but I knew from past experience that I could keep going, albeit at a much reduced intensity. Mainly due to the fact that I was unable to consume anything and keep it down. The good thing about this attempt was that I was being ill on the home straight and I also had more than 2 and a half hours in the bank to use.

I never for one moment thought just how close I would actually come to not completing the challenge. Leg 5 was painfully slow but I was exceedingly grateful for the vast majority of it (post Robinson) being downhill. My wife and kids were waiting for me at the Moot Hall and it was with that that I shed a tear upon my completion of my second attempt of the Round.


  1. Nice one jonny.
    I paced Seb on his round. An account of it is somewhere on my blog.
    See ya Saturday ;-)

  2. Only a runner will understand your determination and not mistake it for madness!

    Well done.

  3. Cheers Stu, Seb, Rob and I will see you there. And cheers, Richard (I think) I get your blog sent to my inbox - it's a cracking read, just like your buddies from London.

  4. enjoy your moment of glory jonny