Chapter Bob Graham Round

Chapter 3.
Bob Graham Round
Saturday at 8pm I will be heading out from Keswick in the Lakes District up Skiddaw for a tour around the Lakes doing my Bob Graham Round.
What’s the best way to get to know the lakes? Just like that!
I am super excited as this will be my last one of the Big 3.
I completed the Charlie Ramsay Round in 23h 17min last year in August. Paddy Buckley Round in 22h 48min on May 30 2021. Time for Bob Graham Round this weekend. ⛰
My wife Ashley @macdonaldcymbalista is coming with me to support me which is super special to me, as she never seen me start or finish these rounds. She will be at the check points meeting us all the way around the lakes. What is the best way to see the lakes again?? 💪Support a BG Round!
The team is ready.
@rosco.run is joining me in this adventure completing his own round! Super excited about this!
Thank you all that volunteered to help! It will be a grand day out! 💪
Campsite booked at Dale Bottom Farm Campsite.
Thanks to MOWI and my manager John Gillies I have a great van to stay in for few nights.
Absolutely epic! Thank you!
The support from Angus McKendrick Dynafit is absolutely amazing and I am super happy and excited to have them as part of this adventure!
Thank you so much!
Baking for the team supplied by my mom-in-law Karen.
Thank you! And thank you Karen and Allan for looking after our girls while we are away.
Time to rest.
Ready mentally and physically for the challenge..
Weather looking good. Hopefully it won’t be too warm.

We arrived early afternoon at our campsite and went to Keswick to see the Moot Hall. I was really excited, I seen it only on videos of other people finishing their attempts. I always wanted to visit that place and make history of my own.

My attempt starts at 8pm going clockwise. To make it more fun we went out for a swim in the Derwentwater Lake. The water was so refreshing and actually relaxing. I stopped thinking about what lyes ahead of me in few hours. We got back to the campsite and grabbed some food and then for a quick nap. Any sleep will help, but in this heat it won’t be easy.

I don’t think I slept at all. We packed our stuff. I kept shifting my kit from box to box making sure I have everything. We arrived in Keswick around 7pm to meet everyone and a pre run chat.

We gathered in front of the Moot Hall. Me Ross, Adam, Ian and Simon. A small group of friends and family was there to send us away.
It was nice and warm without any clouds in the sky.
We said our goodbyes, countdown and went off down the stairs and through the narrow alleyway. Simon was leading a d we slowly made our way up Skiddaw. The path was very wide and easy to follow and easy underfoot. Half way up Skiddaw Ian made a decision he will not manage to keep up with the pace we set from the start. Sadly he had to leave. The pace felt really easy and good to us. I didn’t think this woupd cause a problem. At this point at least.
On the top we got treated to a nice sunset. We touched the cairn and took a sharp turn right and started heading down to the valley. Because of the dry weather in the past days it was really good underfoot again. This sections gets pretty boggy and slows you down quite a lot. We were lucky enough to have it dry. We still found few boggy areas that had to be avoided. We got to the top of Great Calva in rapid time, I remember seeing this cairn and the fence around it in multiple videos about Bob Graham. Next we jumped over the fence dropped down angain and started climbing Blencathra.
I have to confess to something here.
In all od that hustle and chaos pre packing and shifting stuff I made a mistake. I forgot to take my headtorch. By the time we got to the top of Blencathra it was pitch black and I was blind! Thankfully Adam repped the hill hundreds of times and he was confident to keep going without a headtorch. He lent me his torch. I was saved! I kept slowong down now to lighten up the way down for Adam. I was feeling really stupid for this mistake and totally stressed as Adam is descending a mountain in the dark without a headtorch! The dow hill was a bit slow in places bit I really wanted everyone to come of the hill in one piece!
We got down! We run pn the road to Threlkeld to our next checkpoint. I was stopped before I got there on the other side of the road. Ross was already in the car park getting sorted for the night. John Parkin stopped me. He was really concerned. I thought something happened, that there was an accident and my pulse went overboard. He calmed me down really quick and assured me that Ashley and my children at home are safe and sound. So what was it then. John was really concerned about our pace. We set off to fast dropping early one of our supporters which wasn’t good. The whole pperation was set based on a schedule. My 23h schedule was looking now more like a 19h pace mission. He told me to take it easy through the night on next leg and slowly start pickig it up in the daylight. I have Dave for last 2 legs who can really push me if I really want to get a good time. All of that happened in less than 2min. When I got to the carpark I was greeted by my wife and all the supporters. Paul Nelson sadly couldn’t come for leg2 as he was recovering from a bad cold. He just ran the Steve Parrs round in a very fast time so his body was demanding some recovery. Not a problem at all.
10 min break. I got my headtorch on my head.. fully charged with a soare battery in my pocket. We set off for leg 2.


Leg 2
Me, Ross, Steve and Andy.
It was pich black but the moon was really bright lighting up the hill. It was a long way up Clough Head but a great start to leg 2. There wont be much dropping down on this leg as most of it is on high grounds. We kept it low key just ticking them off, one after another as I was advised at the checkpoint. Just making it through the night to Dunmail.

I don’t remember much of this leg. I remember it was a very good route and nothing too exposed. I’ve seen a lot of little mice running from my head torch light hiding under the rocks. Around Fairfield we had our first lights on the horison and It was stunning. All colors of the rainbow showing up on the sky. We got to Seat Sandal and ran pass few people biviing and thair bikes near the cairn. I couldn’t resist and shouted to grab their bikes and just go for a fast downhill from here! 2 of them lifted their heads up. Ah well that will be us then, we better keep it going before they chase us! The descent felt very long but it was fairly easy and good on the legs. It was so much brighter every minute and by the time we got down it was bright enough to switch the headtorches off and leave them at the checkpoint. Ashley, Maria, Ross and Ian were waiting for us. I downed a half cooked pot of noodles and ready to go for another leg!

Leg 3

Ross C, Ian, me and Ross J

On the climb up Steel Fell we started to the first warmth of the day. We knew it will be a beautiful day. Hopefully not too warm! We slowly climbed up and started ticking the peaks one by one again. I was super escited as this was the leg I am going to climb Scafell Pike, the highest peak in England marking my last biggest one in 3 countries on the mainland!

We had a great chat along the way with Ian and Ross C. So many hours together on the hills you get to know each other pretty well I think, even though few hours ago we were complete strangers to each other.

We reached Scafell Pike and that was it! I had all 3 marked as completed! 3 highest peaks that is, not the rounds. Not yet! Last one on this leg is Scafell with a short drop and steep climb. I didn’t know how steep untill we got under it. It was very dry, the decision was made there and then to safe at least 15min of going around we went up Broad Stand. A vertical climb involving a lot of scrambling on the first parts to get to the higher shelves and finally to the summit. First you had to squeeze through a narrow gap called the ‘fat mans pass’, meaning no fat person would manage to get through it. And they were right, pretty claustrophobic I would say! The valley below us was beautiful and we could spot crampon marks on the rocks. This place is a favourite destination for climbers winter time.

Another long downhill was ahead of us! Ross directed us to a great scree shortcut! Absolutely epic. Something similar to the scree up Bennein Beag on the Ramsay Round. Great fast running downhill, but not as fast uphill!

It was super hot and we were starting to feel it, running low on water, refilling anywhere we could. We didin’t have much left as there was no water between the last 5-6 hills. We reached a river below us meandering through some small trees near a path leading up to Scafell Pike. Lots of people hiking up and down already! We jumped in the natural pond, I sat down and it felt so amazing cooling down the sore legs! The water was the purest you can imagine! We refilled our bottles and kept going down to the car park at Wasdale Head.

Leg 4

Ross C, David, Me and Ross J

At this checkpoint we had few people, Sara Wild and a lady I don’t really remember talking to, possibly Ian’s partner. They were all very nice and accomodating. We had chairs layed out, we sat down refuelled, got all the nasty little pebbles from our shoes, I drank a can of coke which was super tasty! In less than 10 min I stood up as I started to get too comfortable. Dave started leading the way while Ross C repacked some of the supplies (he was doing 2 legs in this heat) and Ross J was changing socks I think. I was a bit unpatient but I really wanted to make sure my breaks are no longer than 10min.

This climb was testing me mentally. Climb up Yewbarrow. Oh man! A year ago… it was now when I am writing this now! I still remember the pain in my legs and lack of energy. I was forcing food and water in me on the steep climb. I knew I have to keep going. Ross J overtook me and was ahead, but in reach. Slowly I started picking up the pace as my body was getting all the energy needed to keep going.

When we got closer to the top we spotted people waving at us! That was nice of them I thought! But I got pulled down to the ground as they said they were expecting John Kelly to be running through here today on his Wainwrights attempt. Well I felt as important as John Kelly at that particular moment and I just kept going!

Going to Red Pike we spotted few people above us in a place that they shouldn’t be. 2 walkers fell of the ridge, one of them broke his back. We thought that’s it! We have to help them. We need to abandon our attempt and help them. Life is more important! We can come back and do these hills another day. The man that was with the 2 injured walkers was from mountain rescue and assured us that they are stable and safe until the helicopter arrives. He sent out another person to the top of Yewbarrow to make a phone call as the reception on this side was poor. We double and tripple checked but he said it’s fine and we can continue our quest.

Climbing up Red Pike we noticed a helicopter circling around the area, and after 2 loops he made a decision to land. Minutes later another helicopter made an appearance and landed next to it.

On the climb to Red Pike we started to notice that Ross J was falling behind and Dave told me I just have to keep going. We made a decision that Ross C will stay with Ross J and get him through this to the end of this leg.

The sun was baking us live, there was nowhere to hide. I got to Steeple and Dave pointed out The Isle of Man in the far distance. That was the first time I’ve seen the island.

Steeple was an out and back peak and I didn’t see Ross J on the way back which worried me a bit, but I had to keep going. He was in the safe hands of other Ross.

We started to run low on water and every drop was very important. When I was on the top of Steeple I really hoped I don’t have to go up the super flat top mountain that I could see since I climbed Red Pike… I was praying not to go up it! But my prayers did not work, that was my destination. We climbed Kirk Fell. Dave managed to get some water out of a muddy puddle with lots of purifying tablets. At this point I had to take the risk as I didn’t have any water left and I really needed it. Great and Green Gable conquered and we continued following the fence line ticking off the less marked Brandreth and Grey Knotts. I was feeling extatic but absolutely deep fried inside on the downhill. We reached Honister Pass! I kept going to my team! At least I thought so. In the car park I started running towards a wrong support party and I almost flattened myself on the carpark kerb. Well that was fun!

Everyone was here! Ashley, Maria, Charlotte, Gus and Hugo (dog), Adam. Everything layed out perfectly like before. I coudn’t see Ross behind us…

Leg 5

Charlotte, Dave, Adam and Me

I was truly broken at this point. The sun was getting to me and I was seriously dehydrated. My aim was to top up on water, not change shoes, as that was a previous plan, grab a small bite to eat and just continue drinking and eating up Dale Head.

This leg only had 3 tops which was giving me a massive psychological boost! I knew I will do it right there! How was was now a matter of time.

We said our ‘see you at Keswick goodbyes’ and off we went. The team spread supplies amongst them and we continued going. I was already super happy but in quite a lot of pain. We got to Robinson and I almosst melted. Number 42 of Bob Graham Round reached! Only a downhill ahead of me and a long 10km route back, with a lot of road running to finish the round. Charlotte had to stay behind and wait for her sugar levels to get back to normal as this heat raised it too high. We double checked she is ok and she was confident about it. Charlotte decided to wait for Ross J who hopefully will be continuing his Bob Graham Round.

Here I discovered a massive pain in my right heel on the inside of it. IT could be only one thing. A massive blister! This was painful all the way to Keswick. I remember running and walking in intervals along the road back to the Moot Hall. Suddenly Adam turned around and asked me if I like Park Runs. I didn’t like it. I didn’t like the question, I grumbled at him. I quickly apologised. We had 5km to the finish. My heel was on fire but I didn’t want to pop it. I just wanted to keep going! We went pass a group of Bob Graham round contenders who will finish shortly after us.

Adrenaline was rising in my body as I was getting closer to the Moot Hall. Suddenly the blister pain dissapeared. Adam was leading the way, Dave next to me. One junction, second one, Adam jumpes in front of a car to stop it for me to cross. Please don’t die I shouted! Shortly after that I almost got hit by a taxi on the traffic lights. Well that wouldn’t be ideal. I would have to crawl to the finish. I was speeding up and I spotted the hall. The shouting intensified and got lauder and lauder.

There was a fire engine standing in front of the Moot Hall with all the fire fighters clapping. There was a double fire fighters Bob Graham Round Relay on this weekend as well.

I finished. I finished the Bob Graham Round in 21h 43min! I was extatic! John Parkin’s son put up the Polish flag for me at the top of the stairs on the railing. I sat down in disbelief and super happy!

I finished, 1st Polish to complete UK Big 3, all under 1 year, all in super hot conditions.

What a day, What a night, What a team, Amazing Support!

Thank you everyone!