Posted by: Bruce Duncan | June 3, 2009

Andy’s Bob Graham Round

This weekend was one of the hottest so far this year in the Lakes, with glorious sunshine beating down out of a cloudless sky non stop.  This was great for the thousands of tourists here for half term and weekend breaks, but it was also a welcome sign for Andy Kitchen, a good friend of mine, who was running his Bob Graham round.

Ready for the off

Ready for the off

Andy arrived on Friday night and set about sorting all his kit and food for the day, Rob Lee, his logistics man was helping sort things out, so he knew what to give who when he was organising changeovers.

After a brief sleep, Andy, Jon Musgrave and I got up at 4.30am to prepare for the first leg, which involved Skiddaw, Great Calva and Blencathra.  At 5.30am we set off from the Moot Hall in the centre of Keswick, heading through town and Fitz Park, before reaching Spooney Green Lane.  We ran and walked all the way up Skiddaw, seeing the sun for the first time half way up Jenkin Hill, and when it hit us we could already feel the warmth.

Andy on the climb up Skiddaw at 6am

Andy on the climb up Skiddaw at 6am

We summated Skiddaw at 6.35am, and spent the least amount of time ever on top of a mountain; we had been able to take in the stunning views on the climb, with Andy looking out over the entire course seeing all the peaks he knew that later in the day he’d be running over.

Andy bagging the first of his 42 Peaks

Andy bagging the first of his 42 Peaks

The decent to Great Calva was fast on the scree, then onto a wee trod marked only with fell runners footprints, which turned into a muddy path after a while, then a short climb up to Great Calva.  This is an odd hill to include on the round as it isn’t really much of a hill.  I think the reason it is included is because of the horrific decent of it, through thigh deep heather, stones and holes.  Andy seemed to bound effortlessly over it all, with Jon and me flailing around to try and keep up.

Andy and Jon running across to Great Calva with Blencathra in the background

Andy and Jon running across to Great Calva with Blencathra in the background

Once across the wee stream the climb up to Blencathra was straight forward enough, some nice pointy stones marked the route, and then the summit was in sight.  With a short steep section round the back of Foule Crag, the summit appeared and again the whole of the Lakes was in view.  Another very short stay on the top with Andy tagging the summit cairn, then running at top speed along the ridge to drop into what is affectionately known as ‘Dead Mans Gully’.  Here Jon and myself really struggled to keep in touch with Andy who had pre run this section, we lost sight of him a few times round corners, and when Andy got to the gate at the bottom he turned to see where we were and why we were not ahead to open the gate for him, only to see us appear from the gully doing our best to catch up.

Looking down to Threlkeld and the end of leg 1

Looking down to Threlkeld and the end of leg 1

With a quick sprint down a field, and a hurdle to get back onto the same track as Andy, I caught him up, and after a wee road section and over the A66 we successfully handed Andy over on schedule.  It had been a tough run for me and Jon as we were carrying a lot of water for Andy and ourselves, I also had a bad throat, which didn’t help matters.

After the hubbub of the changeover had died down,  Rob gave Jon and me a lift home, where we were able to shower and change and chat to later runners.  Then Dad and I set off round to Wasdale for my second job of the day, to help out with the roped section on Broad Stand.

Andy refueling and heading off with Malcolm and Dave for leg 2

Andy refueling and heading off with Malcolm and Dave for leg 2

Wasdale was heaving with people, but luckily there were plenty of parking spaces.  Dad set off at a heck of a rate up to Mickledore, and I did my best to keep up, but the legs were complaining, god knows what Andy’s legs must have felt like at the time.  Once at the top we sorted the ropes out and waited for Phil Winskill to show up, he was running with Andy on this leg, and would miss out a top or 2 to get to us a as a pre warning, and so we could get him up and out the way before Andy arrived.

Jelly baby feed

Jelly baby feed

Andy was clearly running behind time, but with no phone reception, and also no one who would know exactly where he was we just had to sit and wait it out.  It was a bit chilly on the crag face.  After a 2 hour wait, and just over an hour behind his schedule Andy arrived, Phil had told us of the issues Andy had had early on in the leg, sickness and struggling to keep things down, the heat was taking its toll as was the ardour of the actual run.

Andy climbing up Broad Stand

Andy climbing up Broad Stand

As we got Oleg and Doug up the crag face, put the ropes away, and then headed up the rest of Broad Stand Dad and I warmed up, and were able to take our layers of clothes off, we were probably the only people shivering in the Lakes that day!  A fast run down to the Wasdale car park really got us warm, and after a brief chat with Rob and the support runners we all headed back round to Keswick.

Andy waves good bye to his support runners on leg 3

Andy waves good bye to his support runners on leg 3

Once back home I acted as mission control, calling the runners on the hill to find out where they were then contacting the runners waiting at Honister to tell them how long they had to wait.  After a while of sitting at home I felt I had to get out there to support Andy, so I called Rob and found they were at Newlands, so I drove over to wait with them there.  After a wait we finally saw lights running off Robinson, and soon they were with us, speeding on past on the final run to Keswick.

We set off in convoy back to town, and met up with Kate’s (Andy’s wife) parents, Mhairi Mackenzie’s mum, and a few others to wait for Andy to arrive back at the Moot Hall.  As the clock ticked down I kept looking at the time, it was going to be very close to whether he got under 20hours or not.  As it got even closer I walked down the road, and at 5 minutes to go I saw headlights, and ran back to warn the others.  So with only 2 minutes to go, they appeared at the bottom of the road, and with a final push, and final run up the steps of the Moot Hall, Andy Kitchen posted a time of 19hours, 58minutes and 27seconds, a heck of an impressive time in the hottest day of the year so far.

Andy and support runners reaching the Moot Hall

Andy and support runners reaching the Moot HallAndy celebrating his run on the Moot Hall steps

After getting Andy home, we all hit the sack pretty quickly.  Then on Sunday we had a fantastic BBQ in even more great weather to celebrate what Andy had done.  All round it was a top weekend, with a great result for Andy and all his support team.

Relaxing in the garden after Andy's BG Round

Relaxing in the garden after Andy's BG Round

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Responses

  1. hi Bruce, please may I print out a copy of this.
    I’ve only just been told about your website but can’t look at it properly as Sam would prefer the fireman Sam website.
    Have a Great Christmas in Canada.
    Love Kate


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