Q+A for Steve 4 days before his Bob Graham Attempt

4th June 2019

I had a wonderful day on the 1st of June and completed the super classic Bob Graham Round. I didn't really want to write anything publicly about trying it before hand but I did agree to answer a few questions from Alex the Wednesday before the attempt.

I'll do my best to write up a something in the next week about how the day went.

Questions for Steve on his Bob Graham Round attempt.

Dale Head

Image: Dale Head (Credit: Bongo Fury)

Alex: For those who don’t know, what is the Bob Graham Round?

Steve: I feel like a total fraud being asked this question. Not that I don’t know anything about the Bob Graham but more that there are people who devote huge chunks of their lives to complete it and here’s me trying it 6 weeks after I thought it would be a good idea. The Bob is the most classic long distance mountain running challenge in the UK and perhaps even the world! It’s about 100km with 8000metres of upping and downing around the Lake District. Starting and finishing from Keswicks’ Moot Hall. Aspirants aim to complete the round in under 24 hours, should have a supporter with them on each summit. It’s basically a big day out in the hills.

Alex: When did you first hear about it?

Steve: I have absolutely no idea when I first heard about it. I knew it was something I’d always like to do but never really knew when I’d have a go.

Alex: Most people aim to complete the round in 24 hours. Is that your aim or do you have a faster time in mind? 

Steve: Sub 24 hours is the obvious challenge. I’m quite competitive as much with others as myself and I decided I wanted to try and complete the Bob in as fast time as possible. I’ve thought quite a bit about this and have come to the realisation that attempting it in this fashion might mean that I don’t complete it and fail spectacularly but sometimes you’ve just got to try these things and see how they pan out.

Alex: Are you expecting to do any running at night?

Steve: Excellent question. Sunrise is around 4.30am and sunset about 10pm so in answer to your question, no. If it goes to plan then I’ll be running in daylight.

Alex: What is your nutrition plan?

Steve: The term plan is quite grand. I’ll just try to make sure I keep eating, it’s as simple as that. My food hold-all currently contains; pizza, garlic bread, maltloaf + salted butter, liquorice allsorts, salted peanuts, lion bars, Eccles cakes, coconut macaroons, flapjack, salted new potatoes and a bunch of other stuff. I have definitely suffered in the past with lack of salt as I seem to sweat it out very easily hence all the salted foods. I’ll be drinking water, tailwind, diluted coca-cola and maybe a few small coffees.

Alex: What shoes will you use? 

Steve: Salomon Sense Pro 3. I’ll have a bunch of other shoes with me (ON Cloud Venture, VJ iRock + MAXx & La Sportiva Akasha) but will hopefully just stay in the Salomons. Socks wise I’ll take a combination of Injinji Trail Weights and Stance Fusion 360s. I’ll probably pack some thinner socks too just in case my feet swell a bit and I can give my feet some more room.

Alex:Will you change your shoes at any time? 

Steve: See above

Alex: How much of the route have you been to check out? 

Steve: Not as much as I’d like. I have covered the entire route at some point in the last few years. In the last 6 weeks I’ve done leg 1, 2 (not inc Fairfield), most of leg 3, leg 4 and I’ve run a bit around Robinson & Hindscarth but haven’t actually done the Bob route. I’ve somehow managed to get a really good team of people to help support me so that’ll be a life saver. My ethics in terms of navigation on something like this are a little skewed. I will have the gpx track on my watch but will endeavour to do as much as possible without it. My tuppence worth here is that had I the contacts to get locals to support me they would know the route like the back of their hand and therefore be as good/better than a gpx trace on a watch. 

I am a little concerned about the navigation as the forecast looks mixed, potentially not too wet but I’m pretty sure the summits will be in thick clag.

Alex: What is your favourite part of the route? 

Steve: I really don’t have an answer to this. I’m sure the last 5 km on the road won’t be much fun but the rest of it is ace.

Alex: You do a mixture of race distances but this is longer than anything you’ve done recently. How have you trained for it? Anything specific?

Steve: Answering these questions is making me nervous and doubt myself! Errr, I’ve been out to recce chunks of the route. Due to wanting to race and only having so much time I haven’t actually done any big links on the route. What I have done though is all my reccies have been the day after a big race so have been on very tired legs and on a few occasions have worked out as ~50km in 24 hours with 4000m of ascent. I know that this is not ideal training and isn’t really what I’d ever advise anyone to do. We’ll have to see how it turns out.

Alex: You’ve done the Welsh equivalent, the Paddy Buckley Round. What are the main differences to that?

Steve: The PBR and BG aren’t too dissimilar in that they are both very big days out in the hills. They’re similar in distance and height gain and both have road crossings to get support from. The 2 main differences I can think of immediately are being allowed to start the PBR from anywhere on the route whereas the BG you have to start at the Moot Hall and secondly, the PBR is not as well trodden and covers rougher terrain, making navigation more tricky and running slower.

Alex: What experiences during that do you think will help with the Bob?

Steve: Trying to enjoy myself. When I did the PBR my aim was to have a great day in the hills, this won’t be any different. They’ll be a bit less talking at the support points and a more urgency but I still really want to enjoy the time in the hills with my friends. This has to be the priority.

Alex: It’s been a few years since then, do you feel like a different runner to when you did that?

Steve: I did the PBR on the 17thMay 2014 so almost 5 years ago to the day. I don’t feel like a different runner but deep down I know that I’ve done a good amount of running since. I’ve put in a good number of miles, races and sessions and hope that this gets me through. I could probably rabble on for a while on this topic and it’s not something I like to say or write but I am a better runner now. I struggled massively on the downhills on the PBR and hope that the last 5 years have made my quads a bit tougher!

Alex: Do you want to do the Ramsey in the future? 

Steve: There are other things I’d prioritise over the Ramsay. You asking this question has made me realise I’d like to do the PBR again but properly give it some beans.

Alex: Assuming you make it round, how will you celebrate?

Steve: Might have a sit down, maybe a pie, not really a beer drinker but a celebratory whiskey would go down a treat. 

I think my chances of doing it are 40:60, my prep hasn’t been great, I’ve been feeling knackered the last 3 weeks, my left calf and achilles have been sore and the weather forecast isn’t looking totally chipper but I’m pretty sure I’ll take a punt whatever and try to enjoy it. 

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