The Bob Graham Round – Part 2 -A New Love For The Fells

Word of warning- contains some horrendous language ūüėČ

I stood on top of Seat Sandal, disorientated, drained of energy and feeling slumped. ¬†I felt wrong. ¬†I forced some Tailwind down my throat and looked up…

“Where the hell did my support runners vanish to?”

Brain switched on slightly and memory took over.  I headed in the general direction of the road crossing, searching for the trod I needed.  Step after step I analysed my movement.  It was all wrong.  I was slapping the ground with my feet like I was wearing a set of flippers.  Ok, so I was wearing some daft looking ninja sock (AKA Luna Tabu) and a pair of Luna Sandals, but I felt uncoordinated and slightly confused.

Eventually the trod appeared in the light of my head torch, I made my way down over the crest of the descent and spotted my two support runners.  Up over the style I went and ran to my road support.  I headed to a corner and just lay down on the floor, feet up and hands covering my face!

“He just expects to feel better than he does is all” I heard, but this was the end of leg 2. ¬†I know I have more in me than just two legs. ¬†What the hell had happened to get me to this point, around 23 miles and 3,400m of clim in?

I arrived at Keswick, got out and in an excited and rushed way sorted my kit. ¬†I’m used to being self sufficient so I stuffed a set of waterproofs and survival bag into my pack, along with some Tailwind and nuts for the journey. ¬†I handed over spare gloves and extra layers to some of my support. ¬†It was awesome to see so many people there to run the first leg. ¬†We stood at the door, joked about going to the pub, exchanged pleasantries about the ridiculous choice of footwear and waited for 8pm.

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7:56pm arrived, I touched the door and said “come one then lets go” but no. ¬†Apparently we had to wait for 8pm!

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Then 8 pm arrived and we were off.  I walked some of the uphills, finding that conformable uphill pace that I perfected over summer.  Keeping pace with the runners until we hit the flat and headed to the start of the climb to Skiddaw.

The weather was incredible. ¬†Clear skies, a gentle breeze and no rain or snow. ¬†The snow was frozen solid, which made running on it straight forwards and keeping to schedule on leg one was no problem. ¬†We reached the top of Skiddaw. ¬†The wind had picked up and it was bitterly cold. ¬†Up until that point I was roasting, wanting to take off my gloves, bobble hat and down coat but I was glad I hadn’t. ¬†The trig came along and passed as we began the descent towards Great Calva. ¬†I relaxed and ran down the hill on the frozen snow, which eventually turned into frozen grass. ¬†Its an odd thing to hear the sound of frozen grass beneath your feet. It’s as though someone has covered the fells with plastic bags!

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The support crew were fantastic, chatting away, talking about running barefoot or sandalled and generally being supportive of the effort. ¬†The summit of Great Calva suddenly appeared! ¬†“How the hell did we get up here so quickly?”

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I quick photo stop then we turned toward the final peak of leg 1, Blencathra. ¬†But that wasn’t what caught my attention… ¬†The moon had risen and was a huge glowing blood orange disc. ¬†It looked incredible and I wished I could see the views around me.

A quick descent and it was time for the river crossing. ¬†I stopped, looked at some boulders in the river and bounced along them. “Ha! ¬†I managed to keep my feet dry!”

Except the next section was bog! ¬†“So much for dry feet.” I thought as we began the climb up to the peak of Blencathra.

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It arrived soon enough but I was starting to feel the effects of not enough food.  I had eaten too much before the start so stuffing food or liquid into my stomach was a chore.  I felt fine, so we carried on and descended the icy zig zags of Doddick.

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Despite the fresh batteries, my head torch began to give up the ghost and this slowed me down. ¬†Until that point, the pacing was nye on perfect. ¬†Josh handed me my spare, which was no better, so a slow and steady descent and some careful stepping go time on to the road in Threlkeld and to the end of leg 1. ¬†I could feel the excitement build in me and I focused on one thing. I needed my batteries for my head torch. ¬†I didn’t feel like I could eat, still feeling stuffed! ¬†Maybe I should have forced myself to eat, but I didn’t and instead started the run towards the first climb of leg 2.

We started the leg 2 climb and the lack of fuel was starting to hit me. ¬†Two of my support sped up the climb and I felt the need to chase! ¬†I was relying on my nav and support to give me an idea of time so I could judge my pace, but this is hard to do at times and I felt like I was falling behind. ¬†We continued and before long I over heard the word “don’t want to jeopardise” and I know that one of the support was going to have to bow out at some point soon and after the first peak of leg two, he apologised and made his way back to Threlkeld. ¬†And then there was 2…

I began to find the climbs difficult.  I could feel my legs becoming leaden and heavy and all I could do was push on to try and catch up with my support.  They seemed to get further and further away, waiting for me at the peaks and then shooting off.

I tried to explain that I didn’t feel quite right but I don’t think my support understood. ¬†I asked about the pace…

“This isn’t the right pace is it? ¬†It’s too slow. ¬†How am I doing pace wise?”

“Hmmm… Fair to middeling” was the reply I got

“Well, that’s not exactly helpful” I thought followed by “You’re just tired. ¬†You’ve been up since 6am the previous morning. ¬†Keep moving. ¬†You’ve been in far worse shape and you know you can keep this up”

I have to say that amongst this, I kept telling myself you are tired and need fuel. ¬†Your anger is frustration at yourself for not managing your needs as well I you should be and that these guys aren’t to blame. ¬†I actually think that the navigating and pacing was spot on. ¬†I was too engrossed in my own little bubble of grump to think clearly at the front of my consciousness but it was always there.

“Stop fighting and just go with it. ¬†It’s your own fault you’re in this state. ¬†You’ve been through worse you great big fat git! ¬†Stop blaming others for what is your decision and actions.” ¬†This was my talk to myself (internal conversations are sometimes great) but the tiredness and frustration did taint the entire leg 2, through no fault of the leg 2 crew.

I kept pushing but it got harder. ¬†I took less and less fuel on, concerned that I hadn’t had a pee since leg 1, that I was falling behind, that I was fighting with myself and the fell. ¬†I could feel an anger that I couldn’t place. ¬†What the hell was I getting angry at?

“You just need to man up” ¬†This is a snippet of a story of someone telling one of my support to man up in a race, but this wasn’t my problem. ¬†If I hadn’t “manned up” I would have said I’m done, lets go home earlier.

“I really don’t feel right! ¬†Nothing seems to be moving the way it should. ¬†My hand feel tight. ¬†I really behind on time now aren’t I”

I found out that actually, I wasn’t that far behind and that it was likely I would be half an hour or twenty minutes behind as we came down Fairfield. ¬†The Dodds and Helvellyn range were just trudge after trudge, and so early on in the round that I felt like someone was trying to beat me into submission. ¬†The Fell Gods were taking their ounce of blood and they were being slow about it.

Then it was time to push up Seat Sandal.  I pushed.  My support seemed to float up like there the climb was flat and eventually I reached the top and stopped to take a drink.

“Mate, you need to eat. ¬†I’m gonna make you up some strawberry rice pudding. ¬†Will you eat it?” Tom asks. ¬†Tom wasn’t even meant to be there as support! ¬†It was great to see that he’d joined in. ¬†I said something, but I’m not sure what. ¬†My answer to most things was I don’t know.

I started to sort out my wet feet.  The socks needed to be changed and Clive stepped in to help, Lucy was told to force feed me rice pudding and Tom began to angrily empty y pack of the things I was carrying at the same time as telling off my leg two support!!

Now, I’m not sure he did tell them off but it sure sounded like it.

I ate some rice pudding, necked some coke and got back up with some help.  My leg 3 support join me and leg three started.

“I’m sorry guys. I’m just too slow on the ups! ¬†I;m not sure what’s going on!?”

“You’re doing fine. ¬†This pace is fine for your schedule. ¬†Just keep taking one step at a time”

So I did and we moved up towards the peak of the steep climb.  The support of the runners on leg 3 was phenomenal.  Constantly handing me food to eat in small amounts.  Handing me my bottles of Tailwind, and by the end of the first climb and the start of some more runnable terrain I felt like I could run!

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A little later and I felt more coordinated and life returned to the odd sense of humour I carry. ¬†The sunrise just added to my mirth and I unleashed the most ridiculous thing ever done on a Bob Graham… ¬†An episode of #OperaticLandscapes!

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Then the pace picked up, I would have the odd few minutes of low as the fuel levels dropped, but the more I moved the better I felt as I trickled fuel in and my body responded to its presence.  Time was being made up as we headed to Bowfell and I began to refocus on keeping my pace high enough to make up even more time.

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Then we hit the ice sheet that was the ascent onto Bowfell.

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“Stop fucking around Ode!” Ode shouted as he heard my poor imitation operatic shout “SUNRIIIIIIIIIISE” at the top of my voice.

“I’m not. ¬†Just having a laugh”

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The banter and conversations were hilarious. ¬†Not one did we talk about this race or that race. ¬†It was just a stream of amusing comments, piss taking and insults that were obviously not true. ¬†I ran up to the peak of Sergeant Man, bouncing off the boulders and the stopped. ¬†What an incredible thing to be doing in such an incredible place. ¬†I fell in love with the fells all over again! ¬†It didn’t matter that I was on a schedule. ¬†It was all about being out with these 4 (2 who I barely knew) and enjoying the act of moving.

“Woo hoo! ¬†A trig! ¬†Can someone take my pic with that trig please? ¬†#TrigAWeekChallenge2016 dont you know!”

Now at this point, others must have been thinking “He is dead! ¬†A Walking zombie” but the actual truth was I was prancing around as I always do (with a smidgen of being sensible) and I bounced on to the trig at High Rise for a pic.

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Then we made the meandering route to Bowfell and the insanity started.

Ahead was an ice sheet that just got steeper and steeper, so we picked a direct line up, hoping for a rocky scramble, but soon were faced by a rocky ice scramble. ¬†That’s the point were a certain change in mood came about. ¬†Everyone stepped their act up a gear and the team kicked into action, literally. ¬†Ice steps were kicked and chipped out of the icy slope, and we made slow progress on to Bowfell, but once we did. ¬†I felt like someone had supercharged me! ¬†Huge grins covered our faces and we commented on the stupidity of what we just did. ¬†No crampons, one ice axe, no rope and a tit in a pari of sandals.

Esc Pike came and went, Great End came and went, Ill Crag and Broad Crag passed with out any issues. ¬†I even managed my fasted ever run from Board Crag to Scafell Pike! ¬†I was at the peak before I realised what was going on, so it was time for another picture. ¬†I though we’d lost lots of time heading up Bowfell, but turns out we were still ok for time at that point. ¬†We looked across to Fox’s Tarn as our safe option up Scafell and it looked like a shiny sheet of icy death, and in the distance were two people moving up Lord’s Rake with ease.

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That’s were we went and with the layer of frozen snow, the pre made foot steps up Lord’s Rake, the climb was both easy and fast. ¬†The decision was made to check Cantilever rock and the route beyond it, but after a nerve racking traverse on the icy slope that seemed to go on forever, we turned around and decided to rise West wall traverse. ¬†It was slow going and we had to patiently take one axed step at a time. ¬†still we laughed and joked about the leg, the ridiculously dangerous situation we were in and even worked out strategies for a future winter Bob.

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After what seemed like an age (about an hour and 45 minutes) we poked out of West Wall traverse and headed to the peak of Scafell. All of us were laughing. ¬†There was an amazing atmosphere to our band of adventurers and I’d already decided that continuing would just make me unsafe through lack of sleep.

“Guys, there was a point up here that I held on to the rock and started to go to sleep! ¬†Carrying on would make me a liability for my support team and I don’t want them to be responsible for someone who hadn’t slept for 36+ hours”

The trip down to Wasdale was great, we trundled out way along to the scree descent, chatting constantly about the amazing team work and the incredible adventure of the last few hours. ¬†Then it was time for the scree! ¬†I’d been looking forward to this section since leg 1.

We launched down, laughing and whooping all the way, heckling the two that opted for the grass to the side and ambled our way to the main path that led to the carpark.  I stopped and washed my sandals of the mud the screes had dumped on them.

Once they were back on, it was time to run. ¬†So I did. ¬†The technical parts of the path were just amazing and I just relaxed into the run, we continued chatting and the word of wisdom were spoken by Ode…

“If you did carry on Ode, it would be like a slap in the face of what we just did. ¬†It would be pain rude to carry on after Leg 3”

We all laughed and agreed, and I sprinted to the support guys…

“That was fucking EPIC! ¬†Leg 3 is fucking amazing!”

I vaulted the small fence and then stood upright..

“You guys are bloody amazing… ¬†Let go to the pub. ¬†I’m buying you all dinner”

Turns out they were more shocked by this than happy.  They were expecting a zombie and some near death support crew but they to some overly excited runners who had had the most incredible day o the fells in their entire lives!

We chatted and described what we had done as best we could, but how can you put into words the immense sense of camaraderie, the sense of being scared but full yin control and the sense that everyone was working together and taking care of everyone else on the leg?

I’m hoping the pictures explain the adventure better than my clumsily strung together words.

I have to say a massive thanks for the support of all the runners and the road crew and the people on social media. ¬†I know I didn’t finish the round but I’m in no way ashamed of this. ¬†I actually feel like I achieved more in the latter leg I completed that I would in a successful round. ¬†There was an intense sense that we belonged out on the fell. ¬†That no matter what was thrown at us we would work our way around it, not fighting the fell or trying to beat the terrain into submission, but making the most of what was to hand to make the safest and best progress we could. ¬†I am now left with a desire to go back, I seem to recall moments with pride, love and joy. ¬†It’s an odd thing to fall in love with mountains, but it’s inevitable if you spend enough time on them.

#VivaLeg3

 

The Bob Graham Round Part 1 – Vote #RunE1Trail bit.ly/MYWBvote

BG Tracker link –>¬†http://maps.opentracking.co.uk/bg2016.cfm?n=1

I’m standing in front of the door. ¬†Many have touched it before me and failed. ¬†Fewer have touched it and been successful. ¬†Whatever happens…

I refuse to be ruled by a ticking watch.

“Get to Honister by 4:30pm” repeats in my head.

None of this has happened yet. ¬†I’m sat staring at a screen and thinking about the different sections. ¬†The steep descent from Dollywagon, the scree slope down¬†to Wasdale¬†and the final few steps to the door.

“Get to Honister by 4:30pm”

I am happy to get round, but in my head I see a successful finish.  I see myself opening a beer before I touch the door of Moot Hall.  I see myself running that last section into Keswick without my sandals and I see myself touching the door with my barefoot.

Pondering whether I’m capable of this is pointless. ¬†It’s time to find out whether I can move fast enough over the frozen winter terrain to get around the 42 Lake District peaks in under 24 hours.

All I can say at this point is…

“I will see you on the other side”

 

 

Leaping In To The Unkown – Vote #RunE1Trail #GetOutside bit.ly/MYWBvote

I’ve written this post 3 times now and each time I’ve struggled to get what I wanted to say out in a coherent fashion. ¬†Hopefully, this time will be the final write, but when you just let words flow from your head and guide your fingers to place them on the screen, it doesn’t always quite pan out the way you expect.

For years I’ve been trapped by poor decisions. ¬†Decisions that I’ve decided I will stick by and decision that I am not going to turn back on, regardless of the thoughts of others. ¬†Recently, I’ve wandered whether I am actually trapped by them or whether I’ve just lacked the conviction or confidence to step out of the comfort bubble of normal life. ¬†The more I’ve thought about it, the more I’ve realised that it’s less of the former and more of the latter.

I have to have enough money to live but before that I need to have enough money to pay back debt that I’m working on clearing, but does that mean that I’m not able to live as I wish and do what I want to do?

On Monday, after some general avoiding the inevitable, I decided I was going to act. ¬†It wasn’t a gradual decision, but something I knew was inevitable. ¬†I waited the entire day at work and then, with the help of a friend, began to type…

“I am writing to inform you that I intend on leaving my post as a science teacher, effective from September 2016”

My initial step into teaching was one born from the want for more money, which got me more stuff and allowed me the comforts of living beyond my means and supporting someone else’s wants and desires. ¬†That bubble burst and I’ve learnt that money is not what allows us to survive. ¬†Now, I’ve stepped on to a trail that has no sign posts or known destination. ¬†I have no idea what is likely to happen and instead of panicking I seem to be problem solving!

I’m going to find out is I am able to live as I wish and do what I want to do. ¬†There is no other option. ¬†My course may change along the way, but one direction I refuse to¬†face is backwards.

I have already worked out the budgeting for the E1 trail using my final 2 paycheques. ¬†I’ve¬†even begun to work of finding other sources of funding, although I’m doubtful I’ll find any and I’m reluctant to ask for it, but the E1 trail adventure is going to take place, whether I am able to gain enough votes to win the funding from Discovery Channel.

I place my self in the…

I very nearly typed the words “I place myself in the hands of the gods” but I firmly believe that there are no Gods or Masters that influence our decisions. ¬†We are in control of them, so instead I place the fate of #RunE1Trail and potential funding in your hands. ¬†Do as you feel is right and look beyond what may appear to be the most foolish decision a person could make. ¬†Instead, look at what a person is trying to achieve and vote based on those merits alone.

 

Thanks for reading.

 

When The Dust Of Excitement Settles

Vote here for adventure –>¬†bit.ly/MYWBvote¬†– #RunE1Trail

Not sure who this post will pan out. ¬†In fact I’m not really sure what I’m trying to say. ¬†It is simply the¬†cathartic act of getting thoughts that are indistinct out in the open where I can see them.

I’ve spent a week living in a manner that most would struggle to comprehend. ¬†In fact I’ve lived in this manner for the last month or so. ¬†I’ve experienced nights in the howling gales of a storm only to wake to the glory of a rising sun. ¬†I’ve struggled to stay warm yet woken to dew upon my beard. ¬†I’ve realised that even though I’ve withheld away at what I think I need to survive, I still have more than necessary and I’ve realised that when you have little the true kindness in others shines out.

Now I’m faced with a return to work and I feel like an animal that knows it is walking into a cage. ¬†For the first time all week I feel anything other than relaxed and at ease. ¬†The problem isn’t that I can’t cope with my job or I’m unable to leave it. ¬†The problem is that I’m torn between a deep sense of duty to the people I work with and to the students I teach and the need to do what I know is right for me. ¬†I’m willing to take a chance that I will find work come September and I’m going to launch ¬†myself out into the unknown in the hope that I can find enough money to live and to pay the debt I took on as part of my past.

Really… ¬†I need to do what I can to gain funding to make the E1 trail adventure happen. ¬†The chances of winning the #MYWBPledge are slim but the chance is enough for me to have a new level of motivation in my training. ¬†I’m willing to sacrifice the comforts and luxuries that we all work for, just to help with the funding of this adventure, so here’s a toast to lady luck. ¬†I’ll do my bit, if you do yours. ūüėÄ

Thanks for reading the ramblings of someone who is stuck in a quandary and is trying to make sense of what he is learning on a daily basis.

Preempting the Disappointment Demons – Vote #RunE1Trail bit.ly/MYWBvote

bit.ly/MYWBvote – Click the link to vote for #RunE1Trail

I saw the final proof of my article for Ultra Magazine yesterday and it looks awesome. ¬†It’s such a buzz to see your words in print along side pictures of the summer adventure. ¬†Meeting Elise and Sarah yesterday¬†gave¬†me lots of food for thought and placed me in an odd mind set.

Today, I’m sat in a café, staring out of the window at the falling rain and I feel a slightly melancholic. This kind of happens from time to time, when the reality of a situation dawns on me.

Since finding out about my place in the final 15 of Discovery Channel’s #MYWBPledge competition, I could taste the E1 Euro trail adventure, but really I should be realistic. No matter how badly I want to get this adventure started, I don’t want to have to deal with the disappointment of not winning and feeling the whole thing fall just that further away from my reach.

So, it’s time to adopt a more realistic viewpoint. I need to promote the adventure and encourage votes but I need to do it whilst holding on to the idea that I am unlikely to be one of the 3. Focus on the adventures that I can make happen this year, and if I get enough votes…

All plans for this year (for what plans are worth when you live one day at a time) will be set aside and it’ll be time to really up the training, get the equipment sorted and get the fundraising for Stroke Association and Mountain Rescue started.

And there it is. The melancholy is lifted, or at least set aside for now. It‚Äôs amazing how much impact putting thoughts and feelings into words has. It‚Äôs a subtle way to face my demons and even now, after so many months of living a ‚Äėnormal‚Äô life, the demons always have my face.

Must remember to live my life by the belief ‚ÄúNo Demons, No Gods, No Masters‚ÄĚ

Vote For #GetOutside Adventures on @DiscoveryChannelUK – #MYWBPledge

Vote using this link –>¬†bit.ly/MYWBvote

All my adventure plans have been leading to one big adventure…

Solo running the E1 Euro trail over a period of 5-7 months.

It’s a huge adventure and no one has actually completed the whole thing yet. ¬†It’s not actually fully marked down to the proposed end in Sicily, but that’s what adventures are for.

It’s going to push me beyond what I know I’m capable of just in the training phase and then go up a notch when I actually start.

The only barrier has been funding the trip. ¬†I’ve made some serious sacrifices so far, getting rid of most of what I own and moving in to my car so that I can save money and make the adventure happen.

Then I tweeted with the hashtag #MYWBPledge and someone must have thought ‘this guy is worth a punt’, since I’m now on the Discover Channel UK site!!

It’s a crazy thing, but when we take chances and engage with things doors start to open.

So now I ask you for your votes and make a promise that if I am successful and win one of the 3 prizes, I’ll get this challenge done this year and use it to raise money for two great causes, both of which are deceiving of our support and are likely to help someone you know at some point in the UK.

 

Thanks for reading and here’s to adventure ūüėÄ