Thursday, 9 June 2011

Owen's Bob Graham Mk.1 - 28/05/2011

Owen, Matt and I arrive at Threlkeld.

Sorry there have been no updates for a while, due to pressures of work, and this being the only real running I've done for a while (and most of it was really a fast walk).

I took it easy after the tweaked calf on the 24th as I'd promised to navigate my friend and colleague Owen Mills on Leg One of his 40th Birthday Bob Graham Bash. Having got up to the Lakes with no major problems and picked up Matt Dilley who was going to pace Leg One, we settled in at the bunk barn and met some of the guys who'd been on the lost dog epic recce with us in March. Notable among these are Alex Cowin, fresh from a fairly rapid OCT race and Ste Brock, who'd run a 21:58 Bob Graham in pretty poor conditions with support from Owen the week before.

Anyway 5pm came and it was off to Keswick for a 6pm start. I was struggling a bit with the calf (right one) but massaged it a bit to get it warmed up and eased, and eventually we were away, a minute or two early at 5.58pm.

Me, Owen and Matt outside the Moot Hall - Photo: Alex Cowin
We had no mistakes leaving Keswick this time, and a steady climb up the Latrigg path, jogging the flatter bits, and trying to keep Owen from going out too fast. The long grind up Jenkin Hill was mitigated by a great view back to Keswick and Derwentwater, and we were fairly soon jogging again on the flatter section bypassing Little Man. I had to try to slow Owen down again on the slope up to the summit plateau, and we were soon up there. Matt was brilliant, keeping Owen chatting while I concentrated on giving brief updates on our progress.

It was pretty windy up top and at this point I did something stupid!

When you're nursing a sore calf, jogging across a rocky summit, and trying to stay upright in the wind, it probably isn't a great idea to try to jot down the summit time (84 minutes, 1 under schedule if anyone's interested). This involves holding the pace card in one hand and the pen in the other. At this precise moment a big gust of wind blew me over a pointy rock and I stumbled, pulling the calf a bit and then really bashing the top of my right foot as I tried to recover. Idiot!

Anyway 30 seconds hard running got me caught up with Owen and we both counted down the 600 metres to the turn point. I recognise this by the strange arrangement of four fenceposts, but you need to be over to the east about 50 yards from the path to see the fence. From here with clear weather the path down to Hare Crag is really obvious. It was a little boggy on the way down. I ran because I knew I was struggling now with a lot of pain in my foot and calf, and I wanted (i) not to alarm Owen after only one summit; and (ii) to sort out the essential kit for Matt - I knew I'd be holding them back later, if not on Great Calva, then on the drag up to Mungrisedale Common.

Owen and Matt are out there 200 yds in front, past the sheep fold
So with real regret I passed Owen the map and timing sheet, compass and pen, and gave Matt the bottle of Owen's energy drink I'd been carrying. Matt seemed pretty unflapped (great for a BG newbie) and just got on with pacing Owen up Great Calva, as I set off down towards Skiddaw House. As I reached the Youth Hostel there, I saw Matt and Owen top out on Great Calva, now two minutes up.

I had a good chat with a chap staying in the hostel and then set off for Threlkeld, hobbling a bit at first, but later able to jog gently down (but in some pain).

Just beyond Skiddaw House on the way down to Threlkeld
Looking back up towards Skiddaw House and Great Calva

Blease Fell and Gategill Fell from west of Threlkeld

When I arrived in the village, the support vehicle hadn't yet arrived, so I headed up the old road as far as a path which doubles back through the fields to Gategill Farm. Here I could watch the lowest section of the Doddick Fell ridge and hopefully give some advanced warning to the road crew of Owen and Matt's arrival. The crew duly arrived and I saw the runners on Doddick pretty much simultaneously, so I headed up past the farm to the beck crossing under Hall's Fell.

I had a brief word on the way up with the lady from the farm as she fed her hens. She said there had been a bad accident in Gate Gill the night before, with the MRT called out. I later found out this was for a guy supporting another BG attempt. They'd gone down the parachute route but he'd slipped, broken a wrist and fractured his skull. He's OK thankfully - the MRT must have had a job getting him out: it's a bad place to have to be rescued from...

Gate Gill, and the phone camera was struggling for light at 21:35
Anyway, Owen and Matt appeared, still going great guns, and I ran down to the vehicle with them, arriving 8 minutes early. Owen had some pasta and tea and pretty soon was heading off into gathering darkness to tackle Clough Head. Matt and I went back in the Landie to the barn to get some sleep.

Owen fuelling up, Matt chilling, me mithering
Handing over, Matt's having a nice sit down.
Sadly Owen had some digestive problems during the night and had to pack his attempt in at Dunmail, but we will be back, possibly in August, for another go.

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