Some Stuff About Me ......

My photo
I live in Harrogate, North Yorkshire with my wonderful wife and soul-mate Helen. I have two incredible sons - Evan and Matthew - who are occasionally show up at home, usually when they're hungry or need money. The three of them are the best thing that ever happened to me and I love them all. I spent over 24 years in the Royal Navy, but since I packed it all in and got a proper job my life has gone from strength to strength and I've never looked back. I am a die-hard soul music fan and this remains a serious passion, but in recent years my life has been dedicated to running on the fells and trails of Northern England, it's what I was made for. Please read about my adventures and experiences ...

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Bob Graham Round Success - Part #2

Leg 2 Support Runners:
Jules Coleman (navigation)
Martin Gardiner
Dave Almond
Brian Stallwood

As we ran down the road to Newsome House, I must confess to a moment of quiet satisfaction. Not that I was in any way complacent about how things were going you understand - far from it - it was just that I knew I had an exceptional team with me and this inspires confidence. I've seen some attempts go out with quite inexperienced supporters and no matter how good a runner they might be, in these situations you need people who've been out there and got the T-shirt, I know that sounds unkind but a lot can depend on having the right person by your side, otherwise they become a bit of a liability ..... you definitely couldn't say that about this bunch, there can't have been many attempts this year with so many successful BGers as supporters.  A combination of factors (second attempt, holidays, postponement etc) meant that some just couldn't be there, but I still had a wealth of experience running with me.  If I couldn't get round with this lot, I was probably never going to.

Leg 2 Supporters - Dave A, Jules and Martin
Jules led us through the field and then up the Coach Road to my preferred ascent point for Clough Head .... this is another one of those contentious points on the BG, there are several ways up it and lots of heated debate about the various rights and wrongs of it all. My view is simple: Clough Head is a bastard of a climb - particularly if you go the "steep" way - so the best thing is to make it as benign as possible, for me this means approaching the summit via White Pike, it seems kinder on your legs (if that's possible). So, the summit came and went, it didn't feel too bad at all and was a minute or so under schedule, I felt really positive - no messing about and we were off on our way to Great Dodd. The night was completely dark, I knew there wasn't going to be a moon of any description, but given the clear weather I expected stars and nary a one was to be seen, it was blacker than Mad Black McBlack's pants (=very black) and I don't quite understand that, assume there had to be some sort of high cloud? In any event, I was grateful for small mercies, I've been out on leg 2 in some truly dreadful weather and on attempt #1 it was monsoon conditions - there was none of that here, although the ground was still very wet in places.

My friend Rich will tell you that a lot of BG attempts founder on leg 2 during the night and I know he's right, a lot of the summits are on a plateau and difficult to find when the visibility is down to 20ft and the rain coming in sideways.  There was going to be none of that tonight, we found all the Dodds without trouble and before I knew it we'd gone past Helvellyn and had done Nethermost Pike (another hard one in the dark) before heading off to Dollywaggon. A slight hiccup here - we momentarily lost sight of Jules and Stolly (who were both running well ahead) and a moment's disorientation made us think we'd missed the line off the path to the summit. Actually, we were still a good distance away, but all the same we dived off the tourist path to ...... well, nothing if I'm honest, just a few odd rocks but definitely not Dollywaggon (we were were in the High Crags vicinity). Thankfully, we realised the mistake and scooted on down to DP in a heartbeat, Dave reckons it didn't cost us more than a minute and I think he's right. At this point I normally head straight for the famous fencepost and down the quad-crushing Dollywaggon descent to Grisedale Tarn, but Jules went off way before the post and did a nice little traverse across the slope (which he claims was just an on-the-spot decision!), it seemed much kinder on the legs and this was definitely the way I wanted it, my intention was to save the descending legs as long as possible. Fairfield - another notoriously nasty climb - came and went bang on schedule and before I knew it we were climbing Seat Sandal and leg 2 was nearly over. I suppose it was around 2.00am by this point and as we ran off Seat Sandal it (oddly) began to feel very humid and we were invaded by bugs and moths! Stolly had borrowed Emma's killer Hope headtorch and literally had a performing circus of moths flying around his head, not what you need when you're trying to do a steep and difficult technical descent in the dark.

Seat Sandal (viewed from Fairfield)
I could see the lights of the support team below me and knew that everyone would be there, ready to go. I tried to relax and tell myself that it had been easy so far, this was where the fun began.  It's hard to believe that when you've just covered 27 miles or so across hard terrain with several thousands feet of ascent thrown in for good measure (perhaps an understatement), but I knew I had to, this was where my mind needed to be in order to stand a chance. Smiling faces all around as I crossed the A591, straight into my seat and Helen was there with cuppa, food and clothes.  This was probably my longest break (about 13 minutes I think) and I had time to close my eyes and focus on what was coming: This was where the wheels started to come off on my first attempt and I'll be honest, thus far my whole focus had been on getting to Wasdale (ie. the end of leg 3) in one piece and roughly on schedule.  If could crack that, then my thinking was that it was mine to throw away. Dave Harrison, Dave Swift, Rick and Phil were ready to go, headtorches burning into the darkness.  I crossed my fingers and set off, this was it, the one that would make or break my Bob Graham Round. I sincerely hoped that the bloody vicar from Seascale had remembered to say a prayer for me!

To be continued - watch out for the next part!

No comments: