Saturday, 23 July 2011

24 hours from Keswick

Here's the timings from my BGR attempt. Sorry for the delay - it's the first time my knees have allowed me to get downstairs to the computer.

Thanks again for all the tremendous support in some awful weather.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Wet, wet, wet

A great big thank you to everyone who supported my BG. There’s too many to say thank you to everyone individually, but I’m going to try nonetheless…

In chronological order:

To Rob for the coolbox
To Jennie for providing the stove
To Helen W for seeing me off at the start
To Ray for navigating on Leg 1 and for bull-avoidance abilities
To Andy McC for keeping me fed regularly
To John Hooson for carrying some of the huge amount of food bagged up for each leg
To Mike McK for naving on Leg 2 in some of the worst conditions I’ve ever seen
To Mark for time-keeping when the rain stopped the pen working
To Ben for pushing me up the hills and keeping me fed
To M.B esq, proprietor of ‘Baz’s Bazaar and coffee shop’, at Sticks Pass
To Stuart for cajoling me around Leg 3 …and then doing the same on Leg 5
To Martin for hauling me out of pond when I fell in near High Raise and for making me laugh when I realised his words “When you get to Bowfell it’s in the bag for you!” wasn’t actually a plan to keep me out of the rain
To Tom for naving and taking me along Fox’s Traverse in time for an early-morning shower from the waterfalls
To Matt for assisting Stuart in cajoling me around Leg 3 …and then doing the same on Leg 5
To Debbie for providing breakfast at Rossett Gill and for the welcome despite her being cold and wet
To Jessica for the same as Debbie, except looking more cold and wet
To Dave D for naving, praising my climbing ability on Leg 4…and telling me my descending was crap
To Jarv for time-keeping prodding me along every step of the way and preventing me falling backwards on the climb up Yewbarrow
To Mick for cursing my speed up Yewbarrow (which spurred me on) and carrying the coffee flask around to Pillar
To Dave B for not complaining about anything…and then doing the same on Leg 5
To Julie for naving on Leg 5 when I’d virtually stopped speaking
To Helen D for time-keeping, providing me with drink and remarking how I could still manage ‘please’ and ‘thank you’
To Paul for feeding me food – including Kendal Mint Cake
To Dawn for running Leg 5 after providing superb support all night and day to Helen with logistics.. and for encouraging me at every changeover
To John for helping keep me going up Dale Head
To Dawn W for chatting to me when my conversational abilities had gone
To Michael R for conversing with Dawn when my conversational abilities had gone
To Lynn, Diane and Freya for being there – along with many others already mentioned - at the end in Keswick.

And finally, to Helen who provided excellent support with a smile

And finally, finally, to Cuddy, Milly, and Tiggs for demonstrations of the right way to run across rocky ground.

Cherry on the top - 42 buns to celebrate another successful BG.

Dave D has published pictures from the final leg.

You’ll struggle to find better supporters than Team Dallam!

Message from Helen: due to a spot of rain along the way we weren’t always able to provide bacon butties to the supporters. So we have a bit of spare bacon and as many spare bread buns than I want to think about. So we will bring them along tomorrow (Monday) night for after the club run if anyone want like to join us for a bite to eat. There may be a little cake left as well.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

It's a cakewalk (or rather, a run)

By guest editor Helen Smith

As logistics supreme, I have been preparing for this Bob Graham attempt almost as long as Michael. In the last week or so things have really intensified and the last 48 hours before the off will be critical. I have made sure I have attended each change-over point so I will turn up to the right place (it would be a bit disappointing if Mike had to wait around because I was lost). I have also learned loads from observing the support teams for Jarv and Doc Martin. I have found out how much bacon I need (three packs should do it), how many rolls (three packs), how much milk (if it is a warm day then four pints should do it, but if it is cold then six is probably best).

The list of cakes is now finalised. There will definitely be the lemon drizzle cake (to combat the effects of drizzle) and tiffin that have been requested. In addition, there will be many of my favourites: Australian crunchie, sticky date cake and chocolate Guinness cake to name but three. I have even booked some time off work to bake – a treat I am really looking forward to. We should not run out of cake, even if Mike runs out of steam.

What Who Where When(expected time based on 23hr 30mins schedule)

Leg 1 Ray Gill [Nav], Andy McCracken [time-keeper], John Hooson (Ambleside) Bell Close Car Park, Keswick We’ll be there from 17.15 for 18:00 start (prompt)

Leg 2 Mike McKenna [Nav], Mark Bell [time-keeper],Martin Benson, Ben Beachell (Eryri). Down by river at Threlkeld (south side of A66). Arrive 21:51, Depart 22:01

Mark Barrow at Sticks Pass

Leg 3 Martin Gardiner [Nav], Matt Beardshall [time-keeper], Stuart Hurst, Lanny (Martin’s mate). Top of Dunmail Raise, northbound carriageway. Arrive 02:32, depart 02:42

Jessica Goodfellow and Debbie Copley at Rossett Pike.
Tom Phillips and Andy McCracken on ropes at Broad Stand.

Leg 4 Dave Deason [Nav],Richard Jarvis [time-keeper], Mick Pearcy National Trust car park, Brackenclose, Wasdale. Arrive 08:42, depart 08:52

Leg 5 Julie Pearcy [Nav], Helen Deason [time-keeper], Dawn Gill, John Hodgson, Dawn W (Harrogate), Michael Richards (Helm Hill),Paul. National Trust car park, Honister Pass. Arrive 13:57, depart 14:07

Little Town Shoe change. Church, Little Town

Keswick - anyone in the area Moot Hall No later than 6pm Saturday! (fingers crossed)

If I have missed you off, apologies, please let me know:; 015395 64742 or 07531 721875

If we haven’t already got them, please let me know your contact details (preferably mobile phone numbers) in case I need to contact you in advance. For anyone who doesn’t know our car, we’ll be in a black Skoda (PF53 VHY), overflowing with food and kit, with a large roofbox on top courtesy of Helen Whitehouse.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Tough shoes to fill

RIGHT, that’s it. Two out of three successful Dallam BG attempts. One to go – mine.
No pressure then. All training done and a fortnight lay-off begins.
Activity now focuses on my logistics supremo and quarter-master general, Helen. Nothing will be left to chance - I expect she’ll lay on some wartime-style RAF briefing presented by a moustached figure with a pointy stick. “Tonight,” he’ll say as he raps a huge map of the Lake District fixed to our lounge wall, “you’ll be flying along the Dodds at a height of over 2,000 feet. Watch out… the flap-jack will be particularly heavy around Helvellyn, and you’ve got to keep fuelled so you don’t bomb. Chocs away down in Dunmail. Any questions?”
Any questions? Well, thanks to the generous advice from other club members, there’s not many left, except to say will I do it?
I heard Jarv (after his successful attempt) say to me “Piece of cake!”, though it could have been “piece of cake?” There seemed to be a lot to go around, with the tea loaf being my favourite.
I’ve certainly had a few training runs over the past few months, so thanks to everyone who came along to make it an enjoyable affair. And yes, they were enjoyable. Mostly. Well, they would have been a lot less pleasant if I’d being doing them on my own.
So here’s some of the things I’ve learned over the past few months:
· Kahtoola Microspikes make a wonderful Christmas present. Being able to run down the hard-packed snow of a Munro all the way to the bottom was a winter highlight (even if I did forget the suntan cream and burned my nose)
· You see your whole life pass in front of your eyes (I had to stifle a yawn) when the mother-of-all-hailstorms hits you near Honister.
· When Shinny puts a ‘countdown to Bob Graham’ on your blog page it doesn’t worry you in the slightest …until the final 10 days. When Helen puts a countdown on your Google home page, she’s just being plain evil.
· It’s possible to cause a global run on the price of mini Jaffa Cakes by buying in bulk
· Even Milli can get stuck in a bog
· Dallam provides the best support for BG attempts
My final training run, of course, was Jarv’s BG. Fantastic weather and a fantastic outcome. I joined at Dunmail Raise in the small hours for Leg 3, with Dave Deason navigating and Stuart and Dave Barnes as fellow sherpas. Leechy asks me if I’m “going to do the whole thing?” This is a standing joke.
Sunrise hits our group just before Rossett Pike where we met Mike McKenna and Mick Pearcy for a spot of coffee and cake (sorry, a re-fuelling stop – people will get the wrong impression about how hard this challenge is), and then it was up to Bowfell to catch a view of the Scafells (cloud-free in the early morning sunshine for a change).
Along the ridge down to Mickledore and then up Broad Stand with Tom having fixed the rope. I’ll quite happily admit I’m a ‘Broad Stand virgin’ so made sure I didn’t look down (or stupid). In fact, the only problem was trying to squeeze through the rock cleft while still wearing my rucsac, which entailed me leaving the upper layer of skin from my left elbow on the rock wall.
No problems on the run down to Wasdale – although Jarv claimed I used my walking pole tip like the point of a bayonet to keep him moving forward. Can’t be true - I didn’t need to.
From Wasdale, Mike Mckenna, Dave and I headed up to Kirk Fell to provide further coffee and cakes, and then down to Honister. Jump in the car to drive around to Little Town and then onto Keswick to see Jarv finish.
To find out more about his round you’ll have to wait for his write up.

Here’s my support team as it currently stands (a bit of re-jigging after a few injuries – but hoping they’ll make a recovery in time):

Leg 1 – Ray Gill [Nav], Andy McCracken [time-keeper], John Hooson (Ambleside)
Leg 2 – Mike McKenna [Nav], Mark Bell [time-keeper], Martin Benson, Ben Beachell (Eryri)
Leg 3 – Martin Gardiner [Nav], Matt Beardshall [time-keeper], and Lanny (Martin’s mate), with Tom Phillips and Andy McCracken on ropes at Broad Stand.
Leg 4 – Dave Deason [Nav], John Leech [time-keeper], Mick Pearcy
Leg 5 –Julie Pearcy [Nav], Helen Deason [time-keeper], Dawn Gill, John Hodgson, Dawn W (Harrogate)

If anyone else would like to support – please let me know (mobile: 07531 721875 or reply to this blog), you’d be more than welcome. And thanks to those who’ve offered to date.

My schedule (as below) is based on 23 hours (ish)

Location Time
Moot Hall 18:00
Skiddaw 19:25
Great Calva 20:10
Blencathra 21:20
Threlkeld(A) 21:51
Threlkeld (D) 22:01
Clough Head 23:00
Great Dodd 23:30
Watson Dodd 23:39
Stybarrow Dodd23:48
Raise 00:06
White Side 00:14
Helvellyn Lower Man 00:32
Helvellyn 00:38
Nethermost Pike 00:48
Dollywaggon Pike 01:00
Fairfield 01:42
Seat Sandal 02:07
Dunmail Raise (Arv) 02:32
Dunmail Raise – (Dpt) 02:42
Steel Fell 03:07
Calf Crag 03:27
Sergeant Man 04:02
High Raise 04:11
Thunacar Knott 04:26
Harrison Stickle 04:36
Pike o Stickle 04:48
Rossett Pike 05:33
Bowfell 06:08
Esk Pike 06:33
Great End 06:58
Ill Crag 07:13
Broad Crag 07:23
Scafell Pike 07:35
Scafell 08:07
Wasdale - Arrive 08:42
Wasdale - Depart 08:52

Yewbarrow 09:42
Red Pike 10:32
Steeple 10:56
Pillar 11:30
KirkFell 12:20
Great Gable 13:03
Green Gable 13:18
Brandreth 13:36
Grey Knotts 13:44
Honister - Arrive 13:57
Honister - Depart 14:07
Dalehead 14:40
Hindscarth 15:01
Robinson 15:27
Keswick Moot Hall 17:07

Finally, I’ll be raising money for Macmillan Cancer Support. If anyone would like to sponsor me, you can visit my Justgiving page.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Good cop, bad cop

DALLAM Running Club is fast gaining a reputation for its generosity of spirit in helping others.
Witness the support given to Matt Beardshall during Martin’s Bob Graham this month, and yesterday there’s more Dallam runners out – this time to support Bill Goodwin from Pennine Fell Runners.
Bill’s on a Friday midnight start and a 23-hours schedule, so I’m up at Dunmail Raise for 7.15am (so often these past months have my Saturday mornings begun here).
It’s about an hour later and Bill comes down from Seat Sandal accompanied by a couple of his club mates and three Dallam runners: Stuart, Baz and Andy. Not a bad turnout from Dallam for a runner from another club.
A short rest for Bill, and then we’re off up Steel Fell. On this leg, I’m the sole representative of Dallam and fellow supporters from Pennine are Colin and Darren.
To push him on his way, Bill’s on the receiving end of a lot of encouraging verbal abuse from his ‘supporters’. That’s the bad cop routine bit. I adopt a more friendly tone. Besides, I tell Colin, I can’t join in being rude to Bill as I’ve never met him before. Give me two hours to get to know and dislike him first. “It won’t take you as long as two hours,” Bill quips.
20 minutes later into the climb and we can still hear Baz’s voice far below at Dunmail Raise. So can the inhabitants of Grasmere.
Just beyond Steel Fell the rain starts. It’s then the usual plod over to the Langdale Pikes and over to Rossett Pike. Visibility hasn’t been good, but neither has it been bad. There’s even been a bit of sunshine (and less rain) nearing Rossett Pike.
But it’s the climb to Bowfell when the mist comes down…..and stays down.
Bill’s flagging a bit on the climb to Scafell Pike so I run ahead and organise applause for him from a party of teenagers and their leaders standing on the summit. They’re only too happy to agree on a day when it would have been more fun to stand facing a blank wall in your garage throwing buckets of water over yourself.
From there we climb Lord’s Rake. My fellow supporters say the advice is not to climb it – but that advice only applies to the general public. I tell them when I left home that morning I was the general public. Anyway, we get to the top - and checking later, the advice from Wasdale Mountain Rescue Team is it’s ‘passable with care’ – but it’s still an eerie climb as the persistent rain loosens the scree considerably.
From there it’s a fast run down to the changeover at Wasdale – leg completed in about six-and-a-half hours.
Say farewell to Bill as he departs for Leg Four. I get a lift around to Honister, and then run from there to Stonethwaite, over to Blea Tarn and down to Thirlmere and then back to the car at Dunmail Raise. Total time: just short of 12 hours.
I still don’t know if Bill completed his round, but I hope he has. I’m wishing for better (or less worse) weather on my attempt.

Climbing Lord's Rake - Bill is on the extreme left.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Confessions of a caff-fiend

WHATEVER performance impairment I accrue through under-training (this past week has been somewhat lacklustre), I’m hoping to make up through rocket-fuel on the big day itself.
Expresso, cappucino, mocha, mochacino, frappucino – I’ll try them all if available.
In fact, I’ve spent a good few weeks mulling over what food and drink will work for the long-sustained plod and what will switch on the after-burners going up Yewbarrow. So I’m grateful for this illustration by David McCandless of comparative caffeine v calories (it can also be found on Flickr)
The aim will be for me to be somewhere up in the top right quadrant (which is bad news for the Leg 3 supporters who will have to carry the whipped cream).

Over the past few months I’ve taken many soundings from other members of the club on what to eat before and during the run. I’ve had recommendations of salmon (before the run obviously – don’t want to appear too posh), Jaffa cakes, tinned peaches, jelly babies, fig rolls, porridge, muffin bars, rice pudding, and apple crumble with custard, to mention just a few. I’ve also read about oatcakes sandwiched together with honey for that slow-quick-slow release of energy (for the fell foxtrot).
I certainly had time to think about all this on the club’s 10-mile run across Morecambe Bay last Wednesday – a great evening out in good company (obligatory tractor and quad bike on hand in case of quicksand) – with the sand making a change from grass and rock. And I expect to be out this weekend on one or two legs of the route.

So will this self-confessed caffeine addict be taking a cup of coffee along with him? Don’t be ridiculous. Don’t need to now I’ve discovered Pocket Coffee – a chocolate/espresso combination that I’ve only comes across in Italy (I tend to bulk buy).
So let’s get acquainted with the little chap. He’s about the size of your thumb and comes dressed in a natty red and brown outer coat and a gold inner jacket. Biting into his dark chocolate shell – and I’m doing this as I write - releases a liquid caffeine hit about third of the strength of a normal espresso, followed by a……mmm….an energy-enhancing melting chocolate taste.
You’ll have to excuse me but suddenly I’ve got an urge to run up a mountain…..

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Doc Martin’s Bob Graham

“DO you think he’s alive?” “Yes, I can see his feet twitching.”
The time: 7.30am on Saturday 12 June. The location: Langstrath Country Inn, Stonethwaite. The position: Horizontal. On a bench in the beer garden. Covered in a space blanket.
Friday night and Saturday morning were spent supporting Doc Martin’s successful Bob Graham Round. Other than to say a well-earned congratulations, I’ll leave it to him to tell his story in full.
For me, it’s the usual 6pm start at Keswick’s Moot Hall. Stuart’s advised me to make it a big day, so I’m down to do Legs One and Two and then see what happens after that. I’m certainly not planning to do the whole thing. Which I have to explain to Leechy on several occasions.
Martin on Blencathra
Leg One goes well and then the changeover at Threlkeld, where Helen has come along to learn the support team ropes. Headtorches on just as we approach Clough Head. Over Stybarrow Dodd where there’s actually a sprinking of snow on the ground – thankfully being blessed with hairy legs and arms means I can get away with shorts and t-shirt where others can’t. They make them tough where I come from. Fool-hardy, but tough nevertheless.
I’m time-keeping on this section, which means juggling walking poles, time card and pen. This means I’m yo-yoing off the back of the group at each summit. Just as I catch them up, I have to stop to record the time as they run off, then put the time card away, and repeat the whole exercise again. Oh, and then I drop the pen at Whiteside. It’s a black pen. It’s dark. Bum.
Find the pen again, but it’s the descent off Dollywaggon Pike where I catch them again. Thankfully, Andy McCracken is generous enough to take over time-keeping, but not generous enough to offer to carry me.
At Dunmail, Helen Deason gives me the best bacon sandwich ever. That persuades me to carry on onto Leg Three. On Steel Fell and the wind turns really cold. Martin and the others are some way ahead now. No chance of catching them.
Instead, settle down to a night-time of assorted stumbling, cursing, eating and hallucinating. The latter was down to the Herdwick sheep at Calf Crag which were stood on top of every rocky outcrop. I hallucinate that I’m being watched by a series of midget men wearing brown waistcoats and sheepskin leggings. This is really weird stuff.
It’s getting light by now, so decide to take a direct line and miss out High Raise, Thunacar Knott, Harrison Stickle and Pike of Stickle, to get ahead of the others and meet them at the rendezvous with Shinny at the Rossett Gyll col. I’m there only about five to 10 minutes or so when they come through. Martin’s looking on form. Well, better than me anyway.
Call it a day here at about 5.30am. From Rossett Gyll col, drop down to Angle Tarn and the Langstrath Valley which Shinny says is very long. “It’s very long,” he says. It is. Make it to Stonethwaite for 7.30am where I phone Helen and wish her a happy anniversary. And then I ask her if she can come and pick me up. The fact she agrees at that time in the morning says something positive about the state of our marriage.
It’s at Stonethwaite where I’m spotted by some passers-by under the blanket (it’s still pretty cold), trying to get some sleep and thinking what energy food I can possibly shove down my throat when I can’t be bothered. How about I-can’t-give-a-fig-roll?
Total distance covered: 37 miles. Time taken looking for pen: 42 seconds. Time asleep: marginally more than looking for the pen.
After breakfast in Keswick and another shut-eye at Honister – I join Martin for the run-in from Little Town to Keswick. He’s on fine form and I’m glad to be there to see it.
Marcus is spotted taking pictures of Martin’s shoes at Little Town so he can sell them on ebay.
Finally, here’s my updated running support team – just over a month to go:

Leg 1 – Ray Gill, Andy McCracken, John Hooson (Ambleside)
Leg 2 – Mark Bell, Mike McKenna, Martin Benson, Ben Beachell (Eryri)
Leg 3 – Mark Barrow, Stuart Hurst, Martin Gardiner
Leg 4 – Dave Deason, John Leech, Mick Pearcy
Leg 5 – Helen Smith, Dawn Gill, John Hodgson, Helen Deason and Julie Pearcy, Dawn W (Harrogate)