In 1932, a challenge was born. Bob Graham, a Keswick hotelier, on his 42nd birthday, chose to create and run his eponymous round. Connecting 42 Lake District peaks, one for each year of his life, Bob, powered by bread and butter, completed his epic circular route in a fraction shy of 24‐ hours. No fuss was made and he resumed work. The quietest, calmest mid‐life rebellion there could ever be. Yet neither Bob, nor those who supported him, could have anticipated the benchmark his achievement set.
At first it was viewed as fable. Slowly though it became fact as a trickle of others matched his feat. In more recent times, modern technology, greater awareness of the route and a succession of success has increased the accessibility of the challenge. Now roughly 200 people attempt the run each year, with approximately 60 finishing inside the sacred 24-hour time; however, the sheer scale of the task means it is widely regarded as the pinnacle of achievement for a UK mountain runner.
Although almost unimaginably difficult, its allure is obvious. The statistics alone are enough to allow even the fittest and bravest to wonder: nearly 70 miles of running; 42 peaks including the highest and most famous in England; an altitude gain of 28,000 foot only 500 or so shy of Mount Everest. The beauty of the route is manifold. It takes in all the classics, starting with Skiddaw and Blencathra, then over Helvellyn, across to Bowfell and the Scafells, round via Pillar and Great Gable, not forgetting the many other peaks between, before pitching back north towards Keswick.
Yet it is the esoteric qualities of the Bob Graham Round that make it most special. There is no organisation, no race, no start time. Instead you choose when and how you do it. This though is the charm. It is a personal journey; a journey that needs shaping, caring for, planning and preparing. The research and reading is what makes it so special. The impossible gradually seems potentially possible and dreams are formed; however, realising these dreams will represent the hardest physical and mental day of one’s life.
At Fellpack, two of us have completed the challenge, and we are hoping other staff members will follow soon. As such, we recognise the magnitude of the task and we have maximum respect for both those who succeed and those who support the attempt.
Please get in touch if you would like more information about the Bob Graham Round, are looking for help in putting a team of pacers together or would like us to organise appropriate food to assist to you in your 24-hour endeavours!
Chris Gill – 23:47
John Butterfield – 23:27