Thursday 29th June

22.30 It’s well known that the weather can make or break a Bob Graham attempt. The forecast had never looked great for my chosen date but it had steadily improved over the week and crucially, there was the faint promise of ‘some sunny spells’ on Friday afternoon. I tried to remain optimistic.

Roger Laycock, my Leg 1 supporter, drove us both up to Threlkeld where we were met by my road crew, old school friend Shane and his partner Jane, to take us to the start in Keswick in their van. It was getting dark and gloomy now and we pretended that the clouds hovering over Blencathra weren’t quite as low as they were.
I had foolishly neglected to recce the start of Leg 1 so a quick detour past the leisure centre in Keswick was in order before parking up for a brew and a couple of jaffa cakes, eaten more through nerves than need, before the start.

23.55 Apprehensive and shifty we hung around by the Moot Hall. It was remarkably quiet on the Market Square, perhaps there should be more people here? I was in luck. Some Irish tourists spotted us loitering with intent and asked what was going on. A brief explanation from Shane and they wished us luck promising to return tomorrow evening. It sounded like a long time away.

Roger and myself ready for the off (SR)

Friday 30th June

Leg 1
00.00 And we’re off! Adrenaline pumping Roger and I shot out of the town square and down our recently reccied path and onto the fantastically named Spoonygreen Lane. A steady climb, then through the fell gate for the ascent of Skiddaw. The lights of Keswick were twinkling below us but soon became lost in the mist as we gained height. Mist turned to rain as we neared the summit and I was briefly worried we’d miss the trig point in the clag. Finally, it appeared and the first peak claimed! Only 41 to go…

I had been dreading the next section. A steady trot down to Hare Crag was pretty straightforward but then the trod became boggy, then indistinct and finally disappeared into the heather. I made for what looked like a grassy patch but it turned out to be more heather shining bright green in the light of my headtorch. After desperately looking for our lost path it became clear there was nothing for it but to pick a direction and keep going until we hit the Cumbria Way somewhere in front of us. Time was lost and energy expended as we hacked our way through the heather. It took me all of the climb up Great Calva to calm down. Roger, perhaps wisely, giving me a bit of space!

I had been concerned that the River Caldew would be in spate after the recent rain but it was little more than knee deep. Roger and I crossed it without incident and made our way up Mungrisdale Common. A dull climb in the day and by night, with additional hill fog, interminable. We missed the faint trod to Blencathra’s summit and made a short detour onto Foule Crag. Quickly rectified, Blencathra’s summit was reached. Doddick Fell was the designated descent due to the wet conditions, its ‘runnable’ surface preferred to Hall’s Fell’s shorter but greasier rock scramble. However it was not without its own problems. Shortly after starting the descent, a mix of shale and slippery rock, my foot slipped out in front of me and I landed heavily on my thigh. Winded and dead legged I heard Roger enquire after my health. I turned round just in time to see him fall in precisely the same spot! A quick once over and with everything appearing to be connected I hobbled down behind Roger to the car park, relieved to be in one piece and still on schedule.

Leg 2
03.48 After a quick pie stop and changeover at Threlkeld, I was now accompanied by Andy Gibbons and Rachel Hill. Experienced BGers, I was swiftly berated for going too fast. “Get ahead of me again and I’ll punch you.” was Andy’s sage advice. Progress now at a more sustainable pace we flogged our way up the relentless Clough Head while the sky became not exactly brighter, but certainly less dark as we ascended back into the mist.
The Dodds came and went and we were soon trotting along the Helvellyn Ridge ticking off summits, Rachel handing me food as soon as I’d finished chewing the last bit she’d given me. This was my third visit to Dollywagon Pike this year and still I was denied a view. Andy located the famous solitary post which marks the start of the steep descent to Grisedale Tarn so we headed down and hit the stiff out and back to the summit of Fairfield.
A short climb up Seat Sandal and I was amazed to realise we’d nearly finished Leg 2. Dropping down to Dunmail Raise we came out of the clouds and could see Shane and Jane’s van waiting for us. I was feeling pretty good!

Andy, Rachel and me descending to Dunmail (SR)

Leg 3
08.12 I had a good feed at Dunmail. Up on schedule I allowed myself an extra 5 minutes to eat some more baked beans and change my top and shoes. Alex Pilkington was now my navigator and I knew I was in safe hands as we climbed yet again into the mist up Steel Fell. Alex set a brisk pace across the tops on the way to Calf Crag and I began to regret my decision of extra beans. My stomach was churning and I was struggling to eat anything. My mind was leaping ahead to the climbs to come and doubts were setting in. If I felt like this now, how would I feel in three or four hours? I told myself to focus and take things as they came. This seemed to work and before I knew it we were nearly at the top of Bowfell. This is technically the halfway point and a good morale booster although I was still finding it difficult to get food down me. “Finished that Clif Bar yet?” asked Alex. I chewed on grimly.
It was slow but steady over the Scafell massif. Big chunky boulders still slippery in the wet impeded progress and coming off Broad Crag my foot slipped and became wedged between two rocks. Somewhat comically my foot refused to come out and it was a good 30 seconds or so before I managed to wriggle it free.
A brief climb and we were on the roof of England! Nothing to see here however so we pushed on to Mickledore and my chosen route up to Scafell, Lords Rake. A grotty scramble through loose gravel it isn’t pleasant at first, but becomes easier by branching left onto the West Wall Traverse. The swirling mist around us made for a spooky yet exhilarating experience.

On the West Wall Traverse (AP)

As we popped out onto the summit plateau the sun began to penetrate and the clouds lifted. Was that a view? Jackets removed for the first time, we headed down to Wasdale taking advantage of a strip of scree that provided another frisson of excitement. I think I might be having fun…

Alex and I coming into Wasdale (SR)

Leg 4 preparations with Stolly, Jane, and Alex (SR)

Leg 4
14.05 The road team had set up perfectly again and had put out a fine array of delicacies for the discerning runner. Unfortunately, conscious of the climb ahead and, after last time, careful not to eat too much I couldn’t take full advantage of the smorgasboard in front of me. A change of socks and, after a few mouthfuls of soup and potatoes (and possibly some pie), we made our way towards the base of Yewbarrow. Alex and I were now joined by Brian ‘Stolly’ Stallwood who quickly assumed navigational duties and shot off into the distance. The climb up Yewbarrow is brutally steep and concentration is required not to let your feet slip backwards on some sections. Nevertheless, Alex and I chatted away and 40 minutes later we caught up with Brian casually sitting astride a boulder and taking photos making use of the clear skies.

Nearing the summit of Yewbarrow (Stolly)

We ambled our way over the rest of the Mosedale summits. The mist reappeared and Alex and Brian began discussing pension plans as we skirted under Black Crag. Since the foot wedging incident earlier my ankle had been niggling for a little while and was now becoming uncomfortable. Coming off Pillar, it began to hurt in earnest. Uphill seemed OK so I was quite glad to start the climb up Red Gully to Kirk Fell. Alex, having had a busy week, decided to miss this one out and said he’d meet us later. My ankle was definitely in trouble as Brian and I picked our way down to Beckhead Tarn at the base of Great Gable. As we began the ascent Alex appeared out of the mist and joined us. I never thought I’d be glad to be climbing Gable at this point, but scrambling up the boulders was infinitely preferable to the pain I was getting on the downhills. Gable is the last big climb of the round and soon we were making our way over Green Gable towards Honister.
After Brandreth I sent Brian off to alert Shane and Jane of our arrival and to get painkillers and coffee ready. Descending off Grey Knotts was both literally and metaphorically painfully slow. I wasn’t going to give up now though and hobbled into the car park.

Limping into Honister (SR)

Leg 5
18.39 The final leg! A quick stop, coffee, painkillers, food and we were good to go. I was now joined by Simon Oxley, Spencer Riley and Sandy Lockett. Sandy had completed his BG in April so had a pretty good idea of how I was feeling and began passing me bite size pieces of Snickers bars every 5 minutes or so on the way up Dale Head. Dale Head is not particularly steep but does go on a bit and has at least three false summits. Hindscarth isn’t too bad either and this facilitated a welcome distraction of general chat and I was soon swept along to the final climb of Robinson. The false flat of Robinson’s summit seemed to drag on for ages but finally the cairn marking my 42nd and final peak came into view. A quick summit selfie and all I had to do now was get back to Keswick.

Robinson summit selfie (SL)

Easier said than done. Coming down a steep rocky path I found I couldn’t trust my grip on the smooth rock. Sandy had scampered down easily but I just couldn’t do it and I really didn’t want to be taking any risks now. Simon and Spencer appeared below me having taken a detour around the impasse and I backtracked to find it. Down safely we jogged down to find the track which lead to Little Town where the van was waiting. Drinks, gels and a quick shoe change later we hit the road to Keswick.

“Have you never put socks on before?” (SR)

Buoyed up by sugar and adrenaline this felt like an evening club run and we made good progress as the light began to fade. It seemed to take forever to get through the outskirts of Keswick but finally we were on the High Street and I made an attempt at a sprint finish. Shouts and applause were coming from somewhere as I raced up the steps of the Moot Hall.

21.25 All done. Photos were taken and Tanya produced a bottle of champagne. Various bystanders including the Irish tourists who had seen me off came over to congratulate me. All very surreal, particularly the chap who was on an Alan Partridge themed stag do wearing a dressing gown! Farewells were bid with the remainder adjourning to the Dog and Gun for a well earned pint.


Final leg support crew from L-R, Alex, Shane, me, Jane, Sandy, Spencer and Simon

Thank yous
A massive thank you to support runners Roger Laycock, Andy Gibbons, Rachel Hill, Alex Pilkington, Brian Stallwood, Sandy Lockett, Simon Oxley and Spencer Riley. Extra special thanks to Shane Rothwell and Jane Pye who provided 24 hours of support par excellence and without whose dedication this would not have been possible. Most importantly, thanks must go to Tanya, for feeding me, putting up with me disappearing every weekend and leaving smelly socks in the utility room sink.

Accounts of three BG attempts by Settle Harriers during 2007

Alex Pilkington – 21st December

Yes – the shortest day of the year!

Here’s Laurence Ormerod’s account of Alex’s second successful round of the year. Perhaps Alex will add his own story too soon (he did – see below).

Alex sailed round his BG yesterday in 23:09. Going clockwise, started at 8 pm. He had road support but the first hill support was me at Dunmail, just to Sergeant Man. After that he was alone again to Wasdale where his brother Roger left the car briefly to help him up Yewbarrow, and then he was alone again to Black Sail where Murf, another Settle Harrier, met him and went to Newlands. I joined in again along the road back (having supposedly put in a day’s work between my two parts!).

An amazing achievement I think. By Rossett where it got light, he’d been just under 12 hours in the dark and cold with just an hour and a half of me in support. The bright moon set at Steel Fell and Alex said the 2 hours from where I left till daylight was horrendous, he really wished he could just die and be done with it! I had done my Mr Motivation bit and told him once it was daylight he’d be better, and despite losing some time before dawn he said that was the case and apart from ice on the way across to Foxes Tarn, the rest was OK to Wasdale. In fact, Alex described Wasdale and going up Yewbarrow as “warm” and said they had “had the picnic” sitting on the grass!

I put some pics up at www.flickr.com/photos/laurenceormerod/sets/72157603519232262/ . There are some of my round (hardly should be mentioned in same e-mail as this one) and other summer jollies there too.

And…here’s Alex’s own account

At it again…. its less than 4 months since….

I can’t recall who put the idea in my head about doing a winter round, maybe it was the run up Ingleborough with Oz the last full moon, it just seemed so perfect for running and adventure? I mentioned the idea to my brother Roger at the start of December that I may make a call for some BG road support assistance; he later said he thought it was just a joke! Anyhow, the weekend before I checked the long range forecast and it looked as if the cold and clear weather would last, that’s when I thought I would give it a crack (and test my new mega head torch out!).

After hurriedly preparing things I decided the late call would be better suited to a low key solo attempt, I didn’t want to get bogged down with logistics, I was happy to just to run by myself and maybe have company when offered it. I decided on a 20:00 departure, going for me, the usual and familiar clockwise direction. I did not want to relearn all the key bearings for an anticlockwise tour, hence a clockwise choice seemed best.

I got my pack down to 8lbs, which seemed heavyish, but I did not want to skimp on spare clothes and emergency gear. I departed quietly at 20:00 from Moot Hall leaving Roger to get his Kebab and a beer – it was going to be a long night for both of us. Skidaw came and went quickly, as did Calva and Blencathra, a crystal clear night allowed the stars to be used for simple navigation (useful up Bac-o-Blencathra!). On the decent, Halls Fell ridge looked steeper than ever, the sides dropping away steeply into the darkness.

It was good to see Roger at Threlked where the temperature had now dropped to -7degC, I had a bowl of stodge and a cup of tea before reading myself for the long drag south. I added an extra layer as the wind was coming from the south and I would be on high ground all the time. The moon seemed brighter than ever along the ridges and the map was superfluous. The hard bit on this leg is Fairfield, I despise having to go all the way up and back for just one peak! The only consolation was the lovely sight of the moon light reflecting off Grisedale Tarn (almost romantic…).

It was really good to see Roger and a sleepy Laurence (only hours after his earlier dinner party), by now (4 o’clock) my body was telling me to get some sleep, also my stomach didn’t want any more food, however my legs still felt fine, I managed a couple of bananas, some tea and a can of Redbull – what a mix! It was good to be led off on Leg 3 by Loz, this was going to be the tough one and I clearly recall Loz’s words; “just get to Bowfell and you’ll be fine…” suffice to say after departing from Loz, it was the hardest, darkest, loneliest 3hrs running I have ever had to do (the moon had set which didn’t help), sleep monsters set in, and it was pretty tough nav along this section, I was too tired to get the map out, but got lucky and found the indistinct (Langdale race) line to take me across the moor to Rossett Pike. Slow going and some time lost here, but the rising sun made me pick-up (like a Class A drug!) and sure enough once on Bowfell summit, I felt I had cracked it and the next mountains passed quickly. However the next problem soon appeared – Scafell, I quickly decided not to go up Broadstand and decided to go via Foxes Tarn, the approach to this however was steep ground covered in big iceflows, it was pretty tense getting across/up/under and around some of these and hence it took a lot longer to get to the top of Scafell than usual.

Got to Wasdale at 10:45, good to see Roger yet again, he had some stories to tell about Loz locking himself out of his van and also battling with ice on the narrow road up Wrynose… My body at last seemed to return to normal daytime working order and I managed some decent food and had a good rest, ready for the next killer – Yewbarrow. On the way up I took a call from John Murfin, he was on his way up to meet me at Black Sail. Pillar was the first place I had passed another being and that’s after 17hrs, quite remarkable for the Lakes, in fact I only passed 4 people on the whole tour! It was sure good to see John there (in his waffy shorts – still only minus 3!), my legs where indeed feeling tired now and the Rucksac felt like a lead weight, so I kindly offered it to John, who was raring to go up Kirkfell and warm up (see picture somewhere round here). Also my feet where hurting now, mainly because of the ground being so hard, and so good old faithful (Roger) kindly ran up Green Gable with my trail shoes and it was with great relief that I put these on.

Time was still favourable for my 23.30 schedule, but I decided not to get comfy at Honister and carry on the plod up the relentless Dalehead (this hill always seems bigger than it really is!). We came down the direct way off Robinson, which was bone dry and full of grip. Another shoe change at Newlands and then the home straight – well as good as. Loz accompanied me down this section, and it was great to be on road, with the moon shining brightly again, all felt good. Forty minutes or so later Keswick arrived and the welcome sight of friends, wife, family and Moot Hall, the all important time of 24hrs was made – 51minutes in hand.

I can’t say I’d recommend doing a Winter Round (solo), but it was truly exhilarating (at times) to be out in such perfect winter conditions, both night and day. I learnt a few things, as you do:

  • the effect the cold has on performance, especially with wind chill

  • bodyclock, probably wise to condition yourself beforehand, if running through the night

  • not to do another Winter BG…

  • I have 42 summit pictures which Oz could use for a new ‘recognition’ game at the next annual dinner…?

Thanks to all who helped me, and another bunch of favours I owe now!

Alex Pilkington – 26th August

My 42 Peaks…

Having supported a few people on BGRs and thoroughly enjoyed the experience of it, I thought that I really should give it a go… I had done several recceing trips with friends and with the dog, with some even covering ½ the round itself. I knew I could do it, but was not sure what it would be like going for 24hrs and like most runners I wanted to do it as fast as possible. My advance preparation was a little lacking; even though I knew in January that I wanted to do it before the end of the year. I had not really started to plan it out in detail, or indeed do any serious homework on it until the end of June (after my annual ankle injury had recovered!).

I did however press on for an attempt on July 13/14th, I had 4 people to assist on the fells, which was stretching things just a bit and that fact combined with a dreadful forecast, I decided to scrap the attempt. A similar theme occurred on two more occasions and at one point the frustration of the terrible weather and of organising it all was getting too much, in fact so much so that I was ready to do it just on my own – be warned – the BGR becomes very absorbing! Thankfully Kerry stepped in here and she proved to be far more persuasive and resourceful in recruitment than I ever was, and within a few days we had a pool of 7+ helpers. Some where concerned that I would be moving too quick for them (which was not the case!), this is where I had another uncertainty – what schedule should I aim for…? I was comfortable recceing 2+ legs at 20hr pace and feeling OKish at the end. However I did not want to bite off more than I could chew, so given the good forecast I settled on a 21hr schedule.

Being late August, I was also conscious of the shorter days and realised a fast tour would mean less time in the dark and ultimately a quicker finish – bingo!. With everything well organised and a perfect forecast (what a gift that was!), I set off at 04:00 on Sunday 26th August up Skidaw with Mike Wynne (he knows this leg well now!), it was dark with some low cloud, but in general no problems, I was running comfortably and making good time up on my schedule. Coming down Hall’s fell was beautiful and it was dry, making it a lot nicer to descend quickly. I only had a quick stop for a brew before starting Leg 2 with Matt Foxwell (an old school friend of Kerry’s and a Kendal Athletic runner who is another prospective BGer). I had some food on the go (cold pizza for breakfast – nice!), and appreciated the crystal clear views while trotting over the Dodds, all the way I felt comfortable making up a few minutes each section and before we new it Dunmail Raise was reached and my road support team (Kerry, Roger and Ben Pilkington) waiting there (as well as two car loads of Chinese people…. Roger informed me that they where the support crew for the Chinese BG attempt – which I believed…!).

Before starting Leg 3 I had some pasta and a brew which took a surprisingly long 15min (the time just flew!) this meal really kept me going on Leg 3. John Osborne was now supporting me and I was aware of perhaps not eating as much as I should have been on this leg (John was happily munching his way through things though!), I was continuing to drink plenty though. As we neared Scafell the fells got busier and busier, the walking pole army was out in force and 40ft dog leads, whipping around just waiting to trip me! We had to queue to get to the summit of the highest point in England… Again I was making steady progress against my schedule, so much so that I missed my rope man (Roger) on Broadstand, I kind of knew it reasonably well from helping Laurence Ormerod on his round, it was dry so I soloed up it and found it a whole lot easier than I remembered, John skirted round up Lords Rake and met me on the descent back down to Wasdale. My rest at the end of Leg 3 was again a surprisingly long stop of 20min – probably too long, I forced food down which I did not feel like and felt all the worse for the stop, I was just too comfy in my chair!

I was expecting the next Leg to feel hard…and it did to start with, also made harder by the fact that Ben Lonsdale was turbo-charged and raring to go. I needed some of his energy! I also felt the effect of the unwanted food on the ascent of Yewbarrow and was queasy, uncomfortable and rather anti-social all the way up, all the while Ben was bantering on. Finally on summiting I rejected the food then and had some water and felt OK surprisingly quickly… we where ready to go again! From here on to the end all I could take on was small sips of flat coke and sweets, my digestive system had shut down! It didn’t seem to bother me too much as I was still ‘haulin ass’ over Leg 4 and was enjoying the almost empty mountains and fantastic views (one of my favourite sections of the round!). On reaching Honister I chose to keep pushing on and only stopped for a quick hello to the crew and goodbye to Ben.

Steve Walker quickly caught me up on the ascent of Dalehead, I could hear my legs saying not another hill! It was summited in the darkening dusk, with a full moon rising to the east. Things slowed down for us now, due to the loss of daylight and we where happy just doing a forceful walk. Robinson was descended without any trouble. A quick stop was made at Little Town for my first change of shoes bye-bye Inov-8s, hello road shoes and they felt like bliss and put a spring back in my step! I could smell the finish (and raced Ben P there!) reaching Keswick 35min later at 23:13, which was a pleasing time of 19:13hrs for the round, feeling happy, elated and somewhat tired.

Thanks to all those who gave up their time and helped me on this very memorable day, I’d be happy to return the favour and hope that some of you will do it one day soon! And word of advice to prospective BGRs – Plan and arrange your support as far in advance as possible, or better still get someone else to manage it for you! (concentrating on the round is enough in itself). Try and arrange a fallback day as well for your support team in case of less than ideal conditions (having done 10hr reccies in the fog it is not a bit as enjoyable and also a lot harder physically and mentally). Also do some really long reccies and learn the route…!

Laurence suggests I go for a fast one next time – so watch out…!

Laurence Ormerod – 29th June

A heartfelt thanks for your help on Friday.

It was a really great day, more or less as demanding as I thought (well, OK, not as demanding as if I had been on the cusp of making it!), and a lot more enjoyable that I had thought. Each one of you gave great support, either over long miles of fell with dark, rain, wind as the case may be, or by turning up at a key moment and making me feel like it was a special effort after all. Once I had decided that even if it did not look like a 24 hour round, I’d carry on anyway, the whole day took on a great feeling of just enjoying the hills and being pretty sure I could fight the battles and win out.

The sched looked roughly like this: lost 15 min on back O’Skiddaw (nav strategy). Kept that to Dollywagon. Lost 10 Fairfield and Seat Sandal then 7 overstayed welcome at Dunmail. Then kept this half hour to Harrison (33 down there and on time for that leg, so thought could have saved day at that point which is almost half way, 21st peak). But then had real energy crash and upset stomach and down another half hour by Scafell Pike, then 24 min over Broad Stand – lot of fiddling there. So an hour and a half late leaving Wasdale. Kept that to Pillar but then had second crash on Kirk and Gable so about 2 hours late by Grey Knotts. Going down with kids added another quarter hour (I was enjoying the party by now). Then took it easy over last bit, 20 mins more to Robinson and the rest of the 3rd hour over to Keswick. So I don’t think I can ever get the 24 hours now – am certainly not going to try – and maybe on a good day would be about a 25-25.5 hour pace. Good enough for me at this point.

Anyway, it was a great day so thanks again for all your help, support and encouragement. It really did make it one of my happiest days in ages, it’s so good to be pushing yourself with the company of a great bunch of people.

I will certainly be on for more good challenges so expect a call, and call me anytime you have one of your own to knock off!

Note: Laurence also completed the BG in 1989 in sub-24 hours

TWO MUMS ENJOY A LUXURY LAKES MINI-BREAK

“Oh, you’ll be alright on the Saunders. You don’t have to carry your tent – you come back to the same place for the night, and there’s a bar at the camp and you can get food and everything.”

Complete b*ll**ks of course, but it did the trick! I knew really that John was lying through his teeth when I asked him if he thought I’d done the right thing in agreeing to have a go at the Saunders!

After years of waving John and Jan off on various MMs, it was mine and Jo’s turn, and I was excited and petrified at the same time. I really liked the idea of the running and navigation, however, having to carry a pack and, most of all if I’m honest, the idea of “The Trench” was quite a turn-off.

I needn’t have worried. Quite remarkably, Jo and I managed to weigh in our packs at exactly 5.5kilos each, and as we drove into Patterdale early on Saturday morning, a welcome row of green portaloos were a comfort for the eye and stomach!

Almost immediately we spotted Phil Ward, the Giggleswick sports therapist, who was about to do his 60th MM. As the rain began, he very kindly invited us into his camper van and made us a pre-race cup of tea.

Phil, nursing a calf injury, and his partner, Ian, were doing the same class as us, Wansfell, the shortest running class. Jo had already written something about beating them in Phil’s appointments diary when he had his back turned during a treatment earlier in the week, so there was quite a bit of friendly rivalry already.

Soon we were off. It was quite showery, but spirits were high and we managed a bit of camaraderie with our fellow runners. There were two ladies with pink fairy wings attached to their rucksacks who it turned out were on a hen night – one was getting married and the other was the bridesmaid the following Saturday. We both decided that Jan and John wouldn’t have approved of the fairy wings for weight reasons – our mantra for the weekend was John’s motto: “Every ounce counts”!

It was a bit of a follow-my-leader across the fells so there wasn’t much navigation really needed to find the checkpoints, but we still paid careful attention to our maps, in case the 500 others were wrong!

After a first day of rain showers and bracken trods, a really nasty contouring moment and me up to my hips in a bog (not at the same time!) we descended to the northern end of Haweswater to the much appreciated sight of portaloos at the midway camp.

We ran in to see Phil and Ian were already there! Bah! But results analysis showed we were almost 2 minutes ahead of them! We were 55th overnight, roughly half way down the field.

What a nice atmosphere at the midway camp! We didn’t have any beer, although plenty of people did, and (another personal fear of mine) we didn’t go hungry at all. In fact, I was stuffed! Ainsley Harriot pot noodles and muesli bars, chocolate brownies and chocolate filled us up. We had a sociable time and both did something which was an absolute luxury – we had an AFTERNOON NAP!!!! The mothers out there will particularly appreciate just how special this was!

Up bright and early for the start at 8.05am. The Saunders does not have a chasing start, if you’re not given a time, you can choose your own start time anywhere between 8.05am and 8.35am. The queue to start snaked its way round the entire campsite.

Day two was quite a bit shorter, but still with some significant climbs, and one pretty hairy downhill, which we could easily have abseiled down! The navigation was easier too, because it was a glorious day, a really lucky break in the weather, so we could see exactly where we were headed. What beautiful scenery, we felt really privileged to be out there.

Coming back into Patterdale we were really on a high, and the final charge to the finish was exhilarating. A meal and mug of tea from Wilf’s was very welcome and we even had a massage in the physio tent as a post-Saunders treat!

Phil and Ian had a storming second day and managed to beat us comprehensively. We finished 59th with a combined time of seconds over eight hours, they were 49th and about half an hour quicker.

I think we did about 14.5km on day one, and 12 on day two, with a total ascent round about 1600m,

What a fantastic event. All thanks to Jo, without her it just wouldn’t have happened, and a better partner I couldn’t imagine. I loved it and can’t wait for next year!

Julia Murfin

This years Settle Harriers Easter Jolly was the biggest yet by far:- 22 Adults 19 children and babies and two dogs!

It was the perfect weekend! The Carlisle Diocese Youth Centre based at St John’s near Keswick was our accommodation: a very spacious, light and well equipped centre in an idyllic situation, perched high on a little mountain road miles from anywhere, with beautiful far reaching views of Blencathra and the evening sunsets.

This year saw an even more diverse range of activities taking place; lots of running as you would guess but also road biking, mountain biking, swimming, scrambling and rock climbing, over night camping, walking…. The weekend was the hottest so far in 2007 with temperatures in the mid twenties for both Saturday and Sunday, which was ideal for lounging around outside and sipping cool beers, but not so ideal for 5-6 hours of running. So to the training, which is what it is all about…. Two eager groups departed on the Saturday morning a group of 3 extra keen girls got dropped off on the flank of Helvellyn on the edge of Thirlmere, and did that mountain and then followed the lovely runnable ridge northwards over the Dodd’s to the Old Coach Road, then across the vale and back home. Next group off – after a rendezvous with Loz, 6 fellas and a dog set off to Honister to do a backwards tour of Ennerdale, not hugely long in distance but a heck of a lot of ascent…! Some beautiful running over some of prettiest Lakeland fells. The mountains where unusually quiet, perhaps the heat had put many off…?

During the afternoon a further assault of Helvellyn was made by a junior and senior Murf and a junior and senior Robinson, the juniors looked a lot fresher than their parents on the return! Others went to chill out at Keswick swimming pool, meanwhile a second girls group did the pretty little circuit of High Rigg. …and so to Oz – he and Hannah eventually returned very late in the afternoon, apparently some confusion regarding a rendezvous at Buttermere….(funny this but when Oz returned so did Tracy’s sun chairs…) The evening saw quite a lot of beer being drunk by the adults – mainly Craig! (provided by the local brewer from Settle) meanwhile a lot of adventure and exploration by the younger ones, it was great to see them playing together and looking after each other.

Sunday morning, another warm morning and two hundred of the fattest sausages where cooked up for breakfast and provided us with fuel. The training aspirations where clearly not so intense this morning, some managed a run while others went scrambling, climbing and exploring, with George doing his first roped climb up a 50′ crag. Some went to the river, which was cold, but not too cold for the little-uns to splash around in for an hour! Most of groups headed home mid afternoon after trying vainly to finish off the remaining food mountain, most went by car, although not Dave H who had Murf in tow on their scenic hilly ride home.

Suggestions welcome for next year, although St Johns will be hard to beat, but a change is always good…

Till next year…

Alex

Alex – where’s John?

It was an early start for the first ever OMM this year. Held in the Galloway Mountains, it was a toss up between going up on the Friday and having an extra night under damp canvas, or a 4.30am start on the Saturday. In the end the comfy dry bed won out and it was a half asleep me who joined Alex, Jan and Brian in the wee small hours for the journey north.

Alex and I were in the A class, Jan and Brian the long score and Gary and Pete the short score. We had a long walk from the car park to the start and at 9am we were off. There were some familiar faces from previous LAMMs and KIMMs including the southern London boys, but no sign of our friends from the LAMM who’d trailed us all the way just to pass us at the end!

It was a tough first day with fog and rain, a real test of the navigational skills, and we had a good day route choice wise. After about 3 checkpoints Al started to really struggle, looked like he might stop altogether and I even had to carry his rucksack! (Or was that me, Al? Hmm… maybe!) Seriously, I learnt a harsh lesson that you can’t tackle the OMM after not eating anything since porridge at 4am! A sandwich and a Mars bar later and things were looking a lot better.

Approaching the finish we had a mild déjà vu when one of our LAMM friends popped up as a B class contender and a sprint for the line was on the cards. Al was up for it, but I sadly didn’t have the legs. We finished in the rain thinking we’d be about 20th and so were made up to find out we were second overnight. The first placers were young GB orienteers Neil Northrop and Matthew Crane (who cropped up again in December as the fastest Leg 2 pairing on the Calderdale, running for Dark Peak) who had a significant lead.

Once the tent was pitched it was time to look forward to a restful, comfortable night’s sleep. Actually, it was another typical mountain marathon night spent pretending to be asleep and listening to snores all around!

On the winners’ podium

Day 2 dawned much brighter and dry with good visibility. We set off well and had a good day. We felt we were really flying so we were surprised to find at the end that we were only seventh fastest for the day. We were delighted though, because overall we had held onto our second place by just three minutes. The first place team had increased their lead to win by about an hour and a half, a really impressive performance.

I’m not sure about finishing positions for Jan and Brian but I hear they had a good run. I don’t think Gary and Pete had their best result, but still enjoyed the weekend. Overall we covered about 40 miles and about 13,000ft of climb. A great event, enjoyable experience and certainly one of the highlights of my running year. Cheers to Al for another good partnership on the mountains.

John Murfin

As this was my first race ever I’ve been given the dubious honour of writing up our “race report”. The race participants were Annie, Kerry, Jill, Julia, Tracy (new recruit to club) and myself.

The race took place on Sunday 15th October and went up hill and down dale (or it felt like it to me). Since the race was on a Sunday, we thought we’d better get there in good time. So we went on Friday! We can now recommend excellent accommodation and a good curry house. The annual beer festival was taking place Saturday night so we felt it only right to suss it out. Unfortunately, it turned out to be a bit of an occasion for the “lonely hearts club” and after a swift drink we left them to it.

On the race morning it was noted by other competitors that Settle Harriers are not seen “up this way” very often. I felt quite anxious about my performance in the race as I had a Settle vest on. The race itself had quite a few hills in it. Obviously we knew Richmond to be a bit hilly but just when you thought you’d come to the last hill another one was waiting, and it was another climb to the finish.

The ladies team after the race

The results were approx. as follows: Annie at 47 mins, she collected 2nd prize for fastest V40 (we were very proud of her). Jill and Tracy came in at a more than respectable 55 mins. Julia and Kerry were just over the hour by 18 seconds! They’re determined to remedy that next year. I came in… a little bit later (shall we say not quite the last runner but nearly). Annie asked me how I’d found my first race and I think I told her I hated it and would never do it again. I’ve since had time to get over it and now I’m ready for our next weekend away. I hope we still stick to a 10k as I know what to expect now! A brilliant weekend was had by all and we’re definitely going to do it again.

On a serious note, to anyone out there who doesn’t run but wants to, I’d strongly recommend coming out on a Monday night with everyone. It’s a great way to get started as everyone is very encouraging and supportive. They’ve really given me the confidence to think I can run more that just down the street. Most Monday nights they all “drag” me round, as I still find every run a challenge, but I can honestly say I’m starting to improve. So if you’d like to come with us please do so you’d be more that welcome.

Di Horsfall

I  think it was fair to say the Easter Jolly to Kirbky Stephen was a definite success! In all, including partners, children etc. there where 25 people. Most being accommodated by the Croglin Castle Hotel. We all dined in the hotel and had a very good meal. The hotel provided an excellent service, with the landlord and staff being very tolerant of all the young children, babies and dogs charging around the place.

The weather was reasonable for the weekend (good running conditions at least).

The outward leg was about 30 miles (Jan will confirm this as he had his GPS), with 6 runners and 3 cyclists going for it. It was interesting to see that the match was pretty equal, with runners having a distinct advantage on the steep and rough sections.  The overall time taken was about 5hrs 30min, with a pie/cake stop in Sedburgh.

The return leg took most of us over unchartered territory, including Wild Boar Fell and Great Knowtberry. This time 5 runners and 2 cyclists where in action, the routes where different this time.

A vintage vehicle rally was taking place on the Saturday morning, which brought some additional interest to the weekend, together with a free historical bus ride for some of the mothers and children.

Hopefully this can turn in to an annual event, I’m more than happy to do it again, but if anyone else fancies having a go – even a different hotel maybe, then that’s no problem at all!

Hopefully I’ll be back running again soon, when my leg decides to work again….

Alex