So there it was, driving up to Leek in torrential rain at 11pm on Friday night to pick up Julian Brown, my fellow leg 2 supporter. The weather only got worse on the drive up and as we realised it was midnight and Roger was just setting out from Keswick Moot Hall to complete the first of his 42 peaks we did say that if it didn't let up this would be a tall order to get around in the scheduled 24 hours.
Luckily it began to dry up a bit as we reached Dunmail Raise just before 2am. Roger had told me that there would be no way to get me back to Threlkeld so I'd planned to leave an old single speed mountainbike locked up at Dunmail just in case I had to make my own way back, this didn't seem to phase Julian as he had come across this situation before and had simply ran back up the road.
Deserted roads all the way to Grasmere but as soon as we hit Dunmail the lay bys were full of cars all waiting for the 6pm Friday night starters. I jumped out and locked the bike up before we carried on to Threlkeld.
The schedule said be there at 3:10 for about a 3:50 set off, it was only just gone 2 so we decided to try and sleep for an hour. From around 3am onwards we could see headtorches descending Blencathra. Two groups passed us but no Roger, then at around 3:50 Rogers pacers showed up but disturbingly running the wrong way up the road from the layby across the other side of the A66. Dave Swift and his friend Ronnie could not get across the River Caldew and thought it best to descend straight back to the road, Roger had got across the river and tagged on with another group of midnight BG starters, this was enough excitement and we hadn't even set off yet. JC (Rogers road support) was driving Rogers 80s VW camper and was at the 'other' Threlkeld roadside stop outside the sewage plant so we made our way there to await his arrival.
|Roger's trace getting across the Caldew|
Roger eventually arrived a few minutes down but unflustered and we took a while sorting baggage out. He wanted someone to take his whole rucksac but we convinced him it would be a better idea to just take what he needed for that leg and I take it in my bag, a whole lot easier. Julian took his little black note book to record the times that each summit was visited.
There was now enough light to not need the headtorches on which was a relief and we were soon on our way up to Clough head. Dave and Ronnie had planned on supporting legs 1 and 2 but had decided against carrying on for the second leg after the Caldew incident, however after seeing sense and 'manning up', their words not mine, had got all their gear back on and were with us. Now we were five strong including Roger.
There was not much to report running wise as the navigation went well. We took a more direct route up Clough Head between the gullies and from about 2/3rds of the way up were in thick clag with about 20feet visibility. There was a strange feeling of disorientation around the Dodds but Roger was just following a GPS trace anyway. Apart from this section I could remember the rest of the way.
We reached Dollywagon Pike and the cloud lifted to reveal Grizedale tarn below. I felt a lot more comfortable descending than I did on our previous leg 2 outing supporting Andy Blackett but I have a feeling he was moving a fair bit quicker. The route up Fairfield was via Cofa Pike and seemed way easier than the travellator route. Weather conditions were on the up.
Bang on schedule at Dunmail Roger had time to change his Socks before he set off with Dale, who was being a hero pacing the long legs 3 and 4 and a chap called Robin who had arrived with 2 dogs would also be on leg 3.
|The clag finally lifts|
|Off Dollywagon on leg 2|
|Roger's reliable Vdub|
JC gave me and Julian a lift back to Threlkeld so I had to unlock the bike and take it in the van.
After a short kip in the car I contacted leg 5 support Alison Brind and Tracy Hayward and got a lift up to Honister pass. The weather had held out for the day but news in was that Roger was about 40 minutes down at Wasdale and needed to make up a fair bit of time to still be in with a chance when arriving at Honister. Other bad news was that JC had struggled to get the van started in Wasdale and trusted it no more. He'd headed back to Keswick to pick up his own car but it was hit and miss weather he'd get to Honister on time. We were told that Pauline Richards would be there as road support for Adrian and we could ask if Roger could have some of their supplies if JC didn't make it. Well, Pauline had plenty of food that's for sure, a variety of cakes, sandwiches and a kettle constantly on the boil waiting for the runners to come into view, she'd road supported more than a few times for Mercia fell runners attempts.
It was around 8:30 which was pretty much on schedule that Adrian and his pacers appeared on the skyline. Helen Skelton was on a mission and ran ahead getting supplies from Pauline. Adrian didn't stop for very long, if at all.
|Climbing Dale Head|
He arrived and carried straight on up the fence line towards Dale Head. A chap named Gary had come along to navigate and did a fine job of it as we moved quite quickly through the clag, Julie decided to carry on with us but Alison felt the pace may be too quick for her on the descents so decided to meet us on th efinal road section.
The rugged descent to the good path and road section seemed to drag on a bit and seemed slow going but as we arrived on the final runnable few miles Roger was up for it and we began to pick up the pace. It looked like the time had been made up and as long as the pace could be sustained it was in the bag. We continued to run pretty much all of the way on that road and finally arrived at Moot Hall with just 4 minutes to spare. 23 hours 56 minutes after starting. Roger slumped down at the door and remained there for a good 20 minutes. I went and got a pizza, chips and a coke from the kebab house that was still conveniently open. Adrian also got around in a sub 24.
So, Well done Roger. A great day out and I only wish I'd have tagged along for leg 3 which is the only one I haven't had a go around yet.
Roger's much better and to the point write up is here
The more Bob Graham stuff I do the more I'm getting into it. Maybe next year.