> Bob Graham Round: Morgan Donnelly

21st May 2005

Hi folks, Seeing as I emailed you all a whiles ago looking for help/assistance for the Bob Graham run, I thought I should let you know how we got on and express my thanks to those that could help. Apologies for the delay. Anyway better late than never, here goes.....

Yes, Steve & I did set off together, in the same direction, in a bid to run round the Bob Graham Round in approximately 18hrs. Despite making out that we would only run it on a nice day, we ended up running away from the Moot Hall in Keswick with John Deagan in torrential rain with a comment from the road sweep suggesting that he was already soaking wet and he was wearing waterproofs, so why were we off to run around the Lake District!

Things went well on this first section (Keswick to Honister) and the weather soon improved. John Deagan's jolly banter, fresh legs and road shoes made the road section disappear with ease. We quickly changed our shoes with the help of the Bargett & Son, Nicola Davies and Dave Armstrong. Possibly too quickly with over excitement as we nearly forgot to pick up some food for munching on the Anniversary Waltz climb! John D was unstoppably jolly all the way to Honister and beyond (he joined us for a bit more), even when 10 minutes ahead of schedule, we dropped off Dale Head and could not see Bargetts' new red van (it was just hiding out of the wind & rain behind the buildings of the museum), yes very amusing!

A swig of tea and a grab of food later we were off again into the wind & rain. It was not long until John Deagan peeled off to run back to his bike and to then head home and take his family to a friends wedding reception. We all appeared to be happy enough and just coming away from the summit of Great Gable, Nic gave Steve some food and by the time Nic had fished some grub out for me, Steve had descended down into the mist, never to be seen again (well not until Keswick some 14hrs later!). The rest of us plodded on after Steve, well that's what we thought we were doing, but we must have taken a slightly different route as we scrabbled our way down the wet rocks, unperturbed by the loss of Steve, our chief navigator for this section, we carried on until Nic sensibly asked whether any of us knew where we were going? Ermh, well, without Steve, not really! (in our last minute planning we had concluded that although we were happy to split up as the day went on (neither one of us, wanting to slow the other one down), it was unlikely we would split up before Wasdale), whoops! Amazingly I had a map, although I didn't really know where we were (typically!). Nic managed to get our bearings and we were back on track, but it wasn't long until we were unsure of our whereabouts again, this kind of happened a couple of times, but Nic was excellent and taking things steady and making sure we bagged the right summits, whilst Dexter made sure I ate (a good supply of flapjacks) and drank (from his special urine stained bottle!). In fact we were all very calm about the fact that our tight schedule was rapidly fading away. The weather improved and I was amazed at this part of the Lakes that I was not very familiar with, why had I not been here before? We bumped into other BG folks going the other way round, only to be told that Steve was miles ahead!

We probably chose a-not-so-good-route off Yew Barrow, but at least we go down, and the Bargett red van and Lewis Grundy were a welcome sight (we had organised 2 support runners for the Wasdale to Dunmail section, but only one of them had done this section before, and that was Lewis!) Steve was now about 50 minutes ahead and according to Emma (who we met as we left the campsite car park, he was going like a train, great, and I'll never catch him now!

The weather continued to improve and we plodded our way up Scafell to meet Emma's dad just off the summit. Unfortunately he had not seen Steve & Tim (I hope they were OK) and advised us that the rocks were very slippy and that although he had set a rope up on Broad Stand for us, it would not save us any time. Lewis wasn't keen on Broad Stand and I wasn't that keen on wet slippy rocks, so we went the long way round, and continued to the Pike and beyond to start meeting lots of folks dressed like us running around, oh yeah, it was the County Tops event today also! I found this section the hardest, despite the great weather and views, I guess that I must have just been going through a bad patch, and I'm also not so good over this sort of rocky ground, but at least we were always going in the right direction and I was able to give Lewis advice on how to prepare for mountain marathons! My mood picked up as we began to see some familiar faces. We first bumped into Paul, Joe and their McClintock dogs whereby Paul politely asked whether he could join me. Before meeting Gary Baum and his dog and then Charlotte and Stewart with their dogs, there were more dogs than people at this point! And then on the Steel Fell we ran past two of my old University friends Jake and Sara Hayes before the steep drop into Dunmail Raise that Paul was excitedly showing me the route down.

Dunmail Raise was quite emotional for me as my wife; Lucy and son Hamish were here. Hamish was (18 months) excitedly clapping as I came into his view and I felt like crying, but there were too many other folks around for that kind of behaviour, so I ate a banana and changed my shoes and socks instead! A farewell kiss to the family members and joining me on this section were James Dickinson, Neil Cassidy and my faithful running companion of 2 years, Meeve our Border Terrier (of Blaydon Race, Allendale Challenge and Beacon Hill fame!). I enjoyed my brie and grape baguette as we climbed up Seat Sandall, with Neil & James providing much amusement in their old-married-couple-fashion of banter and route choice discussions. Something I did n't expect was to get some of James's daughter's chocolate birthday cake as we ran (well walked) up Helvellyn. My running really began to pick up now as we ran over familiar ground with 3 people (if you count Meeve as a person) that I have probably ran with twice a week for the last 2 years (this section is only like 4 Warden Hills) was the general banter (Warden Hill was our regular Friday evening run from Hexham). James even gave Meeve some chocolate as he thought the dry bread that Neil was carrying for her was not good enough! I was quite pleased with myself to find the scree run off of Clough Head which saved the legs from a bit of hammer and was well worth the time spent emptying the shoes from stones, and then we were at Threlkeld with only a little bit more to do (this is all relative of course!). Another brie and grape baguette for the climb up Blencathra and I was now joined by Bob (Charlie Stead's mate) No.1, Geoff Davies and Bob No.2 (who appeared to be reckying this section for his supporting role for somebody else's BG attempt the following week). Bob No.2 had already run this section once today and was really pleased to have folks to chat to for his second time round. He certainly knew his way from Blencathra to Great Calva which was a great help as my primary pacer for this section, Bob No.1 was not so sure about it. Geoff and Bob No.2 peeled off after Great Calva but gave us very clear directons to Skiddaw, which we managed almost all of the way up before donning the head torches. We took quite a long time to put the head torches on mind, in that slow way the body operates when its cold, I guess it had been raining for a whiles now and the wind was picking up. After 20 minutes of jaw chattering and slipping around wet rocks as we tried to take the sneaky little shortcut trod off Skiddaw (this shortcut cost us time!) we began to descend properly and the lights of Keswick seemed to give off warmth which warmed me up. As the gradient eased my legs strided out and the run into Keswick and through Fitz Park felt like I was flying. In true Morgan fashion (reference 1996 Kielder Border) we ran to the Moot Hall from the opposite direction to that which our arrival crew were expecting! Gary Baum produced a welcome bottle of Black Sheep which I thoroughly enjoyed as we walked back to the Bargett van.

Thanks has to go out to everybody that helped, especially my long suffering family who must by now have a curious view on life, as my son claps when ever he sees anybody running or cycling because he thinks that they are in a race! The BG is made so special not only by the physical challenge but also by all the support one receives when doing it. It's a new thing for me, and I really look forward to being able to help other BGer's out in the future. I'd also like to thank Wayne Needy from Inov8 who supplied Steve and I with a pair of his excellent trail shoes (our old ones had worn out) for the BG. And finally I would like to thank Steve, who persistently lets me tag along on all these long runs he does, like the KIMM, the LAMM and now the BG!

Morgan Donnelly

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