I’m currently wondering just how many times I can begin a post with the words: “You guys, I’ve done it again…”
While I love my e-mail spam folder, I’m so glad that it doesn’t just gobble up every unexpected message. Last week I got one message I would have hated to have missed. I don’t know if I should be flattered or alarmed by the fact that when a runner was needed to step up to a hill running challenge of epic proportions at a few days’ notice, someone thought of little old me. Even more concerning, perhaps, is the fact that I agreed to jump on board in a heartbeat.
Somehow, I may have just agreed to join what promises to be a supremely well organised Billy Bland Challenge run. This weekend. I should probably be wondering how I keep getting myself into these (running) situations, but instead, I’m once again just super excited!
For those of you who haven’t heard of the Billy Bland Challenge or Bob Graham Round, I think it’s fair to say that it’s the holy grail to many long distance hill runners in this part of the world. It all started back in 1932, when a fellow named Bob Graham went on a long hill run in the Lake District and managed to bag 42 peaks (with a whopping 27,000 foot of total ascend) in just under 24 hours. Despite many subsequent attempts, this feat was not repeated until 1960, when Alan Heaton traversed the same peaks in an even shorter time. Since then, a number of notable runners have been able to repeat this achievement. The fastest known time for completion of the Bob Graham round is an unbelievable 13:53 hours, achieved by Billy Bland in 1982. The ladies record is a very respectable 18:12 hours, run by the awesome Nicky Spinks in 2012. Earlier this year, the legendary American ultra runner Scott Jurek completed the Bob Graham round, with only 16 minutes to spare…
If it’s run as a relay, the Bob Graham Round is called the Billy Bland Challenge. The ultimate goal is still to complete the round in under 24 hours. If it’s an official attempt at the challenge, a total of ten runners are needed; five legs are run by two runners each.
I’m currently trying to figure out what one needs to pack for a weekend of running mayhem and very little sleep. I’ve packed some clothes, an air mattress, a sleeping bag and enough food and drink to feed a small army should we need to invade the lakes instead. And all that remains to be done then, is to make it through work tomorrow, get in the car, and head south… What a way to spend a summer weekend.
I will, of course, report on the outcome of my latest running escapade early next week. But for now, I have to run (literally!)…
“The most important thing in the Billy Bland Challenge is not winning but taking part; the essential thing in life is not conquering but fighting well.”
– Pierre de Coubertin