|Phil sorting water at midnight|
So I thought I shall oblige him.
From back when the BG was first mooted, my name was down as a pacer/helper. I made it clear that I'd do whatever they wanted me to do in order to help them get around. Dan was the original man with the plan, writing out spreadsheets, recceing and generally sorting out the organising. Alastair, Andy and Paul were also running it, though the organisation was Dans thing.
As such, my role was always going to be a pacer on leg 4, though at other times I was also pacing on leg 1. Or 2. or 3, maybe 5 as well. It ended with me on 2, 4 and 5, and with a 10pm start (curiously an unfashionable time on which to begin a BG attempt), I had a little bit of time in the evening to try and get my head down before getting on out to Threkeld for 1am to wait for the guys to come down off Blencathra.
Lynne and I had organised ourselves pretty well, with me running, and her driving to various support places, we had different clothes and food in various bags. Not quite as specific as the actual contenders, but just as precise and exacting.
After getting my head down (though not necessarily sleeping), I was up at quarter past midnight, meeting Phil in the kitchen, as the only place with enough light for us to organise ourselves, bags, lights, spare water for the changeover, and then pack the car and over to the Stop.
We sat there in the dark in Thelkeld, looking up at the hill, seeing a line of impressively bright lights advancing down toward us. Once they dropped out of sight behind the trees we got out of the car, and readied ourselves. When the guys arrived water bottles were filled, food eaten and a quick change of socks, and off we trotted.
At this stage it was all quite civilised. Ensuring that we weren't talking as we went through the small roads in Thelkeld, and then having a good chinwag on the way up to the Dodds. Although it was dark, there was a sliver of light across the Eastern sky as we climbed up Clough Head, a steep, slow climb. With everyone well fed and watered, there wasn't much to do as a pacer. I wasn't there for navigational assistance, mostly as sustanance and moral support. Dan was feeling a little dodgy, perhaps from lack of sleep, maybe from
|Running through the dawn|
Across the Dodds we never really had any issues, apart from the fact it was a beautiful dawn, and we had to make sure we didn't stop to look at it for too long. It was a glorious morning to be out. As it came light I got the guys to drop their torches so that that I could stop and pack them away in my bag without them having to stop and faff for too long, I did so, and caught them up before too long.
Ensuring that they were all eating and drinking enough was a constant battle, not because they may have been feeling hungry, but for the future of the run, making sure that they never ended up running on empty.
|running off with orders...|
Dan covered himself in sunscreen, hats were got, waterproofs dumped, and weight conserved in the rucksacks. Lynne and I counted down the amount of time that they had been there, giving 5 minute shoutouts to
make sure they didn't get too comfortable, and start losing time just through sitting around. We decanted Alastairs stuff into my bag, and I took his to dry, and use for me on the next leg.
|Getting ready for the off to wasdale|
|Pit stop ready for action at Wasdale|
I got my head down for a while, snoozing a little, and just generally not being on my feet. I figured that I needed to be as fresh as possible as I'd need to carry a lot of water for the next stage- and of course a litre of water weighs a kilogram. The contenders would need to carry their own, but should any of them run out
of liquid, there really isn't much chance to pick up any across the tops, so taking our own was certainly the best option.
During our wait, we saw the Pennine BG attempt come through, Hanno looked like he was going strong, and came across to give us a sweaty hug, before powering on over to Yewbarrow.
We knew the guys were about 20 mins up on their schedule, and Phil came took a shortcut down off Scafell Pike with lunch orders and news for us, as the rest of the guys carried on up over Scafell. He gave the orders while sitting in a stream, and generally cooled himself off, having run 2 consecutive legs in support. The crew had run out of water on leg 3, and some of the pacers had to take a detour to look for a source from which to fill up water bottles.
|The climb up Yewbarrow|
Soon enough, the guys came pounding off the hill, looking forward to tea and food, and once more, the team support crew sprang into action, boiling water, handing out food, getting requests for things for the next leg, and generally ensuring that everything will run smoothly. We had a time caller, and before long, I was the proud owner of another bottle of water, everyone was oiled up with more sunscreen, and we were saying our goodbyes to the supporters at Wasdale.
Straight onto Yewbarrow. The climb was horrendous. It goes on forever, and by this time Alastair, Dan and Andy had been going for about 12 hours straight. Running on all terrain, leg 3 having been particularly horrible underfoot, so they were going well, up and up, with the constant watch of Great Gable over our right shoulder... waiting for us to complete the horseshoe and standing as a gate keeper to the end of the leg, and beginning of the last.
|the wheels fall off|
The pace was being kept to a steady trot, and funnily enough the time gains were all being made on the
uphills, the straights and downhills were bang on target, right the way through the day. All were going strongly, until, suddenly, on the way up to Red Pike, Andy dropped to his knees, and was fairly violently ill.
The rest of the team were ok, and carried on for a short time, while I stayed with Andy.
Up toward Red Pike, slowly, losing time, with Andy unsure of whether he was ill with heatstroke, or just having his body rebelling against him. Alastair had gone on ahead, and Dan had hung back with Andy. We were doing all we could to cajole Andy to his feet, but he was having none of it, and told Dan to go on.
The decision was made and I accompanied Dan on the way over to Steeple as Andy A and Julien stayed with Andy.
|Dan, enjoying the day out|
|The looming head of Great Gable|
To be honest, the scramble up really wasn't as bad as we thought it might be. Keeping a steady and even pace we climbed it as a tight knit group, taking in the fantastic view down the various valleys that lead to the Gable.
The run off was not a run in the slightest. Underfoot was the same as it had been for a good few miles. Sharp, unforgiving rock, with no pattern, rhyme or reason, it was the best we could do to keep up a semi-fast walk. Although it is said that the Bob Graham is nothing more than a walk, it is equally obvious that to keep up a meaningful tempo across all types of ground is very difficult indeed, especially as the miles and metres accumulate in your legs.
Down off Great Gable, I felt like I was really starting to have to coax a bit more than the rest of the way.
|Alastair, looking strong up to the summit of Great Gable|
|Honister support crew|
I sat and admired the view, and we continued on through the magnificent countryside. Up and over the last 2 peaks of the leg with little trouble, they seemed a whole lot less of a deal than I remember from a recce a couple of weeks ago, and a last plunge down into Honister, to a crowd of cheering support crew. I still
|Alastair coming into Honister|
|Dan and I coming into Honister|
Leg 5 was crowded with pacers, 11 or so by my count, so it wasn't essential for me to be there. They left in a massive, enthusiastic bunch as
I have no idea if this was useful to Al or Dan, but I wasn't going to shut up unless they told me to.
|Me, catching up with the rest|
where a car was waiting with road shoes. A quick change, and we were off. The guys were taking no
prisoners at this point, with the chance of a sub 23 hour round on the cards, they pounded on down the road at quite a speed. Dan leading out and pulling ahead on the flats and downs, but walking the uphills, and Alastair going at a constant pace no matter the gradient. I ran with him administering water occasionally, and ensuring he wasn't slowing down. Dan and the rest of the pacers
|A gaggle of Glossopdaler on Leg 5|
I gave Alastair the countdown of 20 mins to go for a sub 22. "does that mean we can make it?" he asked me.
"I have no idea. Lets have a go". And that was what he needed. The pace picked up again, we crossed the bridge, and Keswick was around the corner. Bang, job done.
Dan was sitting at the steps of Moot hall as Alastair pounded up the street to the cheers of a lot of people, running up the steps and finishing his round.
|Dan, rocking up to the Moot hall|
|A very happy Alastair|
I felt remarkably well for having just run 55km and climbed 4000m, nothing in comparison to Al and Dan,
but not an inconsiderable day in the hills.
It was a fantastic day out, the kind of day you dream of when faced with clag and rubbish in the winter, fighting to get through the rain and sleet. It was wonderful to share it with a few friends, in the sun, in the hills, with a couple of beers at the end.
|Andy Fox, pacer extrodinaire, and Hannah, background mastermind|
|A well deserved beer|
|Caity and me, mission over|
|And the obligatory fish and chips, trying to make sure Phil didn't nick any.|
Well done guys. All credit to you. I hope my constant chatting, cajoling, nagging didn't annoy you too much.