Nicky's Bob Graham Record

Last weekend I was privelaged to support Nicky Spinks in her most recent of a long line of incredible achievements. It was a great day, and resulted in Nicky's lowering of her own ladies' Bob Graham Round record to 18:06. To put it into perspective, many people who try to get round the "BG" only scrape under the 24 hour time limit by a few minutes, after years of training and hard work.

Last Sunday Nicky started at 4am, from Moot Hall. The first leg was supported by Konrad Rawlik, Jasmin Paris and Jon Gay (the "Scottish contingent") and was completed on time without too much drama, apart from a cut hand. This was apparently quite deep, but was wrapped up at Threlkeld and Nicky continued on schedule.

Waiting for the start of Leg 3
By the time she reached my alotted starting point at the end of leg 2, Dunmail Raise, she was within a few minutes of the planned 17:15 (!) schedule and looking good. After a couple of minutes stop and a quick re-strapping of the hand myself, Glenn Borril and Dave Lund joined Nicky and off we went...

The pace was pretty fast. Given that Nicky had already been running for about 6 hours, it was very fast! We carried water, drinks and food and handed them to Nicky when requested. We chatted a little in the first few minutes but after that she didn't say much, and was very focussed. We had been given a camera in order to record some footage for the Slackjaw films film, and recorded a bit while we ran. The leg went well apart from one section towards the end: Broad Stand is a small rocky step between Scafell Pike and Scafell, which on the BG is often roped for speed.

The plan was that I would run on ahead and get up Broad Stand quickly, so that Nicky could then come up next and I'd be ready to run down to Wasdale with her. However, after some confusion on the route and the slippery rocks I did not get up in time, and Nicky was sent up first. I followed as quickly as possible, then had to run hard over Scafell and down the other side in order to catch Nicky. I did manage to do so, and ran with Nicky till we were close to the Wasdale support point, when I went ahead to request her food from Chairman Heaton at the support van.

Looking back down to Wasdale
Nicky ate some beans, emptied the scree out of her shoes, and was joined by a new support crew including Adam Perry, Matt Neale and Tim Whittaker, then off they went up many people's least favourite hill, Yewbarrow.

After a bit of recovery time and some cake, I decided I would rejoin the leg 4 runners a bit later on. They climbed Yewbarrow and worked their way round to Pillar and eventually to Kirkfell. I climbed up from the stunning Wasdale valley to the saddle between Kirkfell and Great Gable, then up onto Kirkfell itself. The half hour that I spent up there waiting for Nicky and the support crew to arrive was incredible - it was silent and beautifully clear, with cloud inversions in the valleys all around. Other supporters were on nearby hills (unbeknown to me) and were able to see the Isle of Man and even Ireland in the distance. Awesome.

Cloud inversion from Kirkfell

The runners arrived around half an hour down on schedule but still inside the record, and I joined them for the climb up Great Gable, then Green Gable and a few other hills before the descent to Honister slate mine. Nicky was still flying and her support crew were working really well. As an "off duty" supporter I stayed behind the official supporters and was able to just enjoy my day out in the hills.

Nicky and supporters climbing Green Gable
On the last few hills of the leg we were rejoined by more supporters, and quite a crowd made our way down to Honister. Ian Fitz was here with his camera (doing some impressive simultaneous filming and running!) and we made good progress over the last few bumps. I was a little worried that the party atmosphere might be slightly distracting to Nicky, who still needed to focus on running fast and making sure she remained on record pace, but it didnt seem to make any difference.

The last hill before Honister

Soon we dropped back through the cloud and onto the track into Honister. As we did the weather changed dramatically - we were now in the cloud and the temperature dropped notably. Visibility also changed from miles and miles to just a few metres. Nicky stopped quickly to eat and change and set off with her new support team: Just a couple of hours left now! The new support team included the very speedy Helen Elmore, who we hoped would push Nicky on and make sure she made it back to the Moot Hall in time.

Back in Keswick and after some delicious Fish and Chips we were waiting nervously for Nicky's arrival. We heard that she was now on the last 5km road section, time was getting tight but it looked like Nicky would be a few minutes under her previous record. At just after 10pm, she ran down the high street and touched the door of the Moot Hall to set a new record of 18:06.

Congratulations Nicky on an incredible run, it was a privelage to support you and to witness such an achievement. It's given me all sorts of good ideas...


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