On the 1st December, Jim Mann broke the winter record for the Bob Graham Round by running the round in 18 hours and 18 minutes, beating the previous record (held by Jim) by 2 hours. An interview with him will run next week on UKH - meanwhile here's the lowdown on Jim's recent success:
Jim attempted a winter Bob Graham Round (BGR) in February this year, but after losing time in deep snow, he stopped, commenting:
"I was delighted – I knew there and then that I could do it and promised myself to go on the first day of the following winter with good conditions"
With December the 1st pencilled in on his calender all year, Jim began to get nervous and excited the closer it got to thee day, more so as the weather began to look good enough to go for a record attempt. The week before was a massive rush to organise support, pacers and get enough sleep before the day of the record attempt.
However, upon waking up in Keswick, the weather was a lot worse than forecast, with heavy mist, a strong breeze and drizzle. However, Jim decided to crack on as the weather could improve, and he had to be in work early on Monday morning so could not delay the start. Leg 1 went prety well and after a quick changeover, where Jim didn't stop, he found himself just a minute behind schedule.
However, during leg 2 the mist really caused Jim and his pacer, Stephen Birkinshaw, some real trouble, as Jim explained:
"we made a couple of little errors on the leg, going nearly to the top Calfow Crag, starting down Striding Edge, thankfully not very far before we both realised. I then got a really bad line up Fairfield (I take a direct line up the side from the tarn outflow but you need to avoid the boulder scree to get a time saving – I didn’t manage to avoid it at all though and dropped about 3 mins up there)."
Jim hit a low point after dropping time on this leg and with a niggling hamstring was close to pulling out, until Steve his pacer gave him a pep talk highlighting all the positives, spurring Jim to carry on. After another running changeover, Jim started leg 3 with a fiery determination.
The new positive mindset showed and on leg 3 everything began to click into place and Jim began making up the time he had lost. Jim commented further:
"I had reason to be feeling better; I was eating and drinking well, it was light, getting warmer, the wind had dropped and I was moving pretty well. Everything was to play for and the underfoot conditions were OK too, for the time of year, although the rocks were wet and very slippy, there was hardly any ice or snow except a few patches that could be avoided...
The run down from Scafell to Wasdale had never been so easy, I was relaxed and striding out. Through Wasdale I was on time and I knew I had it; I really enjoy leg 4, and leg 5 is short so can be ground out. At the first view of Wastwater I was aware that I was grinning ear to ear; another near perfect leg, I just had to hold it together now."
Accompanying Jim on leg 4 was Bill Williamson, for whom, this leg was a specialty, allowing Jim to not ahve to worry about navigation and simply run as well as he could as Bill took him on the fastest path.
After changing into running shoes for the final leg to Moot Hall, Jim knew it was in the bag, finishing back at Moot Hall with a time of 18 hours and 18 minutes.
Commenting breaking the winter record, Jim said:
"This has been nearly 4 years in the making and I am really pleased that it came together. So many people have played a part in this not just those that were there on the day, thank you so much, it was a really special day.
I wouldn’t have even dreamed I could go that fast 3 years ago. Its deeply satisfying to push yourself to your mental, physical and emotional limits and emerge on the other side."
NB. a full length interview with Jim Mann will be featured next week on UKHillwalking.
Jim Mann is sponsored by Hanger 18