Kim Collison Sets New Winter Bob Graham Record

Lake District-based runner Kim Collison has set a new speed record on the Bob Graham Round in winter. Kim, 39, a running coach and guide, completed the round in just 15 hours 47 minutes, knocking a big chunk from the previous fastest winter time of 18:18 set by Jim Mann in 2013.

He picked a decent day for it...  © Ian Handscomb
He picked a decent day for it...
© Ian Handscomb

Setting off at 12:05am on 1st December, Kim benefited from helpful conditions underfoot, and decent weather.

"Conditions were perfect" he said.

"There were very light winds, the temperatures dropped to -7 at night creating this amazing frost on the grass and boulders. The ground was frozen and hard meaning you did not have to wade through the bogs on the backside of Skiddaw. There were thousands of stars sparkling in the night sky and when the sun rose over the Langdales you had this amazing view down Windermere. Then it was this amazing blue sky day running around the central fells."

Snow-free fells offered the ideal ground for a fast time on the day.

Since ground conditions can vary so unpredictably, a winter round is defined not by the presence of snow, but with reference to the calendar. To qualify as winter, according to the Bob Graham Club, the round simply has to be completed any time between 1st December and 1st March.

Kim enjoying the frosty conditions  © Rob Brown
Kim enjoying the frosty conditions
© Rob Brown

This was Kim's third successful Bob Graham Round, and he now knows the route so well, he told us, that he didn't have to look at a map. However despite the home advantage, and friendly conditions, no winter BGR is ever going to be easy.

"The main element is generally the hours of darkness you have to contend with and thinking about how you would deal with the consequences of an accident at this time of year" Kim explained.

"The ground and weather conditions vary so much but can have a big impact on how your round goes. On my last [winter round] I spent plenty of time wading through snow."

At the finish, Keswick Moot Hall  © Simon Franklin
At the finish, Keswick Moot Hall
© Simon Franklin

"This time my lowest point was around Great End where I suddenly got a sugar low and started to feel wobbly, so I crammed in a Mountain Fuel gel and some pizza. This made the boulder hopping over Ill Crag extremely difficult with legs I was struggling to coordinate."

"Luckily I had an amazing support crew who ran, motivated, fed, cheered, made the logistics work to keep up with my pace and made the day extra special" he said.

Other than generally getting in a big volume of miles and ascent, Kim's training prior to the attempt involved doing sections of the route in advance.

"The key sessions leading up to the round for me were running legs 1, 2 and the first part of 3 in separate runs at a pace I would need to run to break the record" he said.

"They were all run at night and in less than ideal weather. These gave me the confidence for the Bob Graham day. I also worked on my power hiking technique with poles and had some coaching from Nicola at Nic's Nordic Walks based in Glenridding."

Lots of hard work, but spending so much time on the fells doesn't sound like a chore for Kim.

"The sense of awe of running in the mountains is incredible and you get this so often in the Lakes" he said.

"The BGR was a challenge my dad did when I was a young lad and I always aspired to emulate him once he passed away. I guess the round has become part of my identity."

At 15:47, the fastest winter time is still a long way off Kilian Jornet's overall BGR record of 12:52. Kim tells us he has no designs on this!


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