The record for a solo, unsupported Winter Bob Graham Round has been broken twice within a day. On Thursday Paul Wilson set a fastest time of 22hrs 54mins, while on Friday James Gibson, running in the opposite direction, trumped this considerable achievement with a new record of 21hrs 12mins.
Covering 106km (66 miles) and roughly 8600m (28,500ft) of ascent over 42 Lake District fells, the Bob Graham is a major ask at any time of year; but the cold and dark of winter definitely add to the challenge. The only way to up the ante any further is to do it entirely alone.
Running conditions underfoot have been nigh on perfect in the Lake District in recent days, with a hard freeze but much less lying snow than in many other parts of the country. The still, clear weather must have made it a challenge hard to resist for both runners.
Due to the variability of ground conditions, 'winter' in this context is simply defined as any time between 1st December and the end of February.
James Gibson is no stranger to epic rounds, having done - among many other things - the first ever Wainwright Round in winter in 2021.
He said: "What a day! The conditions were perfect for winter running with lots of hard frosted ground. I didn't have a schedule, I just went with the flow and enjoyed it. I ran strongly and passed Paul on Yewbarrow, stopping for a selfie before both pushing on in our opposite directions.
"Temperatures fell to about -10C and my bottles froze in the night. With all the high becks frozen over too, it made getting water pretty hard. My legs tired over the last section but I was happy to keep going and get back to Keswick in the time I did."
The fastest time for a supported winter round is currently held by Kim Collison, who ran it in December 2019 in a time of 15hrs 47 minutes. Since it necessitates carrying all your own food and gear, navigating for yourself, and with no pacers to keep up speed and morale, a solo and unsupported round is a different ball game.
"I really enjoyed the challenge of keeping a pace throughout and being totally self sufficient by carrying everything I needed. It has to be up there with the best days I've ever spent in the hills" sais James.
To date only four people are known to have completed a solo, unsupported winter BGR - Martin Stone (1986), Shane Ohly (2020), Paul Wilson and James Gibson (both 2022).
James Gibson is sponsored by: inov8
Well done guys, that's properly outstanding. I think it was only a few days ago James was on some other epic winter round in Wales. Just WOW!
He bailed on that one after just under 20 miles. Given a successful attempt in Wales would have surely ruled out a BGR any time soon, I wonder how much he'd planned this one! Must have been dying to make the most of the great conditions either way. Brilliant running.
Have multiple big rounds been done in a single winter in any style by one person? That'd be a remarkable achievement if anyone can string even two together in a season.
Jim Mann did them all in a month back in 2017: https://www.ukhillwalking.com/articles/features/interview_jim_mann_on_the_winter_rounds_triple-9200
I bet the conditions on the Bob Graham this past week have been close to perfect.
Suffice to say I’m extremely jealous!!
Incredible! That's amazing.
Sounds like it, not sure what more you could ask for - aside from non wintery conditions, which misses the point somewhat.