Bill's Bob Graham Round

20th Sept 2008
Leg 4 and Leg 5 Wasdale – Keswick
21 miles 9,000 ft

By chance – whilst reconnoitering the Duddon Valley Fell race in early 2007 – I met Bill Williamson. He, at the time was not a Bowland member but attended some of Bowland runs, which made the encounter all the more fortunate for me. He proved to be a big help with my B.G that summer. Now it was my turn to repay that favour.
Will and I traveled up to Stair village hall, in Stair to lay our bed on the floor of what would be our sleeping place later that night. We then set off for Brackenclose where we – along with Duncan Elliott and Yiannis – would accompany Bill on his final 2 legs of his round. We had heard reports of him being 4 minutes up at Dunmail. This worried me a bit as I knew he had good weather, no wind or rain, and his route knowledge was very good. I expected him to be ½ an hour up at this point.
But to my relief he ran into Brackenclose not long after we arrived, and 24 minutes up on his 23:47 schedule. Bill was going to do 44 peaks, 1 for each year of his life – akin to Bob Grahams original idea for his round – but he decided no to include Allen Crags on leg 3 and go for the standard 42 peak B.G. This to a degree accounted for him being so well up when he reached us at Brackenclose. He seemed to be going at a good steady pace, and this is what was required for the rest of the round.
So after a rest and some food Bill along with us supporters headed up Yewbarrow. This is a tough steep peak, and is renowned as tough on a clockwise BG because of the severe incline and the fact that it comes after about 14 hours, when you are getting tired. Bill found it tough up here but made the top only 4 minutes down. His knee bothered him on the decent, and I think this accounted for another 4 minute loss up to Red Pike. I was a bit concerned as he was loosing 4 minutes per hour. This could not continue he had to speed up. His knee seemed to improve and we started to cover the peaks more on schedule from Red Pike to Pillar. One of the problems of doing a BG at this time of the year is the longer nights, and by now it was dark. Pillar to Kirk Fell went o.k. We were in awe as to the beauty of the night. The stars were glinting and the moon was an orange ball rising over Ennerdale. This along with the glinting stars was a welcome distraction from my progressively more obsessive checking of my watch and then checking this against the schedule.
We seemed to move well from Kirk Fell to Great Gable, but the watch doesn’t lie and it took 11 minutes longer than the schedule. Rough ground at night was proving tricky. But from here the ground is much easier and with a bit of gentle encouragement we started to motor. By Grey knotts we were exactly on schedule. I asked Bill if he wanted to know how he was doing – I am glad he said yes as if he hadn’t I was going to tell him anyway – I informed him that he was bang on his schedule. Will and I ran ahead to sort out a shortened stop at Honister. Bill had about half of his allotted 12 minutes here and we headed off. I told Bill he was now back on his schedule – they had lost time on the decent of Grey knots – and that meant he had 13 minutes to “play” with. I encouraged him by saying something like “I know you want to finish this inside 24 hours failure isn’t an option”, or words to that effect. I felt a motivational speech was needed. Maybe I was caught up in the moment.
Steve handed me the time sheet whilst telling me to keep a check on the times. I took this as meaning that as I had that sheet I had a bit of extra responsibility to judge Bills push to the finish. He went well up Dale Head and even though we took 38 minutes, instead of the allotted 33, I knew from my round that this was o.k., sure enough with Bill digging in and a bit of nagging from Duncan, Will, Ian (whom had just joined us at Honister) and I we ended up right on schedule by Robinson. The decent off Robinson went well and we found good lines, missing out the rock steps. By now all the worries were gone and I, along with most others, realized that it was in the bag for Bill. He made good progress down the road followed by a whole mass of runners that had joined him from earlier legs. Soon enough we all triumphantly followed Bill up to the Moot Hall for his finish in 23:40.
We probably made a bit too much noise for 01:40 on a Sunday morning, but this was a special occasion so never mind. We all had a group photo and then headed off for some drinks and some of Wynn’s lovely food at Stair Village hall, to complete a fantastic day.
Well done Bill on a fantastic effort, it was a privilege to return the favor.

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