Tapering with a difference…….

Not the usual "taper" for a Mountain Marathon but it seemed to work ok…

Earlier this year, before the clocks went back and when we had more time to plan and less time to do, Helen, who’s off to do the Ultra Tour Du Mont Blanc properly this year figured it would be good fun to do an early BG (Bob Graham) and get most of her qualifying points for the race.

Now for years I’ve often declared having little interest in ever starting a BG (nevermind finishing one) but agreed to help out – just being focussed on the BG (Big Winter) season which we were hoping would continue well into April..

Mid March was the start of the early finish to this winter climbing with high routes on the Ben looking soggy and calling for an early change in plans – AKA getting ready for a BG in a three weeks including a dose of near fatal man-flu (like having babies but painful!)

After a couple of long runs including the "Cumbrian Traverse" (where Val sniffed into an old friend from the orchestra in Glasgow in a peasouper) Nats and I figured we were ready for our 8pm semi-low-key attempt on the first weekend in April.

Leg 1 started off quicker than the Skiddaw race but as darkness fell over Great Calva so did the pace – a steady climb up Blencathra and straight line descent into Threlkeld saw us 10mins ahead of schedule and down to a team of 4 for the long Leg 2 over The Dodds including the out and back for Fairfield. All a bit of blur but we did manage to find 30 mins somewhere to replace the 15 mins we lost somewhere else. I think we were all pretty to happy to have navigated the night bit and that I’d managed to "shuffle" tracks on the iPod to get away from Queen’s "Don’t Stop Me Now!"

Leg 3 was from Dunmail to Wasdale accompanied by Tom and Alex who navigated us right to Rob Jebb’s Dad, near Bowfell, for a very British cup of breakfast tea around 7.30. One of the highlights was running over to the Langdales and the combination of sunrise and the birds starting their dawn chorus. The scramble through "fat man’s" and up Sca Fell Pike passed and then it was justa casual run down into Wasdale for tea, pizza whilst trying to ignore the shadow of Yewbarrow!

Leg 4, from Wasdale to Honister, provided some of the most amazing views across the whole of the lakes district and finally brought Great Gable, which had constantly been tantalising close since sunrise, via a great bit of scrambling where Astrid and I raced to the top before enjoying a relaxed run on more familiar terrain to the slate mine where the posse met us for Leg 5 the final run up Dalehead which then saw us Keswick bound although not without a navigational wobble across the fields near Catbells.

I’d never thought about ever running a BG seriously but it is easily with the top 10 big mountain days out and such a great experience for anybody who loves being in the mountains. I guess we were lucky with the weather but if anybody fancies a run round part or whole then let me know even if it’s just a trip to Sassenach land.

Tim Austin

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