A Brilliant Bob

June 3, 2015

Helen celebrates success at the Moot Hall!

Helen celebrates success at the Moot Hall!

We’ve got used to Helen Price achieving some pretty spectacular results in ultra-distance events over the past few years – her fantastic runs at last year’s Lakeland 50 and Grand Tour of Skiddaw being good examples – but she has really come up with the goods this time:  Since late last year Helen has been training hard in order to make an attempt on the notorious Bob Graham Round, a circuit of 42 Lake District Mountains that you have to complete within 24 hours, starting and finishing at the Moot Hall in Keswick’s Town Square.   Does that sound easy?  It’s not.  The route covers around 66 miles of steep, rocky and difficult terrain, with a cumulative ascent of over 27,000ft –  that’s about the same as climbing Everest from sea level and it’s phenomenally tough.  For those that succeed, membership of the elite Bob Graham 24-hour Club awaits.

Helen made her attempt on Friday 22nd May, leaving Keswick at 7.00pm.  She was supported by a team of over 25 fell runners, drawn from a variety of clubs and with strong representation from Harrogate Harriers and Nidd Valley Runners.  Very fortunately, she had a perfect weather window and was able to make great progress overnight, in fact by the time she came off Leg 2 (the bulk of the Helvellyn range) she was over 30 minutes ahead of schedule and it was clear that she meant business.

Helen on the West Wall Traverse onto Scafell

Helen on the West Wall Traverse onto Scafell

Leg 3 was dealt with in less than 6 hours and at Wasdale she was joined by husband Martyn who would navigate Leg 4 and aim to keep the pace moving along.  As is common, by this point Helen was struggling to take on food and the phenomenal effort required was beginning to take its toll, however she continued to gain time on her schedule – climbing Yewbarrow in a very fast 42 minutes –  and along the way picked up some support from legendary fell runner Steve Birkinshaw.  By the time she was on the fifth and final leg, everyone knew she was on for a fast time and she was joined by a whole posse of friends and supporters for the final push home, not least of whom was Harriers Chairman Tony Essex.

She came off the final mountain (Robinson) looking very strong, all that stood between her and success was the final five-mile road section to Keswick.  A quick change into road shoes and she was off, realising very quickly that if she could maintain a decent pace a rare sub-22hr BGR was on the cards.  A huge effort followed and she reached the famous green door of the Moot Hall at 4.51pm precisely, meaning she had completed the Bob Graham Round in an awesome 21.51, the fastest “new” female round of the last three years.

This was an amazing achievement  – well done Helen.

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