Tuesday, 30 June 2009

55at55 - The Future

This blog was always intended to be a “single issue” blog like my previous  Bob Graham Round one  although along the way it included a number of other “issues” – surviving the High Peak Marathon which I would be happy to have attempt again, a disappointing Fellsman which we will both do again next year, Ed Swift’s “Joss” in May and, of course, my own “Joss” on that perfect day in April. There were other things too and the blog may have been too much of a training diary although I am not entirely sure. The discipline of a weekly update, as long as I wasn’t injured, was never a problem except that it more or less precludes anything else and there seemed little time for reflection or more considered pieces. I hadn’t seen this as a problem until I started to follow Rhiannon George’s blog and realised what else might be possible.

I don’t know if I can combine frequent updates interspersed with more considered pieces but I am going to try to and also to reduce, a little, the “training diary” approach. Over the last few months, in particular, the question “Why do I run?” has kept appearing. Each time, I tried to answer it and, despite the changing circumstances, the reasons remained pretty consistent. The fundamental reason hasn’t changed and as Pauline said when we started; it is all about greed – you can visit more hills in a day if you run. So I don’t train to race and, indeed, I race very little. I do train to enjoy long days in the hills and so I started another blog “Just Us and a Few Friends” to remind us where we were and what we were doing. Please have a look and if you like it, please become a Follower.

Thanks for reading and following this blog because it is with no little sadness that I write the last paragraph of the final post. This has been a longer journey than I anticipated when I set out but it has been a richer, more rewarding one, despite the failure, than I could have imagined. Just Us and a Few Friends may show a change in emphasis and our friends may be more than just a few now but our love of the fells remains undiminished and I look forward to sharing it.


Wednesday, 17 June 2009

55at55 – Reflections

Disappointed and frustrated; third failure and yet another winter’s training wasted on an incomplete round – I think that is how I expected to feel when I recovered from the exhaustion of Saturday. I do feel disappointed and frustrated that this seems to be beyond me because I can’t seem to get my food and drink right. After last year’s attempts I went back to basics, made changes to avoid particular food/drink combinations and I thought it was sorted but Saturday proved otherwise.

During Monday I began to realise, or remember, the result isn’t everything and as with each previous year I have been able to enjoy long days in the hills with a wonderful group of people. Days in snow on Helvellyn and Kentmere. Glen Etive in sunshine and, of course, the perfect day in April for my “Joss” when Pauline was able to leave the road support and join me for the last leg. The three legs on Saturday should be included because although the weather was a bit mixed the company wasn’t – it was first class, as usual.

It is very humbling when so many people put themselves out to provide support on a day like Saturday and when they go on to say what a pleasure it was to be involved in and contribute to the adventure I am simply overwhelmed. I am privileged to have met and spent time with all of you and to have shared the unique camaraderie forged on the fells from the High Peak Marathon in February to last Saturday – I offer my most sincere thanks to all of you for Saturday, for all the Saturday and Sunday outings that went before and for all the encouragement, support and enthusiasm from the very beginning.

Monday, 15 June 2009

55at55 – The Photos

About ready with Iain Kelly & John Fleetwood


Nothing easy about getting out of Newlands Hause 

Halfway up

Final words of encouragement

Rhiannon (just obscured above) took the photos below between Wasdale and Great End during the best part of the day.


IMG_5766 IMG_5770 (2)

Sunday, 14 June 2009

55at55 – Retired at Dunmail

After a promising start and arriving at Wasdale only 15 minutes behind schedule I suffered from a prolonged spell of nausea between Scafell and Bowfell when I was able to eat very little. After Bowfell I felt better and although I started eating again I still couldn’t touch my carb drinks and continued to lose time -  73 minutes down at Rossett Pike and 110 at Sergeant Man. By then, it was apparent I wasn’t eating and drinking my way out of the problem. I had hoped to be able to contain the deficit after Rossett Pike and reach Dunmail, perhaps 90 down, then eat well and rest ready for Leg 4 and when this wasn’t happening I concluded there was no real point in carrying on.

Thanks to all of you who got me as far as Dunmail, John & Iain on leg 1, Kath & Karl on Leg 2, Colin, Ali, Rhiannon and Duncan on Leg 3.

Thanks also to Rae, Steve and Andy who were ready for legs 4 and 5. Paul I am pleased we were able to contact you before you left home.

Special thanks to Pauline & Nicole who bore the brunt of the road support and thanks to Ed & Ray who helped them.

This was the last roll of this particular dice and all that remains is to wish Iain & Karl every success with their BG attempts on June 27th and to wish Duncan exactly the same for his 50at50 on July 10th.

Thanks again


Thursday, 11 June 2009

55 at 55 attempt is on

Earlier in the week I decided to wait until Thursday before making a final decision having already reconciled myself to the possibility of very poor weather, so poor that cancellation would be the only serious option. The forecasts are not perfect and it looks as though, while ground might not be too soft, the rocks aren’t going to be dry. Sitting here looking out at near perfect conditions I am contemplating the very low temperatures forecast for Saturday night wondering if snow on Helvellyn on two consecutive June Saturday nights is possible.

I have had a very easy week running only once and fewer than 5 miles then, on Tuesday morning. My cold has forced a more sever taper than I planned but now I think I will benefit from the extra rest.

Richard Scott’s bad knee was fine at the LAMM last weekend but, ironically, he injured his good one and so he is unable to join us. Iain Kelly had an outbreak of common sense and decided one leg would be sufficient a fortnight before his own BG attempt – he did pick a longish one, though. Apart from that, as I write, the support teams are as shown below.

There is plenty to do between now and 08:00 on Saturday and although I am looking forward to the day, these last few days are amongst the most difficult. On Monday I felt fairly fraught about it all but then relaxed on Tuesday and yesterday. Now the decision is taken I can feel the tension mounting again but I just need to remember the hard work is all done. I am fit enough to enjoy rather than endure the day and that is what I plan to do.

Saturday, 6 June 2009

55 at 55 – Schedule

No Fell Name Miles Feet Time of Day Splits
0 Moot Hall, Keswick 0.0 0 08:00
1 Causey Pike 4.7 1,950 09:05 01:05:00
2 Scar Crags 5.5 2,220 09:15 00:10:00
3 Sail 6.2 2,720 09:29 00:14:00
4 Crag Hill 6.6 3,040 09:38 00:09:00
5 Grasmoor 7.8 3,490 10:00 00:22:00
6 Wandope 8.9 3,660 10:18 00:18:00
7 Whiteless Pike 10.0 3,790 10:28 00:10:00
8 Robinson 12.8 5,490 11:19 00:51:00
9 Hindscarth 14.3 5,990 11:37 00:18:00
10 Dale Head 15.5 6,320 11:53 00:16:00
0 Honister - Arr 16.7 6,320 12:04 00:11:00
0 Honister - Dep 16.7 6,320 12:10 00:06:00
11 Grey Knotts 17.6 7,440 12:35 00:25:00
12 Brandreth 18.2 7,550 12:42 00:07:00
13 Green Gable 18.9 8,030 13:00 00:18:00
14 Great Gable 19.5 8,520 13:12 00:12:00
15 Kirk Fell 20.9 9,180 13:47 00:35:00
16 Looking Stead 22.2 9,460 14:05 00:18:00
17 Pillar 23.5 10,400 14:39 00:34:00
18 Scoat Fell 24.6 10,740 14:59 00:20:00
19 Steeple 24.9 10,810 15:04 00:05:00
21 Red Pike (Wasdale) 25.9 11,130 15:21 00:17:00
20 Yewbarrow 27.8 11,730 15:53 00:32:00
0 Wasdale - Arr 28.8 11,730 16:14 00:21:00
0 Wasdale - Dep 28.8 11,730 16:20 00:06:00
22 Scafell 31.1 14,680 17:33 01:13:00
23 Scafell Pike 32.0 15,200 18:15 00:42:00
24 Broad Crag 32.4 15,350 18:25 00:10:00
25 Ill Crag 32.8 15,520 18:33 00:08:00
26 Great End 33.6 15,670 18:46 00:13:00
27 Allen Crags 34.6 15,870 19:01 00:15:00
28 Esk Pike 35.5 16,400 19:21 00:20:00
29 Bowfell 36.6 16,820 19:41 00:20:00
30 Rossett Pike 37.8 16,950 20:01 00:20:00
31 Pike O'Stickle 40.2 17,940 20:51 00:50:00
32 Loft Crag 40.5 18,040 20:56 00:05:00
33 Harrison Stickle 40.9 18,410 21:06 00:10:00
34 Pavey Ark 41.6 18,510 21:21 00:15:00
35 Thunacar Knott 41.8 18,620 21:28 00:07:00
36 Sargeant Man 42.8 18,820 21:40 00:12:00
37 High Raise (Central Fells) 43.4 18,960 21:52 00:12:00
38 Calf Crag 44.9 19,120 22:13 00:21:00
39 Steel Fell 46.4 19,470 22:35 00:22:00
0 Dunmail Raise - Arr 47.1 19,470 22:47 00:12:00
0 Dunmail Raise - Dep 47.1 19,470 22:53 00:06:00
40 Seat Sandal 48.4 21,140 23:31 00:38:00
41 Fairfield 49.5 22,090 00:02 00:31:00
42 Dollywagon Pike 51.0 23,140 00:46 00:44:00
43 Nethermost Pike 51.9 23,410 01:04 00:18:00
44 Helvellyn 52.6 23,690 01:14 00:10:00
45 Helvellyn Lower Man 53.1 23,750 01:20 00:06:00
46 White Side 54.0 23,970 01:33 00:13:00
47 Raise 54.7 24,220 01:43 00:10:00
48 Stybarrow Dodd 55.9 24,540 02:00 00:17:00
49 Watsons Dodd 56.6 24,590 02:08 00:08:00
50 Great Dodd 57.5 24,840 02:22 00:14:00
51 Clough Head 59.4 25,140 02:49 00:27:00
0 Threkeld - Arr 62.0 25,140 03:26 00:37:00
0 Threkeld - Dep 62.0 25,140 03:32 00:06:00
52 Blencathra 63.5 27,570 04:32 01:00:00
53 Great Calva 67.1 28,630 05:39 01:07:00
54 Skiddaw 69.8 30,180 06:49 01:10:00
55 Skiddaw Little Man 70.9 30,370 07:04 00:15:00
0 Moot Hall, Keswick 74.8 30,370 07:49 00:45:00

55 at 55 – Support Teams

Good support is a vital part of the day and without it I couldn’t contemplate setting out. Thank you to everyone shown below and also to all the rest of you who were unable to make it but suggested alternatives and wished us all well.


  1. Pauline
  2. Nicole Kirkham
  3. Ray Stafford
  4. Ed Swift

Leg 1 Keswick - Honister @ 09:00

  1. Richard Scott
  2. John Fleetwood
  3. Iain Kelly

Leg 2 Honister - Wasdale @ 12:04

  1. Iain Kelly
  2. Kath Brierley
  3. Karl Taylor

Leg 3 Wasdale - Dunmail @ 16:14

  1. Colin Jones
  2. Ali Murray
  3. Duncan Richards
  4. Rhiannon George

Leg 4 Dunmail - Threlkeld @ 22:53

  1. Rae Pritchard
  2. Phil Dewhurst
  3. Steve Angus

Leg 5 Threlkeld to Keswick @ 03:26

  1. Paul Murray
  2. Andy Howie
  3. Steve Angus (may continue from Leg 4)

As always there have been a number of late changes and a couple of others may still take place while some injuries are still being assessed.

Friday, 5 June 2009

Week 1 Taper – Ben Starav

Last Week: 23 miles; 6700 feet; 10:01:03 (13 miles walked)

Last Saturday was our last day in Scotland and we might have made this a run but our legs had about had enough we so we accepted the inevitable and enjoyed a walk over some big hills in the sunshine. My legs were still tired on Tuesday morning and better on Wednesday but I am sure I don’t “need the miles” now and so decided that was enough for the week.

The time spent not running has been split between trying to get the garden back in some sort of order and finalising support of the 13th. I think the latter is about done while the former is simply an aspiration. I have had a blocked nose most of the week brought on, I hope, by some very dusty work in the garden rather than by a cold.

Next week I’ll have short outings in between fretting about the weather for the 13th. Worryingly it doesn’t look good. This period of sunshine is about to finish – the first rain could arrive tonight – and the worst forecasts I have seen suggest rain all next week and through the weekend until the 15th or 16th. At this stage, these are only forecasts and will change between now and next Friday but there has been a certain consistency about them all this week.

I need very good, near perfect, conditions to have a chance of completing this in close to 24 hours and these is little point is going out in poor conditions and having to bail out part way round – I haven’t forgotten last August or John Fleetwood’s Marilyn attempt this summer. I will make a provisional decision based on Sunday’s forecasts and a final one on Thursday. In some respects, the decision may have been made by then because if it rains all week the ground is going to be soft and the rocks wet and slippery even if it is dry on Saturday but we shall see.

The mention of Ben Starav at the beginning was just an excuse to publish a few more pictures from last Saturday.

Ben Starav Glen Etive and Glen Coe Munros







Beinn nan Aighenen

Ben Starav







above Glen Kinglass

Just Us on Glas Beinn Mhor

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Rain in Glen Coe – Sunshine in Glen Etive

Last Week: 85.2 miles; 34,200 feet; 40:24:28

After Ed’s “Joss” we drove north to Glen Coe after a kit buying frenzy in Ambleside and lunch with my Dad in Glasgow. The forecast suggested the poor weather in the Lakes was set to continue in Scotland and so it proved. Monday was so bad we did the complete traverse of Fort William, including the supermarket and managed a only couple of hours looking at the approach to a Munro we would attempt later in the week. Tuesday saw strong winds drive hail and snow showers across the summits of Beinn a Bheithir as we were crossing them but also, between the showers, allowed some fine views of Glen Coe.

Ballachullish Down Glen Coe from Sgorr Dhearg







Wednesday improved to merely showers in the low clouds that were thick enough to cause some route finding problems. On our way to Sgor na h-Ulaidh we needed to cross Stob an Fhuarain which we did, 4 times in all. Thursday produced very heavy rain for our visit to Buachaille Etive Beag – it relented long enough for us to visit the two Munros but denied us the spectacular views of Glen Etive we should have enjoyed.

Our original plan involved driving south on Friday when the skies we due to clear to provide “wall to wall” sunshine so we decided to stay on until Sunday and see some of the hills we had climbed. The weather lived up to the promise of the forecast and we were blessed with two summer days before coming home on Sunday.

Glen Etive Glen Etive







Mamores Ben Nevis







  Ben Starav

Glen Etive







So spectacular – who would go anywhere else when the weather is like that?

Ed’s “Joss” – Job Done

23 May at four o’clock in the morning at Pooley Bridge with Ed Swift, brother John, Karl Taylor, Julie Laverock and, true to form, everyone is ready except Ed. An extra 7 minutes are needed to complete preparations, take photos and decide we won’t actually need head torches after all.  Ed's Blog contains photos and contributions from many of the people there on the day and gives a pretty good idea of what the day was like. It was a hard old day – I stayed with Ed from beginning to end and I know just how hard it was. Joss came out to meet us for the last leg and, with Pete Ferris, ensured Ed reached Greendale Bridge within his allowed 18 hours.

Ready for the Off (Ed is 2nd from left) Last Leg disappears into the clouds

With Ed, John and Karl ready to leave Pooley Bridge and many hours later, on Great End, looking at the last leg disappearing into the clouds. The end of the third leg and the start of the fourth leg enjoyed a very brief window of good weather – glimpses of blue sky between the low clouds – but it didn’t last and for much of the last leg the wind and rain accompanied us.

Job Done 


Ed's Joss   Glen Coe 01 005