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Thread: 2019 Attempt - Absurd??

  1. #1

    2019 Attempt - Absurd??

    Have been wavering about posting this, because it would be the first time I've publicly admitted what's been going round my head for the first few weeks. My basic question is whether people with the wealth of experience that's on here think that it would be feasible for me to have a proper go at the BG this year (probably in late August/early September)?

    Background info: Always been active, played the standard team sports through school then got into rowing at uni and did that for five years, training six days per week and generally building a useful aerobic base. Started running instead for logistical reasons (living in London) in 2017. I first came across the BG while looking at wikipedia as a 14-year-old about to go for a weekend walking in Borrowdale with my Dad and brother and filed it in the back of my mind as a 'one day...' ambition.

    Fast forward and after running seriously for about 9 months I had got bored of just running to get faster and looked into getting into the hills. Did a couple of the routes from Kingsley Jones' book last June round Coniston and Fairfield and had a great time. Entered my first fell races at Arnison Crag, Barrow and Ennerdale Show last August, coming about 1/3 of the way down the field while training for a (road) half marathon (1:25), and then did Grin n Bear It (2:40) and the Roaches (2:44 with XC the day before) to qualify for the 3 Peaks.

    Recent:
    I started my training for the 3 Peaks in December, and have averaged 62 miles and 5,000 feet per week for the last twelve weeks. I had a 2020 attempt in the back of my mind, but things have changed recently:

    1. I got offered a new job starting on October 1. This will limit my available training time substantially. I'm currently on a fixed-term contract ending on 31 July, so I should have a window at the end of August where I could schedule an attempt.

    2. I went up to recce the 3 Peaks this weekend gone and ended up doing the recce in one day rather than two and ran Heptonstall on Sunday instead. I did my recce (full route, taking the old walkers' path) in 4:13 and Heptonstall in 2:22, and although my legs were pretty sore yesterday they feel alright today. Realistically I didn't think I was fell-fit enough to do that, but combined with the free time in August it's got me thinking.

    Plan of Attack
    So if I were to have a go, my plan would be to taper and race the 3 Peaks as planned (Saturday's run pushed me to 79 miles in 7 days, so was definitely on tired legs) and then recover in May before a 2-3 month training block. I'm spending the last week of May, after the Bank Holiday, in Wasdale and would look to get in a couple of solid runs as well as the walking with friends that is the reason for going over the weekend (before, I've done a day's walking on trips like this then headed off to run for an hour or two in the evening while they faff), support a leg of some friends of a friend's attempt on Bank Holiday Monday, and then spend 3 or 4 days walking and wild camping with my girlfriend before entering Duddon on the Saturday. That would kick-start training, and I'd try to get up for Buttermere, Wasdale, and possibly Borrowdale depending on dates, and combine each race with a leg recce. Around that, I'd be aiming to get as much elevation in as I can in the South...

    As far as I see it, the gaping holes in this plan are a) lack of ultra-distance experience b) lack of night nav experience c) logistics. Are these too much to overcome? I've had a good dig for information, reading people's reports, the long threads on 10,000 ft/week and nav choices, and (of course) Bob Wightman's site. I'd love to hear anyone's thoughts on whether this is a viable plan or not. I'm really on the edge about whether it's worth the full-blooded commitment that I know it would take. At the same time, I feel it would probably be easier to commit as a 27-year-old with a couple of years of consistent training behind me than someone fighting to reclaim fitness later in life. Thanks for reading if you've got this far!

  2. #2
    Master DrPatrickBarry's Avatar
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    You don't have to get around to still have a good day in the hills. So just go for it. Try doing back to back legs as a training run to see how you get on.

  3. #3
    Master Travs's Avatar
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    Hello mate... great post... you sound about same standard as me race-wise (i also did the Roaches, in 2:42, and also the day after a tough cross-country league fixture!

    I'm knocking out similar miles in training (40-50 miles but with 10,000ft per week), and have been doing this consistently for nearly 40 weeks.

    I would consider myself in sufficient physical fitness to consider an attempt (in fact I've got an attempt scheduled at a vaguely similar type of challenge in the coming months).

    However what you cannot discount is time spent out on the fells, getting completely comfortable with being on the hills, navigating, and 'surviving' bad spells and bad weather. Your plan to fit in some of the toughest Lakeland classic races is a good one, but it's certainly a push to combine them with a BG recce over the same weekend, if you're not used to that combined time on your feet. Buttermere/Wasdale/Ennerdale are a considerable step up from the Three Peaks and Borrowdale.

    My honest advice would be to give it a go if you feel that it is remotely possible. One thing that spurs me on more than anything, is being told that something is too much or too hard.

    However in order to get the 'mountain-hardiness' i would put equal effort into getting out into the fells, day after day, on your walking/holiday days, as i would into the race days. And getting out at night on the hills, learning to navigate, will all help.

    On the other hand, you're nearly ten years younger than me, another year or two of hard work would probably increase your chance (in purely percentage terms) of getting round. Then again you could have a perfect day this year, or wait a year and have rain/cloud/wind and it could be out of your hands anyway...!
    Last edited by Travs; 27-03-2019 at 03:52 PM.

  4. #4
    Master BillJ's Avatar
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    There's no reason you can't do it.

    For me, the best preparation is to support on other people's rounds. Its the best way to get to see the preparation, logistics, etc, and get route tips while you're at it.
    The BGR is as much about mental preparation as physical.

    So if you see anyone asking for support runners, go for it!
    "And the winds blow and the sky looks cool / So I make my home in the clouds"

  5. #5
    Master DrPatrickBarry's Avatar
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    I assume you are in the Bob Graham Facebook group. That is the most active place for BG related stuff these days.

  6. #6
    Member skipchris's Avatar
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    I second all the advice you’ve had so far.

    I’m having a crack in May. I feel ‘ready’ (or rather, I feel I will be ready in a few weeks time)… But ultimately I’ll only know for sure by trying to do it.

    Over the course of my training, I’ve realised that the time spent on the fells training is its own reward. On the day, months of hard work could be wiped out by bad weather or a fall, so I’m trying to not worry too much about the day, just the journey to get there. Your journey sounds great, so I don’t think an attempt is absurd at all!

  7. #7
    Super Moderator Derby Tup's Avatar
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    What youíve done in prep for the three peaks would make a great base for some serious BG training. 10 - 12 weeks of 10,000 ft (or preferably say 13,000 ft) on top should put you in decent shape. Iím a big fan of back to back days and boot camp weeks

  8. #8
    Master ba-ba's Avatar
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    Climb (and descent) is king, as DT has mentioned.
    Also remember when you do go that Bob's split calculator takes into account everyone who's ever blown up over legs 4 and 5, so there's plenty of leeway in the end of the schedule. I've know of people go from 25h pace at Wasdale to finish in 22h as they started with someone much slower so stayed pretty fresh.

    Not that I have any experience of doing the BG, just a bit of supporting.
    Nic Barber. Downhill Dandy

  9. #9
    Super Moderator Derby Tup's Avatar
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    Five hours for leg four means roughly two miles per hour

  10. #10
    Master Bob's Avatar
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    As Ba-Ba says, my calculator allows for a slowing down as the day progresses. Interestingly I plugged Billy Bland's old record in to it and there was still a reasonable match (I've not tried Kilian's before anyone asks).

    I did my BGR off 30 mile per week training but I'd been injured up to six months before my round by overdoing the training. Getting the miles in is just one part of getting round the BGR, there's the mental side of toughing things out and you need to be organised in terms of food, pacers, etc.
    Bob

    http://bobwightman.co.uk/run/bob_graham.php

    Without me you'd be one place nearer the back

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