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Paul Stepto's Bob Graham Round

- 8th Jun 2011

Paul SteptoAfter a near miss last year, Paul had some unfinished business with the Bob Graham Round – 72 miles, 42 peaks, 28,000ft of climb in 24 hours. So at 6.45pm on Friday 3rd June Paul, along with fellow Harrier Lee Wilkinson and friend of the Harriers, Darren Burns, set off from the Moot Hall in Keswick. The weather was perfect, if a little warm initially, and they ate up the hills of Leg 1, Skiddaw, Great Calva and Blencathra, before descending into Threlkeld via the notorious Hall’s Fell Ridge 15 minutes ahead of schedule.

Following a change of navigator and support crew, off they set again but in the dark this time. Peaks on Leg 2 included Helvellyn and Fairfield amongst several others – none of them easy in the dark. Unfortunately, Lee began to feel the recurrence of a knee injury on the steep downhills and Daz was slowing a little but Paul powered on and arrived at Dunmail Raise bang on time.

With Lee forced to retire and Daz some way behind, Paul set off with his new crew up Steel Fell and onto Leg 3. There was no time for him to admire the sunrise this year as his navigator and supporters set the pace and they arrived nearly 4 and a half hours later at Wasdale Head, a little ahead of schedule.

A bowl of sausage casserole (out of a packet!) and a change of socks and they were off again onto the longest leg, from Wasdale to Honister Pass. Luckily, the weather started to cloud over which was a real blessing and the cooler temperatures helped Paul a lot. Navigator Ian Hughes from Macc Harriers led the team up Yewbarrow and the other 8 peaks including Great Gable and they arrived at Honister Pass ahead of schedule again. Paul was still smiling but unsurprisingly, beginning to tire – who wouldn’t after running up and down all those hills without sleep!

News reached us that Daz, too, had unfortunately had to retire but the show went on and a large support crew set off with Paul on the 5th and final leg up Dale Head, Hindscarth and finally Robinson – he even had the legs to run down the last hill. A change of footwear at Newlands and they set off for the last 4 miles along the roads into Keswick . It’s amazing how much a pair of cushioned road shoes can perk you up and Paul was even churning out 7½ minute miles as they approached Keswick!

A final surge took him up through Keswick market place and he touched the doors of the Moot Hall after 22 hours and 41 minutes of running! A fantastic achievement and we (especially me!) are all very proud of him. Celebratory drinks were calling us back at the campsite – unfortunately Paul managed half a glass of tap water in the pub and then crawled off to bed. The rest of us, though, managed to raise a glass or two for him!

A massive thank you to all the amazing Stockport Harriers who were out with us as support crew – running, cheering, ferrying runners and feeding people, and also to Ian Hughes, Mike Nelson, Digby Harris and Ian Symington from Macc Harriers who were fantastic navigators for Paul and didn’t put a foot wrong.

A weekend we will never forget!