“Bob Graham Round” – (Irish Style)

7th – 8th July 2017

Justin Bramall, Dominic McInerney, Mark King & Stephen Wallace outside Moot Hall prior to their attempt of the BGR.

At 5:30pm on Friday 7th of July 2017, Mark King, Stephen Wallace & Dominic McInerney all from Newcastle Athletic Club, Co. Down along with Justin Bramall, Sheffield, set off from “Moot Hall”, Keswick in an attempt to complete a personal challenge known as “The Bob Graham Round” – commonly referred to as the “BGR”.

The BGR involves summiting 42 of the highest peaks in the Lake District, climbing 28,000 feet in the process and covering a total distance of 66 miles – all of which must be completed within a 24-hour period. Approximately 100 people register to attempt the BGR every year, however the success rate is only 1 in 3.

The prize for completing this gruelling challenge is membership of the exclusive “Bob Graham Club”, a club where membership must be earned (not bought) and since the initial round in 1932 the “BG club” has gained only 2,055 registered members.

The run is comprised of 5 separate legs and it is common for the runners to be accompanied by both “Navigators” and “Support Runners”. The Navigators assist in guiding the runners over the various summits and verifying that the entire course has been completed, whilst the Supporters generally carry food, water, clothing etc, which may be needed by the runners. Normally fresh Navigators and Support Runners take over at the end of each leg, during which time the runners will stop for food and/or a change of clothing & footwear.

Just some of the runners/support team at “Lane Foot Farm” campsite prior to the start.

For this attempt on the round a support team of 20 people were mobilised from both Northern Ireland and England. Collectively these supporters shared responsibility for all of the logistical difficulties encountered in staging such an event, including organising flights, ferries, minibuses, campsites, food et al. Ultimate responsibility for organising this attempt of the BGR rested with Dale & Denise Mathers (Mourne Runners & BG Club members) whose ability in successfully managing the logistics is in itself deserving of an accolade.

Leg 1 (time taken = 3hrs48mins)
Navigator; Dave Troman, (Keswick Athletic Club).
Support; Tim Kerr, Cahal Kielty, Patricia McKibbin (Newcastle AC)

Leg 1 – Dave Troman, Patricia McKibbin, Tim Kerr, Justin Bramall, Dominic McInerney, Mark King, Stephen Wallace & Cahal Kielty.

The four runners plus navigator & support team left the official starting point at the front door of “Moot Hall” at exactly 5:30pm to a fanfare of encouraging cheers from a mix of supporters and interested spectators. Progress through the town was swift, however the pace quickly dipped as the runners reached the start of the BGR’s longest single climb to the top of “Skiddaw”.

Perfect weather conditions led to a steady pace being adopted and by the time the first mountain top was reached the runners were already 11 minutes ahead in their overall “target time” of 23.5 hours.

Upon leaving Skiddaw summit, the underfoot conditions deteriorated quickly to heavy bog, which quite literally dampened progress. Notwithstanding, the group pressed on over the next two peaks and by the time they reached the final descent from Blencathra the runners were still marginally ahead of schedule by 4 minutes.

The time taken to complete this leg was 3hours 48mins with a breakdown of the climbs as follows;

Actual Time at Summit +/-
Skiddaw 18:48 + 11
Great Calva 19:32 + 10
Blencartha 20:43 + 4

The runners being assisted at Checkpoint 1 – Threlkeld. A quick change of shirt, socks etc & some food/drink.

Leg 2 (time taken = 4hrs 38mins)
Navigator;  Dave Troman, (Keswick Athletic Club).
Support;  Willy Kitchen (Dark Peaks), Willy Marks (Mourne Runners), Declan Faulkner (Co Tyrone), Justin Maxwell (East Coast Runners)

After an 11 minute stop at the end of Leg 1 plus a change of support runners, the group of 9 set off at 9:29pm for the initial climb on Leg 2, Clough Head. A full moon, clear skies and perfect weather conditions assisted in ensuring that the running schedule was being bettered at every peak and by the time the penultimate peak, Fairfield, was reached the troop had achieved a 22 minute advantage on the schedule. The only flaw in this leg was a slight navigational deviation, which resulted in an additional peak being climbed.

Although the entire group moved in convoy like unison and were making good time it was evident that the darkness and lack of sleep was taking its toll as there was little by way of small talk or inter group communication.

The cumulative time scheduled for completion of Legs 1 & 2 was 8hrs 54mins and as the runners covered these sections in 8hrs 37mins a creditable positive variance of 17mins was achieved.


Leg 3 (time taken = 6hrs 28mins)
Navigator;  Steve Whatall, (Retford Athletic Club).
Support;  Dale Mathers (Mourne Runners), Ricky Hanna (Mourne Runners), Justin Maxwell (East Coast Runners).

Checkpoint 3 – Wasdale. Each runner had his own supply of favourite food in addition to which the Support Team had cooked food ready. Time out at this stage was 15hours 21 mins.

Without doubt this leg is both the hardest and longest and with a starting time of 2:23am, the team were still reliant on head torches for the first couple of hours. There are two route options on this leg, with the Navigator opting to climb “Seargent Man” before traversing to “High Raise”. At this stage exhaustion was evidenced with the runners being both sick and marginally adrift from each other for the first time in over 12 hours of running.

Many hands make light work!

The previous schedule advantage of 22 minutes was quickly eroding and by the time the runners reached the cairn on “Scafell Pike” they were behind their overall schedule by -3 minutes. This shortfall was however recovered due to some quick descending, particularly on the scree slopes leading to checkpoint 3, Wasdale. At the end of Leg 3 the runners were out a total of 15hrs 26mins (+5 mins ahead of schedule).

By coincidence the “Wasdale” race (an English Championship FRA counter) was being held on the morning of this BGR attempt and the runners, supporters etc would like to express their thanks to all those who offered support and encouragement for the remainder of the round.


Leg 4 (time taken = 4hrs 50mins)
Navigator;  Steve Whatall, (Retford Athletic Club).
Support;  Dale Mathers (Mourne Runners), Willy Marks (Mourne Runners), Ricky Hanna (Mourne Runners).

Dale Mathers navigates the runners into Honister (Checkpoint 4) along with Support Runners, Ricky Hanna (out of picture) and Willy Marks. Time out at this juncture = 20hours 25minutes.

The first climb from Wasdale is Yewbarrow and although this is a tough, long grind the runners made excellent progress and being able to maintain this pace resulted in them re-building their positive time advantage to +17 mins at the top of Kirkfell.

The pace over the rest of this leg was more or less as scheduled and upon arrival at the “pit-stop” at Honister the Newcastle AC group were +16 mins ahead of time, with Justin & Steve following shortly thereafter.

Checkpoint 4 (Honister) and Justin Maxwell is certain that the “Bob Graham Round” is a qualifying race for the “Mourne Skyline”.

Phil Hodge – “ just checking there is enough food!”


Leg 5 (time taken = 2hrs 51mins)
Navigator;  Denise Mathers, (Mourne Runners) & Max Howard (Retford Athletic Club).
Support;  Patricia McKibbin (Newcastle AC), Tim Kerr.

The three Newcastle AC runners remained together with a slight gap developing between them and Justin B. So, for the first time in almost 20 hours the group fractured.

Perfect running conditions as King, McInerney & Wallace descend off Hindsgarth, supported by Patricia McKibbin & Tim Kerr (photo by Denise Mathers, Navigator).

The Newcastle AC group quickly picked off the last three peaks and by the time they reached Robinson had accrued a time advantage of +9 minutes over the schedule.

Stevie Wallace, Mark King & Dominic McInerney on top of Robinson, the last of the 42 peaks. Time out at this juncture was 22 hours. Support runner, Tim Kerr is looking fresh in the background, however this leg took its toll on Patricia McKibbin (on the left).

The last four miles to Keswick were slow, however spirits were high as it was all but certain that all four runners would complete the challenge in sub 24 hours. The runners were joined by several supporters for the road section and the craic was good as the town of Keswick came into view.

King, McInerney & Wallace finished their “Bob Graham Round” as they had started by once again touching the door of Moot Hall in an overall time of 23hours 27 minutes 10 seconds. Justin Bramall finished a few minutes later (23hrs 45mins) and with great delight the four men posed for the obligatory photo-shoot – A job well done!

Mark King, Stevie Wallace & Dominic McInerney sitting on the steps of Moot Hall, Keswick after completing the “Bob Graham Round” in 23 hours, 27 minutes and 10 seconds – three very happy men!

Justin Bramall along with Mark King, Stephen Wallace & Dominic McInerney after completing the BGR.

Special Thanks

The giving up of ones time, plus expending effort (and money) to travel and help in whatever fashion on this round was greatly appreciated and although there were many people who deserve special thanks we consider that Denise Mathers needs particular mention and a great “Thank You” for making this event possible.

Just some of the crew from England & Northern Ireland who made this such a successful event.

Special thanks to “Mourne Runners”, Ricky Hanna, Dale & Denise Mathers and Willy Marks for the massive effort they put into getting the Newcastle AC runners round the “BGR”.

You can download a PDF copy of the report by CLICKING HERE.