Thursday, 2 July 2009

There’s a kind of magic

Almost as though every aspirant on a Bob Graham Round, a Joss Naylor Traverse, a Paddy Buckley in Wales or a Charlie Ramsay Round in Scotland carries a bag of excitement to scatter in his or her wake there is a kind of infectious magic that  touches and affects all those with even the slightest involvement. In summer, the sight of a small group of runners moving together at a comfortable pace creates interest and intrigue even amongst the uninitiated – in June on Pillar, I think, we were asked if there was a race on. Just “the height of the Bob Graham season” we explained, knowing there were many more about to leave Wasdale for Honister. To the initiated the sight invokes strong, deeply held memories of their own round. Their own feelings on the same hill all those months or years before come flooding back on an uncontrollable surge of emotion.

Iain Kelly coming off Dale Head

Last weekend waiting on Iain & Karl on their last lag we saw a group leaving Dale Head summit and moving fairly quickly. Staying together as they descended they had all the hallmarks of a BG team and I started taking photographs, not because I knew who they were but because I knew what they were doing. Eventually, they reached us and we couldn’t recognise any of the runners but the special question “Bob Graham?” produced an unexpected response “Ian?” We realised then it was Iain Kelly running strongly en route to his 41st summit of the day. We ran along with them to the top, offering our encouragement and best wishes for the remainder of his journey.

Karl Taylor leaving Dale Head

A little later Karl’s team left the same summit and we descended with them before turning back to Honister to make sure we were at the Moot Hall to see him finish. There passers-by would be affected and burst into applause as Karl sprinted the final yards to the Moot Hall where complete strangers would come and offer congratulations. We watched as they completed the descent and started the climb to Hindscarth knowing, as for Iain before him, that the time to relax and enjoy it wasn’t far away, knowing that all the hard work had been done and done successfully – not just during the previous hours, not just during the previous night but during all the previous weeks, months and even years since the idea of a 24 Hour Bob Graham first began to germinate.

Even in winter on the Lakeland fells a frisson can be felt when a small group of runners is encountered, paying particular attention to little used trods as they seek the optimum line in preparation for their big day. Once touched by the magic there are very few who can just walk away from the possibility of one of these big days out and it sustains future contenders from the intensity of road support or running a leg this year through the winter preparations for their own attempt next year or the year after. Iain & Karl probably didn’t realise they were spreading magic as they crossed the 42 summits on their way back to the Moot Hall but they were and it affected everybody involved, however slightly, just as it should.

1 comment:

  1. At last a decent blog to follow! Good on you Ian.