Many of you reading this piece will be familiar with the ‘BGR’ but for those who haven’t heard about
it, It’s a fell running challenge in the Lake District, starting and finishing at Keswick Moot Hall, 42
Peaks, 66 miles and 27,000’ of climbing inside 24 hours.........BIG DAY OUT!!
What you might be surprised to know is that 8 members or former members of Morpeth Harriers
are members of the ‘Bob Graham Club’ having completed the challenge and received their much
coveted membership certificates at the Club’s annual presentation dinner which is a right good night
out.......if you can remember what one of them was?!
Richard Kirby wrote a really good blog for the Harriers website about the attractions of Off Road,
Trail and Fell running and when I got my latest edition of the Fellrunner magazine it became
apparent that a lot of people had put their energies into taking on challenges like the BGR during last
year as an antidote to missing racing.
So maybe this might inspire you?
The list of Morpeth Harriers completers are:
August 1998 Bob Sewell (Membership No 1103) & Shaun Scott (1102)
July 1999 Gordon Dixon (1135)
May 2000 Kevin Bray (1141)
May 2005 George McDougal (1251)
July 2005 Mike Jeffrey (1274)
July 2010 Allon Welsh (1594)
May 2019 John Butters (2277)
Taking on the BGR has increased in popularity since the publication of ‘Feet in the Clouds’ by the
journalist Richard Askwith published in 2001 – it’s a great read about his attempt to ‘do’ the BGR
but sets the context within the history of Fell Running. It’s humorous but informative and really
educates you about the heroes, both male and female, of the sport.
Back when Bob and Shaun finished in 1998 there were 38 other completers that year. In 2019 there
were 122 plus John Butters (and I bet none were quicker than John)!
So, what that say’s to me is, that, with the right preparation and knowledge, the BGR is achievable.
Maybe not at John’s level but definitely at mine - took me 23hrs 29mins – but you know what – the
only time that matters is 23.59!
You need to enjoy the off road stuff and you have to be prepared to get out on the hill’s and put the
time and miles in. If you’re my standard you need to stack the odds in your favour so that means
getting over there, learning the route, realising that you CAN hit the split times and keep it going.
You need to be accompanied by a pacer (s), on each leg to carry spare kit and food and drink and they
play a vital role in keeping you going! Obviously, they need to know what the BGR is all about and
what your aspirations are time and schedule wise.
You need to be a bit selfish too – especially in terms of the weather – it’s the ‘odd’s in your favour
thing! George McDougal will readily admit that if he hadn’t delayed for 24 hours to let bad weather
pass through he would never have got round! AND do you know what? People don’t mind that
because they want you to do it!
Doing the training and gaining the ‘knowledge’ is all part of the experience.
What do you get in return? A day your will never, ever forget!
I’ve been involved in 20 BGR’s since 1998, not all successful, but everyone a memorable experience
for all sorts of reasons!
Lots of information on the BGR Club website here:
The Bob Graham 24 Hour Club
Completers are asked to write an account of their experience and I have raided my archives and dug
out the stories from the Morpeth Harriers who have taken on the challenge – some of them before
the advent of digital photography! Unfortunately I haven’t got reports for Shaun or George.
If you’re interested in knowing more then contact me, Gordon or John and we will be more than
happy to try and help! I could fancy some days out in the Lakes.........??!!