60 @ 60 B.G. in 23hrs. 52mins. Sat/Sun 6th/7th August 2005.
3rd time lucky for Yiannis Tridimas
60 @ 60: A 60 peak Bob Graham round successfully completed on Sat/Sun 6th/7th August 2005 Ever since I did a 50 @ 50 peak BG 10 years ago I had been expected by my friends to have a go at a 60 peak round at the age of 60. I had then promised to do so.
I know of a couple of others who have tried to do 60 @ 60 and failed. Age works against us all. It is hard enough doing a standard round at a young age. Trying to do the round at the age of 60 having added another 18 peaks is serious. Only a few men have managed 55 peaks at the age of 55. Only Wendy Dodds has done a 50 plus at 50 among women and judging by her fitness she will no doubt do a 55 @ 55 as well; and after that, who knows, a 60 @ 60 is possible.
So, when I became 60, I made plans for the big challenge. I set the end of May as a possible date. Earlier on in the year I had started planning to do Leventon's Line, a linear run of 57 miles over wild Welsh hills from Llangollen to Barmouth. Following a few reccying sessions, Ray Baines and I together ran Leventon's Line on the 2nd May unaccompanied with Wayne Percival providing road support. It took us eighteen hours and seventeen minutes.This was to be our pre-BG training. Ray completed his BG round the weekend before my attempt.
And so I had my 60 @ 60 attempt on the 27th of May supported by a great team both on the fells and at the road stops. The start was at Stair Bridge. The clockwise route went via Moot Hall. It was not to be a successful attempt. Early on in the first section a leg muscle began to give me problems. I persevered but the discomfort was increasing. At Threlkeld the support team were warned of the problem. I carried on to the 2nd section but things were getting worse. The good leg was now in danger of being overworked. At Dunmail, having done around half the mileage I retired much to the disappointment of my supporters who were expecting to get a good run out of it.
As we returned to our base, Newlands village hall, the weather turned foul. Some of our team who went for a run told us later that if my injury had not stopped me the worsening weather would have done - it was gale force winds and heavy rain.
A second date was arranged for another attempt, July the 9th. The team reassembled and it all started again, alas, in what was one of the hottest spells in the year. In order to fight dehydration I drank loads of High 5, which I do not normally drink. Into the second section I started feeling nausea and was finding it hard to take food or drink. I was getting weaker and slower and by Wasdale Head I was seriously overheating in the blazing sun. Yewbarrow has never seemed harder. My helpers were carrying gallons of water to douse me. At Black Sail pass, drained of energy and hopelessly behind schedule I gave up after 20 hours of hell. It was the weekend that saw nearly half the field in the Wasdale championship race being timed out due to the heat. On the way back from Wasdale we stopped at Greendale and had a brief chat with Joss Naylor. I said then that I had enough of 60 @ 60. Joss agreed and suggested I did something more enjoyable. My support team had other ideas. The momentum was unstoppable and a third attempt in 'good' weather was planned. Good weather for me means cool and overcast.
Wynn had suggested that if I had succeeded the first time it would have been too easy a challenge and not worth doing.
The third attempt was planned for the weekend August the 6th/7th. Time was now getting very short. If the weather that weekend was not good, only the next one was available. After that the attempt would have to wait until I was 61. I am normally impatient and once I start something I want it finished. By the end of July I was beginning to think that I was burning myself out. Two failed attempts, the Saunders mountain marathon, a couple of weekends supporting other BGs and all that since doing Leventon's Line in May.
August the 6th brought with it almost ideal weather. We reassemble at Newlands and staged a repeat performance hopeful that it will be more successful this time. A 2 am start meant that the beginning and the end would be done in the dark. I had hoped to get some sleep before the start but that proved impossible. After the usual photo sessions on Stair Bridge, Steve, Alan and I hit the road to Keswick. Apprehension was the dominating feeling on my part. After two attempts I expected something else to go wrong and I was anxious not to let my team down again. I also had some serious doubts about my state of fitness - only Kath knew about my apprehension. The first section was uneventful but slower that when we did it in daylight in the second attempt. Running in the dark over rough ground is never as fast as in the day. Having nearly lost Alan down a hole on the way to Little Calva and with no navigational problems we got to Threlkeld behind schedule but in good shape
. After a brief stop to have some food and drink I was on my way to the Helvellyn section with Lawrie, Rob and Phil who had done his BG two weekends earlier and despite having a heavily bandaged hand managed to handle food and drink for me. On approaching Calfhow Pike, Rob suggested that he would like to visit it, as he had never been there before. That set my brain thinking: I had plan A, I had plan B but no plan C. If there was no time to do Scar Crags and Causey Pike (plan B) I would need one more extra to make 60. After some hesitation and a brief discussion we all climbed Calfhow PikeMike was waiting for us on Helvellyn and showed us an interesting descent from Seat Sandal that missed out most of the bracken.
Kevin and Ali took over at Dunmail. I was secretly relieved when Ali declared at the start that they had no cameras with them, unlike Rob and Lawrie who took large numbers of photographs in the previous section. As I could not face another slog up the grassy slope to High Raise - I find grassy ascents intimidating, we took the path to Sergeant Man first, a good choice. I lost some more time in the second section and throughout the first half of the third section and assured my helpers that I would pull some of it back on the rocky hills around the Scafells. On leaving Ill Grag I was overjoyed to see Ronnie coming up to join us. Ronnie's dexterity on the rocks inspired me and we made swift progress over the remainder of the section. John and Neville, having spectated at the Borrowdale race, set themselves up with a rope at Broad Stand, just in case it was wet. In the event the rock was dry and none of us made use of the rope - sorry John!
There was enough sunshine at Wasdale Head to make me feel uncomfortable. Almost reluctantly I followed Steve, Alan and Wayne up Yewbarrow. I was now feeling the weight of my 60 years pulling me down that hardest of all climbs in the challenge. Having had a great rush of adrenalin through the Scafells I was now drained, completely flat. Alan force-fed me jelly babies, Steve and Wayne encouraged me. Eventually I perked up a bit, enough to put on a reasonable show up Great Gable but darkness made us lose time in the rocky descent from it and in the rest of the section.
At Honister plan C came into action and the whole thing seemed touch and go. After a brief stop I was in the hands of Wendy accompanied by Ian, Andy and Rob. Lack of pace on my part and darkness conspired to lose us more time. We got to Newlands Hause down my special 'reedy gully', as Ian described it, in a procession of torchlights in pitch darkness. There was no time for hanging about not even for a drink. I was literally swept off my feet by a mass of keen helpers and led up the steep slope to Knott Rigg. I found the experience overwhelming and very moving. Wendy, Steve and others made it clear that I would have to push hard. This is what I did. I found strength in the presence of so many friends, all of them with one thing in mind, to get me to Stair before the time. Andy, Keith and Ian had earlier reccied around Ard Crags to make sure we could get to the road in the dark, something that proved tricky in deep bracken and rough ground.
On the road at Rigg Beck Wendy told me we had 17 minutes. What is the distance I asked? Just over a kilometre says Ali. That sounded good but did not stop me asking the time a few times more. And finally, cheers and clapping at Stair from the rest of the team who had an anxious wait. We got there with 8 minutes to spare. It was all over. We retired into the hall for the usual winding down and rest.
It probably was the hardest challenge I have done. The only thing that tempers my feeling of success is that I did not do the 60 peaks of my original choice - 60 from Richard Lamb's 61 peak round (see BG booklet, 42 peaks). Do I have any excuses? Of course I do! First I am not Richard Lamb. Second I overdid it in the time leading up to the event. Thirdly the hours of daylight had reduced significantly by August 6th and precious time was lost in the dark. I am now looking forward to helping whoever wants to do a better 60 @ 60.
Many thanks to all those who helped me in my three 60 @ 60 attempts: Steve Cliff, Leigh Warburton, John Hunt, Alan Duncan, Rob Woodall, Mike Sadula, Richard Lamb, Ronnie Jackson, Chris Reade, Andy Verden, Neville Griffiths, Wayne Percival, Kevin Davison, Andy Walsmley, Ian Roberts, Phil Janaway, Ray Baines, Wendy Dodds, Lawrie Jones, Ali Welsh, John Linley, Keith Denver, Eileen Bond, Gordon Johnson, Graham Bond. Special thanks to my Kath and more special thanks to the heart of the support team, Wynn Cliff.
Yiannis Tridimas 11/08/05