Nicky smashes record for Double Bob Graham Round
I was thinking about the amazing Nicky Spinks all weekend as she took on the incredible feat of running a Double Bob Graham Round. I was convinced she would do it and I hoped she would break the record for this gruelling Lake District challenge.
Brilliantly, the 49-year-old cancer survivor ran the 132-mile route, which included 54,000ft of ascent, in a time of 45 hours and 30 minutes.
She was more than an hour faster than the previous record set 37 years ago by Roger Baumeister. (Roger was there to support Nicky this weekend as well.)
Nicky is only the second person – and the first woman – to complete the Double Bob Graham sub-48 hours.
Starting and finishing in Keswick, a standard Bob Graham Round involves a 66-mile circuit of 42 summits including 27,000ft of elevation gain, to be completed in less than 24 hours. Until last month, when Jasmin Paris ran faster, Nicky held the female record for the standard Bob Graham Round.
This time, Nicky, who is an ambassador for inov-8, wanted to push herself to the limits to see if she could run a sub-48 hour Double Bob Graham Round and to try to beat the record. By running this challenge she was also marking the 10-year point since her breast cancer diagnosis.
The Yorkshire farmer had never run more than 36 hours in one go before last weekend. She had no idea how her body would cope.
She said: “I went into the challenge knowing it would be unchartered territory for me. I wondered how my body would cope with running for up to 48 hours and with little, if any, sleep. Thankfully it all worked out okay.
“My legs are a bit stiff today but to be honest I can’t really believe how good they feel. Don’t get me wrong, I couldn’t carry on running but they actually feel quite good.
“When I reached the finish I couldn’t believe I was there and that I had done it. This morning I looked up at the hills and thought, ‘I can’t believe I ran over all of those…. and back.’ It’s starting to sink in a bit now.
During the attempt, Nicky, who wore inov-8 Mudclaw and Roadclaw, did suffer many aches and pains. She said: “I started to get a really sore knee on leg three (Dunmail to Wasdale). I’d had a similar pain in the build up to the weekend and had got some massage on it. I was really worried when the pain returned. I decided to do some self-massage, rubbing my finger into my knee as we went up the hills.
“I was so worried that if this is how it felt on leg three, how on earth was I going to get around 10 legs…. I feared I was done for.
“But I think a lot of it is physiological and so I tried to block it out. Eventually the pain eased and went away. Thankfully it never really came back.”
Nicky describes how it felt having completed one round, only to have to start again. She said: “When I had completed the ‘first half’ I met the support team at Portinscale, just outside Keswick, and tried to get a quick bit of sleep. I think I managed about five minutes. It was a real low point returning to Moot Hall from where I had started and knowing that instead of that being the end I still had another 15 to 16 hours to run. I started welling up. I was very emotional and was in tears.
“I thought ‘I can’t do this, I can’t do another 15/16 hours.’ I think having a little cry probably helped. I got back out of the van more focused, determined and positive.”
Nicky endured other difficulties. She said: “I’d had some stomach problems on the two legs before that, firstly across the Helvellyn range and then on Blencathra. I stopped eating as well as I had been doing on the previous legs.
“Adam Perry, who was one of those supporting me on Blencathra, Great Calva and Skiddaw, was a bit of a saviour. He was a bully…. he bullied me into eating, but it’s what I needed at that time.
“I kept thinking, ‘Oh, go away Adam’ but he was there, hounding me, watching me eat every mouthful and then putting more food in my hand.”
Nicky reports that her aim had been to complete the double in less than 48 hours. She set a 47-hour schedule. She said: “I knew that if I was to beat Roger’s record (46:34) that I would only need to be around half-an-hour up on my schedule.
“I thought I had a chance of the record if things went well but I never count my chickens as so much can happen out on the hills, especially when you’re out there for so long.
“What helped me was all the fantastic support – and, of course, the food I was able to eat. The fish, chips and curry sauce at Dunmail after a long first day of running were fantastic. The sharpness of the curry sauce was just great. Then after that, when I got to Portinscale, I had fried egg and beans. It’s the type of fuel I love.
“I’m totally overwhelmed by all the support I’ve received and would like to say a massive thank you to everyone.”
Also see Nicky’s pre-challenge blog.
Donate to Nicky’s chosen cancer charity on her JustGiving page.
Thanks to inov-8 for the photos.