I intend to give this Bob Graham round malarkey a crack in early-June. The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee weekend seems an appropriate juncture. That’s less than three months away. Time is ticking dangerously fast.
I’m not ready. Of course, I’m not ready. I’ll never be truly ready. Just as ready as I can be. Having said that, I had something of a Bob Graham epiphany a fortnight ago, as the imminent advent of March and the iffiness of February’s month of training collided.
The epiphany was something like this: if I want to do this thing, I need to start training seriously. I need to obsess a little. I need to believe, to realise that this attempt – the obscene number of miles, the ridiculous amount of ascent, the discomfort of 24 hours with no sleep, no rest and in quite possibly diabolical weather – is going to happen. Being fit isn’t good enough; I need to be Bob Graham fit, a lean, mountain-hardy beast.
So I’ve stepped it up, pulled the proverbial finger out. I crashed out close to 60 miles in the post-epiphany week, then hit a similar figure last week. Last night I finally did what I should have done a long time ago: abandoned the athletics track in favour of hill repetitions. Even then, these repetitions – eight of them, each lasting around 80 seconds – on a short, sharp slope provided no more than 250 metres of total ascent. I’d have to climb this little hill 1450 times to simulate the almighty climbing demanded by the Bob Graham round.
I’ve read that 10,000ft is the target cumulative weekly ascent for would-be Bob Graham athletes. That’s the equivalent of three Munros from sea to summit every week. It is a laughable figure for a Londoner; I’m doomed to failure in that respect. I will, however, come close to hitting the 10,000ft holy grail this week. A weekend – a wet one, quite probably – playing on the peaks of Lakeland, notably the Scafells, Bowfell, Skiddaw and Blencathra, awaits. My Bob Graham aspirations will be a great deal clearer by Sunday night.