‘The Round’ book launch details – Sat 19 Sept at the Moot Hall

launchinvite

Come and hear some stories about the Bob Graham Round – the early days, about Bob Graham, the fast men and women, and the innovators. You are invited you to the launch of ‘The Round: in Bob Graham’s footsteps’. Snacks and drinks will be provided. You can obtain tickets from Bookends in Keswick, or reserve tickets online (and pay £2 on the door). I will be signing copies of the book, which can be purchased on the day – thanks to Bookends, Keswick.

Details: Sat 19 Sept, 6 pm to 7-15pm, Moot Hall Community Room, Keswick

Good game – a BGR from the roadside support viewpoint

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The terms ‘epic’, ‘surreal’, and ‘teamwork’ were used by several participants. It was the first Bob Graham Round (BGR) that I had witnessed at such close quarters, and it has left me with some brilliant memories, increased respect for BGR completers, and a few new friends in the sport. Whilst not on pacing duties at all, I was coordinating the road support, and also advising Neil Walker on his preparation and planning. Quite why he trusted me, with such a freely acknowledged lack of experience in the matter (apart from writing a book on the subject), is way beyond me to understand, but thanks for including me, bud. I hope with this (rather long) posting to give a feel for the two days from the viewpoint of a deeply involved support person.

Neil first contacted me at the back end of April, to ask for my ‘support’. We discussed the need for an extended build-up, for on-leg reccying, and for getting a good team of pacers. He then announced that he would be going in July, allowing a mere three months preparation – not ideal. A long Skype called resulted in a plan for several weekend trips to the Lakes to reccie legs, and midweek long runs in and around his Cheshire base.

scheduleThe pacing team came together, a 23 hour schedule was agreed, and I started working on the support plan. This was massively informed by previous plans that Bruce Owen and Bridget Collier kindly shared with us. Training went well, with Neil managing to get to the Lakes most weekends, but somehow not fitting in midweek long runs as we had planned. This was partly because the long reccies, sometimes over double legs and sometimes supporting other rounds, took their toll and his body needed to recover. He substituted long midweek bike rides to lessen the strain. He was as ready as he could be in the time, and took a two week taper, doing virtually no running in that period.

So, the date finally arrived. In the last Skype call with Neil I had to keep my own excitement bottled as it was designed to be a ‘keep calm and relaxed’ chat with him. Brother Mike Walker travelled up on the Friday and helped Neil box the foods into support-sized portions. Neil had been trying out various food combinations on the reccies, and had arrived at his own individual requirements, with pork pies featuring surprisingly highly. I had been in Sheffield in the week and travelled up Saturday morning, enduring a detour through Preston when the M6 appeared gridlocked, as was the detour. Some members of Team Neil were staying at Raise Cottage, the former Achille Ratti climbing hut. It is situated almost at the crest of Dunmail Raise, and is handily about 200m from the road support point at the end of leg 2.

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[click photos to enlarge]

We had the whole of one dormitory booked, and as I was first to arrive I settled in to await the others. Neil had agreed that a friend from Scotland could tag his round, so Alan Smith parked his camper van at Dunmail and came with us to the start. At 5pm we set off to the start point, which is at the Moot Hall in Keswick. Mike Walker and I drove the two pacers for leg 1, Geoff Briggs (nav) and Dave Anderson, together with Neil and Alan of course, on a strangely quiet ride to their physically destination and their metaphorical destiny.

20150725_175755The Saturday afternoon stalls were still busy at 6pm in Keswick, and it was a slightly incongruous setting with a ‘meat waggon’ backed up to the steps of the hall, astride which BGR aspirants have their photo taken.

20150725_175844On the dot of the hour they were off to cheers and well wishes from a crowd of supporters, and were last seen disappearing down the first alleyway on their 62 mile jaunt, over 42 peaks and ‘looking forward’ to over 27,000 feet of ascent, before their arrival back in Keswick, on what would in fact be the next day of their eventful weekend.

20150725_180004Mike and I went back to Raise Cottage to have a bite to eat, a chat, and to keep an eye on the tracker (a simple GPS device in Neil’s bumbag that was sending signals on a minutely basis, which were then relayed to a continually updating webpage – see opentracking). I already knew this was strangely addictive and potentially time-wasting, but with the personal involvement it meant you could see how he was doing at all times (except at odd times when the signal went and you had to hope nothing untoward had occurred). We checked the food box for the leg 1 changeover through again, and made sure that the leg 2 pacers were up and about if they had taken power naps, as they had a long night ahead. We took the pacers, Andy Ford (nav) and Bruce Owen, to Threlkeld in good time, and had marvellous views of the sun going down on the fell tops as we went.

20150725_213513In the Threlkeld car park we met Barnet clubmate John Owen. He is 2nd claim Altrincham, and had also managed to be part of the send-off team, having dashed from running the Lingmell Dash fell race to be there to support Neil. Mike and I setup for a changeover for the first time, dodging the midges and hoping for an early warning of the runners’ arrival. Local lad Mark McGlincy had been due to pace on leg 1 but injury prevented him doing it. He was however still able to jog up to the lower slopes of Doddick Fell to show them a good line he knew off there that shaved a small amount of time off for them. On Neil’s 23 hour schedule he had 3hrs 49mins to cover the 3 peaks on leg 1. We had just got the kettle boiling when suddenly they appeared jogging down the lane, a handy 15 minutes ahead of schedule. Often a pacer is sent ahead to tell the support team what the contender really wants most. In this case it was loo roll, and Neil grabbed it and ran straight through the car park to inspect the rear of a nearby hedge at close quarters. It may have been at this point that I said to Mike, ‘I don’t know what I am doing, you know!’. We did our best to give the two contenders and the pacers whatever food and drink they wanted, from our well stacked food table.

20150725_213654After a mere 7 mins spent refuelling they were off again. I think I mumbled a few ‘go wells’, but as we will see it is surprising what you DO say, and also how little you remember of what that is. Dave Anderson was carrying on through, so they went out to ascend Clough Head with him and the 2 fresh pacers. They left at 9-54pm just as it was getting dark, with the Dodds and Helvellyn to do in the dark, before the thrutch up Fairfield and Seat Sandal before descending to Dunmail Raise for the next support point. Meanwhile Mike and I took Geoff Briggs back to Raise Cottage, where he was able to eat some of Neil’s wonderful homemade chilli as reward for his efforts. Mike and I did some more food box shuffling in light of what had been taken from the first changeover box, realising we had enough to feed an army altogether. No-one was going to go hungry on this trip.

20150726_022323After a short rest, and more caffeine to keep me going, we made sure Tom Bush was up and ready to take on his leg 3 pacing role. It was 1-45am in the morning. We already knew that Bruce and Andy were going straight thru, with Bruce taking the nav role on the next leg. The setup point is just a bit of verge where they cross the A591, so we wandered up there from the cottage with all the stuff. Mike had forgotten his headtorch, so I leant him my spare, which had seen me through many an adventure on the hills. ‘Ah, the legendary Stevo headtorch’, says Mike as he dons it. We set up the table, find a level space for the stove, and get the food and drink ready on the table. The headtorch became even more legendary when it failed completely after about 5 mins!

20150726_023040The brilliant thing with the location is that you will see the headtorches as they come over the brow of Seat Sandal and know you have 15 mins or so to get everything ready. I had made up Bruce’s special porridge concoction in advance and had it in its own pan warming up. A few stirs with a fork and it was ready. I am not sure what Bruce said when receiving it from me, but (apparently) I did my best Bruce Forsyth impression and said, ‘Good game, good game’ back to him. Neil was still laughing about this incident a day later. Alan was going well, and seemed to me to be existing on just warm water at each break. I later found out he had a stash of Scottie scram about him in various places. They had lost 9 mins against the schedule on leg 2, and the planned 10 min break had slipped to 11 mins as they hopped over the style, and we saw the torches heading off up Steel Fell.

dave2We packed up and went back to the cottage, Dave to sleep and Mike to have a power nap. I tried to get some shuteye but failed, and was up and about helping Dave Walton pack his troops and supplies up for his drive round to support at Wasdale Head. He set off with Mike, and headed off to pick up Stefan Bramwell at Castlerigg and Tim Raffle in Threlkeld on the way. I tried to go back to bed and must have achieved an hour or so of light sleep before getting up to check the tracker and their progress on leg 3. They lost a little time more on this leg, arriving at Wasdale about 30 mins behind the schedule. I was a little worried, so tried to contact Dave. Signals were bad at both ends but we eventually made contact, to confirm that all was well. The only significant problem was that Neil was worrying (unnecessarily really) about the lost time. A few words from his pacers and he was fine apparently. We could see from the tracker that they were off up Yewbarrow, and that and Red Pike were done at faster than schedule pace, so they should be fine. On the tops they had caught up with Tim Mosedale, doing his incredible ‘triathlon’, and he had summed up his state in one word – ‘forked’.

Back at the cottage I was having yet more coffee when the leg 5 runners (all were Neil’s Altrincham AC clubmates) turned up there unexpectedly, saving me a Keswick car park pickup. Loading some stuff in my car I fell down the wet steps outside the cottage, but thought it best not to mention such incompetence to anyone. Jeff Norman, Craig Partridge and Shaun Jackson piled into Jeff’s car and set off to Honister, whilst I followed with a car full of food, drink and clothes. Getting there in good time I did a bit of setting up in the quarry car park. It was raining so much this consisted of putting the table out and putting the food box under it. The stove was readied for boiling water, and I retired to the car to get out of the rain and wind. Their hoped for time of arrival had passed and we were anxiously scanning the horizon over which they should appear. After one false alarm for a solo runner they eventually appeared, now 35 mins behind. So, they had a good leg 4 in all that crap weather, slipping a mere 5 mins. [no photos were taken at Honister, it was that grim]

When he saw the car park Mike said, ‘he won’t have the table out’, but I did. When they arrived chaos ensued. People were all over the place. Neil was cold and in need of some extra clothing. I was trying to press food on everyone without much success. I was told Neil had asked for a porridge pot so tried to make one up. We had washed the spoons after Dunmail and managed to leave them in the cottage. So I tried to stir the porridge with all I could find – my index finger. Try it sometime! Stirring up the solids and trying to mix it produced something semi-edible. Fortunately for me, but not for Neil, the wind was so strong that the water had not heated through. I thus didn’t get a scalded finger and he didn’t get a very hot porridge. When it was time to go, after 13 mins according to the increasingly smudged time cards, all the team were scattered around the car park. Gathered together they set off up the last serious uphill, Dale Head. We last saw the team going up the skyline looking good. Mike was going straight through and having spent the break helping his brother had to scrabble some food down and run to catch them up.

20150726_164239A couple of us went in to the café for a warming coffee, before heading down the pass to Buttermere and over Newlands Hause to near Newlands Church for an extra support point on the road run-in. I was so wet through that I had the heater on full blast in the car – and nearly passed out from heat. It is a good little car space over the bridge from the church for a support spot and I set up and brewed up. Not much food was taken on board here, so near the end, but the sweet teas seemed to be appreciated.

20150726_164619I think all had a shoe change, moving from fell to road shoes for the last few kilometres of road. Neil was in the zone, just asking ‘where’s my Alty vest’, donned that and started the run in, with a couple of extra supporters joining his now expanding group. I packed up with help from Dave, and drove past them further up the road, regaling them with ‘Glory days’ by the Boss at full blast through wide open windows.

20150726_173559We parked up in Keswick and walked to the Moot Hall, where a welcome team was rapidly forming. Dave and I then walked down to the end of the track into Keswick, where we could see them after they crossed the bouncy bridge. When they reached us, we ran in with them. I was chatting away with Mike, then realised I wouldn’t make it all the way at a run. What a fall from grace for someone that once considered himself a bit of a runner.

IMG_4173Being so unfit I was gasping up the main street when they touched the Moot Hall, so didn’t witness the immediate emotion. Neil had been on his feet for 23 hrs 40 mins and had held it together brilliantly, despite a small time loss on leg three. There followed many photos and congratulations, before we repaired to the Dog and Gun for beer and food. I can recommend the veg goulash with dumplings there.

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20150726_174248Later that evening and the next morning Neil, Mike and I reflected back on events. Two comments Neil made stick in my mind. He was commenting on the great pacers and said, ‘I am a single male and there’s not a single female pacer’. He also claimed a world record for on the hill peeing, noting that at one point he had ‘a pee and there was a whole line of pacers peeing’. Other random thoughts included thinking that Raise Cottage was a top spot for a BGR stay – owner Philip’s homemade bread and jam were a joy to savour.

BGRtimesIt was nice to think that Neil had carried on both old and new traditions for his BGR. He very kindly paid for the accommodation for those of his team that stayed at Raise Cottage. He encouraged friends to join him on the run-in, and he had pacers from several different running clubs (see below). He also took advantage of the tracker service so that friends and others could follow his progress – be it going well or otherwise. Later I asked Mike if he was inspired to ‘follow in Bob’s footsteps’ and he quietly replied ‘er …. no’ – but I am not so sure. Whatever, it was a grand day out.

Finally, some thoughts from those heroes, the pacers:

I hope everyone had as good a time as I did at the weekend – it’s always a pleasure to be involved in these big rounds.’ – Geoff B

‘… an amazing weekend which left me truly inspired.’ – Dave A

‘A great day and good to meet a load of new people through the BG, once again it’s only reinforced my view that this is the best sport in the world.’ – Andy F

‘All the planning & preparation seemed to work out perfectly. Apart from the weather on Sunday, but even that was an added frisson …’ – Tom B

Neil’s pacers were: Geoff Briggs, Pennine Fell Runners – Dave Anderson, Pudsey and Bramley – Mark McGlincy, Keswick AC – Bruce Owen, Pennine Fell Runners – Andy Ford, Horwich RMI – Tom Bush, Altrincham AC – Mike Walker, Barnet & District AC – Stefan Bramwell, Pennine Fell Runners – Tim Raffle, Altrincham AC – Craig Partridge, Altrincham AC – Shaun Jackson, Altrincham AC – Paul Swindels, Unattached

If you have got this far you might be interested in: The Round: in Bob Graham’s footsteps and It’s a hill, get over it.

In Bob Graham’s footsteps ……. a round of my own

P1000356Well not my own really, but I am ‘doing as I say’ by supporting a friend’s Bob Graham Round at the end of this month. Sadly, with the state of me, it will be road-side support rather than pacing or on the hill support, but I am looking forward to it massively nonetheless. I have been ‘advising’ my friend on his training buildup, which has been quite a change for a coach normally working with 800m to 10k runners, but fascinating to see this particular commitment developing and building, hopefully to a successfull completion. We hope to be using a tracking device (from the most excellent www.opentracking.co.uk/) so that interested parties can follow progress. At the moment the training and reccies are going well; and kit, food, and support logistics are being finalised. More details, including tracker URL, nearer the date,

IMG_0084Things are rolling along nicely with the Bob Graham book. I have just signed off the typeset proof of ‘The Round: In Bob Graham’s Footsteps. It now goes to the indexer for that work to be done, followed by a last proof check, and then printing. The book will be published on Thursday 17th September, and I am currently working on a book launch, which is planned for Saturday 19th September. Appropriately enough it is to be in the Moot Hall in Keswick, which is where the Bob Graham Round starts and finishes. I am also working with the publisher on the details of the dust jacket. We have three fantastic cover quotes to weave in somehow, two I am pleased to say from absolute fell legends.  I am also working with a prominent magazine to have an extract published in their next issue, which will conveniently be out just prior to the launch.

cloudsIn case you are thinking this writing lark is all sweetness and light, it doesn’t always work out as you might wish. I wrote ‘The Round’ quicker than ‘It’s a hill, get over it’, partly because I had increasing confidence and partly because my networking tentacles extended further and contacts and interviews seemed to come more easily. Whilst finishing the manuscript I had an idea for Book III, which I started working on. I pitched it to my publisher who was initially interested in the synopsis. But when I later asked about the timescale for my planning I got a sort of ‘whoah, slow down’ message, which I am not sure whether to take as ‘no’ or ‘maybe, but later’. So I am working on the manuscript, but more slowly now, having established really good relationships with the two main protagonists. And yes it is a third book about fell running!

BGmapsSo, to keep my creative juices flowing I have tried to write for other media. Having had an article on navigation published in The Fellrunner recently, I thought it would be a cinch to get stuff accepted elsewhere. Having talked to a friend who had his writing accepted for Like the Wind magazine and The Guardian Running Blog, I decided to write something specific for both to see if it would be accepted. I was not put off by some of the almost abusive comments that my friend got to his piece in the latter, Fartlek: Sweden’s gift to running. So, pieces loosely entitled ‘the dark art of coaching’ and ‘are you tough enough’ were sent to the respective editors. Time has passed and I have heard from neither. Frustrating, but will be thickening the skin as necessary as rejection seems more likely as time goes by.

Footnote: that weekend trip mentioned in the last blogpost resulted in 4 more Wainwrights – Barf, Lord’s Seat, Broom Fell and the lovely Walla Crag (from whence the photo at the top of the blogpost was taken). However, I am still not convinced I will actually chase completing the Wainwrights.

(Thinking about) Doing the Wainwrights

ManwithwainwrightbookFor no apparent reason, apart from the fact that I have just read in ‘Never mind the Quantocks’ about Stuart Maconie completing the ‘task’, I wrote a Facebook posting the other day on how many Wainwrights I have bagged. Bizarely, it turns out that I have completed exactly half of them (107 of the 214). No, not impressive at all, but some very happy memories – and some I must admit I have no memory of ascending. Mind you at this rate of progress it may be a while till completion! Six decades (and counting) for me ….. or a six day run out for Steve Birkinshaw.

guideSo, I nerdily sat down on a damp afternoon to get the bigger picture. I wanted some answers. Was it even across the 7 Wainwright guides? How many of the ‘big uns’ have I not done? Are there clusters I could easy put together to hit? And most importantly do I actually want to chase completing – having not been at all bothered about doing so up till now? If so would it even be feasible with what will become fading powers/fitness eventually.

Firstly then, some basic facts. I have recorded in my copies of the Wainwright guides the tops I have bagged. This is a fairly random process, only very rarely with dates included. It is by adding up these ticks that I come to the startling fact that I am only half-way through the task. If you had asked me I would have said I had done way more than half

table1How have I fared book by book (measured by the Wainwright guides)? I seem to have concentrated my effort(s) in the Eastern and Southern Fells, but that the Far Eastern Fells need the most care and attention.

table2However, I have done the 19 highest peaks in the list, which might be a bonus later. In fact if you take the top 50 peaks, in order of height, there are just 8 of them to do. Four of these are in Book 6 (North Western Fells) and the other four in Book 2 (The Far Eastern Fells). The highest missing fells, by Book, are listed in the second table.

So, what strategy to take – if going for them? Hit them all randomly, concentrate on the books with most to do, or hit the eastern Fells to get the boost of knocking one book off? And what summit to leave for last? In my mind that would be a celebration of some sort, with my wife, family and some friends with me preferably. Should it be an easy one, or an iconic one with a top view? Or just let it happen and see what ends up last?

The Round sample 6Finally, how am I on the Bob Graham Round peaks? Surely as the author of a book on the subject I have done the round? No! Well at least done all 42 of the peaks on the Round? No, again. To my surprise, and somewhat shamefacedly, I have to admit that I have not bagged two of them. The first is Hindscarth. Having done Dale Head and Robinson, did I just bypass it, or do them on separate occasions, neither of which took me on to Hindscarth? The other is Great Calva. I have no recollection of going up there, despite vivid memories of Skiddaw House and stream crossings out that way. Maybe I was just working round from Skiddaw to Blencathra then.

It seems weird now to think that I can’t remember ascending some of these 107 peaks at all, but have recorded the fact that I did. You have to remember that there have been a lot of trips, over a lot of years. Also that some of the 107 have been done many, many times, especially those on the fell race routes that I competed in.

Oh well, it is something to give thought to. Which I will do as I go to the Lakes this weekend, to possibly add a couple to the list.

When is a book finished?

theendWhen you are reading a book it is (obviously) finished when you get to the end. However, that is not always literally true. A good book may stay with you for a long time afterwards, particularly if there is an unresolved or intriguing ending. I have always been an avid reader, and ages ago I said to myself that once I had started a book I would always finish it – and I have stuck to that mantra. This has mostly been easy, but was less so when I had a period of reading some of the (Soviet) classics. I remember Anna Karenina taking a while, but I got there.

There is another ritual that I go through now when finishing a book. I subscribe to the Good Reads website (‘the world’s largest site for readers and book recommendations’), and since 2009 have disciplined myself to write a short review of each book I read. Unfortunately my reviewing is less disciplined than my reading. I am hugely in appears in adding my ‘reviews’. Right now I am 27 books behind in reviewing, almost a year’s worth of reading.

Anyway, enough waffle. This post is really about when the WRITING of a book is finished. My first is finished, at one level, but not at another. It is still selling in trickles, and I still look at the Amazon page about once a day – to see what ‘ranking’ it has. Today is has an Amazon ranking of 22,845th. OK not a best seller, but will produce royalties when the next update comes (it happens every 6 months, and one is due).

Although the manuscript for the second book went to publisher in March, it was far from finished. The rest of this blog details some of the post-manuscript tasks that I have had to encompass on the way to the publication date (in September). I thought it might be of interest to some to see the range of work involved for an author. If you are not interested then I suggest you stop now, and go and read a good book!

The same day the manuscript was submitted I received a reply from the Editor saying: ‘you really do seem to have produced a worthy successor.’ Then came The Sting. There were requests for changes: ‘Move the map to the beginning?’ Then: ‘Chapters 6 to 10 are all pretty long. I would say that 6000 words is a pretty long chapter.’

After bit of thought, I found a way to break the chapters that I am happy with. I had to rewrite a couple of the endings and beginnings of the changed chapters to make it work. I moved the map out of the chapter into the prelims, and renumbered and renamed the chapters. Originally I was going to call four of the new chapters what they covered, but they would all have been “Fastest this that or the other”. I decided to go with the names of the protagonists in each case instead. That left one chapter split into two covering the same topic, now called “Impressions” and “Further impressions”. Realise that chapter naming may not be one of my strongest points!

The Round sample 6Then the Editor queried a couple of possible omissions, and reference errors, which I dealt with, and then started on the process of looking for and contacting possible people for cover quotes [link to Guardian piece on being suspicious of them]. This is a test of your networking capabilities really. Mine have improved since the first book, so I was hopeful of some results.

I approached a noted author. They replied ‘I’ve no idea when I’ll get a chance to look at it. I’m up against a desperate writing deadline myself & already have no time for reading. In addition, I have two large soon-to-be-published running books, written by friends of mine, sitting on my desk waiting for me to read them. So your book would have to go to the bottom of the pile, and, to be honest, the chances of my being able to read it before September look pretty slim. And I really can’t give a cover quote about a book I haven’t read. I’m happy to give it a try, though, if all that doesn’t put you off; but I can’t promise anything. Alternatively, would it make more sense for me to give you some kind of general quote about the BG that you could use?’ Not being one to take anything resembling ‘No’ for an answer, I agreed on the offered BG blurb, and said I would send him a copy of reviewer’s proof anyway ‘on the off chance’.

At this point my Editor queried the amount of quotes, and whether they were all agreed and/or within ‘fair dealing’. Whilst never quite understanding this term, I responded with evidence and justification for my usage of other’s words.

There was then an editing switch, where a different person to my familiar Editor at Sandstone Press (a freelancer) was brought in due to The Editor’s workload and our planned timescale. This took a little adjustment, by me, but worked out just fine. Once we had exchanged a couple of emails I could see that we understood our respective roles, and that we would get on fine – which we did.

Next we started on the photo section – with me sending the hi-res photos to the designer and the editor. The designer declared some as being too low a resolution, so I started hurriedly investigating alternatives. Meanwhile, the first big edits came back on the main manuscript, and I was recommended to accept them by main editor. I agreed changes, and was also able to add in bit about Nicky Spinks beating the ladies’ BGR record over Easter.

Sandstone were very good about allowing more time to get the photos and edited manuscript ‘publisher ready’. We all agreed there was time in hand, and that if necessary could go to print in July and still meet the September publishing date. To facilitate this timescale the new editor and I agreed to accept considering the edits in sections and work on each section in turn to save time.

It was now halfway through April and the Section 1 corrections arrived. The editor also sent some text for my consideration. It nicely expanded on a point I was making in what had turned out to a considerably revised chapter. The second section was received, and both 1 and 2 were returned with changes that day (I am now working only 3 days a week so have more time for turning this stuff around). Section three and four was received and the smallish number of changes were soon dealt with.

Meanwhile, I started working on the text/information for the hardback’s flycover. This involved editing my profile, and deciding on a call-out quote to use from the book – a sort of content tease. I had several competing ideas for this quote, so asked a couple of friends for their preferences from the list, which interestingly varied somewhat from mine.

The need to use some different photos meant the re-start of negotiations for copyright. For one source this proved awkward at first, but then became productive when some new photos were offered. One other source kept passing the buck from one organisation/person to the other but this was eventually resolved.

BGmapsI had just got all the corrections back into one file when an article I had written was published in The Fellrunner. There were some nice responses about it, including out of the blue email from a Cambridge academic with some late leads and information. Some small, but significant, bits were slipped in right at the last moment. Interestingly the photo credit chasing also turned up some extra information, but it was not important really and rejected, and the definitive version of the manuscript dispatched.

The final illustrations and final selection of photos were sent to the designer and editor on the 14th May, and just that day even more information arrived from one correspondent but it was now definitely off-topic stuff (eg did I know of  a real tough guy triathlon – Windermere swim, followed immediately by the Fred Whitton Challenge and then the Bob Graham Round – all hopefully with 48 hours).

The last thing was to tie down the cover quotes. I had compiled a list of good people to approach and carried on the chase. It was pleasing to get the first agreement in, from a former outdoor magazine editor, and this was swiftly followed by one from a current outdoor magazine editor. The next two were very pleasing to get agreement from, being two legends of fell running (see It’s a hill, get over it for hints as to who they might be – I lay my cards out pretty clearly there). The last piece of this particular jigsaw was Sandstone agreeing to print four uncorrected proof copies to send to these ‘quoters’ so they can read a copy of the book before penning their words of wisdom. I await these with deep interest.

Bob, the navigator – thoughts on maps and navigation

Riverdunking“It was towards the end of the Lake District Mountain Trial, one very wet year when it was held in Eskdale. The river I had to cross was higher than normal and I plunged in carrying my map in my hand, as I wanted to start navigating again as soon as possible on the other side. I was tired and the swift current swept my legs from under me mid-crossing. Flinging my arms out to save myself I registered that the map was spiralling upwards and then downwards, to be taken off to retirement in a watery cartograve. Fortunately, when navigating in such circumstances I tend to look ahead and try to ‘learn’ the broad details of what is to come, which I then refine with finer detail as I go on. I had done enough of that to at least have a reasonable idea of where I needed to go to reach the finish of the event.

So, how do YOU navigate? Is it efficient? Do you practice, or do you just do what you have always done, and hope for the best? These thoughts came to me when planning for a recent trip.”

BGmapsThese are the first two paragraphs of an article I recently wrote for The Fellrunner magazine. The article contains my thoughts on navigation and maps (including using newer ones such as Splashmaps and/or a GPS). It also includes some thoughts on the subject from four notable fell runnners – all Bob Graham Round completers and major endurance record holders.

You can read the full article here: bobnavigatorfull

My second book’s manuscript is now with the publisher

This blog was started to give me a space me to write things around my first published book. This was It’s a hill, get over it, which was published by Sandstone Press in September 2013. It received some pretty good reviews, and I was deeply chuffed when it won the Bill Rollison Prize for Landscape and Tradition, and even more so to be nominated for the Boardman Tasker Prize for mountain literature. The book is still selling pretty well through Waterstones, Amazon and other sources, and signed copies can be obtained directly from me – in both hard and softback versions. But now it is time to move on, as I have been working on a second book for the last year or so.

The Round sample 6So, today I submitted the manuscript to Sandstone. The book is entitled The Round, in Bob Graham’s footsteps. The Round is not only a history of the Bob Graham Round, but also an exploration of the what, why and how of this classic fell endurance challenge. After covering the genesis of the BGR in detail, it documents its development from a more-or-less idle challenge to its present status as a rite of passage for endurance runners. Interspersed with this detail of the round are extensive profiles of many of the event’s most significant individuals: innovators, record setters, recorders and supporters.

I now have to wait patiently for the editing, typesetting, printing, binding and distribution to be set up. It is scheduled for launch – in hardback and kindle formats – on 17 Sept 2015. I am hoping that the launch will take place in the Moot Hall, Keswick, the start and finish point of the round. At a later date I will post details for pre-ordering, a sample from the book, the launch details and more. Watch this space.

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