Joss Naylor and I share a stage at the Buxton Adventure Festival
Joss Naylor was on great form at the Buxton Adventure Festival gig at the Buxton Opera House (on 19 June 2018), as we shared stories of his life and times.
I arrived early to book into the marvellous Old Hall Hotel, have a bite to eat, scope out the Opera House and meet BAF organiser Matt Heason and Joss to setup the visuals, do a soundcheck, and check how the timings of our parts of the event.
It was a lovely sunny evening and it was great to see the SOLD OUT sign on the doors as they set up an outdoor bar for the audience who were starting to congregate on the space outside of the theatre. Six hundred was apparently the auditorium size.
After an intro from Matt, and a few words on The Brathay Trust, which it was Joss’s wish that all the profits should go to, I took the stage before possibly the largest crowd I had given a talk to. I ran through my presentation on The Bob Graham Round, its history and heroes, interspersed with stories and photos/videos from my friend Neil Walker’s recent BGR. We then had a short break for drinks, and for a chance to sell and sign a few books.
The audience were perhaps surprised when Joss chose to give them what he called a ‘little lecture’ to start the second half. His theme was badgers and foxes and how we mistreat the animal kingdom, with specific examples local to him.
I then sat down with Joss and fed him some questions, which I hoped would bring some good stories out from him, and later took questions from the audience. This produced some fascinating responses from Joss, only some of which I can remember.
Some examples will have to suffice to show the range of topics, and highlight Joss’s humorous and informative replies.
On being asked from the floor what the Queen said to him when he was presented with his MBE (for his charity work) he replied without blinking: “You are a good looking boy!”.
When I asked him why he hadn’t beaten the UK 24 hour track record when he attempted it he replied it was the physiotherapist’s fault. I think I heard him correctly, as he said ‘he was massaging his leg and stuffed it up my arse’. He had been tracking at 2-38 marathon pace before that happened and reckoned he would have smashed the record without that painful intervention.
After dissing those that planned endurance challenges ‘on a computer’, he revealed that when he did his Lakes 72 peaks extended BG record in 24 hrs in 1975 he ‘ran out of peaks’. (This was subsequently raised to 77 by Mark Hartell, quite possibly with the aid of computer planning!).
I thought I knew Joss pretty well, but he surprised me when he said at one point that he had done 30 mins for a 10k road race once. His witty put-down of slow latter day fell ‘runners’ who chatted all round the course was based on how long he had to stand around in wet and cold conditions marshalling them in races.
He replied to the question: How would you like to be remembered? – “As a man who enjoyed life”.
He gave his thoughts on nutrition and hydration (salt water apparently being his secret), and training, and described some of his many race successes but also was not afraid to mention the less successful days out. He closed with the advice: “Be nice to each other”.
We then repaired to the foyer where Joss patiently signed absolutely loads of books and autographs, speaking with and posing for photos for everyone. The photo shows the queue going out of the foyer entrance as people waited patiently for their turn.
A fabulous evening. What a legend he is and a fabulous human being too.
For more information on my book ‘The Round: in Bob Graham’s footsteps’ (and my other 2 books), see my page at Sandstone Press.
The image is part of the cover quote for ‘The Round’ from Joss Naylor.