Anyone who does something as “mad” as the Bob Graham round inevitably gets asked questions about it. In addition, contenders often wish to know various things. This set of slightly irreverent questions and answers is a quick précis and contains links to more information within this section.

When does it take place?
It doesn’t. It is not a race but a self-organised challenge. You may attempt it at any time of year but the most common months are May to August to take advantage of the longer daylight hours.
Where do I send my entry form?
Not an entry form as such but if you wish to become a member of the Bob Graham club and have your achievement recognised by your peers then send a letter to Brian Covell to register your attempt. You will be sent a sheet of paper on which to record your round.
So it is organised then?
No! The registration is simply to enable those who keep records to track who is attempting the round.
Can anyone do it?
In theory, yes. In practice, it requires the ability to keep moving over varied terrain for a long period of time and for the contender to have some mountain sense. This tends to restrict attempts to those who are used to completing long fell races or other long distance mountain events.
Any rules?
Just a few.
  • You must start and finish at the Moot Hall in Keswick.
  • You must traverse the named 42 tops, on foot, in any order and return to the starting point within 24hrs from the time of departure.
What’s to stop someone cheating?
There’s another rule - your visit at each top must be witnessed by someone and the time you were there recorded. This record of times is returned to the club for verification.
So I’ve got to get someone on every top to sign a bit of paper? What if there is no-one there?
Don’t be silly! You have a companion for each of the five main stages who does this for you. It does’t have to be the same person all the way round. And for the night-time it is recommended that you have two companions for safety.
Nighttime! You have to run in the dark?
Unless you are very quick then, yes, there will be some ground that you have to cover in the dark. Use the calculator to help you find out when this will be.
So what sort of pace do I have to run at?
Not very fast. 66 miles in 24 hours is just a bit quicker than 2.774444 MPH.
Sixty six miles!?
And 26,000 feet of both climbing and descent. It has been walked all the way.
That’s both mad and impossible!
Well there are a lot of madmen (and women) out there.
So what training do I need to do?
It’s not the distance that is the problem, but the ascent and (particularly) the descent. Some people train up to sixty miles a week while others get by on half that. The usual recommendation is to get as much climbing as possible done, preferably around 10,000 feet per week.
Rock climbing?
No! Elevation gain in running up and down hills. Best done by following the route in reconnaissance.
Ah! The route. Is there a “best” line?
Yes and no. There is a generally accepted sequence of reaching each top but there are continual discussions about certain sections of the route. Most of this comes down to personal preference and in some cases ground conditions on the day.
OK, so I’m fit and ready. What about food and water?
Food and (not) eating properly is probably one of the main problems. You need something in the order of 6000 to 8000 Kcals over the course of the day.
That’s a lot of food, how do I carry it and make progress?
You don’t, your pacers and helpers do.
Whoa! So I‘ve got to get my mates to carry everything?
Yep! Actually they only need to carry enough for that particular section, there are four road crossing where your road support can supply the rest.
Road support?
Yes, possibly the hardest job on the day - they have to get to the road crossing in time and set up stoves, chairs, etc for your arrival. Once you have arrived, they feed you, help you change socks and any other clothing, have the food ready for the next section, etc. Then after you have headed off they have to take your pacers back to their cars and get to the next meeting point and generally make sure that everyone in the team knows of your progress.
Where do you get someone like that?
Somewhat drastically, most contenders tend to have married them!
So I need mates (and spouse) to do donkey work for me. What if they don’t want to do it?
If you are in a running club, try and get them to help out. Alternatively offer your services to do some donkey work for someone else and hope to get some help in return. You could always check on the FRA forums to see if anyone is willing to lend a hand.
Ask strangers?
Yes! Many will be in the same position as yourself and will be after support for their own attempt. Helping someone else is both sociable and can be used as further training and route familiarisation.
All this sounds like a military operation.
In a way it is. There are three parts to a successful round: fitness; nutrition and support, all are required and need to be functioning on the day.
What about water?
The Lake District being what it is, it can be quite wet. Surprisingly though there are very few water sources on the route of the round itself. Details of those that are, can be found here.
Drink from untreated sources?
Yes. Despite many tales about bugs in Lakeland becks and tarns, there appears to be little evidence to support them so they are safe. Try them on your recce runs beforehand to make sure you can cope with proper water though.
After all that, any tips?
At some point you’ll have a bad patch - get some food into you and keep going, it will pass.
No rest for the weak eh?
No! Success is all about keeping going, looking after yourself, and a desire to succeed.
I’ve done it! Now what?
Fill out the sheet with your times at each top and send it off to Brian Covell within a month of you completing.
Then what?
At some point in the future you will get an invite to the biannual club dinner which is held at the end of October at the Shap Wells Hotel. You are presented with your certificate and then you can sink a few beers and have a dance to the ceilidh band.
A certificate? Is that all?
We are British you know.