Supporting Danny and Steve’s Bob Graham Round

It might seem alien to most people spending my Friday night reminding two total strangers to eat and drink. After a busy evening I’m supporting Danny and Steve’s Bob Graham Round Leg 2 from Threlkeld to Dunmail. Bob wasn’t aware what he started back in 1932 when he ran his 42 peaks round. A network of like minded individuals helping others follow in his footsteps have formed almost 90 years later. Of 168 attempts last year 84 were successful many with the help of people the challengers didn’t know.

It Isn’t All About Fell Running

Before travelling to Threlkeld I’ve been a chauffeur, clothing bank and long jump official in quick succession. The County Durham Athletics Network junior track and field event in Shildon is a good chance for young athletes to do a range of events. A sprint, endurance run, howler throw and long jump in under two hours. Bite sized competition, especially valuable for year 5 and below who have very few opportunities in the last eighteen months. I pick up Brian our team manager at work in Gateshead and choose the A1. It is the least risky of option for the journey. We arrive at 5.45 and I give Brian a rain jacket. The rain shower is closing in as forecast. Victoria hasn’t got a coat and I give her a spare hat to keep her hair dry.

Just as the competition starts the rain begins to fall heavily. We are instantly soaked. Before I can get the competitors on the results sheet it is wet and pulpy making writing difficult. Paul does a great job raking the pit, Victoria spikes where the jumper landed and Tony pulls through the tape and reads the distance. I’m keeping the queue of jumpers moving and trying in vain to brush away puddles forming on the runway. There are some good performances and I’m happy with the speed we can get ready for the next jumper. After the competition it is time for the results and presentation but I’m already leaving the stadium for my journey to Threlkeld for Danny and Steve’s Bob Graham round.

Junior Success

I’m expecting Derwentside A.C. to win some of the competitions after seeing the long jumpers. I’m surprised and delighted to learn later they have won the overall trophy and collected many of the individual awards.

Brian and the DAC team with the trophy


Traveling on the A66 has been slowed by the constant roadworks. Every time there seem to a new set somewhere. Today is no different. A convoy 10mph zone with traffic lights to wait for the lead vehicle. It is only a couple of miles but seems like forever. I arrive in Threlkeld with a few minutes notice and I’m introduced to Tim who is also pacing on this leg. The early July evening is starting to fall into darkness and the Lake District midges soon open up the partly healed wounds from Tuesday’s Bolts Law Basher in Weardale.

Danny and Steve come into the changeover point. They have both been naughty on leg one and not eaten enough. Tim and I agree to sort this out on our leg and fill our bags with food water and emergency kit. Taking an overload of food and hydration early is essential for later when the excessive time on feet and muscle wastage starts to take a hold on the body.

They have a fantastic range of food and drink items at their changeover which should come in handy later. I’m very pleased to get started as the midges are hacking away at my skin like a shoal of Piranhas. My first impressions are Danny is a ball of energy but Steve is more calm and judging his effort. I’ve got Steve’s food and soft flasks. We agree he will have something at the top of Clough Head the first climb. As the night closes in the headtorches go on and the climbing begins. We are underway on Danny and Steve’s Bob Graham attempt.

Clough Head and beyond

Despite having not met Tim before we know a lot of the same people including Fiona who is pacing leg 3 when we have finished. I’m trying to take a photograph at each top for the ratification as they don’t have a tracker or summit checklist. It isn’t too bad at the top of Clough Head but steadily gets more difficult as darkness descends all round us.

Danny and Steve reach Clough Head

Steve and Danny have something to eat and a drink on the move and its off to the Dodds. They are both confident and have trained well. I’ve been singing The Specials’ Friday Night Saturday Morning in my head for a few minutes. “I go out on Friday night and I come home on Saturday morning” is going round and round like a scratched record.

Watson’s Dodd can be tricky in the dark so we slow and make sure we hit the right trod. Good progress is being made we are keeping to the schedule. My bag is getting lighter as Steve chews through a mix of chocolate, oat bars and other goodies. The photographs are beginning to resemble a rave and its difficult to make out the shapes of the runners. Danny’s t-shirt is rubbing on his nipples and he takes if off in the cool mountain air so they can partly recover.

Typical blurry image of Steve and Danny

Helvellyn And Down To Grisdale

We reach the highest point of the run and the third highest in the Lake District, Helvellyn. It isn’t the most difficult climb on this leg but Danny and Steve are happy to visit both the trig and the cairn for terrible photographs. Steve’s choice of food is narrowing as he’s avoiding the finger shaped 99 calorie Snickers bars and totally impractical loose M&M’s.

Steve and a shirtless Danny on Helvellyn

After ticking off Nethermost and Dollywaggon we know the percentage chance of becoming lost has receded to 0. We are still on the schedule and moving well. It is now time for the first of three big descents in a couple of miles. We find the marker post for the descent to Grisdale Tarn and I move quickly to the front then slow it down to prevent Danny or Steve pushing too hard down the bank and putting strain on their quads.

Find the post and descend to Grisdale Tarn

Fairfield And Seat Sandal

As we skirt Grisdale Tarn I’m worried about hallucinating for a brief moment in the mist, then I realise it is actually a huge tent pitched on the side of the path. It provides something to talk about for a few minutes until we begin the stony switchbacks to Fairfield. Halfway up there is a runner coming down with a pacer. He’s got a big smile on his face but that’s all I see as he flashes past. On Fairfield we get Danny and Steve to feed again and set off slipping and sliding down the scree like a rally car. There are a few little shortcuts to take before finding the nice grassy bits just off the main path. Despite the constant turning it is a quick descent and enjoyable.

Steve finishes his water on the way up Seat Sandal and I store his flask in my pack for refill. He’s still got the M&M’s in his food bag but I don’t think they are much use when ascending or descending so they stay there. Progress up Seat Sandal is good and it isn’t long before we reach the top. Both of the lads are looking forward to their Pot Noodles. I’ve got two jobs now 1) make sure Danny doesn’t sprint down the hill. 2) get to the road support first and give them the list of requests.

Seat Sandal

Dunmail And The Midge Army

I get in front on the easy descent and park myself at a comfortable pace in the middle of the path. When it gets more twisty and stony I increase the pace and get over the road to the support crew. “New t-shirt and shorts for Danny, can he have some tape for his nipples. Steve just needs these flasks refilling and they could probably do with extra water each for leg 3”. A few minutes later Danny and Steve are tucking into their meals, water bottles are filled and the leg 3 pacers briefed.

The Threlkeld midges have decamped to Dunmail and are munching at my clammy, exposed skin. Danny, Steve, Fiona and Ian set off on leg 3 of Danny and Steve’s Bob Graham round climbing Steel Fell. It isn’t long before someone realises Steve has left his watch behind. I quickly volunteer to take it up to them to escape my torturers.

By the time I return the food has been cleared and the table has been packed up. We are ready for the short drive back to Threlkeld. It has been a successful night so far and we have encountered no difficulties. I’m dropped at the car park and the road crew head off towards Wasdale where they can hopefully get some sleep. Its almost 4am and I don’t fancy driving home via Hartside and the winding roads of the A686. That leaves a return journey via the roadwork riddled A66 as the preferred way home.

Saturday Success For Danny And Steve

Instead of the usual dot watching I keep an eye of the WhatsApp group throughout the day and I’m delighted to see photographs of Danny and Steve making good progress towards their target. Twenty two and a half hours after they started the green door of Keswick Moot Hall welcomes two more members to the Bob Graham family.

Danny and Steve on the Moot Hall steps with celebratory beer
Photograph by Edward Dougan

We hope you enjoyed reading “Supporting Danny and Steve’s Bob Graham Round“. Do you enjoy running through the night? Let us know in the comments below.

Read some of our other blog posts for more hilly adventures on

Penine Way Run

Chevy Chase Recce

45 at 45 Challenge

Supporting Juhana’s Bob Graham Round

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