A mountain record that has stood for 20 years could be broken this weekend as a top fellrunner tries to conquer the most munros in 24 hours.
Glen Affric, site of the munro attempt
Steve Pyke, from the Staffordshire Moorlands Athletics Club, will attempt 30 of Scotland’s 3,000-footers this Saturday, making use of the maximum daylight hours afforded by the summer solstice. It’s a tall order, with 75 miles to run and more than 37,000ft of ascent en route.
The previous record was set by Jon Broxap in 1988, who managed 28 munros in the Glen Affric and Kintail area. Following a revision of the official table of munros nine years after his record-breaking run, Sgurr na Carnach, which he had traversed, was elevated into the pantheon of munros, taking his tally to 29. On Saturday, Steve – Spyke to his friends – will set out with a team of pacers and backup supporters to try to smash the record.
The Fellrunner forums have been alive for the last couple of weeks with rumours of an imminent attempt on what has become known as the Broxap Round. Runners who reported recce-ing the Affric area with Spyke said he was in good form and hopes are high for a result.
He already holds the record, set in July last year, for running all the Scottish 4,000-footers, in 20 hours 23mins. That entailed a distance of 85 miles and an ascent of 17,000 ft. Three months later, he joined fellow long-distance specialists Mark Hartell and Lizzy Hawker in a charity run from Everest base camp to the Nepalese capital Kathmandu.
He also won the 2007 UK Ultra-Running Championship.
Hartell himself is no slouch and holds the current record for an extension of the Lake District’s Bob Graham Round, which stretched the original traverse of 42 Lakeland tops set by Mr Graham to a still unbeaten 77 fells in 24 hours. It’s a feat that hasn’t been bettered since Hartell achieved it in 1997.
The wisdom seems to be that 31 munros is possible but 32 is just about out of the question because of the extra distance involved in getting to that 32nd peak. So if Pyke puts in a storming performance and manages 31 munros, it could be a record that will stand for all time. Only a faster time would be a target for any other runner having a stab at the record books.
Glen Affric and Glen Shiel are thought to be the best location for such attempts, though the original man to beat was Charlie Ramsay, who set the bar at 24 munros with a traverse of the peaks of Glen Nevis in 1978, accomplished with just two minutes to spare.
If Spyke is to have any chance of setting a new tally of munros, he will need luck and good weather. Winds are forecast to be light, with a chance of an odd shower and cool temperatures – only 3C on the munro tops. Sunday is due to see a marked deterioration, which could hamper the attempt on the later sections of the route.
Mere mortals may like to give some thought, as they plod and wheeze up their nearest fell or mountain, for the man who will be out trying to climb the equivalent of Everest, Ben Nevis, Snowdon and Scafell Pike all in one go and in a single day.
The attempt will start at 11am on Saturday, and Spyke will definitely be attempting 31 munros. The extra peaks are the 1,196m (3,924ft) Tom a'Choinich and Toll Cregach, at 1,054m (3,458ft), neighbouring munros at the eastern end of Glen Affric.
grough understands Spyke will be supported in his attempt by both 63-year-old fellrunning legend Yiannis Tridimas and long-distance specialist Mark Hartell, both of whom are travelling north Friday evening to help with the effort to bag 31 munros in 24 hours. Glasgow-based runner Chris Upson will also assist with the attempt.
Accordingly, we've amended our headline!