Ellis Bland will tackle the double Bob Graham Round

Ellis Bland will tackle the double Bob Graham Round

Hot on the heels of Sabrina Verjee’s Wainwrights record attempt comes another bid by an athlete to post a fastest time in a gruelling Lakeland challenge.

Bowland runner Ellis Bland will attempt a double Bob Graham round in an effort to beat the time set by Nicky Spinks.

Bland will set off from the Moot Hall at Keswick at midnight on Friday, hoping to beat the 45hrs 30mins time set by Spinks in 2016.

The challenge involves two circuits of the Bob Graham Round, totalling 84 summits over 132 miles (212km), with more than 52,000ft (15,850m) of ascent. The original round was set by the Keswick guesthouse owner who gave the challenge its name, in 1932. Only seven people are known to have completed the course over the Lake District fells twice in a continuous round.

Record holder Nicky Spink and the previous fastest runner Roger Baumeister ran from Keswick clockwise to Yewbarrow in Wasdale before reversing in an anti-clockwise direction, back through the town to Yewbarrow before returning to the Moot Hall. Bland’s plan is to run the complete Bob Graham Round anti-clockwise before turning round and tackling the full round again clockwise. He hopes to complete his run in less than 45 hours.

Following a strong attempt in 2020, only to be thwarted by a foot injury, 27-year-old Ellis Bland is returning this weekend to take on this monster of challenge.

The OMM-sponsored athlete is being supported by an army of clubmates, friends and home-baking to help him keep going.

The running brand said: “With a sub 17hrs 47mins round comfortably under his waistbelt in 2019, Ellis is no slouch on the route. Under the guidance of coach Rowan Wood, Ellis has taken advantage of the break in racing to focus on building strength and that much needed mileage to ensure his body has the resilience to face such a battering.”

Bland said: “The second lap on Sunday is the real test. Lap one is basically the world’s longest warmup.” His schedule allows for a 20-hour first lap and a 23hrs 30mins second lap.

He said: “I want this double to be a celebration of the Bob Graham, of what it means to those that complete it, try it and support on it.

“It is such an important part of our sport, the people it pulls together, and the stories told on the fell at 3am. I’m just a small part in what is really just a big day out with friends.”

The first recorded double Bob Graham Round was achieved by Boyd Millen in 1977 in 52hrs 30mins. In 1979 Roger Baumeister became the first to complete the challenge in less than 48 hours, finishing in 46hrs 34mins. Eric Draper ran the double round in 1995 in a time of 50hrs 35. Yorkshire runner Nicky Spinks set the current record five years ago with her time of 45hrs 30mins.

Since then, Tom Hollins has completed the double round in a time of 52hrs 30mins; Stuart Walker in 51hrs 18mins, and Gwynn Stokes in a time of 54hrs 30mins.

OMM said Spinks hopes to support Bland during his attempt this weekend. Bland also expressed his thanks to Original Mountain Marathon, Våga and Norman Walsh.

His progress can be followed on the Open Tracking website.

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