Mountain running ace Kilian Jornet has broken the 36-year record for the famous Bob Graham Round, the Lake District challenge that covers 42 peaks over 106 kilometres with 8,200m of overall ascent. Jornet's time of 12 hours and 52 minutes was a stunning performance and was achieved just one week after winning the Marathon du Mont Blanc in France.
The 30-year-old completed the famous round one hour ahead of the previous best time of Billy Bland (13’53”), which had been the standard since 1982. After yesterday's run (Sunday 8 July) Jornet said: “It has been hard, but very exciting, I had the Bob Graham Round in mind for a while and finally I could give it a try and realise how amazing was the time that Billy did 30 years ago.
He continued: "It has been a beautiful day out in the mountains together with all those runners that came and paced me. Also, I would like to thank Billy who came to cheer me, and also to everyone in Keswick. You can really feel here the love for fell running, and I couldn’t be happier to complete this round!”
The Bob Graham Round was established in 1932 when the runner Bob Graham ran the 42 fells in less than 24 hours. The challenge became a part of the local culture with the founding of the Bob Graham Round Club, whose membership is made up of those who have matched the founder’s achievement. It wasn’t until 1960 that anyone dared to try it again and since then many have sought to join the legendary club.
At six o’clock on a hot Sunday morning Jornet set off from Keswick in the heart of the Lake District. He was accompanied by a team of 10 pacemakers who also helped him comply with the rules associated with the challenge. Numerous other runners encouraged him along the way, among them Billy Bland himself, who said he was inspired by Kilian’s achievement.
Jornet covered the 42 peaks at a fast and constant speed. The third leg of the course is the most difficult, with rocky ground and steep ascents and descents. The remainder includes peaks that are not very high, but with lots of loose rock which tests runners’ stamina.
On the first leg Jornet reached Threlkeld six minutes ahead of the actual record. There, he started the second leg to Dunmail Raise, where Bland was waiting to cheer him on. The third leg was the longest and the most challenging, where Jornet had to climb 15 summits until reaching Wasdale at 1pm, 8 hours and 9 minutes after starting. He had by then completed half of the round and was 30 minutes ahead of Bland’s record time.
From Wasdale, Jornet had to face the two last legs. He was feeling tired, but still pushing. The first of those two final legs consisted of nine peaks in a rather short distance until reaching Honister Pass, where he arrived with a time of 11h05. The last leg would bring Jornet back to Keswick with only three summits to climb and a final section running on asphalt into town.
He arrived back in Keswick to a massive crowd that had gathered to see him finish, stopping the watch with a time of 12’52”. An exhausted Jornet greeted the crowd and shared a glass of champagne with Bland, who had come to congratulate him.
This week, subscribers to the Salomon newsletter will receive 48 hours of exclusive, advanced access to watch a video highlighting Jornet’s completion of the Bob Graham Round. To subscribe to the newsletter go to the Salomon website.
Image credit: Mick Kenyon