12th June 2020    |    Running The Numbers    |    Paul Foster

Running The Numbers : Bob Graham Round Survey Results

On Saturday 10th June 2017 at 20:51 I touched the doors of Keswick's Moot Hall completing a Bob Graham Round on my second attempt and became Bob Graham 24 Hour Club member # 2097.

In the years leading up to my attempts I became intrigued, maybe even a little obsessed with the round, its history and the people who attempt and support it. I read many books and dozens of blogs and reports and often found myself wondering how I compared to others – was everyone else fuelling themselves around the fells with rice pudding and jelly snakes or was it just me?

Long Run Survey Image

So in 2018 I decided to try and find out and created an online survey based on the Bob Graham Round. During 2018/2019 over 300 people completed the survey. Some hadn’t attempted a round yet. Others had tried, but were yet to finish. The majority though were already members of the club.

Below are the results of the survey along with some analysis of the completions of the round over the years.

Long Run Survey Image

Note the big increase in the 1980s, then a decline in the 1990s and 2000s, before the boom of the 2010s.

Long Run Survey Image

Clockwise is by far the overall favourite direction for both men and women, but was this always the case?

Long Run Survey Image

It's interesting to see that during the 1970s and 1980s anti-clockwise was by far the most popular direction choice, but has reduced each decade since then. What changed?

 
Navigation
Long Run

Earlier rounds had no option other than to use a map & compass, but with advances in technology over recent years GPS is now available on watches, phones and small handheld devices, so how many runners are switching to digital navigation over traditional methods?...

Long Run Survey Image
Route Choices
Long Run

All rounds must visit the same 42 peaks, but how you get between them is entirely up to you…

Blencathra Route Choice
Dollywaggon Pike Route Choice
Sergeant Man Route Choice
Scafell Route Choice
Support
Long Run

It doesn’t matter how much training you do – a good support crew can make the difference between finishing or not, but how much support do you need?...

Long Run Survey Image
Long Run Survey Image
Long Run Survey Image
Long Run Survey Image

Should you stop and change shoes or keep moving and save time?

Long Run Survey Image

One good turn...

Long Run Survey Image
Long Run Survey Image
Nutrition
Long Run

It's been described as a 24 hour eating challenge with some running in between, but what does everyone actually eat and drink?...

Favourites
Long Run

Clockwise Leg 4 between Wasdale and Honister stood head and shoulders above the other legs as favourite leg...

Some of the many reasons for it being favourite are…. It’s stunning and the pressure was off by then, I remember it being very rewarding after the slog up Yewbarrow full of rice pudding and peaches. Magnificent views and feeling increasingly confident that it was in the bag, Glorious evening and I knew I would finish, Terrain and views, Home turf, Meeting friends, knowing it could be done, At the top of yewbarrow we were confident we'd get round so it was just fun with great company thereafter - there were two of us making the attempt plus pacers, Best peaks and knew it was in the bag, Weather improved and felt good, Psychology, broken the back of the challenge, Enjoyed them all, but to see everyone at Honister when coming off Grey Knotts knowing it was in the bag, You can look at how far you have ran and smile knowing that you have it in the bag, Had bailed out on Red Pike during a previous attempt. Once past Red Pike I felt great and started running much better. Felt easy from there back to Keswick, Tough leg, sense of achievement, beginning to see the end in sight. Also lots of helpers walked up from Honister, Less busy, great views, on the way back!, Leg 4 is the place of realisation: the psychological turning point, Some big challenging climbs, Started to believe I was going to do it, despite weather being awful. Plus the leg i've supported the most so know it well, Views, plus we had sunset, plus the descent off Pillar, Visual impact, The end is in sight and exciting climbs, Most scenic, Weather improved and I started to feel better and that it was going to be achievable, I came back to life, I could run again rather than the plod I'd slowed down to on Leg 3. I made back the time I'd lost, Weather, running with my brother, terrain, realising I was going to make it! , Fabulous sunset, Favourite group of fells, I realised that I was going to complete the round after leaving wasdale- weather was clear for first time also! , Mentally I'd achieved it, After a difficult leg 3, realised could do it on leg 4. Views and company were great, and got a 2nd wind, Perfect balance of climbs, tops and views, I like how you can see a lot on Leg 4, I enjoyed Yewbarrow and the feeling that the attempt was going to be successful, Dawning realisation that I'd be well inside target time - if nothing went wrong! , Mix of beauty and toughness , Last of the big stuff, Most satisfying, Realised I was going to do it and got some views at last, Amazing Views, Started feeling confident we could do it, Flows beautifully after Pillar and enjoy Steeple, Out of petrol on red Pike came back big time on Steeple.

And with more than double the votes of it's nearest competitor Great Gable stole the show for favourite peak...

Some of the reasons for its popularity are…. Met runners doing the Borrowdale race many of whom clapped me over the summit (they weren't the leaders!) , Crux of the attempt, The views, and knowing I was going to get round after that, No more big climbs! , Position, aesthetics, Big climbs and has great views, It is the focus of every view throughout the round, it dominates and also when climbed you know the round is in the bag, Climbed it dozens of times. Has lots of memories, Its the most aesthetic, Enjoy the rocky scramble, If you're on schedule you know it's in the bag on Gable, Hard work done and nearly the end of rocks!, Seemed the last big one and I have always feared it and seen it as a giant, Imposing majesty, The last big one!, Stunning from whatever direction, Iconic, After that, it's all downhill and you can see Keswick, It's 99.9999% about the bits in between. Great table's where you get to see a large part of where you've been that day. Also it's a stinker of a hill Heading home, Last of the big hills, All of my leg 5 support crew came up to meet me and bring me down ready for the final push, The last biggie! , Amazing views. Visibility was good. The end was in sight, That's where it feels like you have cracked it, Because if you get there you will get round, Feels like you are in the heart of the round, great views all round and you see it many times on the round, looking a bloody long way off often. , It’s my favourite fell in general, Down hill from here on in, Vast, Mentally get smaller from here, It has everything to make a great climb, Love the views, Last of the big stuff, I love where it is and its shape, Best hill in the country, You can see most of the round from here, Possible. Knew it was going to be possible, Beginning of the end. Personal connections, I knew I would make it, Iconic forboding Mountain, not far from the end, Always a favourite Fell, Great views and you have essentially cracked it, It’s a savage spot, Last of the big hills, The turn to face Keswick at the Westmorland Cairn Knowing I would finish if I could keep moving and increase pace, Last tough climb.

Age - It's just a number...
Ken Taylor
Long Run Survey Image

Although there's only 1 finisher in the male 70-79 group, based on average times it comes out as the fastest male age group with the fastest male overall time being in the 30-39 group.

Long Run Survey Image

With 4 finisher in the female 50-59 group, based on average times it comes out as the fastest female group with an incredibly fast fastest age group time of 18:54! The fastest female overall time being in the 30-39 group.

Beth Pascall's new women's record of 14:34 set this year took the women's overall average time down by 4 minutes from 22:58 to 22:54.

Long Run Survey Image
Long Run Survey Image
Long Run Survey Image

Males between the ages of 30-39 and 40-49 account for almost two thirds of the overall finishers

Roundup
Long Run

These survey results aren’t going to make you run a faster round, but they do provide an interesting view of the variables and choices that make up a round.

Well done for making it this far and thank you to everyone who took the time to complete the survey and a very big thank you to Bob Wightman, Membership Secretary of the Bob Graham 24 Hour Club for providing the anonymised completion data also used in the analysis.

Apologies for taking so long to collate the data, but around the same time I had also started creating the longrun.co.uk web site, which consumed every spare minute I had.

For more info and stats relating to the Bob Ground Round please visit the Long Run Bob Graham Round page.

Please share this article and the site.

Paul Foster, #2097

Long Run Survey Image
Long Run Survey Image
Long Run Survey Image
Long Run Survey Image
Long Run Survey Image
Long Run Survey Image
Long Run Survey Image
Long Run Survey Image
Share this
BG 24 Hour Club

Tags