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Ricky’s TG PB with the Hobbits

Tod Graham Round PB

Ricky (with the cap) looking suitable pleased but knackered

I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve done the Tod Graham Round. As far as ‘rounds’ go, it’s pretty short at around 17-18 miles but for a South Pennine fell route it boasts a fairly hefty amount of climbing at somewhere around 1500m. I’ve written an article about the round for the spring fellrunner magazine which talks a little bit about route details and why I designed it, but I think it’s a great training route for an AL type fell races and has been a huge help for me.

The last time I ran the round was with my good Friend Anthony Lee (current MV40 Record Holder at 2:59:58) on my birthday last November. I’d had a really strong run but was only managing to chip off a minute or 2 each time I ran the round. I was edging closer and closer to sub 3:30, but it was beginning to feel like I may have started to reach my limits and working on marginal gains. However, I’ve been working with a coach (Dave@fellrunningguide.co.uk) to see if I could improve my speed and endurance. With the lack of any racing or competition over the last 12 months, I’ve had it in my head that I’ve become a bit of a plodder and lost any speed that I had.

I’d penned in another race effort time trial run at the Tod Graham at the end of March / start of April. With the weather forecast looking reasonably ok during the week leading up to my attempt I began working on a precise schedule based on previous runs and using the Naismith’s rule, which gave me a schedule of 3:26, which felt achievable. I’d noticed on Strava that Karl Gray had recce’d the route the weekend before, so offered a trade; If he would help pace me round I would show him all the best lines. The morning of the run he agreed to help me and brought along Gavin Mulholland for extra help. I’d never actually met Karl and Gav but having just recently joined Calder Valley, I was incredibly encouraged by the willingness of these top runners to come and help a Joe average fell runner like me.

We met at the town hall at 9:30 and set off a few minutes later. Running up the first hill to the Stones Lane checkpoint I found myself about 30 seconds up on schedule. I started to worry I’d set off too quickly as I was breathing fairly heavily and slurring my words already. I guess there was a little inferiority complex going on but I held on and it’s not the first time I’ve felt like that at the start of a run like this. I find I always need about 45 mins to feel my way in and settle into the pace. Karl stopped for the 1st of many comfort breaks while I began the fast descent to the road crossing at Gauxholme with Gav on my tail.

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