British fell runner George Foster ran the second-fastest Bob Graham Round in history on Sunday, recording a 13:44. Foster was just able to beat fellow Brit Billy Bland‘s longstanding record of 13:53 from 1982, coming in behind Spanish ultrarunner Kilian Jornet‘s current fastest known time (FKT) of 12:52, which he ran in 2018. The approximately 106K challenge tasks runners with summiting 42 peaks in England’s Lake District as quickly as possible, starting and finishing in the small town of Keswick. Foster’s time is still almost a full hour longer than Jornet’s result, but it’s still remarkable, and it is the new British record for the Bob Graham Round.
— VÅGA (@TeamVaga_) October 11, 2020
The Bob Graham Round
The Bob Graham Round is named after British runner Bob Graham, who in 1932 completed the 42-peak trek in under 24 hours. His record was not contested until 1960, and since then more than 2,000 runners have completed the now-famous challenge. As Graham did in ’32, the run (which features more than 8,000m of elevation gain) must be completed in 24 hours or less to be counted as an official result. As with many of the Lake District’s fell running challenges, there is no set route for the Bob Graham Round, and as long as individuals start and finish in Keswick, any sub-24-hour results will be added to the challenge’s all-time list.
Built for the Bob Graham
With next to no races this summer, FKTs have been more popular than ever. That has made for a very busy year in the Lake District, and records have fallen for the women’s Bob Graham Round, the Lake District 24-hour run and now the British Bob Graham Round best with Foster’s result.
— Outdoor Innovations (@Bergwinkel) October 12, 2020
Foster lives in Ambleside, a town situated in Lake District National Park that is just a 30-minute drive from Keswick. With a wealth of experience from training in the fells of the Lake District, it’s no surprise that he posted such a quick result on the Bob Graham Round. According to the official database of the Bob Graham, Foster has completed the challenge once before, although his time was not listed.
Foster averaged a per-kilometre pace of about 7:46. This would be a solid time for a flat 100K run, but considering the fact that the 42 peaks he summited made for more than 8,000m of climbing (almost the height of Mount Everest), it’s even more impressive.