How to Run a Bob Graham Round | Kim Collison’s Adventure

Record Breaking Kit for the Bob Graham Round

If you follow our blog or you are an avid fell runner then you will have seen that Kim Collison of Borrowdale Fell Runners made history on Sunday 1st December 2019. Kim lowered the Winter Bob Graham Record to 15 hours 47 minutes. A time which ranks as the 9th fastest winter or summer round. A truly remarkable achievement!

For those not so into their fell running, the Bob Graham Round is a 24 hour challenge run/walk over 42 Lakeland Peaks. You start at the Moat Hall in Keswick at any time you like and run over all the 42 peaks, returning to the Moat Hall. If you accomplish this inside 24 hours then you can join the coveted Bob Graham Club. The only rule is that you must be accompanied by someone over each of the peaks so they can vouch that you have completed all 42. In the case of a winter round, it must be completed between the 1st December and the 1st March.

As you need to be accompanied over each peak and as navigation and route choice are essential, Bob Graham’s are often more a team effort than running normally is. During the summer months you often see groups of runners at the Bob Graham road crossings anxiously looking up the fell for their man or women. A stove at the roadside with some hot before the new pacers take them over the next section.  A pleasant day out for those that like to be on the hill!

For the quicker runners in the summer, there is no running in the dark and keeping fuelled up enough to stay warm isn’t a factor. It’s a bit different on a winter round. Kim started from the Moat Hall just after midnight on the 1st December. That means that half of his round was in the dark.

The temperatures where as low as -7 on the summits and high ridges!

For all exploits like this, kit selection is essential. Northern Runner supplies Kim with his footwear. Unlike being sponsored by a brand, where the Athlete must use only that brands selection as a retailer Northern Runner can help, Kim select the best shoes for him for the event he is undertaking. On the roads and hard packed trails this is usually Altra running shoes and on the fells, Kim favours VJ Sports.

VJ Sports are a small Finnish company that has been making studded shoes, mainly for orienteering, since 1981. As orienteering is a big part of Finish culture, as it is with most Scandinavian countries, the focus is on producing the best footwear. All the staff within the company use the products, so any weaknesses are ironed out and fixed. As well as being comfortable shoes, the main reason for Kim selecting these to use for racing on the fells is the grip. Unlike other brands that make this kind of footwear, VJ’s have stuck with a natural rubber for their outsoles. This is more expensive to produce but makes the outsoles sticky and durable. There are a few different shoes in VJ’s range that are suitable for the UK:

VJ Irock 3 Kim’s go to fell racing shoe.

VJ Xtrm Kim’s fell/trail racing shoe for the longer events when long studs are required.

VJ Maxx, designed for hard packed trails. A very nimble responsive shoe.

For the Winter Bob Graham Round though, Kim used a VJ shoe called the Integrator 18. This has rubber studs made from Butyl Rubber like the Irock 3 and the XTRM, but built into the studs are little steel studs or dobs. The Integrator is an orienteering shoe, so these dobs are designed mainly to bite on wet wood when you are racing through the forest. Kim’s use for them was a bit different. He wanted them to bite into the ice and frozen ground. The Integrator 18’s worked perfectly and Kim was able to run with confidence in the knowledge that he would stay upright.

You can see Northern Runners selection of VJ shoes here:

Injinji Socks are the secret of lots of runners’ comfort over longer distances and Kim is no exception. Injinji’s are known as toe socks or five finger socks to some! This design encourages your feet to spread when they hit the floor and therefore function the way nature intended. They also reduce rubbing between your toes which often happens in long races.

Raidlight supply Kim with his clothing. You can see click here to see their range.

The Raidlight Revolutiv 3L Race Vest is worth a special mention as this race vest is so light and comfortable. The bottles with the short straw make it very easy to drink on the move without having to remove the bottle.

For those wanting more of an insight into the adventure Kim had on his Winter Bob Graham we will be publishing Kim’s account soon.

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