Team Mountain Fuels historic Billy Bland Challenge race sees six records smashed
On Sunday 25th June 2017 I was lucky enough to be part of the Mountain Fuel team which made Fell Running history. The team’s were announced a few weeks ago. I recognised many of the names on the team lists as they included some of the top runners around. I had read their blogs, and already followed many of them on Strava and social media in order to try and replicate their training. I felt out of my depth and like I didn’t belong around those guys which made me slightly nervous. I was down to run the last leg in a predicted time of just under 1 hr 40 min and didn’t want to let them all down.
It was the first time anyone had gone head-to-head and raced the Billy Bland Challenge and we managed to break the overall mixed team record along with another six records for the fastest legs. The challenge is based on the famous Bob Graham round and is a 66 mile, 42 peak challenge with a 24 hour time limit. It is considered one the biggest challenges in English Fell Running. It has a staggering 27,000 feet of ascent. It starts with Skiddaw, Blencathra, then over the Helvellyn range, the Langdale pikes, Scafell, Wasdale and Great Gable, starting and finishing at the Moot Hall in Keswick.
The teams were made up of runners who all represented Team Mountain Fuel which included men, women, vets and open runners. We went head to head with the aim of beating the mixed team record of 16hrs 49 minutes with hope of also running one of the fastest times and getting close to legendary fell runner Billy Bland’s time of 13hrs 53 minutes on the Bob Graham Round. To think it was going to take five pairs of runners to get close to this record is mind blowing and just goes to show how good he really was.
Both teams consisted of 10 runners, with two runners each running one of the five legs together. The team was made up of a collective mix of ultra, trail and fell runners, including local Keswick AC runners (some of whom hold individual leg records and were part of the Keswick AC record breaking time of 12hrs 25 minutes) along with other Team Mountain Fuel runners from around the country, including some Team GB Mountain Running representatives.
Despite being a mixed team which also included vets my team managed to record the second fastest time in the history of the Billy Bland Challenge in 12 hours and 51 minutes. The other team also smashed the record, running the third fastest time ever to be recorded in 13 hours and 1 minute. On top of this, a record was broken on every leg by one of the two teams. Continue reading