Jack Kuenzle’s Record Breaking Bob Graham
From the perspective of his pacers.
Pacers: Nicola Jackson, Mark Lamb, Billy Cartwright (Matlock) and Michael McGleenan
Leg time: 2 hours 13 minutes
Nicola’s account of the leg…
We arrived at Moot Hall to see no one with 10 minutes to go, we walked through to the car park to find a rather relaxed Jack sat in the boot of Martin’s car bare-chested, beaten up visor, skimpy black shorts and Inov8 trailflys. We quickly introduced ourselves and faffed around with who was carrying what. Lamby was at Moot Hall looking lost already, we familiarised ourselves with the ridiculous splits and discussed if anyone actually knew the best line down Halls fell. We were all relying on Lamby, who might add lines at the bottom of the fell, but we were greeted with a blank expression and the responsibility shifted elsewhere.
Jack knew exactly when 6am was thanks to Martin Stone’s countdown app (£25RRP) from what can only be described as a free app anyway. Jack was off, through the car park and over Fitz Park, as darkness gave way to a what was going to be a stunning late summer day in the Lakes. Onto Spooney Green Lane, we spotted a Steve Hebblethwaite, Lamby asked him which was the best line to go down Halls Fell and he quickly threw out some rough directions, “You go right, left, right, left.” Lamby and Billy were both nodding politely but Steve’s instructions were visibly going in one ear and out of the other.
The pace was fast and Jack was on schedule heading up Jenkin Hill, this was where the cracks first started to appear in his pacing team. The pace Jack was running at was incredible and frankly unimaginable to hold for the full round would be a feat of human endurance only capable by a few people. Could this man, who we met 30 minutes prior, be able to sustain such a relentless pace over the fells?
A discussion was had between Billy and Jack about how the best method was to go for a wee, Billy highlighted if he went in his shorts the chaffing would be savage, so without breaking stride he successfully relieved pressure of his bladder. A majestic image set back against the rising sun. We managed to get a glance of the spectacular cloud inversion which clung to the valley bottom leaving the fells even more pronounced.
Jack summited Skiddaw in 54 minutes. Bang on. Two pacers down. Two remaining.
Then it was on the next bodily function which needed to be dealt with, again over in a remarkably efficient way.
Jack galloped over the bogs on the descent which were far wetter than for Kilian’s round. The ascent started up Great Calva, with two pacers still remaining, one having turned back and one going round Great Calva, the pressure was on to stick with Jack. He glided effortlessly up Great Calva and then started panicking about going too fast. The American then enjoyed some British bracken bashing down the other side.
After a refreshing splash in the River Caldew Jack began the final climb of leg 1. A few minutes into this climb, Lamby suddenly released his rucksack was open and the contents of his bag was missing, which included “that black bag you gave me”. Lamby was informed that, “that black bag” held the tracker, Jack’s phone, his earbuds along with salt tablets. The response from Lamby contained far too many expletives to document, queue a mad panic and quick decision to either carry on or go back. Lamby headed off in the direction of Great Calva to search for Jack’s most important items and his phone that he’d also managed to loose.
By this point Jack and Billy had made significant progress up Blencathra and Nic was not able to catch up to deliver the bad news – probably for the best as Jack was not aware of the missing bag until Dunmail when it was returned with 5 minutes to spare by some fast searching, running and driving from Lamby and Tory Miller.
Unaware of what was unfolding behind him, Jack summited Blencathra at 7:58am was greeted by incredible views of the fells which lay ahead. Hall’s Fell was an ‘interesting’ descent with what felt like some tricky lines which meant that a fast-flowing descent wasn’t possible. However, this meant that Jack was saving his quads for the enormity of the round and in the grand scheme of things may have been a blessing in disguise. Leg 1 was rounded off with a single round of chicken across the A66 which spelled the start of round 2. By which time Jack had persuaded Billy to join him for Leg 2, albeit with no food or water and very little knowledge of the leg.
Pacers: Andy Berry, Steve Hebblethwaite and Billy Cartwright
Leg time: 2 hours 23 minutes
Andy’s account of the leg….
Steve set off as agreed up Clough Head ~10 minutes earlier. This really would prove to be vital in us keeping one step ahead of Jack for the whole leg.
As he descended Halls Fell, it was clear he only had one support runner which in my mind (the reality was a little different) meant he had dropped a runner or two that I consider faster than myself, cue getting a little more nervous! He came through bang on schedule and we were away. The climb up Clough Head was solid and hard work. I was glad when Steve met us at the top. This eased the pressure on Billy Cartwright (who had kept going from leg 1) and myself, as we could miss out the first 2 Dodds. This allowed us to make sure we were going to have people on each top all the way along the leg. From there we stuck together until Helvellyn when I decided to miss out Nethermost and Dollywagon to get a head start on the climb up Fairfield. On the summit Billy decided he was going to do an extended round and disappeared off on a solo adventure somewhere towards Great Rigg (he eventually turned up in Grasmere safe and well!). I just turned Jack around and we flew down to meet Steve, who had sensibly decided to miss out Fairfield to keep himself fresh for the Seat Sandal climb. This was just as well because they burned me off on the climb and glided down to Dunmail to finish the leg smoothly and efficiently. Just so much fun helping such a top bloke go as fast as he can!
The adventures of Billy Cartwright on leg 2….
Billy missed out the summit of Fairfield to save traipsing over the boulders and got a head start on the descent, a few minutes later when he didn’t see Jack or his pacers he asked a group of ladies, “Is this the way down?” they replied with, “Yes” obviously (not exactly the best question to ask!). With no phone, Billy borrowed one from a kind lady on the fell, but with only knowing his own number this proved fruitless. He continued down Stone Arthur and into Grasmere where he pleaded with a local shop, giving them the full BG story to which he was met with a blank expression. The shop was followed by a café, and then another café, which looked more appealing for a veggie breakfast, and a successful call to Nic who was by now rather worried. A message was relayed on the team chat and Steve Hebb resumed from his search up at Grisedale Tarn. All was left for Billy was to pay his IOU’s around Grasmere.
Pacers: Matthew Atkinson, Sam Stead, Jack Eyre (Eden Runners), plus Chris Evans on Broad Stand and Paul Wilson with precious water.
Leg time: 3 hours 17 minutes
Sam’s account of the leg…..
After a nervous wait at Dunmail and a lot of panicked phone calls, the bag of ‘essentials’ Mark had lost on Great Calva arrived just in time. Myself, Matty and Jack E had established a plan: Me and Matty would accompany JK the best we could whilst Jack E sourced all our water, meeting us at various cols along the way. We soon discovered that Jack E’s role was a relatively new but essential one for a round as fast as this – the ‘supporter to the supporter’ or ‘fell running domestique’.
JK had set off with three excellent pacers on Leg 2, but as we watched him descend Seat Sandal, it became clear that only one remained. This filled me with dread: if he had managed to drop Andy Berry and Billy Cartwright (who admittedly already done a swift Leg 1), would I be able to keep up?
I had only met JK for the first time earlier this week, but as he sprinted through Dunmail his infectious smile shone through again. He gave us all a bit of a hug and a big ‘What’s up!?’ and my worries instantly drained away. We were off up Steel Fell. Billy Bland was there to give his own unique form of support: “Go on fatty!”. JK’s smile just grew wider.
The pace was fast from the off, but manageable. JK regaled us with tales from the first two legs. This guy was ‘psyched’ and clearly really enjoying himself. We just settled in for the ride.
It soon became clear that keeping JK supplied with fluids was the biggest challenge. He barely took on any solid food all day, preferring lots of Maurten energy drink and water. We were constantly sending Jack E off to source more for all four of us, and had the extra help of Paul Wilson providing water on Rossett Pike and Esk Hause. Such was the frequency at which he drank, poor Matty ran all day with a bottle in each hand, which is surprisingly draining (try it!). The hardest part for me was retrieving various items JK requested from his bag along the way (headphones, gels, salt tablets etc.). Any pause for faffing required a furious sprint to catch up, such was the pace. This was more like a 3.5 hour fartlek session than a BG support leg.
Everything else went seamlessly. Matty took all the best lines, and JK was great company; full of smiles and chat. It was a huge privilege to be part of a small slice of history, made even better because it was on behalf of such a nice bloke.
Matty’s account of the leg(s)…
It was a bit of a frantic start as he’d arrived over 10 minutes up on schedule, so ahead of Killian’s splits already! We settled into it up Steel Fell and on our way to Calf Crag I took a couple of little lines that gained a few metres. Jack latched on and asked me to lead the way, impressed that I knew the ground so well (GPS tracks can only tell you so much!) All the grassy cuts here and there naturally came back to me from the hours I’d spent reccying my own BG, and I was soon in a state of flow. We pressed on gaining time on every split, I supplied the water, Sam the food, and Jack Ayre stopped to fill bottles skipping peaks and meeting us up the road. That was a task in itself, it was tight at times and we probably could have done with another supporter such was the pace. We joked that Jack Ayre was the support for the support, as if Sam or I stopped we wouldn’t be catching up! As we got further into the leg and neared Scafell Pike I started to struggle and worry if I might be dropped, a gel to keep me going and get me through (always hard to remember to look after yourself too). The last obstacle was the infamous Broad Stand where I was tasked with getting ahead a little to get myself up first ready to pace Jack to the top. Not wanting to hold Jack up I soloed it showing Jack ‘the move’ while he quickly roped up. Despite having never seen it before it proved no problem for Jack. Sam followed on, we quickly scrambled up to Sca Fell and dropped swiftly to Wasdale to leave him safely with the leg 4 pacers a further 10 minutes up on his schedule and ahead of record pace.
I had mentioned I might be willing to help be a waterboy on leg 4 but I really wasn’t sure I had the legs. Martin Stone offered to take me up the valley and said it would be really useful if I could get to Beck Head before Great Gable to supply more water and to make sure Jack found the crucial line off the top. I summoned the energy and set off walking up, initially feeling so tired I thought I might not make it in time. However I had more than I thought so I treated myself to a relaxing dip in the beck before filling up and getting in position. I met them approaching Gable, passed on the water, and soon took up my position leading the way. Jack was glad to have me there and soon latched on. I nailed the line off Gable and continued to lead through to Honister. Buzzing I thought I’ll regret not being out there longer so carried on up Dale Head for leg 5, although I soon got dropped! I dug deep to claw my way back on but opted to skip Hindscarth to make sure I was still there for Robinson where I knew I could lead the final descent. I nailed the line around the bad step and down the scree and again Jack was suitably impressed saying afterwards that he felt I’d found him 10+ minutes on the day! That should have been it but swept along by the excitement I unwisely continued on the road. This only lasted until Swinside where I was tailed off and thought I might be left behind for good, but thankfully the support crew had stopped and I could get a lift back, phew! Not wanting to miss the run in, I cheekily got out again and ran in with Jack through town. Grinning from ear to ear as I went, a day I’ll never forget. Honoured to have been a part of it and played such a crucial supporting role.
Pacers: Doni Clarke (Todmorden), Gavin Dale and Matko continuing from leg 3.
Leg time: 2 hours 51 minutes
Pacers: Jonny Cox, Richard Keefe (Both Eden Runners), Jacob Tonkin, Phil Winskill. As well as Doni and Gavin continuing on from leg 4.
Leg time: 1 hour 39 minutes
Tonk’s account on the leg…
Earlier in the week I’d said to Jack that if he was desperate then I could do the last leg for him. “It would be awesome to see you out there man” he said in his strong american accent. I managed to persuade Phil to come along for the ride. At Honister we decided to go see Jack from the summit of Green Gable. We trotted along listening to Queen songs as we went, Phil decided to skip the song Under Pressure though. At the summit we could see the lads battering it down to Windy Gap. “Come on fatty!” I shouted. “Tonkinator! Phil! Awesome to see you maann!” he said. From there we weren’t hanging around, but the pace wasn’t blisteringly quick. This won’t be too bad I thought! Oh how wrong I was!
Once we reached Honister, Phil stopped to eat a Banana and have a drink. Jack on the other hand didn’t stop, and literally sprinted through the car park. As we started up Dale Head Jack said to us all “This climb is all about survival”. Oh good, he’ll take it steadier I thought. Wrong once again! Somehow, he managed to find an extra gear for the last leg. Phil had been dropped and couldn’t catch us. Jack then asked how high Dale Head is. Jonny said “750 odd metres” I translated that into feet for Jack, who immediately shouted “Brexit has happened guys, give the metrics up!” Despite joking around, I was starting to feel as though I might be clinging on for dear life. It was my fastest ever ascent of Dale Head. Matty managed to catch up with me, as he did he said “God I wish he’d stop running” (so we could catch up).
I could catch up on all the downhills, but I stood no chance on the climbs. Matty, Phil and I all missed the summit of Hindscarth to head straight up Robinson. Phil decided to descend straight down to Little Town. I just about had time to re-tie my shoe at the summit of Robinson before they caught us up.
The descent from Robinson was a lot of fun. Jonny Cox had the audacity to question one of Matty’s lines “Do you know who he is!?” I shouted to him. The line Matty took on to avoid the scramble was sheer perfection! Coming down the scree I slipped and managed to burst one of Jack’s soft flasks, which exploded all over me. It was some of the stickiest fluid I’d seen in a while. How’d he been drinking that all day!?
The changeover at Newlands Church felt like a Formula 1 pit stop. Phil and I decided to keep running as they’d undoubtably catch us. The pace on the road felt manageable, to begin with. We were all together coming through Stair and the Swinside. The pace was ramping up again, but the craic was good! Billy Bland was setting the pace on his bike. He asked Jack “Would you do it again?!” to which Jack said “It depends what that m********** Scottish guy does!” (Meaning Finlay Wild). At Lingholm they started to pull away from me. You can’t actually make much time up on folk downhill on road it would seem! Phil managed a herculean effort to catch up with them, whereas I’d reached max speed and was gone. I was praying for a lift from someone so I could be there to see him finish. They were halfway along the Howrah’s when I’d just gotten on to the path. As I reached the Co-op I heard the cheers. I’d missed seeing him finish! I’ll admit I was a bit gutted about that, but luckily every man and his dog had filmed it. I stood at the steps of the Moot Hall and watched a man who wasn’t Boris fetch Jack a pint. There was a lump in my throat, as I knew Boris would have loved it.
I am over the moon for Jack to have had such a good day out on our fells. I’m very proud of my mates and fellow KAC members for all playing such crucial roles in this historic effort. I’m very grateful for the opportunity to (try to) run the last 12 miles with him.
Jack finished his round in 12 hours 23 minutes, taking almost half an hour off Kilian Jornet’s time. As a thank you to his pacers and supporters he took us all out for dinner on Monday night!