By Brian Layton
On Wednesday 26 May, Andy Collings and I left my house heading up to the Lake District for Andy to help with a Bob Graham Round. He was due to navigate leg 2, at about 00~30 Thursday morning, for a friend of a friend, so to speak.
When the chap finally arrived some 35 minutes down on schedule, the writing was firmly on the wall. On a perfectly clear night Andy navigated the leg without any problems. Although Andy spent much of the leg trying to encourage the contender to go a little faster, He dropped another 40 minutes on the leg. He started leg 3 well outside a 24-hour schedule so it was no surprise when we later found out that he had retired at Rossett Pike and gone down into Langdale to be picked up.
Without going into detail, we both could write a book about the errors that the contender and his team had made. It constantly reminded me of what a professional and well-oiled machine TRC is when it comes to organising such endeavours. Anyway, we were on our way to Scotland as I was up next.
After a leisurely day on the Friday at New Lanark, Andy dropped me off at Milngavie, just north of Glasgow. I was just about to run, walk and crawl the entire 96-mile length of the West Highland Way, plus an extra 6 miles, as my choice for this year’s LDWA virtual 100. I set off at 5 minutes past midnight and disappeared into the darkness. I won’t bore you with a blow-by-blow account but will just say that it was tough, very very tough.
Andy supported me at 9 points along the way for which I am very grateful. I must just say that the highlight for me was being met, on the trail just outside Beinglas Farm, by Kirsty and Simon’s children. I had only done 41 miles by then but realised that I was already rather emotionally fragile, but this lifted me up no end.
I carried on through the next night and eventually finished on Sunday evening in around 44 hours. I had ascended and descended some 18,000 feet. While this was not a race but a challenge, I had done the West Highland Way race, albeit 6 miles shorter, 7 years ago in 27 hours. I have to say that this time round it felt a lot tougher. Maybe something to do with my age me thinks.
After a whole day’s rest, and the reason for finishing in Fort William, it’s time for the main event as Simon is about to start his attempt at the Charlie Ramsay Round.
At 01:00 on Tuesday 1 June, Simon began his attempt at the epic Charlie Ramsay Round. A circumnavigation of 24 Scottish mountains over 3,000 feet in height. It also entailed the little matter of covering some 56 miles and ascending and descending over 28,500 feet along the way as it started and finished outside the Youth Hostel in Glen Nevis. All of this and to top it off it must be completed in under 24 hours to count.
I’ll not dwell on the details as I will leave that to Simon for a much-anticipated future report, but needless to say he DID IT.
I had the privilege to see Simon through on three occasions which included a nice train ride on the West Highland Railway and a lovely 2,000 foot climb up to a col only to see him and his minders disappear up a near vertical rock face. I’ve supported and spectated Simon on all of his big round attempts and have felt it a real pleasure and privilege to do so.
The things some of us do to get out of the washing up.
As ever, yours in sport, Brian Layton.
P.S. On Saturday 19 June at exactly 2pm, Andy starts the 3 peaks yachts race and I start the MK24 hour race. Will we ever learn ?