KESWICK, England (July 9, 2018) — Salomon athlete Kilian Jornet completed the famous Bob Graham Round on Sunday in 12 hours and 52 minutes, setting the fastest known time (FKT) on the route by an hour. The route covers 42 peaks across 66 miles in the Lake District of England, with 26,903 feet of overall ascent. Jornet completed the record only one week after winning the Marathon du Mont Blanc in France and bested the previous FKT of 13 hours and 53 minutes set by Billy Bland in 1982 by an hour.
“It has been hard, but very exciting,” Jornet said afterwards. “I had the Bob Graham Round in mind for a while and finally I could give it a try and realize how amazing was the time that Billy did thirty years ago. It has been a beautiful day out in the mountains together with all those runners that came and paced me. Also, I would like to thank Billy who came to cheer me, and also to everyone in Keswick. You can really feel here the love for fell running, and I couldn’t be happier to complete this round!”
The Bob Graham Round was established in 1932 when Bob Graham became the first to run across the 42 fells in the Lake District in less than 24 hours. The challenge grew to be a part of the local culture with the founding of the Bob Graham Round Club, whose membership is comprised of runners who have matched the founder’s achievement. Since then, many runners have sought to join the legendary club, drawn to the values of companionship, respect for the mountains and tradition on which the event is founded. In 1982, Billy Bland, a local runner, completed the course in 13 hours and 53 minutes, a record that has stood for the past 35 years.
To take part in the Bob Graham Round, a runner must comply with certain rules. First, the runner must inform club members that he or she intends to run the course. Second, the runner has to be accompanied on each of the 42 fells by someone who can verify that the runner was there. Club members will often help runners by joining them on one of the five legs of the course. Martin Stone, an enthusiastic club member who helped Billy Bland set the previous record, often volunteers to help with runners’ logistics.
At 6:00am on a warm Sunday morning, Jornet set off from Keswick, a small town in the heart of the Lake District National Park of northeast England that is home to roughly 5,000 people. He was accompanied by a team of ten pacers on course, while numerous runners encouraged him along the way. One of these runners was Billy Bland himself, who said he was inspired by Kilian’s achievement.
During the round’s first leg, Jornet reached Threlkeld six minutes ahead of the record. When he began the second leg to Dunmail Raise, Bland was waiting to cheer him on.
The third leg—known for being the most difficult, with rocky ground and steep pitches that cover 15 summits—was Jornet’s longest and most challenging. He reached Wasdale, the half-way point of the course, 8 hours and 9 minutes after starting, roughly 30 minutes ahead of Bland’s record time.
From Wasdale, Jornet had to face the two last legs. He was feeling tired but pushed through the nine peaks between him and Honister Pass, which he arrived at in 11 hours and 5 minutes. The last leg brought Jornet back to Keswick with only three summits to climb and a final section of running on asphalt into town.
Kilian Jornet arrived back in Keswick to a massive crowd that had gathered to see him finish after 12 hours and 52 minutes on course. An exhausted Jornet greeted the crowd and shared a glass of champagne with Bland, who had come to congratulate him.
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Contact: Emily Banks
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