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'So, What's next?'

Your muscles have barely recovered and you hear the inevitable question - 'What's next?'. As much as I'd love to hang up my running shoes for a while and not have to focus on training for something, this not only doesn't suit my personality, but it'd be a waste of all the gains made so far to get me to where I am.

My Bob Graham Round served two purposes. Firstly, it was a dream of mine and something I wanted to achieve. Secondly, it was a stepping stone towards my main goal of climbing Mansalu (8,167m) in September 2024. Fitness and fortitude will be required to achieve the dream of standing atop the eighth tallest mountain in the world, two things that are demanded from a Bob Graham Round too. Already I have proven to myself I can train, I can get fit, and I can battle through tough times - but I still have over two years to go before I go on this expedition and I can't dine out on BG success for all that time.

Training whatever the weather. You've got to WANT it.

For me, the winter months are a prime time to get stuck into a focused training plan. Work is much quieter, and when I am at work it's often quite good exercise. As the busy season is about to start I hope to keep my running regular, but many of these will be shorter, faster sessions. I've recently joined a running club for the first time ever (Cumberland Fell Runners) and hope to get stuck into the odd race or two over the coming months.

I also had the goal of getting a traverse of the Cuillin Ridge done this year. It's been a few years since I had a go, and much like my BG, I'm fed up just saying 'One Day' and so this is in the diary for September with my pals. Mountaineering and climbing is something that I've let slip over recent years and so I hope to resurrect this over the summer. Having sound mountaineering skills is of course a benefit to climbing something like Manaslu so it'll be great to get something a bit more recent on my 'CV'. Completing the Cuillin Ridge in a day not only requires rock climbing and scrambling skill and confidence, but solid fitness and resilience, and mental fortitude to crack on when weary. Ticks in all the right places, eh.

Before my Cuillin adventure I have also signed myself up for the Ambleside 50km run by Brathay, and sponsored by The Climbers Shop. I think 50km is a brilliant challenge distance and this route looks amazing! The route is a mix of valley trail and some fell, dipping in and out of some of the finest parts of the Lake District. With a total of 1500m ascent it also seems quite runnable which will be nice. It all seems very reminiscent of the Keswick Mountain Festival 50km, but a South Lakes variation. Having this on my calendar will ensure that along with all those short runs I reckon I'll easily fit in, I'll also keep some longer distance stuff ticking over from time to time.

The Ambleside 50km Route - Just looks amazing!

The idea of cycling the C2C in a day (125 miles, 3,500m ascent) has also been floated by a friend. The idea of this appeals and it'll be nice to put some training in on my road bike rather than pounding my knees senseless. I guess this goal all hinges on time to get on the bike, and also time to get the actual main ride in the diary- we shall see! It'd be nice to get it done.

So that's 2022 fairly sorted with goals I'd say, but with Manaslu being so far away I've got to look further into the future too. After the Bob Graham people often look to the Paddy or the Ramsey (The Welsh and Scottish equivalents of the BG) but I know that unless it's something I really want to do, it won't get me fired up to train like the BG did. Coupled with this, there is also that 'thirst' I mentioned in my completion blog. That desire to do the Bob Graham Round kept me moving forward, and there was no way I was going to quit. If I'm going to go for something as big, or bigger, it simply has to be something I want to do, not something I feel I should be doing.

I have three other major goals alongside climbing an 8000m peak I would like to tick off in my lifetime. These are:

  • Cycle the Fred Whitton Route - 112miles, 10,400ft ascent - Maybe 2023?

  • Complete a Triathlon - Can't swim for toffee - post 2024 for this one.

  • Run 100 miles in one go

And now, with the confidence of the BG the thought of being able to contemplate running 100 miles has floated back into my life. Having completed the Lakeland 50, it would feel nice to get the Lakeland 100 (actually 105 miles!) ticked, but more recently I have developed an attraction to the 'Lakes, Meres and Waters'. This gigantic linear route aims to visit 27 major bodies of water in the Lake District, spanning 105 miles and 14,000ft ascent. Joss Naylor holds the currently untouchable record of 19 hours and 14 minutes, but describes it as 'one of the best routes he'd ever run'. Last year Vivienne Crow released a book about the route, and Joss' run which I think I'll soon get in to see if it really is something that I could get fired up for. On paper, it certainly seems like it could be a winner, and there are many attributes, both from the training and the final run itself that will contribute towards getting me up Manaslu - providing my knees don't wear out before then!


Manaslu, 8167m- The main aim

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