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The Lake District offer much to those who want to challenge their fitness

When a runner or a walker looks around the UK for a challenge to their fitness, the Bob Graham Round is one option that stands out. For over 100 years, this trip across 42 hills and mountainous peaks around the picturesque Lake District has held a certain allure. Covering 74 miles, the challenge is thought to be much tougher than running a marathon which seems almost sedate by comparison.

Within the route, people who undertake the adventure will ascend to as high as 28,500 feet, which almost has Mount Everest beat at 29,029 feet. As such, the route is only for the fittest individuals who are able to handle the extreme altitudes and the extra stress it exerts on the body during the walk or run.

The Round is named after Bob Graham, who started life in Cumbria, only moving to Keswick in later life. He enjoyed taking extended walks, which culminated in challenging himself with the route that took in 42 peaks. He completed the trip in under 24 hours, which was a record that was unmatched until 28 year later.

The round may be taken clockwise or in the opposite direction. Either route starts and ends at Moot Hall, in Keswick, near where Graham ran his guest house in the area. By the 1960s, the challenge of the round became of greater interest with two runners, Alan Heaton and Ken Heaton, both from near Blackburn in Lancashire, meeting up with Stan Bradshaw to try to complete the circuit.

Alan Heaton was the only one of the trio who completed the round, but in doing so he set a record of 22 hours, 18 minutes. It is said that Stan Bradshaw tried again a fortnight later and completed the round.

The record in the sixties was sometimes with Alan Heaton and other times with Eric Beard. Joss Naylor was the most frequent runner in the 1970s, setting his personal best of 23 hours and 20 minutes. Those that manage to complete the round in under 24 hours gain membership to the Bob Graham Twenty Four Hour Club.


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