Bob Graham Record
Note: See here for a splits comparison between Jack's and Kilian's rounds
September has not always been the ideal month for a scamp across the fells, but Jack Kuenzle has shown us otherwise. What a jaw-dropping round. Here is a brief comparison of his (JK), Kilian’s (KJ) and Finlay’s (FW) splits, hot off the press and courtesy of Open Tracking (as ever).
The attempt started in an unassuming fashion with JK cresting Skiddaw 2 minutes slower than both KJ and FW. 30 seconds was lost on Great Calva, then 2 minutes to Blencathra, then another 2 to Threlkeld. But just before we could prematurely make assumptions, something flipped – and it flipped fast.
Once atop the Helvellyn ridge, JK unleashed a new gear, taking big proportionate chunks out of this most runnable portion of the round. JK had clearly had this mode available to him from the get-go, but had deliberately chosen to measure his effort over Leg 1.
With the brakes off, he took time on nearly every transition over the leg – who knew there was nearly 2 minutes to be found from Stybarrow Dodd to Raise?! By the time JK reached Dunmail, he had turned a 6 minute deficit into a 1 minute surplus, completing the leg over 7 minutes quicker than KJ (and 11 quicker than FW). Game on.
But what about the upcoming rough Lakeland terrain? It’s a question sometimes asked of overseas contenders, usually unfairly. To say JK had all the answers is an understatement. After a brief exchange with Billy Bland on the slopes of Steel Fell, the man – if indeed he is human – found a further 14 minutes on KJ. He gained over 10 minutes before even reaching the Scafell ridge. After proving his prowess over boulders, a whopping 5 minutes was found on the descent to Wasdale, although he was still slightly slower than Billy’s freefall of 19 minutes back in 1982. As at the National Trust car park, he had 16 minutes over KJ.
After a short pause, Leg 4 looked like it might offer some moderation: JK had his slowest split relative to KJ from Yewbarrow to Red Pike, and then proceeded to trade times on the remainder of the Mosedale horseshoe. Atop Grey Knotts, JK’s 16 minute lead had fallen to 11 minutes…
… and yet by Honister it had nearly doubled to 21 minutes. How so? Back in 2018, KJ had had a moment on the way to the quarry, having a relatively slow descent and needing a 3 minute break at the bottom. Amazingly, it had been the exact same place that Billy had gotten into difficulty 40 years ago.
So by the final leg it was clear the record would fall, the only question was by how much. We knew from FW’s round that there was some time to be gained, particularly on the run to Keswick. Notwithstanding everything JK already had in the bank, he pretty much matched FW’s pace, completing Leg 5 nearly 5 minutes quicker than KJ (and squeezing in a scissors-facilitated shoe change).
The final time at Moot Hall was 12 hours, 23 minutes and 48 seconds, an incredible 28 minutes and 34 seconds faster than KJ’s record. To try and put this in some form of context, it was nearly an hour and a half faster than the Billy Bland record which many had felt unbeatable a mere five years ago.
In terms of the route, JK descended Blencathra by Hall’s Fell (rather than the parachute) and climbed Fairfield via the dogleg from the hause (like KJ, rather than via the Cofa Pike which FW took). On the next leg, JK opted for opted for the usual Sergeant Man first, whereas KJ went for High Raise. As ever, route variations made little difference to times.
What a day.