Monday, 7 April 2014

Is it possible to beat Joss’ time?

I seriously started to think about running the Wainwrights about this time last year. Since then the question I keep asking myself is “Is it possible to beat Joss’ time?”. Joss Naylor MBE is an awesome athlete and as tough as you get. He is able run through pain over long period of times when anyone else would have given up. So to even contemplate breaking his 7 day 1 hour record for the Wainwrights is a daunting challenge.

Joss wrote a very good short book about his completions of all the Wainwrights in 1987 (as he approached his 50th birthday). Called “Joss Naylor M.B.E Was Here” it gives full details about how tough it was together with timings for every summit. It is clear from reading his account that the main thing that slowed him down was the weather.  For the first 5 days there was a heat-wave and the long days in the heat were clearly very tough and Joss’ feet, hands and mouth swelled up badly. By days 6 and 7 the weather changed but by then the damage was done and Joss admits that at times he was struggling.

There is obviously nothing I can do about the weather, I hope I do not get a heat-wave like Joss had and I also hope I do not get seven days of wet and windy weather.  Ideally I will have cool, calm dry weather but I am certainly not expecting this. However, ignoring the weather (as it is outside my control) there a couple of things I reckon I can do to give my self a bit of an advantage compared to Joss.


Better Route 

As I said in my previous blog I have spent ages working out a good route (both looking at a map and out on the fells). I have tried four completely different variations and for each of these some smaller variations. The stats. for my current route are shown below (the distance and climb depend exactly on which bit of software you use to measure it)

Steve’s Distance = 511km
Steve’s Ascent = 36000m

I have put in Joss’ route on the same mapping software (although not as accurately done) and his route is:
Joss’ Distance = 530km
Joss’ Ascent = 38000m

So I reckon I have saved 20km and 2000m of ascent (around 5%). This will make about a 6 hour difference at the end of the attempt.
You can see a bad map below showing my route (blue) and Joss’ route (red). You can see sometimes they are similar (eastern fells) but it other places completely different.

Joss (red) and Steve (blue) Wainwrights routes

Less Resting Time

On the first three nights Joss stopped, got driven somewhere  had a nice meal (and a few beers – I like his style), a sleep in the back of a van for around 4 hours and then start again around 7-8 hours after stopping.  My plan is that I should really only be either sleeping or moving, I should be trying to eat as much as possible whilst moving.  So below are Joss’ timings and my planned timings

Joss total time = 169 hours
Joss resting time = 44 hours
Joss moving time = 125 hours

Steve planned total time = 158 hours
Steve planned resting time = 25 hours
Steve planned moving time = 133 hours

I am planning on resting lots fewer hours (25 compared with 44 for Joss). So although I will be moving slower I will beat Joss’ time. It all sounds great in theory but it will be a lot harder in practice. It will rely on really good support and me coping with 4 hours sleep a night.