Most folk who have completed the Bob Graham Round or the Joss Naylor Challenge will agree that the contender may not have the easiest job on the day, but certainly has the most straightforward. You just pretend that you’re one of those fluffy little bunnies and if you’ve got your Duracells in, you’ll get there in the end. The guys with the real challenge are those who navigate for you, carry the kit, make sure that all the other support is in the right place at the right time and ensure that the tea is hot and sweet at the road crossings. You just keep putting one leg in front of the other until someone says “Stop!”.
And so it was on my Joss Naylor when we left Pooley Bridge just a few minutes after our scheduled start time of 4:00 a.m last Saturday. I was accompanied by Karl Taylor, Ian Charters and my brother John. Ian, having completed his own Joss just five weeks before in a time of 14:14 was to run the whole distance with me and was to do his full share of navigating and carrying. We were seen off by Julie Laverock of Salford who many of you will know from the Tuesday track sessions. Julie was to mastermind the road support and the hot sweet tea.
For information, the Joss Naylor Traverse runs from Pooley Bridge to Greendale Bridge in Wasdale, taking in 30 tops, forty odd miles and approx 17,000 feet of climbing. The older you are, the more time Joss allows you. As a 62 year old I was allowed 18 hours.
Karl ran effortlessly though to Kirkstone pass where Julie waited with the tea. At that point we were well ahead of schedule. He continued though to Grizedale Hause before turning back his car at Patterdale. We drank tea at Dunmail Raise where we were joined by Steve Kenyon. Ray Stafford had joined the road support. Then the long run over to Styhead where we met all the support, including John Coope, Ray Stafford, Pauline Charters, Nicole Kirkham, plus our guides for the final section, local man Peter Ferris and the eponymous Joss.
So it was that seven of set to off complete the final section, starting with the stiff climb up Great Gable. It was around that point, after running for twelve hours, that I started to feel tired! Fell seriously behind my own 17 hour schedule on that final section, but finally finished in 17:53, just 7 minutes inside my allotted 18 hours. A big thank you to the whole team.
For the record, John Coope, Ray Stafford, John Swift, Ian Charters and presumably Joss Naylor had all previously completed the Challenge ~ my time was the slowest.