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Epic Rigby Round record
4 Min Read
03 July 2014
Epic Rigby Round record
There are those that set out to stroll the UK’s biggest mountains – and there are those that want to do them as fast as they can. And then there are those who set out to finish a tough mountain route in less than 24 hours. Over the years, some epic challenges have been set including the Bob Graham Round, Paddy Buckley Round, Ramsay's Round and the Rigby Round. Now we have heard about Tracy Dean, who is believed to be the first woman to complete the 75-mile 18 Munro Rigby Round in 23 hrs 31 mins. This is an incredible achievement when you consider that it takes place in a wilderness area of Scotland, is largely pathless and includes almost 6,000m of elevation gain. Tracy, an inov-8 athlete, is also the current women's course record holder for the Lakeland 50 (mile) ultra race, in a time of 8hrs 38mins set in 2012.

What’s more: The 24-hour challenges

The Bob Graham Round is a circuit of 42 fells in the English Lake District, including the 3000ft (910 m) peaks of Skiddaw, Helvellyn, Scafell and Scafell Pike. The round is named after Bob Graham (1889–1966), who in 1932 set the record for the number of Lakeland fells traversed in 24 hours. He held the record for 28 years until Alan Heaton did a quicker time in 1960. The Bob Graham Round is now a standard fell-runner's challenge and has been completed by almost 2000 people. The Paddy Buckley Round is a long-distance fell running challenge in Snowdonia, Wales. The route is a circuit of just more than 100km over 47 summits. The aim is to complete the route on foot in less than 24 hours. The Ramsay Round is a fell running challenge near Fort William, Scotland. The route totals 24 summits over 58 miles with a total climb of 28,500 feet. Ben Nevis, the UK’s tallest  mountain, is included in the route along with 22 other Munros. Originally, all 24 summits on the Ramsay Round were Munros, but Sgorr an Iubhair was declassified as a Munro in 1997. The route was devised by Charlie Ramsay as an extension to an existing 24-hour walking route, and first completed by Ramsay in 1978. The Rigby Round was devised by Mark Rigby in 1988. He ticked off 17 Munros in 75 miles with 19,000 feet of ascent in less than 24 hours. Since then, Angel Peak has been elevated to Munro status and there has been a handful of notable completions of all 18 Munros, including Bob Berzins (1999), Phil Clark (2004 with one support point), Rob Woodall (2008) and Yiannis Tridimas (2009).

Tracey’s Rigby Round

One of 18 Munro summits.jpg Tracey describes the Rigby Round as “one of the most epic journeys of my running life”. She had never before run more than 13 hours in the mountains, yet she completed the endurance challenge in less than 24 hours. The round must be undertaken solo, unsupported and without any prior reconnaissance. This means that you get one shot at it. Tracey says: “Half a dozen people, all male as far as I am aware, have completed it successfully. Others have tried and failed. Knowing I could potentially be the first woman to complete the round was a huge incentive. Nonetheless, my previous experience of running in the Munros left me in no doubt as to the enormity of the task ahead.” Tracey describes the first few hours as tough – because of the mist – but exciting. In the following 20 or so hours, she sometimes doubted herself and felt a lack of energy every six or so hours but always reminded herself to “just get on with it”. Tracey says: “Running over unmarked ground covered in heather, bogs and boulders meant it was really tough and by the time I got to Monadh Mor (our fifth summit) I had already done seven hours. “In any of the other big rounds you would expect to have visited a lot more peaks by this stage. But I guess that is what makes the Rigby so different. It is more about dealing with getting from peak to peak rather than simply bagging them. There are no paths to get you there. It is just vast wilderness.” As water sources on the ground became less frequent, especially later in the round, Tracy took to eating snow. She also found the snow useful for descending quick, sliding down on her backsides. When the mist lifted and the rain stopped, Tracy was able to look around at the landscape for the first time. She says: “The Cairngorm range is vast. With the Munros standing tall and proud, it made for both an intimidating and beautiful environment. I struggle to put into words exactly how it made me feel.” Throughout the challenge, Tracy did not want to know what the time was, or how long she had left. She says: “I just didn’t want that pressure. I figured that I was going as best I could and nothing would make me move any quicker.” On the last few Munros, Tracy describes a “long haul from Ben Avon to Beinn a’Chaorainn through rough and boggy ground”.  The she started to believe she might be close to the finish. Tracy says: “I thought, 'Two more peaks and I’m done’. But then I realised, ‘Two more peaks on the Rigby Round means another five or six hours!’” On the way to Bynack More the weather changed again, with the mist and rain returning. Visibility was once again poor but Tracy’s pace remained strong. [caption id="attachment_12012" align="aligncenter" width="300"]The more ordinary running look of Tracy Dean! The more ordinary running look of Tracy Dean![/caption] She reports that the last climb of the round was the hardest. Tracy says: “I basically straight-lined it up to top of Cairn Gorm. This was essentially a pull-up through thick heather. I felt so, so sick. That wasn’t, however, going to stop me. By now myself - and my two running companions – were on all fours, heaving our way upwards like demons. “I touched the summit and flew, relatively speaking, down on to the piste and to the road. All that remained was the run to the telephone box from where we had started and complete a truly epic mountain adventure. “I was absolutely shattered, having given everything to the round. I pushed myself to the limit, but in doing so reaped some amazing rewards.”

Take it easier in the mountains

If you like the sound of the mountains but fancy a more relaxed outing why not check out three great walking holidays: You could choose to walk the only Munro on the Scottish island of Mull during a Walking and Wildlife trip Walk the West Highland Way and take in the views of many great mountains, such as Ben Lomond and Ben Nevis. Your own Lake District Round.  A self-guided circular walk  deep into the heart of the English Lake District.  

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