Epic Ultra Running Winter Record set by James Gibson

Many UK mountain-loving ultra runners dream of completing a Bob Graham Round (England), Paddy Buckley Round (Wales) or Charlie Ramsay Round (Scotland). These ‘big three’ 24-hour challenges are steeped in history and to tick off all three is a trilogy to be proud of.

Imagine then what it must feel like to not only complete all three, but to do so solo and unsupported, and all in one winter season! Well, that’s exactly what inov-8 ambassador James Gibson has just achieved.

Here is his mind-boggling 2022/23 winter season roll of honour:

  • Dec 15th – The Bob Graham Round (Lake District, England). 66 miles, 42 peaks, 21hrs 12mins.
  • Feb 6th – The Paddy Buckley Round (Snowdonia, Wales). 61 miles, 47 peaks, 23hrs 02mins.
  • Feb 25th – The Charlie Ramsay Round (Highlands, Scotland). 58 miles, 24 peaks, 23mins 09secs.
The Bob Graham Round

In doing so he battled deep snow, treacherous ice and brutal blizzards to become the first person to achieve solo and unsupported sub-24 hour completions of all three iconic mountain rounds in winter. Not only that, he did it all in one season! 

The trilogy totals 185 winter mountain miles, achieved by James in 67hrs 23mins, with a total ascent of 75,000ft (two-and-a-half times the equivalent height of Mount Everest). During the three rounds, James also bagged the highest peaks in England (Scafell Pike), Wales (Snowdon) and Scotland (Ben Nevis).

Lake District based James said: “I’m psyched to finally complete my project for the season. It took some perseverance and effort to keep coming back and trying, but I’m glad I did. In total, I made six attempts (one at the Bob Graham, three at the Paddy Buckley and two at the Ramsay Round) with three successes and three weather-beaten failures between December 10th and February 25th. What an adventure it has been!”

The Paddy Buckley Round

James’s times for the Bob Graham and Ramsay Round are solo and unsupported winter records in themselves.

Speaking about the Ramsay Round, James, who used an ice axe and put micro spikes over the top of his X-TALON ULTRA 260 V2 shoes when needed, added: “It’s certainly been the round I’ve been most anxious about due to its serious mountain terrain and conditions, but with a good weather window I was treated to an amazing experience. It was such an incredible adventure with many exciting – and hair-raising – momentsbut a very fitting way to finish the winter season.”

Those hair-raising moments included “falling on steep snow heading off Stob Corie Sgriodain, things getting very serious crossing the Grey Corries when traversing steep hard snow, and getting cold in the wind between the hills behind Loch Treig and Annoch Mor.”

The Charlie Ramsey Round

The Bob Graham, Paddy Buckley and Ramsay Round are all 24-hour challenges undertaken by strong ultra runners throughout the year, with the summer months being particularly popular. It’s a monumental effort to successfully complete all three in the space of one year, let alone one season. Most runners hoping to do all three will spread them out over several years. Each can be tackled in a clockwise or anticlockwise direction and with differing levels of support as chosen by the runner. 

The most popular of the three is the Bob Graham Round in the English Lake District. At the end of last year, the number of people to have completed the Bob Graham and be in the ‘Bob Graham Club’ was 2,713. The record time is an incredible 12hrs 23mins, set by Jack Kuenzle in September 2022.

Each challenge is officially named after those who first devised the routes.

James is no stranger to challenging Winter rounds. In December 2021, he completed the first Winter Wainwright round, in full winter conditions. The Wainwrights are a collection of 214 peaks in the Lake District that amount to an incredible 325 miles and 36,000 metres of ascent.

We can’t wait to see what James does next!

"It’s certainly been the round I’ve been most anxious about due to its serious mountain terrain and conditions, but with a good weather window I was treated to an amazing experience."

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