The Frog Graham Round Powered by Voom
On Saturday 15th August Team Voom ambassador Beau Smith will be attempting a Frog Graham Round (FGR) alongside his friend and training partner Rich Anderson. The swimrun challenge covers around 62km, depending on route decisions, and includes 18 Lakeland peaks as well as four lakes. A round usually takes runners anywhere between 11 and 18 hours, with the current record set at 10:55 by Ben Abdelnoor in 2019. Despite the considerable challenge Beau has said “I’d be lying if I said we won’t have one eye firmly on the clock” so we look forward to seeing the finishing time on Saturday evening!
What is the Frog Graham?
The Frog Graham Round is a long distance fell running and open water swimming challenge based in England’s Lake District National Park approximately 62km in length covering 18 summits and four lakes. The swim-run style of event is officially known as the sport of ÖTILLÖ, which like many top events started after a drunken bet, originating in Sweden around the Stockholm Archipelago in 2002. Athletes race in pairs between various islands or lakes; transitioning between disciplines and cold water temperatures are often as challenging as the distance covered. These events have gained popularity in recent years as triathletes and other folk look for alternative challenges.
Origins of the Frog Graham
The challenge was created by Peter Hayes, inspired by the popular Bob Graham Round fell running challenge which requires runners to visit 42 peaks in a roughly 66mile loop and return to The Moot Hall in Keswick within 24 hours. Peter completed the inaugural round in 2005 but it took nine years until the second finisher, Tim Mosedale conquered the challenge in 2014. The idea now has its own website and attracts challengers from a variety of locations, not all of whom end up completing, despite there being no time limit. At time of writing in August 2020, only 84 names appear on the ‘roll of honour’. Unlike the Bob Graham the spirit of the event suggests those who can should aim to be self-supported (no support runners, mules or food stations).
Photo credit: Nicola Staples instagram: @nikistapes
The FGR Route
The Frog offers the added twist of swimming across four of Cumbria’s tranquil lakes; Bassenthwaite, Crummock Water, Buttermere and Derwent Water. There are several checkpoints which challengers must visit but individuals have flexibility of route choice between each point meaning there is also a significant navigational element to the challenge, particularly in bad weather. The checkpoints to be visited are either fell/mountain summits including Skiddaw, Grizedale Pike, High Stile and Catbells to name a few, or swimming entry/exit points which are obviously all on lake shores. Interestingly the FGR also visits Otterbield Island, St Herbert’s Island and Rampsholme Island during the Derwent Water swim leg.
Attempting a Frog Graham
Beau said “We’re confident we’ve done our homework. We’ve done recce runs of all sections and we’ve really tested how our bodies will respond to the demands of a fell running and swimming challenge. We’ve also practiced using kit that wasn’t necessarily that familiar to us before, and are extremely lucky to have received some sponsorship for the event from Solo Sport and Arena UK so we can use the fantastic Arena Swim Run wetsuit. Bring on Saturday!”
The FGR website advises that the formidable challenge is not for novices and also includes guidelines on water bio-security measures which competitors must observe between the different lakes. Beau will be fueling largely on Voom Pocket Rocket energy bars and using Hydrate Smart electrolyte drink to maintain hydration which will be particularly important with the current weather.
Best of luck to Beau and Richard on Saturday! #VoomInPowerUp