IN memory of his late wife Patrina and in support of Charis Integrated Cancer Care, who ‘provided the most amazing support’ to them, Declan Faulkner will tackle the daunting Bob Graham Round this weekend.
The Ballygawley man is no stranger to taking on feats of endurance, having finished inside the top 10 at The Race and having completed the grueling Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc.
However, this weekend’s test provides its own unique sets of challenges, many of which will vary in toughness depending on the weather.
The Bob Graham Round sees competitors make their way around a 66 miles circuit of the 42 highest peaks in the English Lake District, which will seem them ascend 27,000 ft – almost the height of Everest – in 24 hours from 6pm this Saturday evening until the same time on Sunday.
The route was first completed back in 1932 by Bob Graham, a hotelier in Keswick, who was 42 at the time.
Each summer around 100 of the most highly tuned ultra-distance fell runners attempt the challenge within the allotted 24 hours. Only one in three will return to the Keswick Moot Hall before the clock runs down and Declan is hoping to be one of them!
“The elevation changes are the big thing,” he acknowledged. “It’s a big challenge.
“The weather could be a big a challenge as anything else.
“At the minute it’s looking like it will be warm, but we don’t want that because you will dehydrate because you can’t carry enough water between legs.
“Food and your stomach can play havoc with it, but the weather is the big thing because it can be unpredictable in the mountains, it can change very quickly.
“It’s a big one and I’m getting nervy about it, but I’ve done lots of training in the Mourne’s and I did a run in America about six weeks ago, which was 35 miles and about 12,000ft of climbing in North Carolina on the Appalachian Trail, so that was great preparation. It was stunning.”
Declan won’t travel to Cumbria until the morning of the race, preferring to spend the night before in his own bed in the hope of getting a good night sleep.
And during the event he ‘won’t need any extra motivation’ in order to complete what is sure to be a massive task.
“I’m doing it in memory of Patrina and to raise money for Charis, so I’ll not need any extra motivation,” he explained.
“My beautiful wife Patrina passed away on April 10, 2017 from breast cancer after a four year battle. She was most amazing woman, wife, mother and friend to all. She never complained about her illness, and fought so hard to live. Myself, Niamh, Tiarnan and Padraig miss her so much.
“I am raising money for Charis Cancer Care who provided the most amazing support for Patrina and myself. Imelda and all the team are so welcoming, with fantastic treatments like reflexology, massage and bereavement support for me has been invaluable,” he concluded.
The Charis Centre is purpose built in the Sperrin Mountains, providing free therapies for cancer clients and their next of kin throughout Northern Ireland. These include aromatherapy, reflexology, counselling, dietary advice, relaxation courses, bereavement support, and financial advice.
• To donate to Declan’s
fundraising efforts, visit