Last night it was the biennial Bob Graham Club dinner and certificate presentation at the Shap Wells Hotel. The hotel is an old coaching inn located off the A6 which before the M6 was built was the main western road route in to Scotland. It's still used by coach parties but last night it was essentially taken over by around 360 club members, partners and guests.
Normally the dinner is a celebration but this year was the first following Fred Rogerson's death and the first at which he had never been present. An additional sad point was the recent news of the death of Bill Smith who had been out on the Bowland Fells and become stuck in a peat bog and died. It is believed that he had been there for three weeks before his body was discovered. It is perhaps a sad reflection on our times that if he had died at home or in an old people's home only the fell-running community would have taken note but the circumstances of his death led to the spotlight being cast on the somewhat out of sight world of fell-running and Bill's magnificent but understated contribution to it. Sizeable articles in national newspapers and mentions on national media are not something that Bill would have sought but decent men deserve recognition and Bill was definitely that.
The last two years have seen a lot of successes on the BGR and there were nearly 180 certificates to hand out. This meant that a bit of logistical jiggery-pokery and Selwyn Wright had Fred's three daughters along with the new ladies 24hr record holder, Nicky Spinks, to do the hand shaking. And so, two by two we managed to get through the presentations without taking too much time away from the evening's dancing and Ceilidh. Also noteworthy was the presentation, only the 17th ever, of an associate membership to Ian Roberts who has been supporting long distance rounds throughout the UK for many years. He didn't actually know it was him being talked about until perhaps a minute before his name was actually announced!
One of the reasons I was there was to see a couple of mates receive their certificates having been successful earlier this year - Andy Kitts and Steve Brock - both of whom had not long ago stated that they weren't interested in the BG along with Simon Cox who did a very quick time around the 19hr20 mark! I'm not sure of the figures but there did seem to be quite a few women among the recipients, certainly higher than the 6% or so of the existing membership, one of these was Nicky Jaquiery who I'd helped on leg three on a very hot day last year. By a quirk of chance the guy sat next to me, Andy Nicoll, was one of the contenders who went round on the same wild, wet day as Fred's Run and whose support team we'd met coming down Rossett Gill.
Formalities out of the way, copious amounts of beer was drunk(!) with Andy K providing me with suitably embarrassing introductions to various people - "This is Bob, you've used his website."! There were a few suggestions for extra content not all of which are feasible, someone suggested commercialising it with adverts which I have absolutely no intention of doing, my hosting costs aren't huge so there is no pressing need to recover them. Eventually after a lot of chat I dossed down in the car at about 2:30am. A good night!
The weather this morning was absolutely yukk, so just had a steady drive back through the Dales. It's yukk down here as well :-(