John Kelly and His Grand Round

In the lead up to their almost simultaneous Pennine Way FKT attempts back in July John Kelly and Damian Hall had been messaging eachother. You might think these would be messages of support or maybe swapping notes, helping out a colleague kind of thing; But I like to imagine the conversation went a little bit like this – 

John Kelly
Photo: WayoutsideUK

How would the conversation go?

John Kelly: Hey Damo, I’m going for a little run along the Pennine Way in July. Might just try and lop a few minutes off Mike Hartley’s FKT if I have time.

Damian Hall: Hi John, great to hear from you. Ah! I was going for a bimble out that way in July too. What day(s) are you going?

John KellyOh right. Probably 13th July

Damian Hall: Cool cool. You go then and then I’ll rock up about a week later and completely smash your FKT. Sound good?

John Kelly: Um, yeah I think so. I mean I’m going to go there in July and then in August I’m going to do the Paddy Buckley, Bob Graham, Ramsay Round

Damian Hall:

John Kelly: And all back-to-back

Damian Hall: F**K That

John Kelly: Yeah I guess it would be a pretty neat FKT! Oh and I’m going to link them all by cycling between each one

Damian Hall: K Bye

John Kelly: 😃

Now, as much as this exchange might be completely fabricated the incomprehensible concept of John Kelly running the Paddy Buckley Round, Bob Graham Round and Ramsay Round and linking them all by cycling between them is actually 100% legit, if not 100% mental!

John Kelly
Photo: Phil Hill

The Grand Round

The “Grand Round” is the brain child of Kelly himself. First attempted last year by the American ultra-runner / British resident, before a few niggles and incredibly poor weather stopped him quite early in his tracks, the Round takes in all three of the UK’s big fell running rounds. 

More pizza

Starting in Wales on Sunday 16th August he completed the Paddy Buckley Round, which is a little over 65 miles and 28,000ft of vertical gain, in just over 22 hours. He then hopped on his bike and cycled the 180 miles over to the Lake District. Once there he promptly limbered up, devoured a few slices of pizza by all accounts, and shot off to attack the famous Bob Graham Round. Arriving back and fully intact after completing the 66-mile route, including 27,000 ft of vert.

I’m assuming he probably had a bit of a stretch at that point, maybe a power nap, copious amounts of coffee and no doubt more pizza before climbing back into the saddle to ride 200 miles further up the UK and into Scotland. There he capped off this incredible feat of endurance by navigating the 60-mile route, and another 28,000 of gain, of the Ramsay Round.

John Kelly
Photo: Jen Scotney

In total John completed The Grand Round in 130 hours 43minutes and 10seconds. Before setting off he had referred to the fact that his goal time was 120 hours. He’d hoped to complete each of the three rounds under 24 hours. I think it’s safe to say we can completely disregard any sort of clock watching and just marvel at what Kelly has achieved. There isn’t a stopwatch in the world that can truly attest to what Kelly was able to do.

Sometimes runners and endurance athletes place too much emphasis on time, racing against the clock and other athletes to be the quickest. In this instance John’s race was in fact against what was humanly imaginable, not even just humanly possible. This wasn’t Kelly running (and cycling) to become the best, the quickest or even the first, in all likelihood it was John Kelly becoming the One and Only!

A thank you!

Posting on social media shortly after completion Kelly said simply – “There are a lot of pictures I could post, and some of those will come. Beautiful landscapes, epic climbs, iconic locations, and amazing people… Thank you so much to everyone who supported me on this adventure, sent encouragement my way, or contributed to the fundraiser. As much as this was my own dream and project, it was the furthest from “solo” as anything I’ve ever done in running. I wouldn’t have even made it out of Wales without that support.”

John Kelly
Photo: Michael Corrales Mills

As part of the project John was fundraising for The Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust and a link to the justgiving page can be found here.

We’re looking forward to reading the report from Kelly, on his blog, in the coming days / weeks (take your time John!) and fully expect it to be quite the inspiring read!