Run Forever: Nicky Spinks & the Double Bob Graham Round

We recently welcomed ultra runner Nicky Spinks and the inov-8 team into the store for our first ever movie night and asked our own Nikki to sum up the evening…

Run Forever Movie PosterOn Saturday 14th May 2016 at one minute past midnight, Nicky Spinks set off in the dark from Moot Hall in Keswick to attempt to complete the double Bob Graham Round in under 48 hours. The route, which traverses 42 peaks around the Lake District, is 132 miles long with 54,000ft of elevation gain.

If successful, Nicky would be the first ever woman to break the 48-hour mark for this truly epic feat. To give some comprehension of the challenge ahead, the overall record at the time (46 hours 34 minutes) had been in place since 1979, set by Roger Baumeister. Nicky would be crewed by experienced fell runners, including Baumeister and fellow fell running legend Joss Naylor.

We were all rooting for Nicky ahead of her challenge, staying up to date with news from inov-8, her kit sponsor. I remember vividly coming into work that Monday and learning that Nicky had not only completed the double BGR in under 48 hours, she had broken Roger’s overall record by over an hour in 45 hours and 30 minutes. The minds of my workplace (and running social media in general) were completely blown.

Nicky refueling with fish & chips
Essential race nutrition

Already an accomplished fell runner, this diminutive woman with trademark silver curls (who, incidentally, works full time on her and her husband’s farm) celebrated 10 years of surviving breast cancer in spectacular fashion, and I couldn’t get enough of the subsequent articles about it. Back in May I was yet to take the first gentle steps back into running after 10 months out due to an injury, after unsuccessfully trying to make the transition from road racing to ultra-marathon and the news was a kick up the backside to stop feeling sorry for myself and do everything I could to get back to fitness.

A couple of months later inov-8 organised some product testing for retailers up in the Lakes and one of my colleagues was chosen to represent our store. When he came back to work and told me that Nicky had been there and that he’d had the chance to run with her I was beside myself. I had so many questions I wanted to ask and could only dream of running alongside one of my (s)heros. She kindly signed a tee shirt for me but I didn’t believe in a million years that I would ever get to meet her.

The tee shirt Nicky signed for me
The tee shirt Nicky signed for me

We didn’t know at the time of Nicky’s double BGR that the attempt was documented by a film crew. The resulting footage was curated by director Nick Brown into a powerful and emotive 50 minute film, Run Forever. It premiered, fittingly, at the Kendal Film Festival where it scooped the Judge’s Special Prize and came third in the People’s Choice Award category.

A tentative email was sent to inov-8 asking if they would allow us to screen Run Forever, maybe with a view to hosting a Q&A session with Yorkshire-based Nicky via Skype. Imagine the excitement when the reply came back to say ‘yes’ and that Nicky and the inov-8 team were all going to be there!

Fast forward a couple of months and we welcomed 60 guests into our shop for the screening, complete with popcorn. Although the film is available to watch for free on YouTube I had deliberately avoided it, wanting to keep the experience as special as possible. I wasn’t disappointed.

Popcorn and shoe display
It’s not a movie without popcorn, right?

I’m not one for spoilers but will tell you that from the opening scene until the roll of the end credits the entire room was spellbound. From the panoramic vistas of the lakes to the soaring winds on the peaks, from learning about Nicky’s running history to hearing her and her family speak so candidly about her cancer diagnosis and treatment, the emotion in the room ran high.

Chatting afterwards someone mentioned what a team effort it was but to me, watching Nicky and her crew, it came across more like a family effort; surrounded by people who wanted her to succeed and accepted as an equal by the likes of Baumeister and Naylor. Nicky has the utmost respect of her peers and this was an important aspect of the film (particularly considering that approximately 75% of our audience that night was female and the fact that fell running is still a largely male-dominated sport).

After the screening Nicky kindly answered many, many questions from the audience (more of that to come later) on topics such as nutrition, race prep, earrings and what the next adventure might be. However much I admire our guests I always make a point of standing back at our events so as not to crowd them or prevent other people from asking their questions but I made sure on this night then when the floor opened up I was the first person with my hand in the air.

Q&A with Nicky and Lee Proctor from Inov-8
Nicky & Lee Proctor take the Q&A

We’ve been so fortunate to have some truly wonderful guests in our shop and I’m always struck by their humility and tenacity and Nicky is no different. She has an infectious smile and has a knack for making people laugh. You can’t help but feel inspired by this woman, who took up running after being called a ‘fat lass’ and who has chosen not to let cancer dictate her life.

Please do watch Run Forever and share it with others. I guarantee that afterwards you will do one or more of the following:

  • Pretend you have something in your eye;
  • Want to go for a run;
  • Want either rice pudding or a chippy tea;
  • Feel like you could conquer the world; or
  • Let a small voice in the back of your mind suggest that maybe, one day, you too might consider even a single Bob Graham Round.

Thanks Nikki! We’ll be back soon with more on the Q&A session with Nicky and Lee… Nicky Spinks and fellow inov-8 ambassadors regularly write blogs for the inov-8 website. Discover more here.

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