The Club is occasionally asked to provide input or assistance to various media outlets, print, radio, TV and film. This has almost always been declined. The reasons are laid out below.
It is the policy of the Bob Graham Club not to foster or encourage media activity in connection with the Round.
There are a variety of reasons for this and these are outlined below. Almost everyone who undertakes the Round comes to it via the worlds of fell running and mountaineering. People get to know about the Round via those channels and we don’t either feel the need, or indeed wish, to draw attention to the Round outside those circles.
This is founded on the principle that we don’t do anything that we feel may further increase traffic on the Round. Over the years, the Club has done its best to keep a low profile. We have found that publicity in more recent times has had a number of negative effects.
The publication of Richard Askwith’s Feet in the Clouds, a number of years ago, had a marked effect on both the Round and the Club. Numbers attempting the Round increased to high levels. In some of those years we had over 90 completions in a year. There has been a corresponding increase in the numbers of people out on the fells looking over the route, often in real time as regards their planned attempts.
A number of problems have arisen from this sharp increase. We have had problems with local residents being disturbed at sensitive times of the day (or rather, night), there have been many incidents of failure to pay parking charges at the NT car park in Wasdale and shocking rudeness to NT staff looking to enforce the car parking (and campsite) rules. Most recently, we have had conflict with market traders in Keswick at the time that many contenders chose to finish their Rounds. These avoidable problems sour relations and all take time for us at the Club (all volunteers) to manage and smooth over.
Recently, we have had the first rescue call-outs (for pacers and those recceing the route) to our knowledge since 1960 when the original repeat of the 1932 Round was done.
Perhaps most significantly, parts of the route are now coming under the official microscope of a combination of the National Park Authority and Natural England. A particular concern is erosion of certain parts of the route, allegedly caused by BG parties (those doing the Round and those preparing for it).
This latter issue is not unique to the BG Club. The Fell Runners Association is facing an increased number of access, environmental and erosion-related issues which threaten an ever-increasing number of our races and other events.
So, to quote the late Mike Rose from when he was FRA General Secretary, and whose words are still retained on the FRA website in the “How to Join” section, expressing a view we happily endorse:
Fell running is perhaps unique amongst sports in that it does not seek to attract ever greater numbers of participants. The reason for this policy is that we have to balance our sporting interests with the impact on the environment. The sad fact is that the hills of Britain simply will not cope with ever increasing pounding of feet. Protecting the environment is one of our primary aims.
We are sensitive to these problems; as outdoor people we understand the need to take care of the environment we run in, to respect the people who live and work in the areas in which we “play” and we have to wrestle to keep a sensible balance.