What a book, and what a run! There is no map in hell describes Steve Birkinshaw’s epic attempt to run all 214 Wainwrights in the Lake District in as fast a time as possible. Starting and finishing at Moot Hall in Keswick, as is standard for a Bob Graham Round, however Steve’s route was over 300 miles.
The record for running all of the Wainwrights was set by the fell running legend that is Joss Naylor, who completed his route in 1986 in 169 hours (just over 7 days). Steve’s target was to complete the whole thing in under 7 days.
While the second half of the book covers the actual attempt, the first half is equally entertaining, with Steve’s upbringing and orienteering events as a child, before finding his true calling on the fells. Obviously Steve didn’t just decide one day to ‘have a go’, it took years of training, gradually increasing the distances, with the Bob Graham, Ramsay and Paddy Buckley Rounds, along with the famous Lakeland 100 and Dragon’s Back Race.
I look at some of those races and wonder if I could finish any of them. I don’t do enough fell running to be a natural, and as such I always struggle on the descents (unlike my beautiful wife who descends with absolute joy). Recently we also watched a couple of short films on Youtube about Nicky Spinks, another fell running legend, who managed a double Bob Graham Round in less than 48 hours. Simply astonishing, as was Steve’s Wainwright route.
This book is full of running, so it was a perfect read for me, and if you’re not a running, there is still a lot to be had, motivation, dedication, pain, blood, sweat and tears, as well as 214 Wainwrights.