Nicky Spinks has just become the first person to run an historic 122-mile Double Paddy Buckley Round in the brutally-tough mountains of Wales.
It means Nicky, an inov-8 ambassador and inspirational breast cancer survivor, has now completed double rounds of Britain’s three classic 24-hour mountain running challenges.
Her continuous two laps of the Paddy Buckley Round circuit, which included 94 peaks and 56,000ft of height gain (almost two times Mount Everest), was achieved in approximately 57hrs 27mins (exact time to be confirmed).
Previously, in 2016, the 51-year-old farmer from Yorkshire set a new record time for a Double Bob Graham Round (England) and two years later become the first person to run a Double Charlie Ramsay Round (Scotland). Her treble of double rounds is unprecedented and one of the most remarkable British sporting stories of last few years.
inov-8 Communications & Ambassador Manager, Lee Procter, said: “We are immensely proud of Nicky and her remarkable achievements. Throughout all three double rounds she showed unbelievable grit and determination to win countless battles with some of the toughest mountain running terrain imaginable. She is an inspiration to us all.”
Through her running challenges, Nicky has raised more than £18,000 for cancer charity Odyssey. She hopes to raise that total up to £20,000. You can donate via her JustGiving page.
PRE-CHALLENGE BLOG POST:
Having previously completed a Double Bob Graham Round (England) and Double Charlie Ramsay Round (Scotland), record-breaking inov-8 ambassador and inspirational breast cancer survivor Nicky Spinks is now aiming to finish an incredible British trilogy with a Double Paddy Buckley Round (Wales).
Starting at Capel Curig on Friday (May 17th), the 51-year-old aims to run and hike two full laps of the Paddy Buckley Round – the first lap in an anticlockwise direction, before turning round and doing it all again in a clockwise direction. She hopes to complete it under 48 hours but will continue to the finish, whatever the time.
The Double – 122 miles, 94 peaks, 56,000ft ascent
The Paddy Buckley Round is a gruelling 61-mile circuit of 47 mountain peaks in Snowdonia (North Wales), that includes approximately 28,000ft of ascent (a fraction less than the height of Mount Everest from sea level). It was first completed by Wendy Dodds in 1982 and the current record is 17hrs 42mins, set by Tim Higginbottom 10 years ago. Although there is no official time limit set, contenders generally aim to do it in under 24 hours, as they do on the UK’s other two classic mountain rounds, the Bob Graham Round and the Charlie Ramsay Round.
If Nicky is to become the first person to complete a Double Paddy Buckley Round she will need to summit all 47 peaks twice (including two visits to Snowdon, the highest mountain in Wales at 3,560ft), cover a total distance of 122 miles and ascend approximately 56,000ft (almost twice the height of Mount Everest from sea level).
The beef farmer from Yorkshire is, of course, no stranger to such epic challenges. Having completed sub-24 hour ‘standard’ rounds of all three classics on multiple occasions, she then set about attempting doubles. The first was a Double Bob Graham Round (132 miles and 54,000ft of ascent) in 2016, which Nicky set a new record time for. She rounded all 42 Lake District peaks twice in a time of 45hrs 30mins, taking more than an hour off Roger Baumeister’s previous best from 1979. Watch Run Forever, the film of Nicky’s record-breaking Double Bob Graham Round.
Next up in 2018 Nicky became the first person ever to complete a Double Charlie Ramsay Round (116 miles and 57,000ft of ascent). She battled heat exhaustion and sleep deprivation on her way to twice topping 24 notoriously-tough Scottish peaks, eventually reaching the finish in a time of 55hrs 56mins.
The most inspiring mountain running story of recent times
Now standing in her way of a pioneering British treble, and achieving arguably the most inspiring mountain running story of recent times, is a Double Paddy Buckley Round over the toughest terrain Wales has to offer.
Nicky heads to Snowdonia on the back of a solid 2019 which has seen her spend lots of time training in the Welsh mountains, as well competing in races both at home and abroad. In March, she was the joint-last woman standing at the Barkley Marathons – a brutal ultra-distance race which no runner, male or female, managed to finish for the second successive year. Now, however, all her attention is on achieving a Double Paddy Buckley Round.
As she did for her other double rounds, Nicky, who was awarded a British Empire Medal in 2018 for outstanding services to sport and charity, has called on the same group of experienced friends (and her dog Wisp) to provide support both on and off the mountain. From pacing and navigating to feeding and encouraging, Nicky’s well-drilled team will once again have a crucial role to play in making this a successful attempt.
Through her many running challenges Nicky has raised more than £18,000 for Odyssey, a charity that helps people with cancer regain their self-confidence and enjoyment of life through a variety of activities. Her next target is to reach £20,000. You can help by donating on Nicky’s JustGiving page.
You can also follow Nicky’s progress throughout the Double Paddy Buckley Round via this LIVE TRACKING MAP.
Reflecting on previous Paddy Buckley Rounds
Speaking ahead of her latest challenge, Nicky said: “I’ve always wanted to complete the trilogy of the doubles and, for me, I have left the most important one until last. The Paddy Buckley Round is where it all really started.
“After completing the Bob Graham Round in 2005 and finding it within my capabilities, I looked at the Paddy Buckley Round. Although about the same distance and climb as the Bob Graham Round, I knew it would be a much harder challenge, mainly because the mountains are so rocky and there is no ‘easy’ leg to finish on. I attempted it in May 2006 in awful weather conditions. I somehow managed to stay only 20 minutes down on schedule until the last hill (Cnicht), where the wheels fell off completely. I staggered to the finish in 25hrs 45mins. One month later I was diagnosed with breast cancer.
“I still, however, had unfinished business with the Paddy Buckley Round and in 2007, while still recovering from the cancer and reconstruction operations, I successfully completed it in under 24 hours (23:55).
“The next time I set my eyes on a Paddy Buckley Round target it was to try and break the women’s record in 2013. It was held by Anne (Johnson) Stentiford, who ran a very strong 19hrs 19mins in 1991 and was the overall record holder until Mark Hartell did 18hrs 10mins in 1992. This was a huge challenge for me, especially when bad weather forced me to postpone the attempt by 24 hours and in the process lose half my support team due to other commitments.
Not letting cancer win
“I quickly had to find more people, most of whom I didn’t know but all of whom turned out to be excellent. One of those was Charmian Heaton, who, for the first time, led the road support, and has done so for me since then. Everything ran smoothly and I was blown away by how well organised the support team were. I finished in 19hrs 02mins and was over the moon. It was a perfect day.
“Going back to train in Wales over recent months has really brought back a lot of memories for me. I think back to 2006 when I was nowhere near fit or fast enough for a Paddy Buckley Round and had to put my body through the hardest of times in foul conditions, to ultimately finish well outside 24 hours. Then being told I had breast cancer a month later and feeling desperate to get off my hospital bed and back to Wales. During that time I felt tired and heavy-legged, but I kept going back to Wales with friends, determined to get fit and not let the cancer stop me. Eventually on that 2017 attempt I got it done in under 24 hours.
“From there I upped my game considerably, doing speed and hill work, much longer and harder mountainous days, and learnt how to be efficient at road stops. I needed every advantage I could get. That incredible journey led me to breaking the women’s Paddy Buckley Round record in 2013, as well as the women’s Bob Graham Round and Charlie Ramsay Round records (my Jasmin Paris has since beaten those three times).
“I feel that the Paddy Buckley Round is where I really started my running career and, for me, it’s in these mountains that I want to finish the trilogy of double rounds on a high note.”
Nicky’s kit for the Double Paddy Buckley Round
Nicky has thoroughly tested all her kit (and lots more options) prior to the challenge and selected three of her favourite products below:
Shoes: MUDCLAW G 260 with graphene grip. Nicky says: “I’ve been wearing the same pair on every training run around Double Paddy Buckley route. The grip on the rock has been astounding. I started to feel like Spiderwoman!”
Pack: RACE ULTRA PRO 2IN1 VEST. Nicky says: “I will use the stripped-back option without the additional 10-litre compartment. I will have pacers carrying all my kit most of the time! I will use it at night to hold the battery for my headtorch, plus I’ll stash some essentials in the many pockets. I used the option of attaching the 10-litre compartment at Barkley Marathons. It’s great two have two options in one pack.”
Warm top: MERINO HOODIE. Nicky says: “This long-sleeved top with a hood and extended sleeves has been my most worn clothing item over the winter. As well as being Merino which works as a base-layer or a mid-layer, the hood and the long sleeves provide that extra protection and warmth when needed.”