UPDATE (April 7): Nicky completed her Bob Graham Round in a time of 18hrs 06mins (confirmed). She was outside of the 17:21 clocking she needed to record the fastest cumulative time for the Bob Graham, Ramsay Round and Paddy Buckley due to injury, but still managed to set a new women’s record time by 6 minutes.
Record breaking fell runner and cancer survivor Nicky Spinks plans to set a new record this weekend. Not content with being the fastest woman over Britain's highest peaks, Spinks will attempt to lower her own Bob Graham time by 51 minutes – and beat a separate men's record in the process.
The 47-year-old currently holds the fastest cumulative women’s time for the three most famous 24-hour mountain challenges in Great Britain – the Bob Graham (England), the Paddy Buckley (Wales) and the Ramsay Round (Scotland). In order to beat the men's time, Spinks needs to complete the 66-mile, 27,000ft Bob Graham circuit in the Lake District in 17.21 or faster.
But Spinks, who hails from Yorkshire, is unperturbed by the challenge ahead. In the week leading up to her record attempt, it's the climate that's threatening to be her greatest obstacle. 'I’m just waiting for the weather to sort itself out,' she told Runner's World. 'It’s windy and rainy and I won't start if it’s like this, as high up would be cloudy and foggy and visibility wouldn’t be good. I’m trying to get my support rearranged for Sunday at the moment; we're getting there.'
Assuming the weather Gods will be on her side, having already mastered the Bob Graham round twice, what is Spinks' secret? 'Probably mental strength and organisation,' she says. 'Over the years lots has gone wrong, but I've learned how to cope, so now I'm organised and better prepared.'
Spinks didn't discover her aptitude for endurance running until 2001. 'I’m not the fastest actual runner; I think when you're older you take more care of yourself. There are lots of runners that come into the sport later. Runners who start in there teens are impatient, they get away with a lot, but the benefit of age is patience. When you set goals you give yourself a year, not two weeks!'
Despite being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005 and undergoing a hysterectomy in 2012, she has managed to overcome whatever life throws at her. 'Surviving cancer has made me do the challenges as soon as I can and to appreciate the fact that I am able to. I savour the good moments more. But mental stamina has helped me be stronger. There's not a lot worse than being told you have cancer. And although this challenge means a lot to me, when it's all getting too much pressure I can think it's not the end of the world and I'm doing this because I want to.'
Spinks has been training specifically for the event since last September. 'I’ve tried to pick up some speed on the 10K, because I want to run a lot of it and there’s five miles of road at the end of it. Although I won't be very fast, if my legs are used to running on the road they will hopefully adjust, as I’m used to running on fells. I’ve been doing cross country and road training over the winter so hopefully I'm prepared.'
She has simple hopes for the day. 'I’d like to keep eating consistently and at the moment I need it to dry up; the land is quite wet after lots of rain. Then afterwards 'I'll try and stay awake and have a couple of beers! And I'm hoping for a wee dram of whisky. The next day I’ll hopefully go for a nice gentle walk in the sunshine.'