Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Feet in the Clouds


A Tale of Fell Running and Obsession
by Richard Askwith

I read this 340 page diary of one mans love for fell running and the lake district whilst on holiday in Keswick in August this year.

During a particularly wet day I spotted the book for sale in a book shop/cafe up in the Whinlatter National Forest Park . I suppose I picked it up partly because I love the hills and fells in the Lake District and also because I have always admired fell runners.

Running up and down mountains is almost an "alien concept" for someone like me from Suffolk as we don't have any any mountains . In Suffolk we have the odd hill but no areas which you can truly describe as hilly.

True fell running is the art of running up and down trackless mountains unlike many events around the world know a days which follow well marked tracks. The book explores this issue and laments the fact that in recent years organisers of fell races are increasingly under pressure when it comes to staging events. It must be difficult to stage events which involve people hurtling down the side of unmarked mountain routes in all weather conditions at the best of times but increasingly now when there is a 'sue culture'.

This book explores a number of themes including the history of fell running, the great fell runners such as Joss Naylor, Bill Teasdale,Kenny Stuart,Billy Bland and Helene Diamantides, the cut throat battle between the AAA and fell running associations and the authors own pursuit of one of the toughest running challenges going the Bob Graham Round.

For me the physical challenge of the Bob Graham Round is probably the best part of the book. It commences from the centre of Keswick at the Moot Hall. The objective being to traverse 42 peaks in a circular run within 24 hours arriving back at the Moot Hall in Keswick. The total distance if you don't get lost is 72 miles which includes 27,000 feet of ascents and declines.

This is a well written book and worth a read even if you never contemplate fell running yourself.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous2:59 pm

    I bought the book earlier this year.I have to admit I was a bit disappointed with it, I wanted to know more about the author's personal journey and less of the facts,figures and times surrounding the sport of fell running.
    While living in Wales I did have a couple of seasons fell running,I'm not sure if that's the reason I am a harsh judge of the book or not.


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