The launch of the paperback version of ‘It’s a hill, get over it’ went very well on Saturday evening. There was a good number of people there, and a good few books were signed and sold. Thanks a million to Lucy of Bookends for bringing the books (they only came a day or so beforehand) and dealing with sales of books (and tickets), and to Andy of Saddleback Cafe for use of the venue and the superb catering. After working the crowd – oh, steady on – I said a few words about the gestation of the book, my motivation for writing, and a couple of fell running stories, concluding (according to of one of my friends FB account) by saying ‘some inspirational words of wisdom…run more fells and follow your creative dreams into practice – don’t just dream it – do it!’.
In the afternoon I had met with Steve Birkinshaw and we had a long chat about his BGR for my next book. We were also discussing the way we are going to approach our ‘double act’ together at the Buxton Adventure Festival. If you want to hear the background to his amazing Wainwrights 6-day effort do come along to the session next month. It was especially good that he was able to come to the launch as well, particularly as he was competing in the Mountain Trial the next day.
I had also invited Kenny and Pauline Stuart to the launch and was SO pleased to see them there, as they had given a fabulous interview for the book, and couldn’t have been more helpful to me, providing some great photos of their career highlights that are in the book as well.
The book is officially published on 18 September, but is already available online, and from good bookshops. Both Bookends shops in Keswick and Carlisle, and Sam Read in Grasmere have signed copies available so please consider using these excellent shops. It is also available at Third Step Books website and from their popup shop at fell races.
As you may have noticed in the first photo I also managed some fairly unsubtle product placement for the BGR map I have recently been working on. This is produced by Splashmaps and is a wearable/washable fabric printed map, based on OS Open Data and OpenStreetMap (data which is behind the maps in the book), showing very clearly the route details of the Bob Graham Round. It is available in good sports/book shops, or can be ordered online – use code steve8 to get a 10% discount at the checkout.
The paperback copies of ‘It’s a hill, get over it’ are back from the printers, ready for the publication date of 18 September. The launch for the paperback is set for Sat 13 Sept at 6-30pm. It is to be held at the Saddleback Cafe in Keswick. There will be light refreshments, a short talk from me (some fell running stories), and a chance to buy copies of the book 5 whole days before it is officially published, thanks to Bookends shop in Keswick, who are partnering with the cafe to hold this event. The event is ticketed, in order to be able to let the cafe know how many to cater for. So, pick up a ticket from either the Bookends shop (66 Main St, Keswick) or from the Saddleback Cafe (135 Main Street, Keswick).
UPDATE: you can also meet an absolute fell running legend at the event.
The paperback has been updated with details of a couple of the recent fell records, including Steve Birkinshaw’s recent 6-day Wainwrights Round Record. So come along for a chat, a nibble, and a chance to be the first to get hold of the paperback of this Boardman Tasker Prize nominated book.
Advance notice: I will be interviewing Steve Birkinshaw on his Wainwright achievement on stage at the Buxton Adventure Festival in October.
Went to watch the Round Latrigg fell race as it fitted in with our plans whilst in the Lake District. A reasonably low profile Keswick AC organised race held from Fitz Park on a gorgeous sunny evening – unlike some of the other days in the week. 185 entries, headed home by Ellenborough’s Ricky Lightfoot in a new course record of 29-21. Was kindly allowed to take some copies of ‘It’s a hill, get over it’ along – a few of which were snapped up by runners in the football clubhouse after the race. Good to chat with fellow running blogger Rob Morris at the event, and to meet @ (who pleasingly bought a copy of the book).
Some other random things that happened in the week will be blogged on in later posts. This included having a good day in Kendal library’s excellent and helpful local history section, researching for Book II, and also visiting Barrow House to look through their archive of relevant material. I also set up the launch for the paperback version of the book, with the help of Lucy at Bookends in Keswick and Andy at the Saddleback cafe.
In the surprisingly quiet Travellers Rest I had a very productive meeting with David Overton (of Splashmaps) to finalise details of our map of the Bob Graham Round, which will be available later next month in good retail outlets near you, and online at Splashmaps.
But most exciting of all was finding out that I have been nominated in a list of 41 books for the Boardman Tasker Prize for mountain literature. A massive honour just to be listed.
It has taken a while coming but the summer issue of The Fellrunner has a good review of ‘It’s a hill, get over it’ in it by Graham Breeze. Because of earlier ‘issues’ I had thought it might not be reviewed or that it was too late [see my thoughts on 'Being reviewed and being NOT reviewed'], but it is a balanced review. After a comparison with Richard Askwith’s book, he notes that ‘Hill is a worthy and useful addition to the fell running literature and, with its record of detail, an excellent reference book‘.
A few days later the June issue of Compass Sport (Britain’s National Orienteering Magazine) arrived, which has a great review by editor (and sometime fellrunner) Nick Barrable in it. After noting it ‘should probably adorn all fell runners’ bookshelves‘, he concludes the review with the comment: ‘Overall, a fine choice for any runners’ library‘. [Click the image for the full review]
That second quote looks like making it on to the cover of the paperback when it comes out. I am working with Sandstone Press on choosing which quotes are best. Is it really the best quotes, or the ‘most famous’ that should be used? Which neatly leads me to a link to a piece in The Guardian yesterday by Nathan Filer (winner of the 2013 Costa Book of the Year). In an article entitled ‘Why you should ignore the superlatives on book jackets‘ he reveals how they often happen through friends doing each other ‘favours’. [Disclaimer: I know Nick B a little]
I had a brilliant day attending the 2014 Lakeland Book of the Year Awards yesterday. It was held in a huge marquee in the beautiful grounds of the Inn on the Lake in Glenridding. Mike and I drove over from Staveley on a glorious sunny day. Bucks Fizz in the Orangery started proceedings before we had a fabulous luncheon, and for me a ‘calming’ pint of Marston’s EPA. Then came the real action. The mainman Hunter Davies said a few humorous words of background, and introduced fellow judges Fiona Armstrong and Eric Robson. The awards were in 5 categories, with 15 shortlisted altogether. What the authors didn’t know was what category they were in, but it turned out that it was neatly arranged that there a shortlist of three books per category. One couldn’t help thinking that the odds on a category win were shortening, but that was dangerous thinking, and could lead to unnecessary disappointment. The table I was on had 3 shortlisted authors on it, all in different categories. Weirdly, we had spotted a pile of books on the judges’ table, and thought ‘surely the winners aren’t there on show’. Initial excitement as I squinted, then disappointment as I couldn’t see a distinctly thick green-wrapped tome. OK, relax and be ready to applaud others.
Then, the judges went through each category in turn. The three ‘contender’ books were introduced with some apt summaries (and/or were quoted from) to set the scene, and then one of the event sponsors was called forward to open the envelope and announce the category winner. The first category was The Striding Edge Prize for Guides and Places, which went to Stuart Miller’s Canoe & Kayak Guide to North West England – who was on our table. Then came the Zeffirellis Prize for People and Business category, which was won by Undressed For Dinner, which charts how Simon Temple-Bennett and his wife turned their home into an internationally-renowned hotel. They were also sitting at my table, so expectations were becoming low indeed – what chance, etc. My category was last [I think, the day became a blur around here] and was the Bill Rollinson Prize for Landscape and Tradition. By now it was obvious that the judges actually had seperate piles for each category, so hope was not all lost. Fiona Armstrong started the category off by saying some very nice things about my book, how she wasn’t especially interested in running [she is actually a fisherperson, if there is such a word] but had been captivated as she read through the book. She extracted the story of Malcolm ‘Bighead’ Canmore choosing his messengers on the basis of their performance in a specially arranged fell race (this was in 1064, see p27) as her ‘sample’. Then the reasons why the other two books had been shortlisted, and a few honourable mentions for near misses.
The pause before the sponsor revealed the name after opening the envelope seem interminable, but he said ‘Steve ….’ and I felt a bit like the crowd must have felt when McWhirter said ‘3 minutes …’ when announcing the result of Roger Bannister’s sub-4 mile [OK, that is stretching it a bit, but you get my drift]. I think I might have hugged Mike as I went up to be presented, and certainly thrust my mobile phone into his hand with the implied suggestion that he might record the moment.
All winners were asked if they wanted to say a few words, and I did – no surprise there. I must admit to having thought about whether to have a little speech ready but forced myself not to. So I mumbled something about being a writer and feeling that I should be able to say something appropriate as it came to me. As Keith Richardson was in the audience I told a short anecdote about how I really wanted to write a biog of Joss, but that he got there first and so I had to move to a wider subject. Then I think it was thanks for the recognition for the book, and encouragement to others to go down the interesting path of writing about whatever they were passionate about. I sat down and shook hands round the table. I believe I may have called out ‘top table’ across to the other 2 winners in our group. Then Hunter Davies went through the overall winner shortlist (of 4), before announcing that Simon’s Undressed for Dinner had won.
The formal bit over we posed for pictures with the judges and relaxed. I had a great chat with Rebecca Robinson, who was on our table. She runs for Kendal AC and is an excellent fell runner, with marathon ambitions. Impressively she had just run up and down Helvellyn whilst waiting for the event to start. The picture shows me having a chat with her, and also with Keith Richardson with whom I discussed writery/Naylory stuff.
But the best of all was being introduced to one of my heroes. Himalayan (and big wall) climber Doug Scott was there as a paying guest and he was highly amused by the story (which appears in the book) I told him of being asked if I was him in a pub once and saying ‘yes’ for some strange reason (I may have already had a drink) – and then being plied with more drinks all night as a result by someone thinking I was famous.
A fabulous event, and for me a fantastic feeling of achievement and pleasure at being an ‘award winning author’.
Two new projects have just got off the ground (hopefully). First, the latest edition of Trail Running Magazine came out, and it carried a note about a new Splashmap for the Bob Graham Round. This is a project that has been mooted between myself and David Overton at splash-maps.com, that I sincerely hope will come to fruition. Need to get on with costing, designing and working on the artwork. The same edition of the magazine carried a series of pieces on Billy Bland and the Bob Graham Round, which included some data from me on the timeline for the BGR and comparisons with the other big rounds – the Ramsay, Buckley, Baxter and Wicklow rounds.
Secondly, I have been researching ideas, data, and sources for a second book. Having recorded in-depth interviews with the two most significant individuals (and setup a whole series more interviews), I have just started the task of writing the manuscript. At one point I thought I would approach this manuscript differently to my first one. I actually thought I might collect all my thoughts and then write the text in the order of the proposed chapters. Well, that has gone by the by – partly through impatience, and partly because an intangible muse ‘made me’ start writing. I had one almost sleepless night, mulling over: how to best structure the narrative, how to lead in, some half-formed chapter run-ins, and backgrounders to the interviews. I just HAD to get some of it out of my system. A productive 2,000 word Sunday was the result. And no, it wasn’t the Chapter 1 that I worked on.
Meanwhile, there is still some unfinished business with ‘It’s a hill, get over it’. There is preparation to do for the eventual move to paperback. Yesterday I was sent the draft of a review that will be out in Compass Sport (‘Britain’s National Orienteering Magazine’) in the next 10 days or so. I had known it was a possibility ages ago, but had almost given up hope. But it is worth it, as I hope the summary “….. a fine choice for any runners’ library“ will lead a few more to make a purchase. So, that just leaves the Fellrunner (‘Magazine of the Fell Runners Association’) as the one important outlet not to carry information about the book or a review. On past form I wonder if they ever will. There is one due soon, so I live in hope.
Finally, there is the excitement next week of the Lakeland Book of the Year awards ‘do’ to attend, as a short-listed author.
It has been nice to be able to provide copies of ‘It’s a hill, get over it’ as ‘rewards’ recently. This weekend the winners of the Chew Valley 10k both received a signed copy of the book along with their other goodies. This came about for two reasons. One was because one of the main organisers is Denise Mellersh, who was one of the first athletes I coached at the club. The other was because the Chew course is notoriously NOT flat, as it includes Coley Hill. Despite the tough course the winners both had what Denise described as ‘none-too-shabby’ times: Nathan Young finishing in 33-05, and Lucy Macallister doing 37-28.
Ten days or so earlier Trail Running magazine had setup a competition to win a copy of the book on their website. This was arranged with Claire Maxted, editor of the magazine, and has a pretty easy entry standard! Go to the Trail Running website to enter (closes on 10th July). Obviously these are both indirect adverts for the book, and one has no way of knowing if any sales result, but I did feel they were worth doing. I hope the race and competition winners enjoy the read.
But the really good news is that the book has been shortlisted for an award. It was nominated for the Lakeland Book of the Year award. The initial nomination list of 60 books has been whittled down to a shortlist of 20, of which mine is one. An announcement was made in the Westmorland Gazette, explaining that there are 5 seperate categories to the award. I hope to be able to attend the award luncheon, which is in Glenridding on 15 July (some smart work juggling permitting). Obviously I am super chuffed to be shortlisted, but am trying not to let the excitement detract from my work on the manuscript of a second book, which I have now started researching.