I was very pleased to hear this week how well the book is selling. Sandstone Press tell me nearly all the second print run of 1,000 have left the warehouse, and are out with bookshops and online sellers. A third print run of 1,000 hardbacks is now being produced. So, there should be plenty of copies available.
Good to see that book chains like Waterstones are stocking it. The picture above was taken last week in Waterstones in North Finchley. Not a bad place to be – in between Mo Farah and Ray Mears! Remember there are many different sources – Lakes’ independents shops like Fred Holdsworth, Sam Read and Bookends all stock it. The Book Depository, Outside, Play and Wordery all sell it online, as of course do Amazon.
But best of all if you are an active fellrunner is the new shop, Third Step Books. They are “dedicated to offering the widest range of books on Fell Running, Mountaineering, Polar Exploration and all things cold, high or muddy; our aim is to bring together the best of the New, the Lost and Forgotten, as well as the Rare and Collectable.” But even better is that they “are available to provide a stall at races across the North of England. Providing a mix of the latest books with bargain classics, we have the right mix for your field. If you would like a specific book bringing to an event from our online offer, just let us know.” Check them out on the web and Facebook. Their Facebook page has a great pic of the stall at the Flower Scar race last week, with ‘It’s a hill’ prominently displayed. I hope you will support this great new book-selling enterprise (which I have no connection with).
Finally, a reminder that you will be able to get signed copies of the book at the various talks I am doing this month and next. See the Events page for further details of the events in the Lakes, Edinburgh, Altrincham and Sheffield.
Details of a series of talks promoting ‘It’s a hill’ are now being finalised. There are dates set for the Lakes, Scotland, Lancashire and Yorkshire. Any further information will be available on the Events page.
Wilfs, Staveley – Thu 20 March for a slide/supper evening. Fabulous food and venue (next door to the Hawkshead Brewery). Details and booking.
Carnethy Hill Running Club – Fri 21 March at Pi in the Sky, Edinburgh University, Kings Building campus. Possibly sharing a stage with Finlay Wild (Cuillin Ridge record holder).
Altrincham AC – Fri 4 April @Timperley Taverners, sharing the stage with Jeff Norman (Olympian and former Fell Runner of the Year). MC’d by Neil Walker.
Sheffield Adventure Film Festival – Sun 6 April @Showroom Cinema. A great gig. Programme includes other running-related films/talks, including Heather Dawe (Adventures in Mind) and Emma Clayton. Details.
There should be book signings at each event. Other events may be arranged, particularly one at Keswick AC in the summer, and hopefully a launch for the paperback edition when it comes out towards the latter part of this year.
An extensive review was posted on the Mud, Sweat and Tears website on Jan 14, complete with several illustrations. Two quotes from the review: “So, when Steve Chilton decided to embark on It’s a hill, get over it (the title apparently inspired after he had seen it on the back of a t-shirt a runner was once wearing) he would have probably been aware of some of the high standards that had gone before him. Thankfully, this book doesn’t disappoint.” And then later: “He intersperses the guide to some of these races with some excellent interviews, such as the one with Rob Jebb…….and has an amusing interview with Boff Whalley” [Click graphic for link to full review]
The review in TGO magazine (The Great Outdoors) in the Jan 2014 issue said: “If you’re interested in the history of fell running – written by a seasoned fell runner – then look no further. There are some brilliant photos here, not to mention an entire chapter on Joss Naylor.” [more reviews]
Two worrying situations have been rumbling on recently in the fell and road branches of athletics, which show the pressure race organisers can come under when governing bodies don’t get their act together.
In road running the SEAA Southern 12-stage and 6-stage relays (set for 16 March in Milton Keynes) were ‘cancelled’ by local organisers Marshall Milton Keynes AC on Jan 13. Long-term organiser Mick Bromilow wrote a long message of explanation on his club’s website (since taken down, but available at the AW forum). It seems that there were terms in the new SEAA contract that were not acceptable – around levies and marshalling commitments. Despite trying to resolve it MMK claim that SEAA were just not showing any urgency to sort things, so announced that they would NOT be hosting the event, labelling it a “shambles”. [As I write this it now seems to have been resolved and the race is back on.]
More worrying is the situation in fell running. Following the death of Brian Belfield in the Buttermere Sailbeck fell race (in Apr 2012) the coroner wrote to the FRA after the inquest (in Oct 2013) reporting “seven Matters of Concern ….. mainly concerned with runner counting procedures and communications with race marshals” – to which the FRA had to respond. They did and revised/tweaked the Safety Requirements For Fell Races accordingly. However, these have been heavily criticised by individuals (including race organisers). On 15 Jan there was a posting on the FRA forum from ‘a professional Safety Advisor’ announcing his resignation from the FRA Committee in protest at their reluctance to accept fundamental changes being made. To quote from the resignation letter: “The Safety Requirements document has been gradually modified bit by bit but it has been like pulling teeth and there has never been an acceptance that the whole thing needs to be scrapped and replaced with something simpler, more modern, more flexible and which would ultimately result in safer, better-organised races and would massively reduce the legal risks to ROs [race organisers] in the event of something going wrong.”
This has rumbled on, with 67 posts to date commenting on the issue, including one smokescreen response from the FRA Committee. The worry for me is that it will create a schism in the sport, similar to the amateur/professional one of yore – as race organisers consider whether the ‘rules’ are unmanageable and the insurance not worth the paper it is virtually written on, and chose to run their events outside the FRA framework. [See here the two 'flavours' of road races - if you run in an Association of Running Clubs licenced road race your times will not be eligible for UKA Powerof10 listing.]
I don’t like seeing this kind of situation in either branch of the sport, but it seems to be an inevitable result of the fear of litigation that has been pervading society.
Good to get that lot off my chest – hopefully normal upbeat blogging will resume shortly.
Full details [PDF] of the talk I am giving at Wilfs Cafe on 20 March are now available from the website. There are other talks that might interest too [series details]. This is part of the blurb: “…stories will range from naked runners, via the World’s Greatest Liar contest, through to the establishment of the Bob Graham Round and other long fell challenges and some subsequent record breakers. It will be illustrated by a series of photos of events and athletes, many of which have emerged in the course of his research“.
REVIEWS: also this week two more good reviews were sent to me.
Scotland Outdoors included a nice, but short, review which commented: “…….. this exhaustive homage to fell running promises much, and delivers“.
Scottish Memories included the book in it’s reviews in the December 2013 issue. It noted “…. the story of how the sport’s foremost athletes developed is a fascinating one, with many early fell runners juggling full time work with pursuing the sport at evenings and weekends. Steve also takes a look at how some of fell running’s classic challenges such as the Cuillin Ridge Traverse came into being, as he explores what draws runners to a particular location.“
[Click images for full reviews]
… whether it be in races or just as a place to train? Isn’t it just a crazy thing to do, to chose to go running and include as many hills and as much rough terrain as possible?
There is no simple answer, but several themes may partly answer those questions. Some of us are escaping from the stressfull urban environment that many of us live in. On a run in the hills, away from cars, traffic lights and such-like, you have time to think, and can right many wrongs in your life, and the world. There is also a sense that treadmills, road running and marathons in particular are now passé. Many who participate in these arenas have been trying trail running and also fell running in order to revitalize their running, and perhaps to bring some element of ‘challenge’ to it. Sports psychologist Dr Victor Thompson recently suggested: “Humans are essentially animals and animals are, by nature, lazy. But some people choose to do something about it. For years people will have been pushing themselves in their careers, but after a while you need a new challenge, another goal. They’ve been to the gym, they’ve done that, time for something new.” [http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-16548236]
But for some the challenge of a tough run over the fells is not enough. This need for ‘extreme’ challenges results in people feeling that they have to enter events like Tough Mudder – a 10 to 12 mile obstacle course featuring mud, ice baths, barbed wire and electric shocks. I question whether the addition of artificial difficulties that this type of event incorporates is really necessary. Give yourself the challenge of even a medium length fell race such as the Fairfield Horseshoe and you will have all the challenge you need, together with beautiful views (if you are lucky, and have time to take them in). Enter the Dragon’s Back race along the spine of Wales, or plan to complete the Bob Graham Round and the training prior to either event will give you a whole series of wonderful new experiences, as you run up and through some of the higher and remoter areas of England and Wales.
You don’t have to go to those extremes though, because even the simplest of runs in the fells can give you some magical experiences. I have very distinct memories of a very easy evening training run from Kendal Youth Hostel out to Scout Scar. As my training partner and I ran up to the viewing platform there we saw the vista of a glorious sunset over the Western Lake District spread out before us. We sat and marveled at our luck.