Three Cumbria Rounds, 3 videos

trailpiketrilogyA linked series of 3 short films recognising the 3 running legends who have given their names to iconic running challenges in the Lake District:
• The Bob Graham Round
• The Joss Naylor Lakeland Challenge
• The Gerry Charnley Round
The films aim to mark the contribution of these legends of the fell running scene, whilst giving viewers an immersive experience of what it’s like to be part these challenges.

So says the publicity blurb for The Trailpike Trilogy, which I have just been made aware of. They are being made by fell runner and poet Geoff Cox, who has teamed up with film-makers No Routes Found Collective to create three distinctly different short films. The first of them is called ‘A Shepherds Hand’ and features the Joss Naylor Lakeland Challenge. It has it’s premiere at the Kendal Mountain Festival on November 18th and is in final editing at the moment.

Geoff is starting work on the second film now, which will be the Bob Graham Round one. I have been in discussion with Geoff about sourcing some historical photographs for the film, particularly from the early days. He says that there are numerous great photographs of ‘fell racing in the Lake District, but far fewer of fell running. Runners without numbers is how I like to think of this.’ Having done a bunch of photo research for my book on the Bob Graham round,  I was able to give Geoff a few leads to follow.

trailpikepdfIf you want to know more about the project then download the 3 page PDF publicity sheet which has contact details. There is also information on how you can support the venture, especially sponsoring (filming costs, etc).

If you want more information on the challenges then I can only point you to ‘It’s a hill, get over it’ (my book on fell running’s history and characters), and for a full and detailed history of the Bob Graham Round and its innovators to ‘The Round: in Bob Graham’s footsteps’.

[The Round is out in paperback early in 2017, and can be pre-ordered now]

In profile: Jack Maitland

Jack feels that the highlight of his fell career was probably winning the British Championship. In mountain racing it would be winning Mount Cameroon and the Everest marathon (both in 1989). ‘You remember the wins, don’t you. I won Burnsall but never won the Ben, Snowdon or the Three Peaks. I had a lot of seconds! I came against some very classy athletes in that era. I think I got the most I could out of myself, for instance in that Snowdon race.’

Jack Maitland reflected on his career in the third article to appear in the latest Fellrunner under my byline. It resulted from an interview I conducted with him as part of my research for my new book, Running Hard: the story of a rivalry. After the long and fascinating interview I realised there was more info on Jack than I needed for backgrounding him for the book, so I decided to write a profile of him as well (with his approval, and with some of his photos).


jack-with-views-of-everest-behind_smallerThe full article may be viewed here: [PDF of article]. Postscript: it was pointed out to me after the magazine was published that the photo on the second page [see photo left] which was captioned ‘1989 Jack with views of Everest behind‘ is mis-captioned, as it actually shows Ama Dablam! Although I should have realised, I missed it, and can only say that I carried forward the caption that I was given for it.

The next issue of The Fellrunner will include a follow-up article: In Profile: Hugh Symonds.

Joss N, Kenny S and Billy B: three fell running legends

3legendsExpanded version of previous blog post was the second article to appear in the latest Fellrunner under my byline. It was much enhanced by three excellent b/w photos from the event by Ian Charters.

The article finishes with an unashamed book plug:

If you want to know more about the three legends, they were my Three Greatest Fell Runners in ‘It’s a hill, get over it: fell running’s history and characters’, and have their extended personal stories told in that book, as well as the history and development of the sport of fell running.

The full article may be viewed here: [PDF proof of article – before photo credits were added]. Next blog: In Profile: Jack Maitland

Peak performance – Jasmin Paris’ new Bob Graham record

FellrunnercoverShockwaves went through the fell running world earlier this year when the women’s record for the Bob Graham Round as absolutely smashed.

The Summer 2016 issue of The Fellrunner has a fabulous picture of Jasmin Paris, taken on the last summit of her 15 hrs 24 mins Round.

It also has an article by me on the performance and its implications. A version of the article was originally submitted to another publication, but was not accepted.


Photos: Jon Gay

When compiling the piece I contacted Jasmin and she kindly allowed me to see a preview of her account of the day (also in the same Fellrunner issue), and also supplied a couple of photos from the day, with an OK to use them at my talk at Keswick Mountain Festival.

The Fellrunner policy is that ‘copyright of material published in this magazine remains with the authors or photographers who produced them’, so I have reproduced the full article here. [The scan is in two parts, click on each to enlarge to a more readable size]




Footnote: this amazing record, plus Nicky Spinks’ double BGR, and Rob Jebb’s 2nd fastest BGR will all be added in a new chapter when my book ‘The Round: in Bob Graham’s footsteps’ goes to paperback in January  2017.

Running hard, writing harder

BookspineAnother milestone is reached with submission of the manuscript of my third book to the publisher. The title is now fixed as: Running Hard: the story of a rivalry. It is now going through the editorial process and approval of photographs, design of the cover (first version below), incorporation of cover quotes, indexing, proofing, and eventually printing. It is set for publication, by Sandstone Press, in February or March 2017 – which seems such a long time away.

Running_Hard_Front_smallRight now I want to see the finished book, but have to be patient. Looking back I find that this has taken less time to write than either of the first two books for Sandstone Press. I am not sure exactly what to make of this, perhaps I have more confidence in my writing ability (which hasn’t always been the case). What is certain is that I have once again thoroughly enjoyed the processing of researching the material, and also the fascinating times I have spent interviewing the two athletes that are the rivals in the story.

I have also interviewed several of the significant athletes who were their contemporaries. I was absolutely made up to at one point be sitting in Joss Naylor’s front room discussing some of his achievements, and later to be chewing the fat with Billy Bland in his back garden. Absolute heroes both.

So, just a reminder of the storyline (this from the publicity blurb):

JohnKen (CompassSport)_smallerRunning Hard: the story of a rivalry describes the lives of two very different athletes and covers in-depth the 1983 Fell Running Championships season, when they were the two top runners, battling to win the championship. John Wild was an international steeplechaser from the Midlands who had moved to the fells to go head-to-head with the Cumbrian-born fell runner Kenny Stuart. Stuart later became a 2-11 marathon runner, as their running careers began to diverge, but they remained firm friends. The championship at that time was much tougher than it is now. After fifteen races the title was decided by just twenty seconds at the final race. The events are illuminated by interviews and analysis from several of their main contemporaries.

As I was compiling the manuscript from the interviews, and other sources, I soon realised that I was getting more material than I could possibly use in the book, and that some of it was very interesting but way off topic. So, I decided to re-think some of it for some spinoff writing. A profile of fell runner and orienteer Jack Maitland was accepted for publication in The Fellrunner, and buoyed by this I also submitted two further articles (on the Fell Legends eveningwhich I have already blogged on, and on Jasmin Paris’ amazing BGR record). They were both accepted, and I am really pleased that all three are in the current edition of The Fellrunner. My next three blog posts will concentrate on this writing, and include the resulting articles.


On being runner-up in Lakeland Book of the Year award category

Yesterday I did not win the Lakeland Book of the Year award. At one level there is a thin line between success and failure. Everyone wants to win the race. However, there are times when relative success is to be cherished.

After the initial disappointment of being ‘merely’ a category runner-up, I am now thinking that it is actually a pretty special achievement. The Lakeland Book of the Year Awards “encourage and celebrate writing and publishing in Cumbria, and contribute to furthering the wonderful literary heritage of the County”. It is a prestigious award, that has been going since 1984. It has high profile judges – this year Hunter Davies, Eric Robson and Fiona Armstrong. The overall winners command respect – last year’s was James Rebanks (for The Shepherd’s Life), and previously it has been Keith Richardson, Harry Griffin and Alan Hankinson.

I was really pleased to be able to travel to the Lakes and attend the award ceremony, which was held in the beautiful Armathwaite Hall Hotel, alongside Bassenthwaite Lake. For the award this year there were over 50 entries, which have to be predominantly about Cumbrian people and places, of which 15 were shortlisted for the 5 category awards (I was in the Guides and Places category), four of which were the eventual short list for the overall Lakeland Book of the Year award.

It was a really great award ceremony, with most excellent food, a fund-raising opportunity for the Cumbria Flood Appeal, and networking possibilities.  Two years ago at the same event I met and chatted with mountaineering legend Doug Scott, and this year commiserated with Kendal AC’s top fell runner Rebecca Robinson, who was on crutches after breaking a metatarsal when running the Skiddaw race at the weekend (she was also 6th fastest UK female marathon runner in 2015).

One of the best things about the event is that the judges give their thoughts on the shortlisted books. Eric Robson went through those up for the Striding Edge Prize Prize for Guides and Places, and said the following about The Round: 

We come to The Round by Steve Chilton

His earlier book ‘It’s a hill, get over it’ (lovely title), about fell running as well, won the Bill Rollison Prize in 2014. For those of you not of a mountain pounding persuasion, The Bob Graham is a Lakeland mountain challenge. It is 62 miles, takes in 42 peaks and 27,000 feet of ascent, which you have to do in mere 24 hours. As you do. I was trained for the Bob Graham Round by my neighbour in Wasdale – Joss Naylor. He said he would take me out running. I lost. That was just round the function room of the Santon Bridge Hotel. This book about fell running, which is a fairly specialist subject, could have been totally boring. It could have been statistics in hardback. But in fact it is inspirational and it is compelling. It is a great read. It also told me that Chris Brasher failed in his attempt to do the Bob Graham Round, which made me feel a lot better.

When the announcements came, I was runner-up in the ‘Striding Edge Prize for Guides and Places’, a category that was won by The Gathering Tide by Karen Lloyd.

untitled-8079So, I collected my runners up certificate and we waited for the overall winner to be announced. It was the winner of the Illustration and Presentation category, a book called Lakeland Waterways.
It was written by a guy that works on the passenger boats on Windermere.

Reflecting on it now, I am really chuffed to be short listed for this prestigious prize. But there is no time to dwell on it. I am moving on to apply the finishing touches to my third book. I just hope that it is written well enough to get some recognition of this sort when it comes out (in early 2017).

The Round front coverNOTE: If you are interested, my books Its-a-hill-get-over-it-FRONT
are available from all good book stores,
and of course online :
The Round: in Bob Graham’s footsteps
and  It’s a hill, get over it.

Or signed copies direct from me.


….. and in further book news


The July to December 2016 Sandstone Press catalogue has a nice double page spread of ‘The Round’ and ‘Its a hill’, to announce that the paperback of the former is to be released this November. I am thinking about the launch possibilities at the moment.

It is very pleasing that ‘The Round’ has been nominated for the Boardman Tasker Prize (for Mountain Literature), and even more so that it has been short-listed for the Lakeland Book of the Year award. Bob Davidson, my editor at Sandstone had this to say about the latter:

‘Now over the course of two books, The Round and its predecessor, It’s a Hill, Get Over It, Steve Chilton has been recording and illuminating the history of one of Britain’s least known but most demanding sports, fellrunning. Packed with obsessed and eccentric characters, characterised by amateurism in its purest and noblest form, this uniquely British activity is now developing its own, equally unique, literature and Steve Chilton is its principal bard and chronicler. The sport is fortunate to have its narrative in such hands. In 2017 there will be a third title which will make a perfect long narrative from the wider history to the most specific and personal, but this present time is the time of The Round. It’s a book among a sequence of books that Sandstone Press is proud to leave to posterity.’

The manuscript for that third title is now almost complete, with final re-writing, checking by contributors, viewing by a critical friend, and final tightening up to go before submitting it to the publisher. The title is about to be confirmed and the cover design commissioned, so I am at that busy but exciting stage in the process.


John Wild and Kenny Stuart

It is about these two guys, telling their stories before, during and after the momentous 1983 season when they went hammer and tongs against each other in the Fell Running Champs. Having had overwhelming co-operation from the main subjects, and also conducted cracking interviews with some of the main players – such as Joss Naylor, Billy Bland, Malcolm Patterson, Jack Maitland and Hugh Symonds – I think you may like it.