Archive | December 2013

Why do increasing numbers of people choose to run the fells …

… 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.” []


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.

It’s a hill, get over it

First print run sold out, reprint of 1000

Alarm ensued when the message below appeared on the Amazon website. soldout

But behind it was exceptionally good news. It meant that the first print run of 1000 copies had been ‘shifted’ (as I believe the term is in retail). Swift work from Sandstone Press set in train a reprint of another 1,000 (as noted in their FB announcement below). I am still basking in a glow of satisfaction at that sales milestone.

newstockSo if you have been trying to obtain a copy then look again as retail outlets should have them in stock again as soon as they get out through the distribution system. Although I am glad Amazon is there, I would remind you that the book trade is more than just them. Just on price alone other online suppliers sometimes come in cheaper. But more importantly, I encourage you to purchase from ‘real’ bookshops. The larger Waterstones shops are stocking ‘It’s a hill’  and Sandstone posted this great picture of it sharing space with Mo Farah in the ‘Great Gifts’ section of Sheffield Waterstones recently.

greatgifts It was Small Business Saturday last weekend, which I hope you supported. Independent bookshops are an important part of the book trade, especially for smaller publisher and author combinations. I am again pleased to say that the book is available through many such shops. Just in the Lakes I am aware that Fred Holdsworth (Ambleside), Bookends (Keswick), and Sam Read (Grasmere) are stocking it. I had a message from John at Sam Read the other day saying he was waiting for re-supply and that he had already sold 20 copies. [Update: just noticed that Stanfords (Covent Garden) have copies on their shelves too]

Advance notice: I am starting to confirm speaking dates for the spring. The first is a Slide Supper gig at Wilf’s Cafe (Staveley), which is set for Thu 20 March. More details of this and other talks/signings will appear here and on the Events page of this blog.

Another book review and good feedback

westgazettesmallThe 21 November issue of the Westmorland Gazette carried a good review by Mike Addison, which concluded that “it is a very informative read that will inspire those that read it to get out there”.

See the full review on the Reviews page (or by clicking the image).

Not a review as such, but some great feedback (slightly condensed) from a clubmate who has just finished reading the book:

“Finished your book just now and really enjoyed it. I will admit to putting it down for a month or so as some of the first chapters on the early history of the sport were probably more for people with [a greater] knowledge of the sport. I loved the interviews, especially Boff and Rob Jebb who seemed more open about their love of the sport than some of the real greats. My favourite bits were the introductions to each interview where a starstruck Steve tries to conceal his excitement amid some mundanities of what he was up to that weekend. This is where your voice comes through best, more so than the personal stories where I felt you sometimes underplayed your own experiences (perhaps understandably given the achievements of the other characters). It’s obvious that you enjoyed writing it. You should be proud of a book which is both an authoritative history on the subject and an enjoyable read.”

It is actually difficult to get genuine comments from close friends so I appreciate the honesty shown here, and the trouble taken to given me that feedback.