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.” [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.