ALL OR NOTHING AT ALL – Book Number IV: Reveal #3
So here it is then: I can reveal both the title and the synopsis of my fourth fell running book, to be published by Sandstone Press later this year.
This was my original synopsis, as pitched to the publisher back in early 2018:
The book will tell the story of Borrowdale man Billy Bland, and of his extended family, many of whom competed in fell running, and one of whom is considered to have been one of the best in the sport for a period (his nephew, Gavin Bland). Billy and Gavin achieved greatness whilst still working full time in traditional Lake District jobs (as quarryman/stonewaller and shepherd respectively), being a million miles away from the professionalism of other branches of athletics. Billy set records in the ‘80s and ‘90s that have not been beaten since. This, then, is the story of the Blands of Borrowdale.
The book will give the background to Billy’s life; including his parents, his upbringing, introduction to the sport, training, working life, later cycling achievements, legacy and community involvement, plus his records and achievements. The scope will be extended to include details of the other related fell running Blands – see family tree diagram. His family know Borrowdale. Billy worked at quarrying/stonewalling, brother Stuart in tourism, and nephews Jonathon and Gavin farming. They are all in a position to reflect on changes in the Borrowdale valley in their lifetimes, a topic dealt with in a separate chapter.
The book’s treatment will be thematic rather than chronological, to avoid being a listing of races and times. The highlights of his achievements will be included in the sub-sections dealing with Billy’s: life choices, physical ability, training, rivals, mental aspects, injuries/setbacks, and relationships. It will also explore why the Blands have stayed so local, and never came off the fells to perform in other branches of athletics.
Taken at face value Billy Bland seems to be a straightforward man, who happened to be exceptionally good at running up and down hills (he was also a county level footballer when young, had no coach, was fell running champion, and formed Borrowdale Fellrunners). But look closer and there are a series of tensions and conflicts that moulded his character and affected his life over the years.