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Fell legend Joss Naylor at the Buxton Adventure Festival

Really looking forward to sharing a stage with Joss Naylor next week (Tues 19th) at the Buxton Adventure Festival. I will be talking about The Bob Graham Round – ‘an exploration of the what, why and how of this classic fell endurance challenge’. I will then introduce and interview Joss and encourage him (as if he’ll need encouraging!) to talk about his life of running and farming, before taking questions from the audience.JossforBAFsmaller

Having interviewed him a couple of times for my books (available on the night), I know him to be riveting to listen to, as he recalls some of his amazing exploits on the fells. Co-founder of the London Marathon, Chris Brasher, described Joss Naylor as ‘The Greatest of Them All’, a title he bestowed on Joss when he ran 72 Lake District mountains in 24 hours.

It may be possible to snap up the last few tickets for the gig at:
https://buxtonoperahouse.org.uk/boxoffice/ticket/255991

brathayAll proceeds from Joss’s talk will be donated to the Brathay Trust. They work with children, young people and families to help them fulfil their potential and make positive choices, working with them in their own communities and at their residential centres in the Lake District.

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Did I really write that?

didireallywritethatI have had conversations with two friends with books out in May and June about that long wait from write/edit to publication, and the notion of feeling divorced from the whole process during that time. When researching it seems all consuming, in my case a seesaw of pleasure and pain, and signing off the proof can be some kind of relief.

When you see the end product there is the tangible pleasure of holding a book, and thinking how much of you it represents. You are then embroiled in the round of publicity that is absolutely necessary if you want to get the book known about, and hopefully purchased in decent numbers. Some find that easy to do, and others less so. You have decide for yourself how blatant your self-publicity should be, and accept being called a ‘media tart’ if you manage some spectacular paper, radio, or podcast appearance.

You want reviews to appear, but can’t bear the thought of a bad one. I still cringe inside when I think of the worst book review I have ever had:

If you want a copy of xxxxx, mine is in the bin at Geneva airport.

Actually I find it funny now, and often relay the story when talking on the subject.

It is even possible to lose your connection with your own work. One of the friends mentioned above recently said,

I haven’t really looked at it since receiving the hard copies. It seems surreal that I ever wrote it.

I have had similar feelings, but usually after a somewhat longer time has elapsed. I do know that something can come to me and I will want to refer back to one of books to get the story. This can produce two strange situations. Firstly, I might not be able to recall which book it was in (oh come on Steve, they are similar but not that much so!); or secondly, when I find it and re-read it I think, ‘did I really write that?’.

These thoughts have arisen because I have recently been mulling over the possibility of writing Book 4, and have been trying to write the synopsis. Possibly starting the long haul of another book also took me back to something I wrote earlier on this blog about finishing one of my earlier books [https://itsahill.wordpress.com/2015/05/26/when-is-a-book-finished/].

So, who were those two friends? Well, they have
written books on subjects very close to my heart.

muircoverJonny Muir’s ‘The Mountains are Calling’ is (as I have noted elsewhere) written a lyrical style that brilliantly evokes the emotions one experiences in what Boff Whalley called running wild. It is the story of hill running in Scotland, ‘charting its evolution …. heralding its characters and the culture that has grown around them, ultimately capturing the irresistible appeal of running in high places.’ Jonny also writes a very entertaining blog.

cart_lgKen Field’s ‘Cartography.’ is (in publicity speak): ‘an inspiring and creative companion along the nonlinear journey toward making a great map. This sage compendium for contemporary mapmakers distills the essence of cartography into useful topics.’ I was critical friend, contributed a miniscule piece, and think it is a game changer. Ken also writes an interesting blog.

Upcoming: evening with Billy Bland

Billy Bland does not do many events, and even less often outside of his native Lake District. So, the ‘Conversation with Billy Bland’ event in Skipton on Friday 11 May 2018 is a fantastic opportunity to meet and hear the views of this outstanding sportsman, and fell legend.

1982 billybob3

Billy and some of support (including some other fell legends) celebrating his 13 hrs 53 mins Bob Graham Round record outside the Moot Hall in 1982. [For full story see: The Round: in Bob Graham’s footsteps]

This type of event depends for its success on two things: the personality of the speaker; and the involvement of the audience. Billy has specifically asked for an unscripted evening, so come along and ask him some challenging and searching questions. What is a given is that Billy’s personality will shine through, and that he will both entertain and educate the audience.

IMG_5356Billy did just that at the gig that Due North Events held in Keswick back in February. For a flavour of that event have a look at my report entitled: ‘I wasn’t the best, but I was a tryer’. The questions from the floor, and a few prompts thrown in by me (as MC on the night), were wide-ranging and meant that Billy covered topics such as his background, training, rivals (with some exquisite put-downs, including some of his own family!) and current lifestyle. Billy also spent ages talking to people after the formal part of the gig.

One not to miss, so book your tickets today.

They are likely to sell out (the Keswick gig did). [Advert: I will be MC again, and copies of all three of my books will be available to buy at the event, at discounted rates]

Bob Graham at Wilf’s

Having had a really good ‘Conversation with Billy Bland’ in Keswick last week*, I am now prepping another talk in Cumbria next month. This is part of the ‘Slide and Supper Evenings’ at Wilfs, in Staveley, on Thu 8 March.

slidesupperThe illustrated talk is at 7pm on Thurs 8 March, and will be entitled ‘The Round: in Bob Graham’s footsteps’ and will:

detail the history of the Bob Graham Round & explore the what, why and how of this classic fell endurance challenge. It will cover its development from a more or less idle challenge to its present status as a rite of passage for endurance runners. Interspersed with this detail of the round are snapshots of many of the event’s most significant individuals: innovators, record setters, recorders and supporters. Finally, some thoughts on why Billy Bland’s record time for the BGR has lasted since 1982, whether someone will soon beat it, and also concerns about the impact it’s challengers are having on the environment.

wilfsdatesDETAILS:

THURSDAY 8 March
Cost £8.50
• Starting with a light supper & brew at 7pm. Talk starts 7.45pm prompt
Booking with payment required
• Some tickets may be available on the night
• Email : food@wilfs-cafe.co.uk
• Credit / debit cards
Cafe: Staveley Mill Yard, Back Lane, Staveley, Nr. Kendal, Cumbria LA8 9LR. Tel: 01539 822329

The talk is based on my book of the same name, which was shortlisted for the TGO Awards Outdoor Book of the Year 2015 and the Lakeland Book of the Year Award 2016. A few signed copies of the book, and my other books (‘Its a hill, get over it’ and ‘Running Hard: the story of a rivalry’) will be available on the night.

there will be a short blog on last week’s Billy Bland evening (with great quotes) shortly, and news of a second Due North event with Billy.

New Year, new book ventures

It’s a new year and fresh opportunities to share my love of fell running. I am involved in some talks throughout the year to which you are warmly invited. They include gigs with two of my absolute sports heroes – Joss Naylor and Billy Bland. I also have the germ of an idea for a fourth book, which I have started thinking seriously about starting work on.

With Billy BlandThe first of the gigs is ‘An evening with Billy Bland’, which is on Friday 9th February, at the Skiddaw Hotel in Keswick. Billy Bland is one of the most prominent fell runners in the history of the sport and is now into the 36th year as the holder of the Bob Graham Round record. He will join me for an evening to answer your questions. It will be unscripted, and a chance to interact with the Borrowdale fell legend. It will be introduced, and compered, by myself (and hosted by Due North Events). Billy has specifically asked for maximum audience participation. He is known for training and racing hard, and for having an opinion or two! So, think what you would like to ask him, and bring your questions along and be part of what should be a fascinating evening. You need to book in advance, and can obtain tickets here.

wilfsThe second is part of the marvellous Wilfs Café Slide and Supper series. I will be talking on ‘The Round: in Bob Graham’s footsteps’, on Thursday 8th March, in Staveley. This illustrated talk will detail the history of the Bob Graham Round & explore the what, why and how of this classic fell endurance challenge. It will cover its development from a more or less idle challenge to its present status as a rite of passage for endurance runners. Interspersed with this detail of the round are snapshots of many of the event’s most significant individuals: innovators, record setters, recorders and supporters. Finally, some thoughts on why Billy Bland’s record time for the BGR has lasted since 1982, whether someone will soon beat it, and also concerns about the impact it’s challengers are having on the environment. Details, and for booking a place.

josswithbookThirdly, I am excited to be sharing a stage at the Buxton Adventure Festival with Joss Naylor. For Joss it is ‘Life and times of a fell running legend’, and my contribution will be ‘an exploration of the what, why and how of the classic fell endurance challenge that is the Bob Graham Round’. It is on Tues 19 June, at the Pavilion Arts Centre, Buxton.

Further details, and link for tickets. Don’t hesitate to book, as I understand that demand for all three gigs is high and all may well sell out. Bonus: my three fell running books will be available at each event, and there may even be some signing!

Finally, I have started on the background work for a potential new book. I am not able to say exactly what it is about as yet, and am at the moment working on securing the agreement and cooperation of one vital collaborator. That is all I can say just now. More will be revealed later, but suffice it to say I am very excited about the possibility of it coming to fruition.

Billy Bland: fell legend

Billy B at Moot Hall2Billy Bland, one of the most prominent fell runners in the history of the sport and now into the 36th year as the holder of the Bob Graham Round record, will join me for an evening to answer your questions. The evening will be unscripted, and a chance to interact with the Borrowdale fell legend. It will be introduced, and compered, by myself (and hosted by Due North Events). Billy has specifically asked for maximum audience participation. He is known for training and racing hard, and for having an opinion or two! So, think what you would like to ask him, and bring your questions along and be part of what should be a fascinating evening.

Date: Friday, February 9, 2018 at 7pm.
Venue: Skiddaw Hotel, 29 Main Street, Keswick, Cumbria CA12 5BN

Tickets: https://www.sientries.co.uk/event.php?event_id=4186

Bonus: my three fell running books will be on sale on the night, including ‘The Round: in Bob Graham’s footsteps’. There may even be some signing by both of us!

In profile: Malcolm Patterson

I asked Patterson what his greatest feat/race on the fells was. He came back with a list and an interesting perspective. ‘One of my childhood idols was the late Billy Bremner, captain of Leeds United FC who was ‘ard as nails. His motto was “You get nowt for coming second”. So it is ironic that whilst I was pleased with my race wins – such as Ben Lomond in 1987, or Dollar (in Scotland) in 1989, where I set a new course record – my best races were when I didn’t win.

Malcom Patterson reflected on his career in the fifth article to appear in The Fellrunner under my byline. It resulted from an interview I conducted with him as part of my research for my most recent book, Running Hard: the story of a rivalry. In a long and fascinating discussion he gave me a window into his career and life, and with his approval I wrote a profile of him (with some great photos).

PattersonA copy of the full article (which was in the Spring 2017 issue of The Fellrunner) may be viewed here: [PDF of the article].

A future post will include a piece I wrote (with Steve Birkinshaw) on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which was also recently published in The Fellrunner.