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Paperback book launch, 22 July

There will be a book launch event for the paperback of ‘All or nothing at all: the life of Billy Bland‘, on Thursday 22nd July 2021. It will be at the Skiddaw Hotel (Greta Suite), Keswick, from 6-30 to 8-pm. I will be talking about the book and doing a Q&A with Billy Bland. Bookends (Keswick) will be there with books for sale/signing as well. No booking required, just rock up. [It would be good if folk would let me know they are coming, though]

It will be quite a low-key event, as I still have concerns about the Covid situation, and hope that attendees will respect any social distancing or other local rules that are in place.

What is the book like? Well, here are the thoughts of a couple of people, whose opinions I respect. First off, Adharanand Finn:

Jasmin Paris said: “Born in the Lake District and moulded by its hills, Billy Bland is a truly fascinating character”; while Rebecca Robinson said: “This tale of fortitude and formidable athleticism transports readers to the heart of the fell running scene”.

Finally, this review appeared, on NETGALLEY, from Kelly Furniss:

Billy biography is in paperback

It was great to open the first box of paperback copies of ‘All or nothing at all’ recently. It looks absolutely grand, and will be published on 15th July 2021. I am still hopeful of being able to hold a launch event, but the Covid uncertainty make it very difficult to plan and book anything. I do have two radio appearances booked, so will give more on those on social media nearer the time.

For now, it is available to pre-order. Please use your local independent bookseller, who should be able to arrange a pre-order for you. It is already available to re-order directly from Sam Read Bookseller, with the added bonus of them all being signed copies, by my own hand. The pre-order page is at: https://www.samreadbooks.co.uk/product/AllOrNothing/1015

For more information about the book, click the image above (for some cover quotes), or go to my Sandstone Press page.

NB: Hardback copies are likely to be increasingly difficult to get hold of, but a quick check shows several shops and online services still having copies (eg The Big A). I have 5 hardback copies which I am happy to post out (signed if required).

In profile: Gavin Bland (part 1)

To win a British Championship you have got to be dedicated. If I didn’t give the time to it there was always a runner who was better. When I was super fit I was as good as anybody. I had to do a proper winter’s training if I wanted to do well. I don’t miss training when I am not doing it, that is my problem. When I was injured, I didn’t miss racing. When I was fit, I would rather race than do three weeks training. I’d race myself to fitness.

That is the intro paragraph to the latest in a series of in-depth profiles of runners I have written, of Gavin Bland, surely one of the finest fell runners of the last few decades. Part 1 of the profile can be read in full, and downloaded, at the following link [PDF file]. Part 2 will be published shortly, in the next issue of The Fellrunner.

Yay! Bookshops re-opening

With the next stage of relaxing the Covid lockdown (in England) most bookshops will be re-opening to customers on Monday 12 April. One thing this does mean is that if you haven’t had a chance to have a look at our photographic book ‘Fell and mountain running: through the eye of a lens’ then you can if you visit one of these four brilliant shops:

Bookends (Keswick and Carlisle), Sam Read Bookseller (Grasmere), Fred Holdsworth (Ambleside) and Pete Bland Sports (Kendal).

Do take a look at the book if you get a chance. I am sure you will be delighted with the range and quality of Pete Hartley’s mountain photography. The book can be bought in any of those shops, and can be ordered online from them all, or direct from this link (which has more details of the book itself, plus a review of it from Athletics Weekly).

You can, of course, also get any of my other four fell running books at any of those shops, and also many other good bookshops.

Fell running books

Where can you get hold of my books?
The latest one, Fell and Mountain Running: through the eye of a lens has until recently only been available from the authors. But now it is available from four independent sources, as detailed below.
(Click for book link):
Bookends (Keswick)
Sam Read’s Bookshop (Grasmere)
Fred Holdsworth’s Bookshop (Ambleside)
Pete Bland Sports (Kendal)

All my other four books are all available too, and may be found at any of those outlets listed above, plus many more good shops and online services. Just a reminder about each book and what they are about.

All or nothing at all: the life of Billy Bland – is the life story of Billy Bland, fellrunner extrordinaire and holder of many records including that of the Bob Graham Round until it was broken by the foreword author of this book, Kilian Jornet. It is also the story of Borrowdale in the English Lake District, describing its people, their character and their lifestyle, into which fellrunning is unmistakably woven. Filled with stories of competition and rich in northern humour, All or Nothing At All is testimony to the life spent in the fells by one of their greatest champions, Billy Bland.

A recent review: Fantastic read for anybody remotely interested in running. This book brings you totally inside the world of fell running and the great people that compete to win.

Running Hard: the story of a rivalry – For one brilliant season in 1983 the sport of fell running was dominated by the two huge talents of John Wild and Kenny Stuart. Wild was an incomer to the sport from road running and track. Stuart was born to the fells, but an outcast because of his move from amateur to professional and back again. Together they destroyed the record book, only determining who was top by a few seconds in the last race of the season. Running Hard is the story of that season, and an inside, intimate look at the two men.

A recent review: A riveting read that takes you inside the world of Fell Running’s royalty.

The Round: in Bob Graham’s footstepsThe Round is not only a history of the Bob Graham Round, but also an exploration of the what, why and how of this classic fell endurance challenge. After covering the genesis of the BGR in detail, it documents 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 extensive profiles of many of the event s most significant individuals: innovators, record setters, recorders and supporters. Some links to resources for potential BGR completers are included.
A recent review: The story of the iconic Bob Graham Round. Excellent history of the BGR and fell running in general.

It’s a hill, get over it – is a detailed history of the sport of fell running. It also tells the stories of some of the great exponents of the sport through the ages. Many of them achieved greatness whilst still working full time in traditional jobs, a million miles away from the professionalism of other branches of athletics nowadays. The book covers the early days of the sport, right through to it going global with World Championships. Along the way it profiles influential athletes such as Fred Reeves, Bill Teasdale, Kenny Stuart, Joss Naylor, and Billy and Gavin Bland. It gives background to the athletes including their upbringing, introduction to the sport, training, working life, records and achievements.
A recent review: I would recommend this to all who are Interested in any form of running, but if you are a fell runner and haven’t read it, get it bought!

Blog 2020: most visited pages and most downloaded content

It seems a good time to review this blog from the weird year that was 2020. As it happens, I did the normal number of blog posts over the year, almost three per month.Two other stats: referals came from Facebook at a 5:1 ratio over Twitter (which surprised me, except that Twitter is one account, whereas I can post notifications in a number of FB Groups). Visitor’s came from 75 different countries, with USA and Ireland being distant second and third places behind the UK.

MOST VISITED PAGES

The third most visited page on the blog was actually one from March 2019. It was on some of the shenanigans from the professional fell racing scene, and included an interview I did with Pete Bland. I guess people had searched it out when he sadly passed away towards the end of 2020. It can be accessed here:

The second most visit page was one from January 2020, where I did a little gentle analysis of the completions from the previous year on the Bob Graham Round. It shows the continuing interest in the BGR since Kilian Jornet set the new record in 2018. The post can be accessed here:

The most visited page was from October 2020, and again was BGR connected. It was some analysis of the splits from George Foster’s round (the third fastest ever) against those of Billy Bland, which made fascinating reading (well I thought so!). It can be accessed here:

MOST DOWNLOADED CONTENT

The most downloaded content was an article I co-wrote with Steve Birkinshaw for the Fellrunner way back in 2018. It was a case study of four athletes who had suffered CFS in varying degrees of seriousness, and how they came back from it, or didn’t. It can be accessed here [PDF file].

The second most popular content on the blog was a profile of fell runner and top marathoner Dave Cannon, again an article I wrote for Fellrunner, way back in 2017 (so no idea why that was so popular, but it was downloaded over 250 times). It can be accessed here [PDF file].

The third most downloaded piece was an article I wrote for Compass Sport magazine on Kim Collison’s Winter BGR record, which was published in early 2020. It can be accessed here [PDF file].

NB: Most of my writing can be accessed through the links on the CV page on this blog: https://itsahill.wordpress.com/curriculum-vitae/.

Athletics Weekly’s review of ‘Fell and Mountain Running’

If you want to know more about ‘Fell and Mountain Running: through the eye of a lens’, Athletics Weekly has published a full review which will give you a feel for the content. It is reproduced in full below.

To order this beautiful 200-page hardback book, please email dp@deniseparkphysio.co.uk to be sent further details.

The Fellrunner has in depth review of ‘All or Nothing at All’

A great in depth review of ‘All or Nothing at All: the life of Billy Bland’ has just appeared in the latest Fellrunner magazine. The reviewer concluded that, “it is a fascinating book and also an important book that may over time become recognised as a classic book, not just about the life of a great, and possibly the greatest, fell runner, but that life as lived in the Borrowdale valley”. I’ll take that.

Do have a look at the full 2-page review, which is probably best read by clicking individually on the three scanned images below.

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All four of my books can be bought online (at a discount) at Bookshop.

Photo book in tribute to Pete Hartley: some background

Pete wanted to publish this book before he passed away, but his cancer was far more advanced than he ever wanted to accept. It has been my wish to do it for him at some stage, but had I not had a chance meeting with Steve in November 2019, followed by the announcement of lockdown in March, I’m sure it wouldn’t have happened for quite some time. Denise Park

The meeting was because I was looking for a couple of photos for my fourth book (‘All or Nothing at All: the life of Billy Bland’). I travelled up to Clitheroe and looked through part of Pete’s huge archive of photos, finding a couple that fit the bill, which Denise was happy for me to include. Just talking casually afterwards Denise mentioned Pete’s book idea. Somehow we came away from our first ever meeting having agreed to collaborate on the book.

Steve agreed to select the images for the book, but before Steve received his ‘digital selection’, I searched though approximately 60,000 images which were on a variety of hard drives, cd’s, memory sticks, slides, negatives, computers and boxes of printed images! Whilst Pete had them all catalogued in his head – I’m sure you will appreciate the enormity of the task.

We soon agreed on some chapter headings and Denise started sending files over by Dropbox in the New Year. To cut a long story short, Covid-19 changed everyone’s situation and we both had a bit of time to work on it. I pitched the idea to a couple of publishers, but neither were interested, thinking it ‘not a seller’. So, we decided to self-publish, and tried a couple of printers for quotes. The second were excellent, and very helpful. They are based in The Lakes, and have the print job set to run in the EU, giving a slightly better lead time.

A couple of quotes from the back cover

As I was making decisions about which photos to include I was also writing some contexualising text, and tweaking the captions (mostly from Pete’s file data). I was also working up a rough layout plan to see how many pages it would be for print quote purposes. Having finalised the content and draft layout with Denise, and having had someone proof-read the draft, it is now being laid out professionally by a graphic designer who is also in The Lakes.

We have set up a system for taking pre-orders, as there is a strong possibility of it not being delivered from the printers prior to Christmas. This will allow people to still be able to gift the book.

Once pre-ordered, digital gift vouchers will be made available so you can still give that ideal Christmas present.

The book is hardback, full colour and 200 pages. It is available to pre-order for £25 by emailing your details to: dp@deniseparkphysio.co.uk

Interviewed on Radio Cumbria

It was great to be on BBC Radio Cumbria last week. Being interviewed by Helen Millican on her show gave me the chance to talk about my Billy Bland book. Her deft prompting allowed me to waffle on about the gestation of the book, the research, and the writing of it.

Presenting Billy with a copy of the book recently

Just before I was on, Helen played a short clip of a conversation with Billy Bland she had that week up in Borrowdale, in which he was as entertaining as usual. He explained how he didn’t want to do the book, but never quite got round to saying ‘no’ to the idea, being convinced by wife Ann to go with it.
You can listen to that Billy Bland interview here: https://youtu.be/h000OUx9yw4

I was on after Helen had played ‘Born to Run’ by Bruce Springsteen. I didn’t realise at the time how appropriate a track it was – as ‘All or nothing at all’ (the title of the book) is a classic Springsteen track. Furthermore all the chapter titles in the book are Springsteen song titles too. In the interview I hope I was able to put Billy’s running in context with the rest of his life, all lived in the Borrowdale valley.
You can listen to the interview with me here: https://youtu.be/W_bsTru8POk

For more info on my biography of Billy see this previous blog (inc the Zoom launch), and for more on all my books see my Sandstone Press page.