It was pleasing to see Running Hard in a list of 8 ‘Top outdoors books for a great summer read’ published in Scotland’s Sunday Mail recently, along with Hamish Brown’s Walking the Song. The full list can be seen on the Fiona Outdoors blog.
The Fellrunner also carried a full page review in the issue just out, by someone (whom I didn’t know) who was at the book launch in Keswick. It included: “Steve Chilton has penned another masterpiece expounding a unique period of fell running history” and also “…. this is a thoroughly engaging read. It opens your eyes to just how good Kenny, John and many other runners of the day were, but also reveals their human qualities. You often feel as though you’re right there on their shoulders as they run up impossible inclines or fly fearlessly down treacherous descents.” As the Fellrunner is a subscription magazine (of the Fell Runners Association), and not available to all to read, the full review is available as a link from image to the right (click to enlarge).
The most recent review on Amazon concluded that it was NOT: “just a book for the Fell running purists it tells a story that crosses all disciplines of athletics Fell, Road, Track, and Cross Country. The book has been meticulously researched ………. get a copy of this book read and think about chapter 8. Having the guts to commit. I think it epitomises these ordinary men but extraordinary athletes. All runners of all abilities will benefit from reading this book. A truest inspirational read.” Nice to see, as would any more Amazon reviews – if anyone cares to add one. Authors always appreciate them, but do be honest.
Really looking forward to the first ‘Running Hard’ book talk, at Ecclesall Library, Sheffield – tomorrow (Thu 6 April) at 7pm, as part of the Multi-Story Library Festival, with support from Rhyme and Reason bookshop.
I am now setting up further talks/events as follows: at the Snowdon International Race on Jul 12th; with The Little Bookshop in Ripon (TBC); in conjunction with Pete Bland Sports (TBC); and possibly with Abingdon AC. [Let me know if your running club, bookshop or organisation would like to host an event.]
I have now been asked on two occasions to read an author’s manuscript, with a view to providing a cover or publicity quote. I don’t mind doing so, but also insist on my right to not do so if I don’t think the manuscript merits it. Recently I read Gavin Boyter’s Downhill from here: running from John O’Groat’s to Land’s End.
In the book Gavin admits to having had spells of deep depression, and also to suffering with hypermobility (Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome). He tells the story of seeking a major challenge and using his film-making skills to record it, and then write about it. Having made one (not especially successful) short film, he used an unlicenced quadcopter and a GoPro to make the film version of his JOGLE [see ‘The Long Run’ film trailer]. There are tales of some entertaining navigation errors, which are interspersed with good childhood memories. He also makes some personal points about running being ‘me time’ to him, and using it as a ‘brain reboot’, and his ‘life work’, as he approached his middle forties.
Reading another account of a JOGLE may not be to everyone’s taste, but I found it very entertaining. Gavin was not the first nor fastest (as he readily admits), but he did at least go down the Pennine Way and chose a pretty interesting route in many places. It is also very good on the problems faced by ultra running efforts such as this.
Originally I provided two possible quote which were something like: “Good on the realities of running (and filming on the go) a JOGLE, and also the great de-stressing benefits of it”, and ” Entertaining navigation mishaps are interspersed with good childhood stories”. They were combined in the one shown above (which is on the back cover), and also cut down to a single word quote on the book’s font cover. Happy to accept that the publicist knew best!
‘Downhill from here’ is published on 20 April. Info on the book launch at Waterstones.
The London launch for ‘Running Hard’ was held at Middlesex University on Mon 20 Feb. Highlights of proceedings are available on 4 short videos. Will ‘Critical Friend’ Morris introduces me wittily in the first clip.
There are then two clips of me rambling through two readings from the book.
Finally an interesting Q&A session ensued, wandering off topic sometimes maybe, but seemed to be enjoyed by most (and certainly was by me).
Despite arriving late, John Wild then gave an informal chat to those present, and signing copies of the book for everyone, before some of us headed for The Greyhound to unwind.
A thoroughly enjoyable evening, which nicely complemented the Keswick launch two days beforehand. I am now off to consider what to write next! [Huge thanks to my friend Angus Macdonald for coming along to video the event, and for editing the resulting material]
All my books can be obtained from Amazon, and Running Hard and The Round can be found in all good book shops.
Here are a couple of short video clips from the Keswick book launch. The first is me reading a short extract from the book, describing the build-up to the last crucial race of the 1983 fell championship season.
In the second I am talking about and showing a clip of John Wild running at an IAC meeting at Crystal Palace in 1977, with some comments from John himself.
The third is winding up at the end of the event.
[Thanks to my friend Mike Cambray for shooting the videos on his iPhone]
I also showed a video clip from YouTube of Kenny Stuart running at the Kilnsey Crag fell race in 1980. It can be seen at this link. Definitely worth a look.
On Saturday 18th February we held the book launch for ‘Running Hard’ in the Greta Suite at the Skiddaw Hotel, Keswick. There was a crowd of over 50 in attendance, including some fell running royalty. We sold out of books (with thanks to Bookends shop in Keswick). The following is a sort of picture record of the event (huge thanks to my friend Mike Cambray for the photos).
NB: There may be a short video clip to add later
So, what exactly is the story of ‘Running Hard’. Well, it is subtitled: ‘the story of a rivalry’, and the main characters are running legends Kenny Stuart and John Wild. But it is more than a fell running book. They were both exceptional runners in other branches of athletics, both in cross country and road running (Kenny running a 2-11 marathon), and John also at steeplechase (being a Commonwealth Games finalist). The book also tells the parallel stories of the lives with their different backgrounds, and is informed by insights from their contemporaries, such as Billy Bland, Joss Naylor, Jack Maitland, Hugh Symonds, and Malcolm Patterson.