‘All or Nothing at All: the life of Billy Bland’

As I come across reviews of the book I will post a comment and/or a link here.

I know that Fellrunner, Cumbria Magazine and Compass Sport have already agreed to review, so await their appearance with interest.

A great in depth review finally appeared in the 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.

There have been good reviews on NetGalley.

The first review on Amazon is a good one: ‘This is an excellent book and one that deserves a wide audience. Definitely recommended.’ And given a solid five stars too.


This was closely followed by the Cumbria magazine review, which concluded that: ‘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.’ [Full review in the image to the left]


The Compass Sport one has just come out, and is illustrated. It concluded that: ‘The book has taught me that I should strive to be the best I can be! A cracking read that I would recommend to anybody who is passionate about fell running and its history.’ [Full review below]

Short but good review on Cumbria Life Magazine: “Packed with Billy’s dry wit and interviews ….”

Not a review as such, but a nice piece that I helped put together for the Keswick Reminder (was on p10 on 21 August)

running-hard-front-cover-proof-2016-oct-21‘Running Hard: the story of a rivalry’
As I come across reviews of the book I will post a comment and/or a link here.

I know that Fellrunner and Compass Sport have already agreed to review, so await their appearance with interest.

There have been some great comments on the review copies from Steve Jones, Julian Goater, and Steve Birkinshaw, amongst others [see details here].

A recent reviewer on Amazon concluded: “Thanks to Running Hard, the story of these two men and the incredible season they shared has been told. Chilton’s keen eye for detail, and pleasure in relating anecdotes, makes it an honest and fair assessment of both men and their legacy. It took me longer to read than I originally anticipated, mainly because it kept making me want to go out for a run, and I can’t give a running book much more praise than that.”

Another said: “The material is fascinating to all types of runners and non-runners alike, and whilst the other two books by Steve Chilton (‘It’s a Hill, Get Over It’ and ‘The Round’) are highly recommended reads, I do feel this is is his best work to date. An intoxicating mix of sporting history, drama, colourful characters and amusing anecdotes woven together in a well researched and expertly crafted narrative – what’s not to like!”

The Spring 2017 issue of The Fellrunner had a full page review [see below] which concluded that: “In Running Hard Steve Chilton has penned another masterpiece expounding a unique period in fell running history.” It also notes that: “… there’s more than a smattering of humour throughout as even fell runners of the highest calibre enjoy post-race ale and revelry!”

In an article in the Cumberland News [link], subtitled ‘Kenny Stuart hit the heights to become a fell running legend‘, there is a nice mention of the book, which they had earlier reviewed [see below].

compassportreviewThe Compass Sport review of ‘Running Hard’ by Duncan Archer included: ‘He has thoroughly researched the topic, interviewing and quoting many of the key players from that era …. comes together in a narrative of Wild and Stuart’s backgrounds …. interspersed with humorous anecdotes.’

                                  Click the image to see review enlarged. >>

cumberlandnewsCarrying a fine photo of Joss, Billy and Kenny, Steve Matthews reviewed the book in the Cumberland News, and after setting the scene with a summary of the story, concluded that: ‘Stuart and Wild were the Ovett and Coe of the fell running world. This is a fine account of their fierce, but friendly, rivalry.’westmorlandgazette

<< Click the image to see the review enlarged.

The Westmorland Gazette had a review by Mike Addison, which noted that, ‘Steve Chilton captures the drama that builds during the 15-race series culminating in a “do or die” decider at Thieveley Pike.’ He concludes that, ‘whether you are a newcomer to the sport or an old timer, this is a book that you will find hard to put down.’

                                                        Click the image to see review enlarged. >>

The Round front cover

‘The Round: in Bob Graham’s footsteps’
As I come across reviews of the book I will post a comment and/or a link here.

Another on Amazon: “…. really warms up when he starts to interview the greats. The interview with Billy Bland himself is probably the most compelling; it gives a real insight into what it takes to train and achieve a Bob Graham Round in 13.53, the record set in 1982 ….. this book was an inspirational read.”

activeoutdoorsreviewThere was recently a review in Active Outdoors, which includes: “The book gave an in-depth insight into the world of the Bob Graham challenger and inspires readers that grand running challenges are achievable by all.”

Another one on Amazon:
“Either through interviews, or use of diary entries and other contemporaneous accounts, the author builds up a detailed picture of both the landscape and the characters of those who have responded to the challenge it sets. The book’s centrepiece is an exclusive interview with fell running legend Billy Bland, who in 1982 completed the BGR in 13 hours and 53 minutes – a record no-one else has yet come close to. This and other interviews make this book an essential document in the history of the BGR in particular, and endurance challenges in general.”

FellrunnerreviewGreat to see The Fellrunner give a full page for a review (by Jonathan Bale) of ‘The Round: in Bob Graham’s footsteps’ in the Autumn 2015 issue. You can read the full review by clicking on the image, but I will just quote twice from it here:

“The author has earnestly researched the topic from an array of valuable sources, some readily accessible, some esoteric, resulting in a book that combines his narrative interspersed with existing reports and enlightening interviews with noteworthy participants in the sport.”

“The author has completed a very worthy edition to add to the published fell running category in your library ….. I enjoyed the book as a historical reference, a source of wry amusement, a reminder of yesteryear whilst encapsulating the spirit of long distance fell running challenges in the Lake District. I am sure many will do likewise.”

compasssportreviewCompass Sport carries a review (by Duncan Archer) which emphasises the fact that I went out of my way: “…. to interview those making and helping the pivotal attempts in the BGR’s history, to get first hand stories. This includes a rare interview with Billy Bland, the current record holder ….. the book finishes acknowledging ‘the unsung heroes’ who facilitate many attempts: the pacers, navigators and supporters.”

The review concludes that: “this is an interesting and informative read, and makes a valuable contribution in the fell running library.” [Click the image to read the full review.]

There are several good reviews on the Amazon page. These are my two favourite comments: “A great read, a real insight into the history of the BG, the records and the people behind them.” (Richard Davies); and: “I found the detailed facts absorbing in particular why these men and women pushed themselves physically beyond the limits of ‘use ordinary people’.” (Jim Neville)

The Cumberland News carried a review by Steve Matthews of Bookends, which concluded that: “There is something legendary about the Bob Graham Round. Steve Chilton has interviewed the men, and the women, people of rare determination and doggedness, as well as extraordinary fitness, who have completed the Round.” 

wezzygreviewsmallThe Westmorland Gazette included a good review by Mike Addison which finished with: “Steve Chilton writes with authority …. This is a must have book for fell runners and anyone who loves the Lakes – it captures all that is inspiring about mountain running.”

[Click for full review]


9781908737571‘It’s a hill, get over it’

The first I have come across is from Tim Kelly of Horwich CC on his blog. He concludes: “Nice one – a good job well done.”

The Cumberland and Westmorland Herald carried a review entitled ‘A book for all fans of the fells‘ on 19 Oct which suggested that it “is sure to please anyone with an interest in the noble sport of fellrunning.”

Cumberland News reviewThe Cumberland News review was poetically subtitled: A flavour of the fell runners who carve out mountain paths of sheer grit.

<< Click the image to see review enlarged.


The 21 November issue of the Westmorland Gazette carried this review by Mike Addison, which concluded that “it is a very informative read that will inspire those that read it to get out there“.

Click the image to see review enlarged. >>

Two more appeared in the December issues of two Scottish magazines:

scotoutdoorsScotland Outdoors included a nice, but short, review which commented: “…….. this exhaustive homage to fell running promises much, and delivers. Written with a real love for the sport …..“.

scotmemoriesScottish Memories included the book in it’s reviews in the December 2013 issue. It noted “…. the story of how the sport’s foremost athletes developed is a fascinating one, with many early fell runners juggling full time work with pursuing the sport at evenings and weekends. Steve also takes a look at how some of fell running’s classic challenges such as the Cuillin Ridge Traverse came into being, as he explores what draws runners to a particular location.

[Click images for full reviews]

The review in TGO magazine (The Great Outdoors) in the Jan 2014 issue said: “If you’re interested in the history of fell running – written by a seasoned fell runner – then look no further. There are some brilliant photos here, not to mention an entire chapter on Joss Naylor.”

MSTreviewAn extensive review was posted on the Mud, Sweat and Tears website on Jan 14, complete with several illustrations. Two quotes from the review: “So, when Steve Chilton decided to embark on It’s a hill, get over it (the title apparently inspired after he had seen it on the back of a t-shirt a runner was once wearing) he would have probably been aware of some of the high standards that had gone before him. Thankfully, this book doesn’t disappoint.” And then later: “He intersperses the guide to some of these races with some excellent interviews, such as the one with Rob Jebb…….and has an amusing interview with Boff Whalley.

A blogger in Germany posted a very good review, which comes in with: “Straight from the start of thrunsselblogis piece I was addicted, hooked and captivated. Fell running and it’s humble exquisiteness is just thrilling. Steve Chilton, fell runner himself, comes up with a well worked out piece about a very distinct and British part of the sport of running.” I love the closing remark too: “As always try to skip the depraved A-dudes and get it straight at“.

trailrunningreviewTrail Running magazine carried a note about the book on its Gear page. Any mention gets it noticed by a few more people. Trail Running certainly carries some interesting coverage: there is an upcoming piece on the Bob Graham Round, for which I have contributed some information (and hopefully will get another book mention).

ActiveoutdoorsthumbThe Spring/Summer issue of Active Outdoors carried a full column review which had a very Scotland-centric perspective but the reviewer “learned something of these ordinary people who have done extraordinary things”. Click the image for the full review.

Tony O’Donnell’s Outdoor Times blog aspires to be a place for engaging writing and striking imagery that celebrates all aspects of the Great Outdoors. I was really pleased to see a longish and well-considered review of ‘It’s a hill’ appeared recently on there, especially as it is written by fellow author and runner Heather Dawe. She concluded by saying “I learned much from reading it and I think it’s a book that many fell runners will really enjoy.”  The full review makes interesting reading. OTblogreview

cumbriamagthumbA review recently appeared in Cumbria magazine, by Kev Hopkinson – who neatly introduces the current  difficulties with safety requirements (referring to a posting in this blog). His summary is that the book “covers the ground admirably, mixing the sport’s development over the last century and a half ….. and interviews and profiles of the big names … Certainly a book that’s pushing the leaders“.

AWreviewI was really pleased to finally see a review in Athletics Weekly (click image to enlarge) last week. I particularly liked the comment about the book being “beautifully produced with great photographs and images” – which ought to also please Sandstone Press. But mostly it was the “must-buy” verdict that made it worth the wait. It is important to get reviews in as many p[laces as possible, but this was a particularly important one foir me.

FRAreviewIt has taken a while coming but the summer issue of The Fellrunner has a good review of ‘It’s a hill, get over it’ in it by Graham Breeze. Because of earlier ‘issues’ I had thought it might not be reviewed or that it was too late [see my thoughts on ‘Being reviewed and being NOT reviewed‘], but it is a balanced review. After a comparison with Richard Askwith’s book, he notes that ‘Hill is a worthy and useful addition to the fell running literature and, with its record of detail, an excellent reference book‘.

CompasssportreviewsmallA few days later the June issue of Compass Sport (Britain’s National Orienteering Magazine) arrived, which has a great review by editor (and sometime fellrunner) Nick Barrable in it. After noting it ‘should probably adorn all fell runners’ bookshelves‘, he concludes the review with the comment: ‘Overall, a fine choice for any runners’ library‘. [Click the image for the full review]

It is a while since any reviews of ‘It’s a hill, get over it’ have appeared, but notice of one arrived in my inbox last week, under the title ‘Fell running is an increasingly popular sport, but have you ever wondered how it all began?’ It is on the blog of fell running guide Dave Taylor, and nicely summarises the book as an ‘excellent book ….[it] gives a detailed history of the sport; from the early shepherds’ meetings in the 1800′s through to the rise of the Brownlee brothers and the possibility of Kilian Jornet tackling the Bob Graham Round!

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