Over the three days before the book’s paperback publication there will be a Running Hard Blog Tour. Visit the blogs via the links below to find out more about the book, it’s author and how someone is planning on emulating Kenny and John’s training.
On Monday 16th October there will be three stops on the tour:
- Jonny Muir’s Heights of Madness blog has a guest post from me on the writing of Running Hard
- Ceris Jones discusses the design of the book cover (plus the other 2 in the fell running trilogy) with the designer, Heather
- Ed Price has written a review of the book on his blog
On Tuesday 17th October three further stops will be at:
- Steve Birkinshaw’s blog, where I have written a guest post on hard training (one of the book’s themes)
- The sabbatycle blog for a discussion between Dan Haw and I on Kenny Stuart and John Wild’s training methods and their applicability to a modern fell runner (Dan)
- Running legend Nicky Spinks’ blog for her review of the book
Finally, on Wednesday 18th October the last three stops on the tour will be:
- The Young Feller blog for a Q&A session between Cal Ferguson and I on running on the fells
- a review of the book by runner and author Moire O’Sullivan on her blog
- An extract from Running Hard on Ben Mounsey’s blog
The paperback version of Running Hard will be published on Thursday 19th October and can be obtained from all good bookshops and online at Amazon.
About the book
Running Hard: the story of a rivalry. Sandstone Press. Format: Paperback. ISBN: 9781910985946. Publication Date: 19/10/2017. RRP: £9.99
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 professional to amateur. 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.
About the author
Steve Chilton is a committed runner and qualified athletics coach with considerable experience of fell running. He is a long-time member of the Fell Runners Association (FRA). He formerly worked at Middlesex University where he was Lead Academic Developer. He has written two other books: It’s a Hill, Get Over It won the Bill Rollinson Prize in 2014; The Round: In Bob Graham’s footsteps was shortlisted for the TGO Awards Outdoor Book of the Year 2015 and the Lakeland Book of the Year Award 2016.
The formal launch of the book is on Fri 27 October in Skipton, where I will be in discussion with Kenny Stuart and Ben Mounsey [more info].
It was great to be a guest at the International Snowdon Race this year (thanks RO Stephen Edwards for the invite), and watch the action at close hand, some 23 years after I had run in this iconic fell race.
We travelled up earlier in the week to spend some time in wonderful Snowdonia, staying at the Royal Goat Hotel in Beddgelert one night (a nostalgic visit to a hotel from childhood holidays with my parents), and with friends from Uni days another night. On the Friday we took a stroll up Snowdon, choosing one of the less frequented routes for a change of scenery.
On race day it started very wet and we parked up at the Royal Victoria Hotel and bumped in to first Kenny and Pauline Stuart, and then John and Anne Wild. We wandered down to the start area to get the vibe as the rain seemed to be gradually lessening. Getting in to a good roadside position we watched the runners come out of the start field and head off up past the start of the mountain railway, then the hotel and on to Victoria Terrace before hitting the lower slopes, expecting them to get as much of a view as we had on the day beforehand (none). Fancying a coffee and a bite we made for a cafe in Llanberis and came back for the finish of the race.
The youthful looking winner, Italy’s Davide Magnini, came down the last bit of road seeming to be still full of running, although he was over 4 minutes off Kenny Stuart’s course record. He was followed in by England’s Chris Farrell, Tom Adams and Chris Holdsworth (thus taking the team prize). Watching the race video later Magnini showed great style on both the ascent and the descent. His time to the summit (5 miles) was 42-47 (at a pace of 9:52 per mile), with just 23-55 for the descent, giving him a 1-06-42 finish time.
Not long after that, the first lady came in, who was Annie Conway (who was actually not representing one of the national teams, and came home in 1-20-15), followed by Scotland’s Louise Mercer, and England’s Katie White.
After the race we went to the Electric Mountain to set up for the post-race talk that I was doing with Kenny and John. I was worried we might only have a small crowd, but there must have been 60+ there when Stephen Edwards hot-footed it over from the prize giving to introduce us.
I talked for a while about John and Kenny’s achievements, before giving them the floor for some anecdotes. I then refereed a bunch of really interesting questions from the audience, before selling and signing a good few of my three books, including the latest Running Hard: the story of a rivalry (which details the ups and downs of John and Kenny’s lives and running careers).
Back to the Vic for the excellent buffet provided for us (and the elite athletes), before repairing to the garden for a few beers and some banter with John, Kenny and co. When we went to bed the action was just starting (was there a disco?), but we were fortunate to have a room way at the back of the hotel so were not disturbed.
In the morning we had breakfast with John and Anne, chatted with some stiff looking athletes, and headed for Joe Brown’s for a bit of retail therapy, before heading home, via an impromptu road-side swim in Llynnau Mymbyr as the sun was now showing itself.
But what was that ‘Think Spinks’ bit all about in the title (I imagine you thinking)? Well, my fitness isn’t what it was and I am having some issues with one of my knees just now, so was worried if the Snowdon summit bid was a good idea. We set off, me nervously, on the path which starts at the Rhyd Ddu railway station knowing the weather was ‘variable’. In order to try to get me over the nerves my wife (who has obviously read It’s a hill, get over it) suggested I just ‘Think Spinks’ and all would be fine. So, having no cold rice pudding to hand, I resolved to just try to be as determined in adversity as Nicky Spinks always seems to be. So, we plodded on at a steady pace, rarely stopping and soon moving into the clouds. Having memorised the map I was expecting a false summit before we reached the top, and when Moira asked if we had reached it yet I replied ‘no’. In the mist we had not seen it (just after where the Watkin path joins, which we also didn’t see) as the main path contours under it, and thus you don’t have to go over it. As we slogged up another seemingly interminable steep path I began to lose my faith in Nicky, and was heard to mumble ‘I am bored’.
But then there was a strange noise and large spaceship loomed up in the misty cloud above. Lo and behold, we were there, and we rushed past the café and up the steps to touch the summit (and have a photo). A coffee and a short respite was taken and then we set off down. After only a short while the clouds were clearing and we had some marvellous views, seeing the knolls, paths, crags that we had missed in the cloud as we ascended.
Reaching the bottom with very sore legs and a raging thirst we took more coffee in the marvellous independent Beddgelert café next to the Post Office (can you see a pattern developing here) before a brilliant swim from a layby alongside Llyn Dinas.
A great day, and a great weekend. A lot of mental energy was spent in that walk up Snowdon, and I am sure the positive Spinks thoughts had helped immensely.
The seven quotes on the ‘Running Hard’ cover are from some absolutely top runners. These are the full versions of what they all said on reading a preview copy of the book. The book is published Thu 16 Feb, with two book launches on 18 and 20 Feb.
‘Kenny Stuart and John Wild are two of the greatest ever fell runners, with records that still stand today. This meticulously researched book is a compelling and fascinating account of their lives, and their rivalry and friendship.’
Steve Birkinshaw, fastest person to complete the 214 Wainwrights in one round
‘Recollections of races and post-race celebrations by such top fell runners as Jos Naylor, Billy Bland, Hugh Symonds, Jack Maitland and Malcolm Patterson are filled with insight and humour, and demonstrate the unique blend of intense rivalry and friendship that typifies fell running.’
Jeff Norman, Olympic marathoner and former Fell Runner of the Year
‘An in-depth and inspirational account of the fierce rivalry between John Wild and Kenny Stuart, two of mountain running’s finest-ever exponents. Steve Chilton explores the background, the characters and the head-to-head battle for the title of 1983 British Champion between these two ultra-hard men of the fells, and captures the unique spirit of running in its purest and most extreme form.’
Julian Goater, author of The Art of Running Faster
‘Running Hard is a funny, in depth insight into well-known and not so well known champions but, cleverly and importantly, also the characters behind these champions. It’s these characters that bring the book alive and make you wish you were stood on the fells watching their battles in real life and then listening to their post-race banter afterwards.’
Nicky Spinks, double Bob Graham Round record holder
‘A fascinating book that paints a captivating picture of an exciting head to head race for the ultimate championship title. Steve’s race reports are as edge-of-your-seat as a car-chase in a film; you’ll be devouring the words and turning the pages fast. He brings to life a whole new world of fell-running history – a must–read for every off–road runner.’
Claire Maxted, editor of Trail Running magazine
‘There is something primeval about hill running: a simple test of man versus mountain. The sport is a modern-day survival of the fittest and in the 1983 hill running season, two men literally seemed to be running for their lives.’
Jonny Muir, author of Heights of Madness
‘Two great athletes changed the face of fell running forever. Picture John Wild, road racing professional and international track and cross country champion, and Kenny Stuart, champion fell runner and winner of many classic mountain races, duelling over the toughest of terrains and weather conditions. Read of their courage, mental toughness and strategies in a modern, but almost Boys Own, battle and decide for yourself who is Wilson of the Wizard and who the Tough of the Track.’
Steve Jones, former holder of World Best time for marathon
When the paperback version of The Round: in Bob Graham’s footsteps comes out (in mid-January) it will have an extra chapter, which covers three amazing rounds that took place in 2016. They were by Jasmin Paris, Nicky Spinks and Rob Jebb. The image below is of the start of the chapter, which covers each one in detail, and reflects on the impact of these phenomenal achievements.
I understand that from the date of the publication of the paperback (19 Jan 2016) the Kindle version will also have the extra chapter included. Not only that, but I gather that ‘new buyers receive the updated edition and those who have bought previously will receive a notification that a new version is available to them, and it can be downloaded at no extra cost.’
After chatting with him, I have also written an extended account of Rob Jebb’s BGR (the second fastest ever), which will appear in the winter issue of The Fellrunner (with some excellent photos from the round by Rachel Pitt).
‘The Round: in Bob Graham’s footsteps’ was launched at two events, in Keswick and North London. The first took place on Saturday 19th Sept at the iconic Moot Hall in Keswick’s main street. This was the only real choice as it is the venue that is the normal start and finish point for the Bob Graham Round. I hired the community room at the Moot Hall which holds 40, and all the tickets were sold. There was a real buzz as assorted family, friends, clubmates, and some noted fell legends, gathered for the 6pm start of the event. After some drinks and networking my friend Mike Cambray, whom I have shared many an adventure on the fells with, took the floor and formally introduced me to the audience. He started with an observation that he had known me for 42 years. How appropriate was that for a book about an event that covers 42 peaks and was first completed by Bob Graham at the age of 42?
I then showed a few slides, some from the book and some of my own (and friends’ ones) from a recent Round I had supported. I did forget to thank a couple of people – so here’s thanks to Lucy (Bookends) and Alex (Moot Hall Information Centre) for help with the event. I also forgot to ask if there were any questions – then got one in the network time from someone, and I couldn’t answer it!
What was most pleasing was that some of the main players that I had interviewed for the book rocked up to the event. It was great to chat to Nicky Spinks right at the beginning (who couldn’t stay) and to see Steve Birkinshaw and Billy Bland stroll in and settle down, almost unnoticed – except by me who was by now excitedly whispering to friends ‘look who’s here’! Kenny and Pauline Stuart had provided a fulsome cover quote for the book (having read the manuscript) and also kindly joined us for the launch.
Bookends shop in Keswick had kindly agreed to provide books for the event, and Lucy did a fabulous job selling them to attendees before and after the formal bit. In the networking time in the latter part of the event is was great to see folk having the opportunity to chat with each other and gradually see Steve, Billy, Kenny and Pauline gather small crowds around themselves. I signed books for those that wanted it, and a good number got theirs counter-signed by one or more fell legend(s), which was great to see.
It was great to have Mike there, plus my wife Moira and son Josh. We repaired with some of our friends to the Dog and Gun for a celebratory drink and a chat, then for fantastic fish supper at the famous Old Keswickian chip shop, seated in style upstairs. The event venue, pub and food (all iconic Cumbria locations) were all within yards of each other in the centre of Keswick – an evening to savour.
On the Wednesday after the Keswick launch I held a second ‘launch celebration’ at Middlesex University, in Hendon, North London (my employer). Thirty friends, workmates and athletic clubmates attended an informal event in the Grove Atrium. For this audience I told some stories about the Round, its innovators and included more pictures and some video clips from the Round I had supported in July. This time I remembered to ask if there were any questions, which produced some interested discussion. Again a good number of books were sold and signed, and a post-event pint and pizza were taken at the Greyhound pub, in which I used to spend far too much time earlier in my life. There will be a short video available of this event shortly.
‘The Round: in Bob Graham’s footsteps’ can be purchased directly from me (signed) and from bookshops, such as Waterstones, Bookends, Fred Holdsworth’s and Sam Read’s (the latter three all being in Cumbria) and online.