Tag Archive | Steve Birkinshaw

Owter. Buy direct. Help authors

Owter is a new book service which helps authors get a better return on their book sales. I will be recommending good running and outdoor books via my page on the site.

NoMapFirst is Steve Birkinshaw’s ‘There is No Map in Hell’, which tells in gory detail the story of his successful Running the Wainwrights record run of 2014. It fully justifies its nomination for the Lakeland Book of Year (2017). When I reviewed it I described it thus:

He modestly describes the toll it takes as his body gradually disintegrates over the seven days, and also the difficulties the fatigue gives him afterwards. If you like extreme challenges, this is a brilliant unravelling of the preparation and effects of Steve’s navigation to and through hell.

Why not give it a read?  It can be purchased directly (currently with £2 discount) at: https://owter.co/collections/steve-chilton?aff=7

All three of my running books are also available from the same link (two also reduced).

Full cover and all cover quotes

bookpage

I can now reveal the cover for my new book: All or Nothing At All: The Life of Billy Bland (detail above). It has again been designed by Heather MacPherson (of Raspberry Creative Type). The cover image is of Billy Bland in dominant mode, as he leads the Ben Nevis race in 1981.

The Foreword to the book concludes with:

In this book, Steve continues to explore the history of fell running in the brilliant style of his previous books, his in-depth analysis leading us to understand Billy Bland, whilst highlighting his achievements.
Billy Bland is a legend, and he is a fine man. Steve takes us through Billy’s life, to meet and know the man behind the legend.

Fine words indeed from the current Bob Graham Round record holder.

Final coverI am so very pleased (and indeed honoured) to note that the Foreword has been written by surely the finest mountain runner of his era (Kilian Jornet); and that the two cover quotes are from: someone I think one of the finest writers on sport of running (Adharanand Finn), and the other arguably the greatest female fell runner  of all time (Jasmin Paris).

A series of quotes by these latter two runners, together with four others (who all read advanced copies of the book), will adorn the back cover; and I can now reveal them to you.

Those six ‘quoters’, and Kilian, are the only people not involved in the direct publication process to have seen the full manuscript, so it was with some trepidation that I awaited their thoughts. I was not to be disappointed, as thankfully they all seemed to rate it.

‘A pacy jaunt along those muddy trails where Billy Bland set records few people have approached since. Anyone with a love of running will find this an engrossing and enjoyable read.’

Adharanand Finn, author of Rise of the Ultra Runners

Jasmin

‘Born in the Lake District and moulded by its hills, Billy Bland is a truly fascinating character’.

Jasmin Paris, record breaking ultra-runner

 

‘A detailed insight into the life of legendary fell runner Billy Bland, a straight talking Cumbrian who thinks as deeply about the environment as he does about running.’

Steve Birkinshaw, author of There Is No Map in Hell

Rebecca Robinson

‘This tale of fortitude and formidable athleticism transports readers to the heart of the fell running scene. Billy Bland is undisputed king of the fells.’

Rebecca Robinson, Consultant in sports and exercise medicine and mountain runner

‘An engaging look at the life of running legend Billy Bland of Borrowdale, encyclopaedic on his training, his character, and his wider contribution to life in the Lakes.’

Damian Hall, ultra-runner, author, and outdoor journalist

Denise Park

‘A truly inspirational book that highlights the importance of passion and hard work in achieving goals.’

Denise Park, Chartered Physiotherapist, internationally recognised for her work with fell/mountain runners

The book (ISBN 9781913207299, to be published in July by Sandstone Press) can be pre-ordered from all good bookshops (most of which are still offering mail order in these difficult times), where you can also order my three other running books.

Further book reveal blogs will include: the chapter that got dropped; other things that didn’t make it (inc some pics); an extract; and the story of the chapter illustrations.

Bob Graham Night at the KMF

Billy Bland, Jasmin Paris, Steve Birkinshaw, Martin Stone and I regaled the Theatre by the Lake crowd at the Bob Graham Night, as part of the Keswick Mountain Festival. After Martin introduced proceedings, I talked about the history of the Bob Graham Round (BGR), then interviewed Billy Bland on stage. Steve Birkinshaw talked about his Wainwrights round, and Jasmin about women on the BGR. After the break and a showing of a short film on Kilian Jornet’s new BGR record, we all took to the stage as a panel to answer questions from the audience. The following is a transcription of the Q&A section of the evening, pretty much as it occurred.

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Questions in italics, answers follow – with credit to speaker when more than 1 response. Qs were addressed to all panel, unless stated in the Q line:

Steve B – Atrial fibrillation: Have you managed to reverse that or are you still running with it?
Strangely yes. I didn’t know to start with what it was. I went to the doctor and they put me in hospital for the night. As the fatigue has got better so the fibrillation has got better as well. I still occasional get it if I am out for like a 5-hour run on the fells. But mostly it has gone.

What is the age of the oldest person to have done the BGR? Is there any hope for me?
Martin: It is Ken Taylor, who was 72. That was last year. He was my old mountain marathon partner. The amazing thing about Ken Taylor is that he had stomach cancer. He had just won the v60 fell championship and on the very last race he felt absolutely dreadful and went and had some checks done. They found he had a growth the size of a golf ball in his stomach. So, he had his stomach removed. This was nearly 10 years ago now. He was stitched back together, and he had to learn how to digest food again. He started fell running again and found by managing his energy levels he was able to do the long races. He had been keen on races all those years and then thought it was about time he got around to doing the BGR. HE cruised round in under 22 hours I think it was. Phenomenal.

Is eating fruit cake still the way to go, or what is your nutrition plan?
Billy: I haven’t a clue. [laughter] We just did what we thought was right. If we were doing everything wrong then we were quite good, weren’t we? If we had known everything they know now we might have been a laal bit better.
Jasmin: I just eat normal food. I would go for fruit cake over a gel any day.
Steve C: In the really long endurance events it is really what you can get down and what you can eat. I remember talking to Nicky Spinks about this and she said really struggled to find things that were palatable under pressure that didn’t make her feel ill. I think the magic food in her case was rice pudding.

How important is equipment and could you imagine running as fast with the equipment of 30+ years ago that Billy had?
Jasmin: I feel that one of the joys of running is that all you need is a pair of shoes and off you go. I don’t really think the kit makes that much difference. I like the freedom of running. Shoes need to have good grip mind. Shorts and t-shirt are fine.
Steve B: I pretty much agree with Jasmin. Things like waterproofs are loads better than they were 30 years ago. Lightweight ones are a step up. Mountain marathon tents are loads better than they were.
Martin: there didn’t used to be these vests they wear now. You generally had to have stuff in a bumbag or a day sack but had to get them out. Now it is easier.
Steve B: I am still old school. I take water from becks as I go past. If you have vest it is more difficult to put a top on and off. I did an ultra last summer and I think I was the only person wearing a bumbag rather than a fancy vest.
Billy: when I see people starting fell races carrying water, I think ohoh! Use the streams, that is where the water comes from anyway. Water is quite heavy too, isn’t it?

Martin – did you ask Jasmin to pace Kilian, and if you didn’t, why not? [laughter]
Martin: I did ask Jasmin, yeh.
Jasmin: he did ask me, but I can’t remember why I wasn’t available. I might have been nervous about keeping up, but I could have asked to be on the last leg. It would have been amazing to be there at such a historical moment.

Jasmin – Did being a new mum help with your Spine race effort?

I think it did, yeh. It was a real bonus because I was used to sleeping less. By then I was back at work and my daughter was still waking up every three hours through the night. I was training at 4 or 5am in the morning. I wasn’t getting as much sleep anyway, so it may not have been as much of a shock as it was for other competitors.

Jasmin – how did you prepare for the Spine race, and did you feel well prepared?
Previously I had never focussed my training for just one race, I just kind of ran a lot because I love doing it. For three months I trained specifically for the Spine race. I built up the mileage to 100 miles a week by the end, which some may say is nothing. I did back to back long days with a pack, so I got used to that. In the race I carried about 5.5 kilos in my pack. I was also doing some speed sessions and hill work too. I had done multi-day races before, but never one where sleep deprivation comes into it.

Billy – how many times did you run 100 miles a week?
Maybe a couple that is all. I did 1,000 miles by March each year but not at 100 miles a week.

What impact do you all think Richard Askwith’s book has had on the Bob Graham Round?
Steve C: can I answer as an author who has tried to write a book after that. I had issues with the FRA, the governing body, who said “after Askwith we don’t want anyone else to write a book about it”. The governing body was a bit insular about its own sport. At one level it was an issue for some people in the sport, and at another level it brought a lot of people into the possibility of doing that sort of thing. It depends on your point of view. If you look at the numbers on that chart (of completions) I showed (earlier) it went up significantly in the years following the book.
Jasmin: it is interesting that more recently Jonny Muir has written a book about the Ramsay Round and it will be interesting to see if that affects numbers there. It has nowhere near the numbers doing it as the Bob Graham does.
Martin: the FRA went through a period, quite a large number of years, where it was important they felt to not grow the sport in terms of total numbers involved. That was because of issues with landowners and the size of race fields. They had a publicity officer and the job was to put the cap on publicity. At the time I understood some of the reasons for this, but I think his book has had a massive impact.

Jasmin – what is next?
Running for Great Britain in the World Trail Champs in Portugal. I had some thoughts about some non-race things I might do this year, but I am not sure on that. The whole media thing after the Spine Race has been incredible but also a bit overwhelming. I am almost ready to sink into obscurity. I am not really chasing things at the moment. In August I am doing a multi-day race with Konrad and I have told him that for the next couple of months if our daughter wakes up in the night, he is dealing with it. [laughter]

Billy – did you taper at all before big race like Ennerdale or Borrowdale?

No. I would do the [carbo] diet, depleting myself on the Sunday with a long run. Then I would still run on the Monday and the Tuesday and try to run on the Wednesday. I just ran every day, like. I ran because I like it. That is what my body was used to. I don’t think I would benefit from a day off. I honestly don’t. If you don’t have days off your body gets used to recovering quickly. Yes, you have to get to bed and have a good night’s sleep. And the refuel with good food. I think that people that have lots of days off will not move to the next level. That is how I saw it anyway.

What does it mean to be a professional fell runner?
Billy: well, when I first started as a teenager there was Keswick, Ambleside and Grasmere Sports. I was just a valley lad who didn’t venture far. So that was all there was really. If you were lucky enough to be in the prizes you might get a fiver or a tenner. If you think we could make a living at it then you can just forget it. We all had to work as well.
Jasmin: I think that now you can get sponsored and that involves doing social media stuff. But you have to be winning events really. Personally, I like to free of all that. I am not tied into any contract. We do it because we love being in the hills and doing the running. If you want to benefit financially you will be tied down to a contract.

Steve B – at what point did 214 Wainwrights become a good idea? [laughter]
Ot was definitely not a good idea by halfway through, when I was in pain. Someone suggested it when I was trying to do the Lakeland 24 hours. I thought, yeh. It is a good way to see the whole Lake District in a week. [laughter] It appealed to me.

Steve B [from Jasmin] – would you do it again if you knew the problems you would have afterwards?

I would do it again. Knowing how I have struggled afterwards I would still do it. It is a memory that will live for ever. It would have been better if my feet hadn’t played up so much, but there is always something that is going to wrong. As you know the pain goes away in time. All I have got now is good memories of that week. Paul Tierney is having a go at the Wainwrights shortly and I have advised him and will be supporting him on the first leg.

Are there any techniques for getting through the hard times on endurance events?
Steve B: for me I focus on short term things. So, on the Wainwrights I was in agony on very downhill, but I knew the climb would be fine. So, I would think just get to the bottom of the hill and don’t think too far ahead.
Jasmin: I would agree that breaking it down helps. The more you do these things the more you realise that you will always go through bad patches. If you go through a patch and come out the other side, you get more confidence that you can succeed. It is better to keep on going than to sit down and try to recover. Keep moving and keep eating, if you can. The first night on the Spine was the hardest because my body hadn’t clicked that I was running a race without sleep. But I was doing really well in the race so that really helped.
Billy:  If it happened in a race you can feel it coming and you usually know what is causing it. On the BGR I had a bad patch, got fed and away I went again. But, I haven’t done stuff like these two have. I am too damn soft to take part in that sort of stuff! [laughter]

Links to more info : The history of the Bob Graham Round -:- Billy Bland -:- Steve Birkinshaw’s Wainwrights -:- Jasmin’s Spine Race -:- Kilian Jornet’s Round

BGR night at the Keswick Mountain Festival

KMFspeakersHeads-up on what looks like a great night at the upcoming Keswick Mountain Festival in May. There is a talk and panel session on the Saturday night of the festival, with a great list of contributors (from top left in image: Steve Birkinshaw, Martin Stone, myself, Jasmin Paris and Billy Bland). Plus a showing of the film of Kilian Jornet recent BGR record. Tickets are likely to be snapped up, and are available at: https://www.keswickmountainfestival.co.uk/speakers-2019/

On the fells and marathons: Dave Cannon

cannonken“A fully trained athlete is on the verge of illness all the time. Someone once said this when asked how much training you should do: “it is a bit like blowing up a balloon. You blow, you blow a bit more and then POP, back to square one”.
Dave Cannon in a profile published in the Winter 2017 issue of Fellrunner.

This comes from a profile I wrote of him after I met him in 2017, when he was working as elite athlete coordinator for the London Marathon. He was British Fell Champion in 1972, and later moved to the marathon to run 2-11.

cannonroyleI had a long and fascinating chat with him at Marathon HQ, about his running, on the fells in particular, and also his marathon running days and work with elite marathoners, including coaching Kenny Stuart.

Cannon was known as a great descender on the fells, and gave this description of competing in the Whernside Junior race:

You have a wall to get over when descending. Well I was coming down so fast, I was not going to stop to climb it, so I took off a few yards from the wall, got one foot on top and over! There was a fell race follower watching the race at this point and he said to me afterwards that he had never seen anything like it before. I hadn’t the heart to tell him it hadn’t been intentional.

The full article can be read here [PDF link], and includes some great stories about his training and racing, together with him talking about being diagnosed with ME/CFS, which effectively finished his career.

cannonpieceFollow-up:
Cannon is one of four case studies on CFS that are included in an article I wrote with Steve Birkinshaw, which was entitled Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in elite athletes, and was also published in Fellrunner.

[Other profiles: Jack Maitland; Hugh Symonds and Malcolm Patterson]

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

CFSsnapshotFollowing on from the interviews for my last book (‘Running Hard: the story of a rivalry’), I have been doing some research into Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). This resulted from talking through the issue with Kenny Stuart and Steve Birkinshaw, who have both suffered the debilitating effects of CFS, and ‘recovered’ to varying degrees. I floated the idea of writing something about it, and Steve agreed it would be good to talk to another couple of high profile runners we knew, and write up the four case studies resulting from this. The link below is the article Steve Birkinshaw and I wrote.

The case studies show both similarities and differences, and although drawing no particular conclusions, we feel the stories are worth hearing, and may strike a chord with some readers. There are also a couple of resource links, and a note of some more scientific research being done on the subject. Following the interest shown in the article I am now working with Dr Rebecca Robinson (a top fell runner and consultant in sports and exercise medicine) on writing a paper for a prominent medical journal on the topic.

A copy of the full original article (which was in the Summer 2017 issue of
The Fellrunner) may be viewed and downloaded here: [PDF of the article].

A future blog post will include a download of an article I wrote entitled “In Profile: Dave Cannon” (a former top fell runner and 2-11 marathoner), which was also recently published in The Fellrunner.

The Running Hard Blog Tour

Steve Chilton blog tour banner twitterOver 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:

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 paperback version of Running Hard will be published on Thursday 19th October and can be obtained from all good bookshops and online at Amazon.

running-hard-front-cover-proof-2016-oct-21About 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.

World Masters2005steveAbout 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].

Some thoughts on hosting your own book launch

Having recently organised the launch event for my book ‘Running Hard’, and also attended the launch of Steve Birkinshaw’s ‘There is no map in hell’, I decided I would jot down some thoughts on the two events, and consider the good and less good points about ‘doing it yourself’. Hopefully it will provide some pointers for anyone else going down this path.

Although my launch was setup by myself* and Steve’s by his publisher, there were many similarities in style and feel of the two events. Both were held in the Lake District in fairly intimate venues, and were great successes, as I hope the following descriptions will show.

My launch:
The Skiddaw Hotel, Keswick on Saturday 18 Feb 2017

runninghardlaunchThe venue was originally going to be the Moot Hall (which I had used for the launch of The Round) but it turned out to be unavailable, which was a bonus in the end as the audience probably wouldn’t have fitted in there! The room in the Skiddaw Hotel as very good, with projection facilities, and sound amplification (which we abandoned as it distorted badly). Being in a hotel we weren’t able to provide food or drinks, which I had brought in before at the Moot Hall, but that turned out to not be an issue. Several attendees availed themselves of the nearby bar, and I had a coffee and a glass of water.

I wanted it to be a free event, but we had the support of local bookshop Bookends, who advised me to sell tickets, which we agreed on being a nominal £2 cost. They provided two staff who bought in a load of copies of the book (and some of my other two books). The agreement was that I would get the entry fees and they would keep the money from book sales. This meant that the fees and the money from the publisher paid for the room hire, with just enough over to buy the first round in the pub afterwards!

The venue worked well, having plenty of space. Although we pretty much filled all the chairs they had others to bring out if required. There was plenty of room at the front for anyone who was going to speak, and best of all was that we had it booked for two hours which gave time and space for networking before and after the event, and crucially plenty of space for selling books, which we also did before and after the event. There was also plenty of space for personalised signing of books, which I did mostly by wandering around letting people catch me for autographs.

smallsteveThe tone of the event was set by my long standing friend (and mountain marathon and climbing partner) Mike Cambray, who introduced me, with some Shakespeare thrown in. He also organised a lovely gesture of getting attendees to sign a card with their thoughts at the end of the event, which I cherish greatly. For myself, I talked about the book, and read a couple of passages from it (the first time in 3 launches that I have chosen to do that). I was very fortunate to be able to get both the main protagonists from the book to be there and they both had the floor at different times to say a few words. The one mistake I made was not prompting people during the event that there be a chance for questions later on, as that part of the event never really got off the ground. But it was a great event, and particularly nice to chat with some of the top fell runners who had taken the time out to attend the launch.

* My publisher (Sandstone Press) is in the far north of Scotland, so it was not really practical for them to arrange and attend the launch. They did provide part-funding for the event.

Steve Birkinshaw’s launch:
Wilf’s café, Staveley, Thursday 18 May 2017

SteveBlaunchThe venue was the fantastic Wilf’s café (in Staveley), which was even more intimate than my hotel one, and we were well packed in. Wilf’s had provided good snacks, and wine or soft drinks were also available. On the train on my way up that afternoon I had daydreamt about a pint or two from the next door Hawkshead Brewery, but sadly they weren’t involved.

Two staffers from Sheffield-based publisher Vertebrate were there to coordinate the event and sell books. They had chosen to make tickets available online for £6, and achieved a full house of enthusiastic attendees. The venue worked well, with the food and drink (and mingling) in one room and the talks in another, which suffered from having an annoyingly loud air con system, which couldn’t seem to be quietened.

Steve was introduced by race organiser Shane Ohly, who set the set scene well, before handing over to Steve, who told some stories about the lead-up to the Wainwrights attempt, with really great slides to illustrate his discourse. At two points he handed over to his attempt coordinator, and then to his wife Emma, who gave their perspectives on what it was like to see Steve suffering so much during the 6 days. Steve then took questions, which produced an interesting range, from food, through sleep, to where the book title had come from.

It was good to meet a couple of friends from the fell running scene and to hear about the Wainwrights event and its after effects on Steve himself, and also to chat with the Vertebrate crew about their business and publishing ethos. For more about the launch event see this Vertebrate blog.

For more on my launch – and the secondary launch later on in London see:
The Keswick launch, Videos from the Keswick launch and London launch.

Cover quotes for ‘Running Hard’

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.

backcover‘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

At Keswick Mountain Festival

TipiRightThis was the first year I had attended the Keswick Mountain Festival, and very enjoyable it was too. Crow Park, by the Theatre on the Lake, was a beautiful setting, with Derwentwater and Cat Bells and the Borrowdale fells as a backdrop.

I was there on the Saturday to give a talk in the Adventure Tipi. The subject was The Bob Graham Round, it’s history and characters. It was obviously a plug for my latest book ‘The Round: in Bob Graham’s footsteps’, but also a chance to share my thoughts on the recent stunning BGR achievements by Jasmin Paris and Nicky Spinks.

File 21-05-2016, 22 17 51The Adventure Tipi was surprisingly small but suitably filled. It was nice to see Steve Birkinshaw in the audience, who had been talking earlier in the weekend about his Wainwrights record and his problems recovering from it. My talk seemed to be well received, and a few folk came and had a chat and to buy books after. It was necessary to shut out the noise of people having fun coming through the tipi walls. To clarify, it was the noise that was coming through the walls, not the people! Once I had started I soon forgot about that though.

It was great to have Mike Cambray there in support, and his short video of the first part of talk is available below. It was also great to have a quick chat with friend Rob Morris (having a quick break from his festival volunteering duties).

We had a quick scoot round the fascinating range of stalls, with Mike doing his best to keep Alpkit in business with his enthusiasm for their range of products. In the evening we were back to hear two of the climbing world’s finest give their talks in the Theatre. Simon Yates gave a whistle stop run through of his career, including a reference to the rope-cutting Joe Simpson incident, but more interestingly for me some of his recent trips. Mick Fowler was a very relaxed presenter, very entertainingly outlining his approach to climbing new routes on some of the more obscure mountain ranges of the world. I was intrigued by his claim to use Google Earth as a planning tool for searching out new and potential lines on said remote peaks.

A full-on weekend was completed by a range of activities, including bagging 3 new Wainwrights, a run on Hardknott, a couple of trips to Wilfs, and doing two great interviews for my next book – with Kenny Stuart and Joss Naylor. Oh, and a temporary separation from my wallet. Fortunately the lovely people at Woodlands Tearooms in Santon Bridge phoned me to inform me of my stupidity in leaving it on a table there.