Billy Bland (runner)

Last updated
Billy Bland
Personal information
NationalityBritish
Born1947 (age 7273)
Borrowdale
Sport
SportFell running
Updated on 4 November 2013.

Billy Bland (born 1947) is a British former long-distance runner. He was one of the most prominent fell runners from the mid-1970s until the late 1980s, and is arguably the best long-distance fell runner in the history of the sport.

He was born in 1947 in Borrowdale in the Lake District. [1] His father Joe Bland was a guides racer [2] and several other members of Billy's family also became fell runners, including his brothers Stuart and David. [3]

Bland took part in professional guides races early in his career and was reinstated as an amateur around the time of the inaugural Borrowdale Fell Race in 1974. By 1976 he had improved enough to finish eighth in the British Championships. This was followed by further progression until 1980 when he became the British Champion. [4]

Bland is a former holder of the record for the fell running challenge the Bob Graham Round which involves a circuit of forty-two Lake District peaks, covering around sixty-six miles. He accomplished this in a time of 13:53 on 19 June 1982. [5] This stood as the fastest time until 8 July 2018 when it was beaten by Kilian Jornet. [6]

Among Bland's other outstanding records are that for the Wasdale Fell Race, which he completed in 3:25:21 in 1982 (only three weeks after his Bob Graham Round record). [7] This time has not been approached in recent years, despite the event being one of the counting races in the national championships on several occasions. He also holds the record for the Borrowdale Fell Race, having run 2:34:38 in 1981. [8]

Related Research Articles

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The Borrowdale Fell Race is an annual fell race held in August, starting and finishing in Rosthwaite. It is considered to be one of the "classic" Lakeland races and the route initially heads over Bessyboot before climbing England’s highest summit, Scafell Pike. Great Gable is then scaled before a descent to Honister Pass and the final climb up Dale Head. The distance is approximately seventeen miles and the route has around 6,500 feet of ascent.

Simon Booth is an English runner who was twice the British fell running champion and who has represented his country at the World Mountain Running Trophy.

The Wasdale Fell Race is an annual Lake District fell race held in July, starting and finishing at Brackenclose in Wasdale. The course is approximately twenty-one miles long with around 9,000 feet of ascent and takes in checkpoints at Whin Rigg, Seatallan, Pillar, Great Gable, Esk Hause shelter, Scafell Pike and Lingmell nose wall. The route between Pillar and Lingmell is very rough, with steep technical ground and boulder fields. Among long fell races, Wasdale has one of the highest ratios of feet of ascent per mile, and it is often considered to be the toughest of the British races.

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The Langdale Horseshoe is an annual Lake District fell race that starts and finishes at the Old Dungeon Ghyll. The course climbs to Stickle Tarn before heading to Thunacar Knott, Esk Hause shelter, Bowfell, Crinkle Crags and Pike of Blisco. The route is approximately 21 kilometres (13 mi) in length with 1,450 metres (4,760 ft) of ascent. It includes much rough and rocky ground. On the descent from Crinkle Crags, many runners negotiate the Bad Step, although it can be avoided depending on route choice. The race often presents navigational difficulties, especially in poor visibility.

The Three Shires Fell Race is an annual Lake District fell race held in September, starting and finishing at the Three Shires Inn in Little Langdale. After an initial run along the valley, the route climbs steeply to Wetherlam, then down to Prison Band and up to the summit of Swirl How. The course then drops to the Three Shire Stone at the top of the Wrynose Pass, the meeting point of the historic counties of Cumberland, Lancashire and Westmorland. An ascent of Pike of Blisco follows, then the route drops to Blea Tarn before the final climb to Lingmoor Fell and descent to the finish.

The Ennerdale Horseshoe Fell Race is an annual Lake District fell race held in June, starting and finishing at the Scout Camp near Ennerdale Water. The route is approximately 36.8 kilometres (22.9 mi) in length with 2,290 metres (7,510 ft) of ascent and takes in checkpoints at Great Borne, Red Pike, Blackbeck Tarn, Green Gable, Kirk Fell, Pillar, Haycock, Iron Crag and Crag Fell.

The Coniston Fell Race is an annual Lake District fell race held in April or May, starting and finishing in the village of Coniston. The route is approximately 14 kilometres (8.7 mi) in length with 1,065 metres (3,494 ft) of ascent and takes in checkpoints on the summits of Wetherlam, Swirl How and the Old Man of Coniston.

Stephen Birkinshaw is an English fell runner and hydrologist. From 21 June 2014 until 20 June 2019 he held the record for the fastest run round the 214 Wainwright summits, at 6 days 13 hours.

References

  1. Bill Smith, Stud Marks on the Summits (Preston, 1985), 372-75.
  2. Tony Greenbank, "The Highs and Lows" Archived December 22, 2015, at the Wayback Machine , News and Star, 29 Oct 2005.
  3. Ross Brewster, "The Family Bland", The Fell Runner, Autumn 1977, 2-6.
  4. Steve Chilton, It's a Hill, Get Over It (Dingwall, 2013), 183-87.
  5. Steve Chilton, The Round: In Bob Graham's Footsteps (Dingwall, 2015).
  6. Competitor Running: Kilian Jornet Sets a New FKT on the Bob Graham Round.
  7. The Fell Runner, Dec 1982, 12-13.
  8. The Fell Runner, Dec 1981, 24-27.