Fell running

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The start of a mountain running championship in Norway Mountain running.JPG
The start of a mountain running championship in Norway

Fell running, also sometimes known as hill running, is the sport of running and racing, off-road, over upland country where the gradient climbed is a significant component of the difficulty. The name arises from the origins of the English sport on the fells of northern Britain, especially those in the Lake District. It has elements of trail running, cross country and mountain running, but is also distinct from those disciplines.

Contents

Fell races are organised on the premise that contenders possess mountain navigation skills and carry adequate survival equipment as prescribed by the organiser.

Fell running has common characteristics with cross-country running, but is distinguished by steeper gradients and upland country. [1] It is sometimes considered a form of mountain running, but without the smoother trails and predetermined routes often associated with mountain running. [2]

History

A hill-running race in Prague Velka kunraticka 2nd hill, Prague.jpg
A hill-running race in Prague

The first recorded hill race took place in Scotland. [3] King Malcolm Canmore organised a race in Braemar in 1040 or perhaps as late as 1064, reputedly to find a swift messenger. This event appears to have been a precursor to the Braemar Gathering. There is no documented connection between this event and the fell races of the 19th century.

From the 19th century records survive of fell races taking place as a part of community fairs and games. The sport was a simple affair and was based upon each community's values for physical ability. Fell races took place alongside other sports such as wrestling, sprint races and (especially in Scotland) heavy events such as throwing the hammer. These fairs or games events were often commercial as well as cultural, with livestock shows and sales taking place alongside music, dancing and sports. In a community of shepherds and agricultural labourers comparisons of speed and strength were interesting to spectators as a source of professional pride for competitors. The most famous of these events in England, the Grasmere Sports meeting in the Lake District, with its Guide's Race, still takes place every year in August.

The Fell Runners Association started in April 1970 to organise the duplication of event calendars for the amateur sport. [4] As of 2013 it administers amateur fell running in England, in affiliation with British athletics. Separate governing bodies exist for each country of the United Kingdom and each country has its own tradition of fell running, though the sport is largely the same. The most important races of the year include the Ben Nevis Race in Scotland, run regularly since 1937, and the Snowdon Race in Wales.

Overlap with other sports

Fell running is often known as hill running, particularly in Scotland. [5] It is sometimes called mountain running, as in the name of the Northern Ireland Mountain Running Association [6] although the term mountain running often has connotations of WMRA races which tend to be on smoother, drier trails and lack the route choice which may be available in fell races. [7]

Fell race courses are often longer than cross country running courses, steeper and unmarked when out on the hills (with a few exceptions). Fell running also overlaps with orienteering. Courses are again typically longer but with less emphasis on navigation. Fell running does sometimes require navigational skills in a mountainous environment, particularly in determining and choosing between routes, and poor weather may increase the need for navigation. However, in most fell races, the route or sequence of checkpoints is published beforehand and runners may reconnoitre the course to reduce the risk of losing time working out where to run during the race. [8] Category O events and Mountain Marathons (see also below), test navigational ability, attracting both orienteers and fell runners. Other multi-terrain events, such as the Cotswold Way Relay and the Long Mynd Hike, also qualify as fell races under Fell Runners Association rules.

Some fell running could also be classed as trail running. Trail running normally takes place on good paths or tracks which are relatively easy to follow and does not necessarily involve the significant amounts of ascent that are required in fell running. [9]

Rocks

Fell running does not involve rock climbing and routes are subject to change if ground nearby becomes unstable. A small number of fell runners who are also rock climbers, nevertheless do attempt records traversing ridges that allow running and involve scrambling and rock climbing – particularly where the record is 24 hours or less.[ citation needed ] Foremost of these in the UK is probably the traverse of the Cuillin Main Ridge on Skye, and the Greater Traverse, including Blaven.

Organisations

The Fell Runners Association (FRA) publishes a calendar of 400 to 500 races per year. Additional races, less publicised, are organised in UK regions. The British Open Fell Runners Association (BOFRA) publishes a smaller calendar of races (usually 15 championship races, and other smaller events, such as galas or shows)>– mostly derived from the professional guide races – in England and Scotland and organises a championship series. In Scotland, all known hill races (both professional and amateur) are listed in the annual calendar of Scottish Hill Runners. In Wales, the Welsh Fell Runners Association provides a similar service. Northern Ireland events are organised by Northern Ireland Mountain Running Association. Again, races are run on the premise that a contender possesses mountain navigational skills and carries adequate survival equipment. In Ireland events are organised by the Irish Mountain Running Association.

The World Mountain Running Association is the governing body for mountain running and as such is sanctioned by and affiliated to the IAAF, the International Association of Athletics Federations. It organises the World Mountain Running Championships. There are also continental championships, such as the African Mountain Running Championships, the European Mountain Running Championships, the South American Mountain Running Championships and the North American Central American and Caribbean Mountain Running Championships.

Championships

The first British Fell Running Championships, then known as Fell Runner of the Year, were held in 1972 and the scoring was based on results in all fell races. In 1976 this was changed to the runner's best ten category A races and further changes took place to the format in later years. Starting with the 1986 season, an English Fell Running Championships series has also taken place, based on results in various races of different lengths over the year. [10]

Race categories

Race records vary from a few minutes to, generally, a few hours. The longest common fell running challenges tend to be rounds to be completed within 24 hours, such as the Bob Graham Round. Some of the mountain marathons do call for pairs of runners to carry equipment and food for camping overnight. Longer possible routes do exist, such as an attempt at a continuous round of Munros. Mountaineers who traverse light and fast over high Alpine, Himalayan or through other such continental, high altitudes are considered alpine style mountaineers by fell runners.

Races run under the FRA Rules For Competition of the Fell Runners Association [11] are categorised by the amount of ascent and distance. [2]

Ascent categories

Category A

  • Should average not less than 50 metres climb per kilometre.
  • Should not have more than 20% of the race distance on road.
  • Should be at least 1.5 kilometres in length.

Category B

  • Should average not less than 25 metres climb per kilometre.
  • Should not have more than 30% of the race distance on road.

Category C

  • Should average not less than 20 metres climb per kilometre.
  • Should not have more than 40% of the race distance on road.
  • Should contain some genuine fell terrain.

Distance Categories

Category L

  • A category “L” (long) race is 20 kilometres or over.

Category M

  • A category “M” (medium) race is over 10 kilometres but less than 20 kilometres.

Category S

  • A category “S” (short) race is 10 kilometres or less.

Additional categories

Category O

  • also known as a Long O event
  • checkpoints are revealed to each competitor when they come up to a “staggered” start
  • entry by choosing an orienteering type class, such as a Score-O event and often as a team of two (pairs)

Category MM

  • events also known as mountain marathons and mountain trials
  • similar to Category O, but multi-day events, in wild, mountainous country. Competitors must carry all the equipment and food required for the overnight camp and subsequent days. Entry is usually as a pair.

Three example "classic A" races

Footwear

Modern fell-running trainers use light, non-waterproof material to eject water and dislodge peat after traversing boggy ground. While the trainer needs to be supple, to grip an uneven, slippery surface, a degree of side protection against rock and scree (loose stones) may be provided. Rubber studs have been the mode for two decades, preceded by ripple soles, spikes and the flat-soled "pumps" of the fifties.[ citation needed ]

24-hour challenges

Fell runners have set many of the peak bagging records in the UK. In 1932 the Lakeland runner Bob Graham set a record of 42 Lakeland peaks in 24 hours. His feat, now known as the Bob Graham Round, was not repeated for many years (in 1960); by 2011, however, it had become a fell-runner's test-piece, and had been repeated by more than 1,610 people. Building on the basic 'Round' later runners such as Eric Beard (56 tops in 1963) and Joss Naylor (72 tops in 1975) have raised the 24-hour Lakeland record considerably. The present record is 78 peaks, set by Kim Collison, on 11-12 July 2020 [12] [13] ; the previous record of 77 peaks, set by Mark Hartell, had stood since 1997. [14] The ladies' record is 64 peaks, set in 2011 by Nicky Spinks. [15]

Most fell running regions have their own challenges or "rounds":

See also

Related Research Articles

Road running distance running sport on roads

Road running is the sport of running on a measured course over an established road.

Ultramarathon Any footrace longer than the traditional marathon length of 42.195 kilometres

An ultramarathon, also called ultra distance or ultra running, is any footrace longer than the traditional marathon length of 42.195 kilometres (26.219 mi).

Trail running mountain sport

Trail running is a sport-activity which combines running, and, where there are steep gradients, hiking, that is run "on any unpaved surface". It is similar to both mountain and fell running. Mountain running may, however, include paved sections. Trail running normally takes place in warm climates, or on good paths, or tracks which are relatively easy to follow, and does not necessarily involve the significant amounts of ascent, or need for navigating skills, normal in fell running. Unlike road running and track running it generally takes place on hiking trails, often in mountainous terrain, where there can be much larger ascents and descents. It is difficult to definitively distinguish trail running from cross country running. In general, however, cross country is an IAAF-governed discipline that is typically raced over shorter distances.

Bob Graham Round English Lakeland fell-running challenge

The Bob Graham Round is a fell running challenge in the English Lake District. It is named after Bob Graham (1889–1966), a Keswick guest-house owner, who in June 1932 broke the Lakeland Fell record by traversing 42 fells within a 24-hour period. Traversing the 42 fells, starting and finishing at Keswick Moot Hall, involves 66 miles with 26,900 feet of ascent.

Joss Naylor British fell runner

Joss Naylor, MBE is an English fell runner who set many long-distance records, and a sheep farmer, living in the English Lake District. As his achievements increased he became better known as the King of the Fells or simply the Iron Man.

Angela Mudge Skyrunner

Angela Mudge is a Scottish champion hill runner and skyrunner. Despite being born with birth defects in both legs, and finding track athletics not to her liking, she discovered her sport while a postgraduate student in Scotland in the mid-1990s, and developed rapidly.

Colin Kerr Donnelly is a Scottish runner who was the British fell running champion three times and finished second in the World Mountain Running Trophy.

Mark Croasdale is an English athlete who was a British fell running champion and competed in cross-country skiing at the Winter Olympics.

Ros Evans is a British athlete who competed in fell running, orienteering, ski-orienteering and cross-country skiing. She is also mother to British track cyclist, Neah Evans.

Angela Brand-Barker is a British runner who was a national fell running champion and represented her country at the World Mountain Running Trophy.

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.

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.

Langdale Horseshoe

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.

Skyline Scotland

Skyline Scotland is a set of annual skyrunning races which take place on consecutive days in the mountains around Kinlochleven in Lochaber. The main races are the Mamores VK, the Ring of Steall Skyrace, the Ben Nevis Ultra and the Glen Coe Skyline.

Jasmin Paris

Jasmin Karina Paris is a British runner who has been a national fell running champion and who holds the women's records for the Bob Graham Round and the Ramsay Round.

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.

Ricky Lightfoot British ultramarathon runner

Ricky William Lightfoot is a British runner who has been a world champion in trail running and a medallist in the World Long Distance Mountain Running Challenge.

The Isle of Jura Fell Race is an annual fell race held in May, starting and finishing at Craighouse on the Scottish island of Jura. The course loops west and north over several hills including the Paps of Jura. After the last climb to Corra Bheinn, a boggy descent takes the runners down to the tarmac coastal road which is followed for the final three miles to the finish. The route is approximately 17 miles (27 km) in length, with around 2,350 metres (7,710 ft) of ascent. As well as being known for the very difficult rocky and boggy terrain involved, the race is notable for its remoteness. The journey to the start of the race typically involves a ferry journey from the Scottish mainland to Islay, followed by another ferry to Jura and then several miles by bicycle, by bus or on foot to Craighouse.

Mark Alan Rigby is a British runner who was a national hill running champion and who represented Scotland in the World Mountain Running Trophy.

International Skyrunning Federation

The International Skyrunning Federation (ISF) is the world governing body for skyrunning. The ISF today counts 41 Member nations. The Federation of Sports at Altitude (FSA) used to be the organization which governed and managed the sports of skyrunning. It has been replaced by the International Skyrunning Federation.

References

  1. "Spot the Difference | Trail, Fell, & Cross Country Running Explained". Mpora. Retrieved 2019-01-18.
  2. 1 2 World, Runner's (2018-03-25). "A 60-second guide to fell running". Runner's World. Retrieved 2019-01-18.
  3. Smith, Bill (1985). Stud Marks on the Summit: A History of Amateur Fell Racing: 1861-1983. Preston: SKG Publications. Retrieved 30 October 2011. - Total pages: 581
  4. "Fellrunner » Join". fellrunner.org.uk. Retrieved 2019-01-18.
  5. "An introduction to hill running - runbritain" . Retrieved 10 October 2016.
  6. Northern Ireland Mountain Running Association Constitution.,
  7. Sarah Rowell, Off-Road Running (Ramsbury, 2002), 104.
  8. "How it was for me - British Fell Running Championship 2015" . Retrieved 10 October 2016.
  9. "Trail Running or Fell Running? - Fell Running Guide" . Retrieved 10 October 2016.
  10. Steve Chilton, It's a Hill, Get Over It (Dingwall, 2013), 143-44.
  11. "FRA Rules For Competition" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-01-24.
  12. Smith, Bob (12 July 2020). "Runner Kim Collison beats Lakeland 24-hour record that stood for 23 years". Grough Magazine. Retrieved 17 July 2020.
  13. "Sabrina Verjee and Kim Collison make ultra running history in the Lake District". Athletics Weekly. 13 July 2020. Retrieved 17 July 2020.
  14. Bunyan, John. "Mark Hartell's 24 Hour Lake District Record" . Retrieved 10 October 2016.
  15. RaceKit news Archived 2012-03-22 at the Wayback Machine ; Dark Peak Fell Runners news Archived 2014-11-29 at the Wayback Machine

Further reading

Commons-logo.svg Media related to Fell running at Wikimedia Commons