Fell Running

I've just noticed this new forum.
Does fell running / racing fit under here - it's a bit like adventure racing without the camping.

It's hardly unconventional though, it's those soft southerners that run on the road that are unconventional.


  • Well it does now, if we keep the thread going.

    The next Fell Race I am aiming for is the Ras Fynydd Fell Race in November. Before that I am doing the Brecon to Merthyr 15 mile Roman Road Run on Sept 6th. Not a real fell race, but ran across the Brecon Beacons anyway.

    tom, like you, I don't go too much on road running, and prefer to get off road and into the hills. Living in the heart of the Brecon Beacons that is quite easy. I guess the problem with those "soft southerners", is that they have no real hills to run on.
  • Tom, it does now the three of us agree on it!

    Richard, good luck with that, I've only done one official fell race, didn't half hurt!

    My plan for next 12 months is doing each section of the Bob Graham plus some fell races to force me to speed up/downhill training.

    What are your views on road marathons? To what extent is long distance on the road actually counterproductive for fell running? Thinking of muscle damage and subsequent recovery. Having to do some soul searching about possibly giving up road marathons to concentrate on training for fell.
  • How many sections are there to the BGR ? It sounds a horrendous challenge to complete it all within 24 hours - mind you, didn't you recently complete the Welsh 1000m's ?

    I've only done one official race too although I do at least 2 fell runs each week. I wasn't too sore after it but I was surprised by just how fast it was. In road races I normally finish just below halfway, but in the fell race I was well down towards the bottom and I must have been one the youngest competitors at 34. There are some seriously fit people out there.

    I could hold my own on the flat and overtook quite a few on the descent but I was useless on the ascents. Other than the obvious of running uphills is there any specific training that can be done for the ascents ?

    I'm not sure about long distance road training being completely counterproductive since it builds an aerobic endurance base which you most definately need. Marathons are probably a bit too far though, I limit my road runs to under 20 miles. I think the basic problem is that fell running is far harder than road running so for example I might be able to cover 15 miles in 2 hours over hilly roads but on the fells I'd be lucky to do 12 miles in 2 hours.

    Anyway, lets keep this thread going my next race is 'Passing Clouds' (BM 9 miles 1800') on the 7th Sept.
  • richard-could you tell me anything about the Black Mountains races? I think they take place around March time?

    I've not run any official fell races, but some of the off road ones I've done could apparently be classified as one and do attract fell runners.

    Being a Southern softie mind, this is most probably all I could cope with:o)
  • Hilly, I was reading in 'The Fellrunner' about a series of races on the Isle of White. I'm sure there's one in Surrey somewhere aswell.

    I'll have a look in the Fixtures booklet when I get home tonight. Where abouts are you ?
  • nutters all of you! climbing Aconcagua a few years ago we had a guy from Cumbria who was a fell runner. descent from Camp 2 (6000m) to Camp 1 (5000m) was all scree and he decided to fell run down. in that thin air you should have seen the bugger go!!
  • This is a link to a suggested training program for the Bob Graham Round.


    As far a general fell racing training goes, it goes without saying that the best way to train for fell racing is to train off road on hills. In addition cycling translates well to fell racing, more so than to road racing, building up quads in a useful way. Also some weight training to build leg strength is useful. For specific hill training sessions, I tend to use longer hills than would be recommended as part of a road racing schedule. I am lucky in that just a few minutes from my house I have a 1 KM lan that goes over a hill. There is a 1 in 7 700 metre section to the top and the other side is 300 metre 1 in 5. Run hard up, jog down the other side, turn round run hard up, jog down, and repeat a few more times.

    Hilly, will get info about the Black Mountains races for you, have it at home somewhere.

    If starting fell racing it is important to choose the correct race based on its grade, and have the correct kit for the grade of race. More info on the grading system at

    www.fellrunner.org.uk along with a calender of events, although not all races are listed.
  • Hilly

    In fact here is some info about the Balck Mountains from the fellrunner web site

    SAT.SEP 27. BLACK MOUNTAINS. AL. Details: John Darby, Garnwen Farm, Trevethin, Pontypool, Gwent, NP4 8TR. Tel: 01495 750491

    The AL refers to the fell race grading system A = Difficult, no less than 250ft of climb per mile, not more than 20% on road.
    L = over 12 miles.

  • I'm interested in starting fell racing, at the moment I spend most of my running time on the moors, which includes quite a lot of hills with being in east lancs. I stick to running on tracks and paths, do the majority of fell races and runners stick to paths and tracks?
  • Hi moor man

    Here is some of the info from the leaflet for the next fell race I am doing.

    "The lower reaches of the race are run on a mixture of well marked tracks and footpaths, but the open fells are unmarked. The high mountain terrain can be featureless and is susceptible to varied and often adverse weather conditions. Navigation skill smay be necessary"

    You are required to carry a map, compass, waterproofs and whistle on a Grade A races. Last fell race I did the visibility was just a few yards, so it would have been easy to go the wrong way.

    Hope this helps, but there are usually stewards around to keep you on the straight and narrow.

  • cheers Richard, going to have my first competitve race at the Weavers Off-Road Half Marathon near Darwen I'm currently running round about 6/7 miles twice a week and slowly building up on the longer runs on a weekend, trying more to spend time on my feet, was out for about hour and a quarter on saturday, but the missus seems to get a bit worried if I'm out too long on the moors. By the way recently got a pair of inov8, well chuffed with them!
  • Tom-I'm in the S.west, but parents are in S.Wales so get the chance to do races in that area too.

    Thanks for the info richard. Sept is no good for me as I'm doing Cardiff marathon on the 28th.

  • This looks like it'll be a good thread. Tom, I was really surprised at how fast the fell race was too; I was OK on the ascents, then everyone came past like demons on the downhill! I've focused on trying to speed up my downhills this year, had lots of surgery on my right leg in the past and that's invariably the one that feels weaker.

    Richard, the tip about cycling to boost quads is really useful and much more implementable than going to a gym, for me. I also have a hill right behind my house, 8 mins to the top from my front door, then I can go up and down where I choose. From what you say, longer hill reps are more useful however. Maybe that would help you with the ascents Tom? I've also tried going up fast, coming down fast and having short recovery at the bottom to emulate what actually happens in a race.
    I've already printed out most of the BG site! Tom, there are 5 sections based around where the route meets the road. 74 miles/28 000ft ascent approx, as such it's possibly too tough a challenge for me, given lots of very fit people try and fail and the ones I know who have completed have done so after at least 2 attempts.
    But I plan to build up experience over next couple of years before deciding whether to commit to training/actual attempt. (a lie, I've already decided. But that's what I'm telling my husband and any other doubter.)

    Do you race on the road as well Richard?

    Good luck moorman with Darwen, I'd be interested in your report. Feel inspired to look up some local races now.
  • I do road race, but not very often, I have run one race this year that was completely on the road, out of a total of 6 races. It was a 5 mile, but it was still a very hilly course. I am coming back after a long lay off after injure, actual broke my neck a few years ago, C6 and C7, and had to have bone grafts and a metal plate to stop my head falling off. Tried to come back too soon and started pulling muscles in my right leg. I have nerve damage to the right side of my body and as a result cannot recruit all my muscles properly when running hard. all a bit of a pain really, but better than not being able to walk at all.
  • That sounds very bad Richard! Glad things are much better for you!

    The closest I'll get to doing a kind of fell run this year is on Oct 26. I'm doing the Stickler, (3 peaks of Dorset) which takes it's inspiration from the 3 peaks of Yorkshire. It's 1500ft of climbing over 3 peaks and also includes the infamous Stickle Path of Shillingstone, which is 500ft of 1:3 climbing.

    It's a great race and the weather normally makes it even harder. Ran through floods the last time I did it, where a river had burst its banks. I remember the water being upto my hips!
  • Hilly, I find it very fustrating, prior to my accident I was running really well. I was living in the Middle East at the time, in the United Arab Emirates, and was doing good long runs through the desert. That summer I had come back to UK for a holiday, and while in Scotland had run Ben Nevis. One return to UAE had won a 10K road race in 32 mins. A couple of weeks later the accident, now 6 years on the best I have done in a 10 K race is 54 mins, about 5-6 weeks ago.

    Hope you have fun and success in the Stickler. Last fell race I competed in was just after a lot of rain. Part of the course was round the side of a lake. After the rain the water in the lake was a lot higher then normal and the path round the lake was complete mud. Had to run through knee deep mud for a couple of Km. Legs were shot before we started up the mountain.
  • Richard-very sad that you had what sounds like an horrific accident to leave you with broken neck, but you are alive and doing the sport you love again! It doesn't matter that you now run 54 mins for 10k. At least you can say you've ran 32 mins for 10k, not many people can say that! Here's to many more happy running years!!

    The Stickler is an event I look forward to every year as there aren't any others like it in this area.

    We do have 'The Beast' which is 13-14 miles of multi terrain on coastal paths/stony paths and up cliff sides that's on this weekend and I shall be doing that. It's not a mountain run, but it feels like it when trying to get up hundreds of steps at the side of a cliff. I'd like it to rain for it as every time I've done it, it's been hot. I just love to run in the rain!
  • Hilly, I had a look in the fixtures book and there's a race called the Mendip Muddle in October that's down in Somerset.

    Moor Man, Have you tried some of the routes around the Trough of Bowland - I did a great one from Chipping (nr Longridge) up to Fair Snape Fell across Saddle Fell and back down to Chipping.

    Richard, that sounds an awful accident - good luck with a continued recovery.
  • Richard, its good to hear that you still keep at it, it's too easy to get bogged down feeling sorry for yourself and sort of giving up. I know as I have problems myself, nothing on the scale of yours but I suffer from reactive arthiritus (which also meant a medical discharge from the army)for a few years whilst being diagnosed etc, I stopped exercising completley, went from a lean 10.5 stone up to a quite rotund 13.8 stone! I have since found though with the right diet (mainly organic) and being quite obsessive with training etc I have managed to shift most of the fat, got rid of my depression, keep the flare-ups and pain in joints to a minimum and am now fitter than I have been in a very long time. I also seem to get fewer injuries off road/fell running, by the way can I class my usual runs as fell running? I have a rise from 200m upto 460m over 2.5 miles, albeit on rough track over moorland, total length of run is around 6-7 miles, set off last night on a race against a baking spud! managed to get home within the hour (51:48).
  • Tom, I only usually run very locally (as I live on the edge of the moors, my wife gets worried enough about that, in case of injuries and suchlike, especially with running on my own, I have just ordered an os map of this sort of area, I think it covers trough of bowland, the only problem is she doesn't trust my map reading skills either so worries that I'll get lost, I have thought about buying a cheap gps system, like the garmin geko, as I would've thought that this would also be able to give accurate distances and speeds, a bit like the timex jobbie but with the added bonus of using it for directions? does anyone use gps on fell running or do they stick to compasses?
  • An OS map is an excellent idea. I use one with Trailgauge software which allows you to plan routes in detail including the elevation profile and it gives you sensible time predictions that take the ascent into account.

    I have a Garmin eTrex that I use occasionally but it's no substitute for a map and compass. One nice feature is that you can download your tracklog from the Garmin into Trailgauge and it shows you where you've been on the map and your mile splits.

    If you're going to get one wait for the Garmin Forerunner which will be released in November it is specifically designed for running like the Timex but also has all the navigation features that you'd expect aswell. There's a thread on the Gear forum about it at the moment.

    I had the same moans from my wife about wandering the moors on my own in the early hours and I've come up with a solution :-

    I've printed out a route card comprising of a map extract with the route marked on and a list of waypoints with grid references and estimated times for each route that I regularly run. Each card is laminated and is hung up on a board by the back door. When I leave I put the card for the route I'm running on the top and write the time that I set off on a pad next to it.

    From this my wife knows when I set off, what time I should get back and if I don't turn up she can give the card to the Police/MRT and they will know exactly where I should have been.

    Laura - you might be interested in this system too, after reading your Women's safety thread.
  • Tom, it's funny you should say about the laminated routes, as yesterday I pieced together printouts from multimap for the exact same reason (obviously very busy at work!)I have used trail gage, but have struggled with routes as I have not been able to get them big enough off multimap, though this will soon be remedied when I get the os map. Will have to look into the garmin forerunner, hopefully not too dear though.
  • I will have a look at the O/S map of my area at night and decide what I fancy doing the next day. This is usually for my long run on a Saturday morning. I don't normaally have time during the week for a run of more than 30 - 40 mins. So Friday night I look at the map and decide where I fancy going the next morning. work out a route, then on the Saturday morning set off and probably change the route while I am out. I have the advantage of having spent many years in the Brecon Beacons, and can find my way without map/compass. Use the Timex SDM to see how far I finally run, and average speed.
  • Like you Richard I'm so familiar with my local patch of the Peak District that I rarely take a map and compass. If I'm running a new route and there's a crucial path that I need to take and I'm not sure where it is, I'll upload the waypoint to the GPS and carry that with me. It's less bulky than a map and compass and is waterproof.

    If I'm in unfamiliar territory then a map and compass is essential, I once made the mistake of just relying on a stack of waypoints in the GPS and got completely lost because all you see on the GPS screen is a series of flags with no idea of what features or paths are in between.
  • That is the danger of some people's perception of GPS systems. People have to remember they are a supplement to map and compass and navigation skills, not a replacement.
  • Thats a good idea you have there Tom with the maps!

    I did the Mendip Muddle last year, brilliant race, although I saw very little of the terrain as the fog was so thick! The weather was atrocious that day when I think about it. I think I was 5th lady, which I was pleased about. I might go back and do it this year.
  • ah well, time to brush up on my map reading skills, oh and buy a new compass!! Don't think I'll be able to afford a gps system anyway, not with a little un on the way. Another question, do you take a rucksack on your runs, as I was thinking of buying a new one especially coming upto winter, I currently use a karrimor trail bum bag, which I find ideal for carrying mobile phone, water and I also carry a raf pilots survival kit! The problem is I don't know whether I'll look a bit over equipped, but then I suppose it's better to be safe and all that. Do you think It'd look out of place on the half marathon off roader I'm planning on doing?
  • Tom -

    Are you doing any more fell races round Whalley Bridge soon as I fancy doing one but would quite like a friendly (virtual) face to have a go with if your up for it.

    Have only just moved to the peaks from the smoke so am looking to make new running chums in the area.

  • moor man On a long run, over a hour I usually carry a bum bag with water, or some other liquid, and a lightweight waterproof and maybe map, compass, etc. During the winter I might replace the bum bag with a small rucsac, I have 2 a 20l Salomon and a 20l KIMM. I also have a bladder, which I can fit in either rucsac. Depending on the conditions, route, etc I would carry waterproofs, warm top, map, compass, etc.

    As far as the map is concerned, I do not carry the whole O/S map, I scan and print the area of map the covers where I will be running.

    As far as races go, if it is a grade a fell race you have to carry full waterproofs, map (photocopy or scanned covering the route is fine), compass, whistle. There are sometimes spot checks on kit. Most people carry this kit in a bum bag, but some use a small rucsac.

    For waterproof I use a Helly Hansen Motive. It is the lightest waterproofs I have come across, and although not goretex, are reasonably breathable.
  • I've got the same, small bumbag (Lowe Alpine) that I manage to stuff with :-

    Concurve goretex waterproof jacket (this is fully waterproof and breathable but is not the lightest jacket around and takes up the majority of space in the bumbag - I'd maybe consider one of the newer paclite fabrics next time), but you can run in it.

    Cheap millets waterproof trousers (only to satisfy race requirements - I would never run in these).

    Map (again extracts printed on A4) watch for the ink running in the rain though.

    Compass and whistle.

    I never bother with water as there's usually plenty falling on your head and I don't seem to have a problem with running upto 2 hours without.
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