The Info List - Fell Running

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running, sometimes known as hill running, but not to be confused with mountain 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. Fell
races are organised on the premise that contenders possess mountain navigation skills and carry adequate survival equipment as prescribed by the organiser.


1 History 2 Overlap with other sports 3 Rocks 4 Organisations 5 Championships 6 Race categories

6.1 Ascent categories

6.1.1 Category A 6.1.2 Category B 6.1.3 Category C

6.2 Distance Categories

6.2.1 Category L 6.2.2 Category M 6.2.3 Category S

6.3 Additional categories

6.3.1 Category O 6.3.2 Category MM

6.4 Three example "classic A" races

7 Footwear 8 24-hour challenges 9 See also 10 References 11 Further reading 12 External links


A hill-running race in Prague

The first recorded hill race took place in Scotland.[1] 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[update] 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. 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
Ben Nevis Race
in Scotland, run regularly since 1937, and the Snowdon Race
Snowdon Race
in Wales. Overlap with other sports[edit] Fell
running is often known as hill running, particularly in Scotland.[2] It is sometimes called mountain running, as in the name of the Northern Ireland Mountain Running
Association[3] 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.[4] Modern fell running has common characteristics with cross country running. Fell
race courses are often longer, 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.[5] 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
Cotswold Way Relay
and the Long Mynd
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.[6] Rocks[edit] 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[edit] The Fell
Runners Association 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 – 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 the continental championships such as the African Mountain Running Championships and the European Mountain Running
Championships, the South American Mountain Running
Championships and the North American Central American and Caribbean Mountain Running
Championships. Championships[edit] Main article: British Fell
Championships The first British Fell
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.[7] Race categories[edit] 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[8] are categorised by the amount of ascent and distance. Ascent categories[edit] Category A[edit]

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[edit]

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

Category C[edit]

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[edit] Category L[edit]

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

Category M[edit]

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

Category S[edit]

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

Additional categories[edit] Category O[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]

Wasdale Fell
Race AL 21 miles (34 km) 9,000 ft (2750 m) - male record 3:25:21 (Billy Bland, 1982), female record 4:12:17 (Janet McIver and Jackie Lee, 2008) Ben Nevis Race
Ben Nevis Race
AM 10 miles (16 km) 4,400 ft (1340 m) - male record 1:25:34 (Kenny Stuart, 1984), female record 1:43:25 (Pauline Haworth 1984) Blisco Dash AS 5 miles (8.1 km) 2,000 ft (610 m) - male record 36:01 (Jack Maitland, 1987), female record 47:25 (Louise Sharp, 2004)

Footwear[edit] 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[edit] 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
Joss Naylor
(72 tops in 1975) have raised the 24-hour Lakeland record considerably. The present record is 77 peaks, and was set by Mark Hartell in 1997.[9] The ladies' record is 64 peaks, set in 2011 by Nicky Spinks.[10] Most fell running regions have their own challenges or "rounds":

Lake District
Lake District
– The Bob Graham Round Scotland – The Ramsay Round North Wales
– The Paddy Buckley Round South Wales
– South Wales
Traverse Ireland – The Wicklow Round

See also[edit]

Mountain running Trail running Ski mountaineering Skyrunning Ultrarunning Adventure racing Lakeland Shows Peak bagging Rogaining


^ 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 ^ "An introduction to hill running - runbritain". Retrieved 10 October 2016.  ^ Northern Ireland Mountain Running
Association Constitution., ^ Sarah Rowell, Off-Road Running
(Ramsbury, 2002), 104. ^ "How it was for me - British Fell
Championship 2015". Retrieved 10 October 2016.  ^ "Trail Running
or Fell
Running? - Fell
Guide". Retrieved 10 October 2016.  ^ Steve Chilton, It's a Hill, Get Over It (Dingwall, 2013), 143-44. ^ "FRA Rules For Competition" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-01-24.  ^ Bunyan, John. "Mark Hartell's 24 Hour Lake District
Lake District
Record". Retrieved 10 October 2016.  ^ 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[edit]

Shevels, Keven. Introduction to Trail and Fell
Running. ISBN 978-1-905444-40-3.  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 Chilton, Steve (2013). It's a hill, get over it: fell running's history and characters. Dingwall: Sandstone Press. ISBN 978-1-908737-57-1. 

External links[edit]

Runners Association Scottish Hill Racing British Open Fell
Runners Association World Mountain Running

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