Fine lines

The weather did not seem so bad. I suppose that is how this sort of story tends to begin – from a place of complacency. I had been cold for much of the morning, but as I scouted the lower slopes of Carnethy Hill, a little over an hour before the first racers would be…

Going for a run

Researching a book some years ago I spent several months asking people why they run – or, more specifically, why they choose to take running to hills and mountains, why they find joy in high places rather than the pavements, roads and parks favoured by the mainstream running community. The responses rarely deviated from cliché,…

Run more, run local, race local – a mantra for a greener 2020

I have a piece of writing published in this month’s Runner’s World. It is part of their ‘My Favourite Run’ series, where contributors write about a run that has some personal significance. I had a pretty easy choice: the run – or a variation of that run – taking me from my front door in…

The champions’ interviews: Jill Stephen

Having finished near the end of the field in her first hill race at Ben Rinnes in 2014, Jill Stephen‘s progression in the sport has been stratospheric. She can’t stop winning. In 2018, she won the Scottish Hill Runners championship, and repeated that feat this year. Like many of her contemporaries, Jill’s motivation is simple…

The champions’ interviews: Finlay Wild

It has been an annus mirabilis for Finlay Wild. The Lochaber runner has raced across Europe, won numerous events and broken course records, but in this interview he says it is his love of wild places that remains his inspiration. You spent much of the early part of 2019 ski mountaineering. How does this sport…

A story of invincibility, fast feet and Ben Nevis

Imagine running in the same race every year for a decade. Imagine, every time that race weekend comes around, you are fit enough, well enough and lucky enough, to not only be competitive, but to win – to win that race for 10 consecutive years.  Now imagine that race was Ben Nevis, the race to…

The Art of Suffering

The back straight on the third lap of a mile track race. The fourth lap at Parliament Hill. The ninth kilometre of ten. The final miles of your first marathon. The seventh hour of a Bob Graham Round. The fifteenth hour of a Ramsay’s Round. These are the tipping point moments of running when relative…

Whisky a go go

The term ‘marathon’ was once sufficiently impressive, needing no aggrandisement. But now? Marathon? So passé. The suffix -athon demands more glamorous nouns. A genre is therefore evolving: Barrathon, Ciderthon, Madathon, Movathon, Mumathon, and most wonderfully, the Scorchin’ Squirrelathon. Add to the list The Dramathon – an autumn festival of running that includes 10k, half-marathon and…

‘I have a son out in the big wide world’

Last month I interviewed Finlay Wild for the Autumn edition of Fellrunner, the magazine of the Fell Runners Association. Although it has not been published, this is not meant to be a spoiler. The interview preceded the Ben Nevis Race. Finlay, on the day before his 35th birthday, was victorious. In fact, he has won…

Running the Rigby Round – the Cairngorms in one go

The glory is in the doing, not in the having done. These words have become my mantra. They are words to live a life by and they are words that ring with deafening truth when I go to the mountains. But what if the doing is insufferable. What then happens to glory? The Rigby Round…

John Kelly’s Grand Round – a triumph of imagination

In April 2017, John Kelly became the fifteenth person to complete the Barkley Marathons. I remember watching him approach the yellow gate that marks the finish, a torn plastic bag draped around his torso offering meagre protection against the roughness of this unforgiving corner of Tennessee. But that wasn’t the story. In the same race,…

On the hills there is only one legal currency: FREEDOM

The year is 1992. John Major is the Prime Minister, Wayne’s World is released, Microsoft is at 3.1 stage. Boff Whalley is a guitarist in the alternative band Chumbawumba – the group’s best known song, Tubthumping won’t be released for another five years – and a fell runner in the north of England. He is…