They are still there

I went to the hills today. It was my ‘usual’: from my front door, two miles of pavement, park and alleyway, before reaching the barricaded car park at Swanston at the foot of the Pentlands. I looked up: the ‘T’ wood that climbs with the contours of the hillside, the crags and scree of Caerketton,…

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,…

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…

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…

Of mountains and mattering

The Mountains are Calling came into the world a year ago today. Thank you to everyone who has bought the book, said kind things about it, and for not identifying any gross errors. Has it been successful? The book has sold well and been well received. It was long-listed for the William Hill Sports Book…

The Mountains are Calling – paperback published today

First there was the hardback and an ebook, then an audiobook, and today marks the paperback arrival of The Mountains are Calling. Little, in truth, has changed from the words of the original hardback. Graham Nash, somehow, managed to run Ramsay’s Round twice in the relatively short period after my copy deadline, taking his tally…