The fall and rise of the hill runner

Some years ago I was running in the Caerketton Hill Race, an eyeballs-out, up-and-down charge starting and finishing at Hillend, the north-eastern terminus of the Pentland Hills. I was descending the steepest section of hillside – a pathless slope of ankle-deep vegetation, dripping wet from afternoon rain. A woman catapulted by, almost clipping my left…

My favourite race – or something like that

I am running down a hill. I am running down a hill in Scotland. I am running down a hill while holding the hand of my squealing, skipping two-year-old daughter. I am running down a hill while wincing from a dull, groaning pain in my right ankle. I am running down a hill in jeans…

The 2018 Glen Coe Skyline: The One When Scotland Won

As the years go by, like Friends, the Glen Coe Skyline has an episodic quality to it. First, in 2015, there was The (Very Successful) Pilot. Then, a year later, The One With the Obstacle Racer, before 2017’s The One When Kilian Came to Scotland. This year could have been similarly titled – perhaps The…

The preciousness of time in high places

‘A trip, a slide, a tumble – how slender is our attachment to life, but how precious its gift when we are in the mountains.’ I often think of the words of Martin Moran. They refer, starkly, to death, but they also provide an eloquent summary of what it means to go to the mountains….

A question of how: running the Ring of Fire

‘It ain’t what you do, it’s the way that you do it,’ sang Ella Fitzgerald in the late 1930s (and, much later, repeated by a collaboration of Fun Boy Three and Bananarama), with the chorus ending resoundingly: ‘And that’s what gets results.’ There is a metaphor for life – and for running around in the…

The Mountains are Calling: the launch and the blog tour

The Mountains are Calling was published last week, with a launch at Edinburgh Waterstones. The book is now available in bookshops and via online sellers. Please let me know what you think of The Mountains are Calling here or via the usual social media channels. A blog tour straddled the launch. The highlights are below….

Beautiful Madness

In a life that stretches to more than 13,000 days, I can boil my existence down to five truly momentous days. The day I got I married. The day my first daughter was born. The day my second daughter was born. The day I completed the Bob Graham Round. The day I completed Ramsay’s Round….

365 days of hill running wisdom: April

Day 91: ‘Every time you go for a run, take a stone from the top of Scald Law and put it on Carnethy. We only need 3 metres off one and 3 metres added to the other if that, taking into account glacial rebound and remeasurement by the OS. We can do it!’ New identity…

365 Days of Hill Running Wisdom – March

Day 61: An insight into the High Peak Marathon: ‘The descent off Lose Hill was something to behold – a frantic, impossibly slippy, muddy, vertical drop. Most logical humans would take their time to pick a good footing and a safe line off such a death trap – not so fell runners.’ Day 62: The…

Ultra running: the art of futility

On a particularly hot day in the summer of 2014, I ran between the summits of London’s 12 Inner London boroughs. Starting from Hammersmith and Fulham, moving clockwise to the Isle of Dogs, going as far east as Greenwich, and then west to Wimbledon Common, I travelled 41 miles, venturing no higher than 134 metres…

What is it about the Carnethy 5?

The field lies open and exposed, looking up to Scald Law and Carnethy, the highest points of the brown and grey Pentland Hills. Above a saturated bog is a hummock of low grass, decorated by clumps of scruffy gorse. Runners cower in the vegetation, squatting on ground littered with sheep droppings, pinning numbers on vests,…