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 – 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…

Why running is the ultimate adventure

It is 5am in the Scottish Highlands. The darkness is total; the temperature a few degrees above freezing. On this late-November morning, it will be three hours before dawn breaks. The silence is vast, only interrupted by the clacking of studded shoes on a single-track road. Suddenly, the clack is no more. The runner has…

Running in the boot marks of Wainwright

‘The face of Place Fell overlooking Patterdale is unremittingly and uncompromisingly steep,’ wrote Alfred Wainwright in his pictorial guide to the Far Eastern Fells of the Lake District. Wainwright recommends any ascent of the 657-metre peak that rises above Ullswater but this. And that is where I find myself, trudging upwards on pathless mountainside, the…

The 100th Ramsay’s Round?

It has taken 39 years, but very soon the number of completions of Ramsay’s Round will reach 100. Successes 98 and 99 came last week, as Damian Hall and Charlie Sproson got round in the allotted 24 hours. Someone has to be number 100. It could be me. In the early hours of Saturday –…

Running. What’s the point? Strava, of course.

Iain Whiteside was running. What was Whiteside thinking about when he was running? Strava, of course. ‘I realised I had spent the previous 30 minutes thinking about what I was going to name this run,’ he admitted. Whiteside stopped running. He was on Braid Hill in Edinburgh. Inspiration came to him: ‘At a standstill on…

The daddy of all compromises: trying to be a father and a runner

The essence of Nick Hornby’s biographical Fever Pitch is that Arsenal is the author’s constant in life. Amid the flux of education, work and relationships, happiness, sadness and indifference, Arsenal and football remain resilient to the vagaries of life. Come what may, for Hornby, it is Arsenal yesterday, Arsenal today and Arsenal tomorrow. The love…

The unpredictable art of running blogging

I have been blogging for some years. I was a writer and journalist first. My original purpose was to support the publication of my first book, Heights of Madness, and my second and third books thereafter. Over time, heightsofmadness.com graduated into a running blog – a blog that last week pleasingly surpassed 50,000 visits. Writing…

The Bob Graham Round: as seen from the water-carrier’s corner

High above, the jagged, dark silhouette of Blencathra decorated an oppressive sky. There were no stars. An incessant rain pounded the car roof. We fretted. Marc and Nayth (and their water-carriers) had left Moot Hall at midnight. Time was winning. Blundering off Skiddaw, the fivesome had been bamboozled by what is elemental in daylight. Time…

Running in London: where are the hills?

The run from Keswick town centre to the summit of Skiddaw sees the runner gain around 900 metres in altitude. The only time I have set my watch to this run was during my Bob Graham Round in 2012; Skiddaw was hill number one and not the place – or the time (1am) – for…

Ultrarunning: eliminating the ‘poison’ of doubt

Not a day has elapsed since June 3, 2012, when I haven’t reflected on the events of those 24 hours: a successful Bob Graham Round, all 42 peaks, 66 miles and some 27,000ft of it. I am continually inspired by what happened that day, imbuing a (so far) life-long sense of if-I-can-do-the-Bob-Graham, I can do…