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…

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…

365 Days of Hill Running Wisdom – May

Day 121: ‘Invincible.’ In a word, Adrian Belton explains how he felt during the 29 days he ran the Paddy Buckley, Ramsay’s Round and the Bob Graham, two of which were records. Day 122: Ewan Paterson on hill running: ‘It gives me meaning, bringing something to my life that nothing else does – very much…

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….

Running books – what’s in a name?

There is, it seems, a rule for anyone who wants to write a book about running. It must have the word ‘running’, ‘run’ or ‘ran’ in the title – just to leave the reader in no doubt about the subject matter. Eat and Run Running Hard Run Mummy Run Running High Run Wild Running for…

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…

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,…

Why we go to the hills… and how to join us

Some years ago I was running in the Eastern Fells of the Lake District. As I descended a mountain called High Street, I passed a walker. He shook his head. ‘I don’t know how you do it,’ he shouted incredulously into the breeze. I smiled. Encumbered by boots and bag, I wondered the same: How…

A love letter to the hills from the hill runner

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 shrieking two-year-old daughter. I am running down a hill while wincing from a dull, groaning pain in an ankle. I am running down a hill in jeans and a jumper.

Box Hill fell race 2011

‘This is a proper fell race,’ a fellow runner declared in the minutes before the Box Hill fell race. ‘Proper’ fell race? In Surrey? On a 224-metre hill? How I scoffed. A scoff of a man who believed he was qualified to scoff, a veteran of Ben Nevis, Jura and Slioch – actual ‘proper’ hill races….

Ben Nevis Race 2010

Eroded and overcrowded it may be, but I’ve grown fond of Ben Nevis. It was the first Munro I climbed, as a brief walking interlude while cycling between John  O’ Groats and Lands End on a snowy May day in 2003. I climbed it with my girlfriend, now fiancée, two years later, with swirling mist obscuring any…