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…

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…

Carnethy 5 post-mortem: I was there

In the climactic scene of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, Kate soliloquises on the nature of submission to a greater will – in this case, her husband. But now I see our lances are but straws, Our strength as weak, our weakness past compare. The words came to me as I strained up that…

This is not madness; we are the lucky ones

‘Mr Muir!’ It was a colleague at school, hence the formal ‘Mr’ as pupils loitered nearby. ‘I’ve been reading your book,’ she said ominously, and then, her tone rising: ‘You’re mad.’ Another colleague chipped in: ‘You know he’s mad.’ ‘Running down hills at night?’ the first went on, shaking her head. I stumbled into a…

What Deirdrie (and her friends) teach us about hill running

Three years ago today, on another winter solstice, I was running on Dun Rig, the highest point of a moorland horseshoe above Peebles. The summit was buried in swirling mist, cuffed by an enraged wind. Meagrely dressed, I rapidly became very cold. Disorientated and shaking on unfamiliar hills, I looked around anxiously, peering into the…

Lessons from Kendal

There are things I know and things, from time to time, I need to remember I know. Speaking about my book, The Mountains are Calling, at the Kendal Mountain Literature Festival, I was reminded of the latter: those precious things I must remember I know. There are far more important things than running up and…

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…