We're blessed, in this country, with some great wildernesses - the open fells and uplands. This page celebrates fell running and provides some info on how to get into it.
Fell running will appeal to you if you're looking for ..
- a change of scenery. Fell races takes in some breath-taking countryside, as well as gritty local terrain.
- a sport with a great tradition and heritage;
- a friendly racing scene;
- value for money: fell running is a back to basics sport with low race fees, and FRA or BOFRA membership is amazing value for money;
- something for all ages, from juniors to Super Vets.
Fell running equipment is simple and robust. You can wear a super Goretex top if you like, but it won't look the same after you've fallen in a peat grough or snagged it on a boulder, so think on ...
For fell running you need shoes that grip well (heavily studded soles are best); that have a low midsole and heel (for "feeling the ground" and to help avoid turning your ankle on very rough terrain), and that have a tough construction (stony paths shred lesser shoes; peaty mud rots them).
Fell shoes fall into two schools:
Traditional shoes, and the Walsh is the Daddy of them all, have a no-nonsense minimalist approach. Big studs, minimal midsole, tough lightweight upper, low-tech.
What about pronation, supination, and all that? When you're hurtling down a hillside, or running on rough surfaces, grip and contact with the terrain are the most important things. But increasingly fellrunners are moving towards more technical shoes for lighter weight, clever features, and improved comfort.
Technical shoes come from the other manufacturers who have tried to bring road/trail running shoe technology to the fells. One brand that's got it just right is Inov-8. Their shoes have taken the fell running scene by storm: worn by top fell runners, tough with great gripping soles, with technology and design that improves comfort and support. Salomon also has a great range, and many other leading brands include at least one good fell shoe in their ranges now.
You can get very hot running uphill. And very cold on long races in wind, rain, sleet, and snow. In a long fell race in April this year the runners had to guard against heat exhaustion and dehydration: 2 years ago at the same time it was hypothermia. So your choice of clothing and equipment is important.
Check out our breathable and moisture-managing vests. Moisture management? By pulling the perspiration away from your skin and helping it evaporate when you're climbing they'll keep you cool, and leave you dry so you don't get a chill when descending. When it's cold, wet, and windy our long-sleeved thermal tops are tops.
It's back to basics here. Most men wear 'short' loose-fitting or square-cut shorts, or lycra shorts. Many ladies seem to favour lycra shorts, or capris. Nothing too fancy, because it'd be a shame when you rip the seat out of them next time you fall on your backside!
Your feet are going to get wet and muddy - that's almost certain. To avoid blisters you want socks that won't hold too much water or crumple down into your shoes. Look for something like the Hilly mono skin off-road sock.
At any race the organiser may require you to carry a "waterproof" top (they may require you to carry full body cover if they believe conditions will be bad). In our experience, and most fellrunners make do with some sort of lightweight water-resistant top. Nothing too fancy. It's a bonus if it has a hood. But it must be light, should fold down small, and should appear waterproof (super-lightweight Pertex-type tops probably won't do). Many runners choose to carry such a top even if it isn't mandatory - it can be quickly donned when conditions get bad, and if you slow down after injury say could prevent hypothermia or worse.
You'll want a basic bum-bag to put your cag in, as well as any of the other items that you might want to carry (the organiser can insist on a map, compass, whistle, and some energy food).
And you might need to carry some water too on longer summer races - check out our bottle belts and water carriers.
In winter, you'll need some lightweight gloves and a hat, as well as a thermal layer under your vest.
Fell running's different to road running. You won't have a 5 mile fell PB, because 5 miles on Ilkley Moor is different to 5 miles on Helvellyn. But it's useful to see how just how far you've gone and how fast, and our GPS solutions are just the job.
Here are a few pointers from our own experience ....
Make sure you do some runs on terrain, to get your ankles and legs used to the rougher surface, descents, and climbs Train in your fell shoes, get used to them.
Always take the full FRA safety kit, then you can fine-tune what you carry on the day
Check your shoes are in good order - a tear in the fabric or a sole coming loose could mean that your shoes fall apart mid-race
Tie your laces very securely, and maybe tape them too. Retying muddy laces is no fun, and other fellrunners may trample you into the mud (in a good-natured way) if you block the path
Go steady at the start
Be courteous at stiles and gates
Always obey the marshals' instructions
Check out the events on www.fellrunner.org.uk, the web site of the Fell Running Association (FRA), and www.bofra.co.uk, the British Open Fell Running Association (BOFRA) - BOFRA is supported by Up & Running again in 2011.
Up & Running puts back into the sport by supporting races of all kinds. If you'd like us to help with your fell race, just get in touch with your local shop, or contact Terry or Allison at Head Office - you can email them at email@example.com
Some WWW links
- www.fellrunner.org.uk Fell Running Association (FRA)
- www.bofra.co.uk British Open Fell Running Association (BOFRA)
- www.felljunior.org.uk Junior Fell Running web site
- www.shr.uk.com Scottish Hill Runners
- www.nimra.org.uk Northern Ireland Mountain Running Association
- www.wmra.info World Mountain Running Association
Check out our northern shops' web pages for details of local fell running clubs.