Opening night and a sell out, my 3rd year covering Fell Running Night, for what has become the start of my winter. As the first snow often kisses the high fells, visible from Scout Scar on Saturdays race, cold air leaves those in basecamp wrapped up in Pertex and down, while streets are full of those same adventure addicts chowing down on fish and chips.
Jon Richardson, KMF‘s resident gameshow host and anecdote extractor was on hand to deliver a 3rd entertaining evening, as ever, running over time but keeping all engaged in a manner that kept you wanting more.
“The only way to see the front end is to marshal – do join in. Thanks to all marshals“
The Year of the BOB
Year of the Bob follows Ian Palmer attempt to the Bob Graham Round, 12 months after taking up running. With a third of people completing attempts in under the mandatory 24 hour cut off for 104km, 8000 meters of climbing and 42 peaks, it’s a relaxed and vista filled glimpse into the training and psyche undertaken to complete this most Cumbrian of challenges.
Classic Rock Round
The Classic Rock Round combines 35 miles of fell running, 13,000 ft of ascent and 15 graded classic climbs, involving a partner and trad rack, adding a further element of endurance to a hefty challenge – all in the space of 24 hours.
“I had a baby sitter for the day, wanted to make the most of it“
Mhairi Helme and Jasmin Paris took on the route, based on the climbs in Ken Wilson’s Classic Rock book, though as the film above ruthlessly shows, the weather was not favourable.
“(The weather) Slowed us so greatly, we were hours behind“ With Celia Powell conducting the interview following the screening of the film, a pivotal question was delivered, with a response that left the audience in howls of laughter.
“Was there not a point during the time, that you thought about calling it a day?“
“I had a baby sitter for the day, wanted to make the most of it“
Mhairi Helme went on to say, fell running provides a “sense of community, you do feel immediately included. Maybe it’s the suffering,” as the audience let out a murmur, some in agreeance, some most probably in horror.
“We look relaxed in the film as we were already given up“
When asked if Mhairi had wished she had carried on “The film wasn’t about me, it was about people supporting each other, the charity, getting out and making the most of the day.” Outside In is Mhairi and John (partner) non profit based in Kendal, to deliver a indoor soft play area for children in the Lake District. But these extends to more than a play area, it will have an autistic room, brail, a café for parents to relax – a community hub that supports the needs of all children in the local area. You can find out more about helping the funding and projects progress HERE.
“The reason we’re all here is the common love of being outdoors“
In training, a lot of auto belay at the local training wall was used, to build the endurance required for the climbing elements. The running came a little easier, as Mhairi has done a few winter bob grahams, running legs often on her own, making the most of a low key approach, on her terms.
“If the weather looking good, let’s go“
“Races are always known by who’s one, giving it a go can lead to the greatest adventure“
This philosophy can lead to some epic days out and was summed up with “I never think bad of anyone for starting something, respect for having a go”
As Jasmin Paris said “It’s not a failure“
The Return of the Fishwick Tales
It’s hard to mention the name Darren Fishwick, without a wry smile rapidly pulsing across your face, with his unique blend of story telling, unrivalled detail and use of similies that transcend the sport of fell running. If you appreciate a well told story, he really is the master and should have a weekly radio slot.
But how to present such a force of nature on here? Its a tough one, previously I’ve taken a select few lines, however, during his time on stage in November, I recorded an audio copy of the tales spoken. At 14 minutes long, its a lot to transcribe – but I’ll have a think and get back to you.
If only I had filmed him dancing to his own version of Ottawan’s D.I.S.C.O! Alas, somethings will have to remain in the memories of those who attended.
Name that Race
The quiz show that requires a low for cartography, this year with a bumper pack of prizes, it tested knowledge of race routes and/or on the ground knowledge of peaks. As ever, there was one person who stuck to their guns, crying out the same race for every round, much to the audience and Jon’s amusement.
Coming Home “Teacht abhaile”
Mountain running in Ireland isn’t always at the forefront of UK based runners mind, however, with two rounds of the UK Skyrunning Series now across the Irish sea and the Wicklow Round achieving greater promiance, it was great to see Coming Home, following Paddy O’Leary‘s attempt to break the record.
The Wicklow Round is a 100km, 26 peak off trail mountain challenge, located south of Dublin. Requiring the ability to navigate in deep CLAG, it is one for the hardy and skilled. Below is the trailer for the film, its currently touring Trails in Motion and other film festivals, so if you want to see it in full, keep an eye out.
The headline speaker for 2019, Finlay Wild has a reputation for excelling on gnarly terrain and having something of love affair with the Ben Nevis Race…. he’s also pretty good at it.
Jon Richardson started proceedings of with his 50/50 Word Game. Two words, one choice;
Hot or cold? Cold
Dance or drink? Drink
Black or white? Black – your deal I like that
Fell or mountain? Munro
Harvey or map? Harvey
Hangar or 18? Hangar
Peter or Ann? Ann
“You wear Walshes?!” exclaimed Jon, looking up at image of Finlay at full tilt in the classic fell shoe, rarely seen at the sharp end of racing. “They were what I started in, training for the Cullen ridge, lots of solo climbing, not hard enough for climbing shoes, liked the tight fitting, light comfortable shoe, and grippy. The best for grip” said Finlay in response.
With his father as a guide growing up, in the adventure capital of the Highlands, Fort William, its clear where Finlays passion for the mountains comes from.
To give some perspective of his speed on rocky terrain, when I was 18 (some 12 years ago), I walked the Welsh 3000’s, the 15 highest peaks in Snowdonia in 15 hours and 8 minutes. In May 2019, Finlay set a new record of 4 hours 10 minutes and 48 seconds. With a passion for shorter races, comprising of steep ascents and descents, scrambling, rock and boulder infested terrain.
Initially starting out better at running downhill (I’m sure most of you are double taking at that), he built his ability to climb over years of training, with a simple strategy for racing “Get in front and try to stay in front.”
“Rough and technical stuff suits me better“
Completing the Snowdon horse shoe in a vest, with a lonesome gel for fuel, the 15km of technical running was completed in 1 hour 20 minutes.
As Finlay says it’s “Fast, all out, don’t need much stuff“
Naturally better at races that are 1-2 hours in duration, the longest he has run to date is 60km. This had led him to sky races across Europe, including Tromso but also the Lake District fo the Classic Fell races, which he has enjoyed recceing.
Despite 10/10 wins at the Ben Nevis race and a mere two minutes off the course record, Finlay’s favourite race is on the Isle of Skye, the Glamaig Hill Race. When asked about where he needs to improve to take the course record, the ascent and road sections were identified as key to overall success.
As expected his training was a hot topic, as we are all looking to improve our times and race experiences.
“Really flexible, do what feels right“
“Can tell when my bodies up for something fast or for a plod where I’m thinking about my tea”
What shone through for me about Finlay was his humbleness. Not afraid to reveal his methodology and application of knowledge to racing, it is clear as much as he looks to perform and achieve his best, there is a deep and genuine love for the sport and community that comes with it.
A huge thanks to Kendal Mountain Festival for the invite to cover the Fell Running Session, it remains one of my favourite moments of the festival and one you if you’ve read all 3 of my round ups and thought about going, get your tickets early as its always an early sell out!
Bring back the audience wearing club vests for this year!
If you couldn’t make it to Kendal Mountain Festival or fancy another dose of adventure, the festival is currently on tour around the UK. Full details of up coming dates and venues can be found HERE.