Many know my thoughts on these incredible people who run over our mountains and wild places. I was privileged to write a forward for another runner Manny Gorman who ran the Corbett a few years ago.
In it I described hill runners “as a unique band of brothers and sisters with no egos just a love of running light and free on the hills.”
When I heard Jonny was writing a book about these people who rarely talk about their achievements and had a journalists background I was sure there would be so many hidden gems discovered. I was not wrong what a brilliant book this is.
As a mountaineer I was aware of the early hill runners and Jonny describes these filling in the gaps. My era was the late 60’s and 70’s and I had heard the tales of Philip Tranter and his epic hill runs.
My good pal Blyth Wright told me of the tales of these early days and stringing the huge days together. We in the RAF Teams did many of these early endurance walks/ runs and we were in awe of these folk like Eric Beard and Philip Tranter.
Jonny covers this so well in his book and I am so glad that he has. To many these takes were lost for ever.
He goes into great detail of many of the classics and the famous Ramsay Round/Tranters and its completion. This is where I sat with a map and followed the route as the story came out. I knew the route I had done it and it all came flooding back the pain and exhaustion and early failures. I had an insight but how far has this gone nowadays .
I feel Jonny opens up many of these huge undertakings and what makes those who attempt/ complete and finish. He shows all the fitness, drive and determination of the men and women and the mind games they have to do to complete such epic journeys. They are all so driven and the details in the book gives you an insight into their mindset!
One thing I love is there is no difference between male and female in this unique world all are equal on the mountains and have been for so many years. So many sports can learn from this equality.
I knew that if you are attempting a 24 hour marathon like Ramsay’s Round then if you want support of fellow runners they are there to support at all hours. They will come it is expected and happens regularly . Others go alone with only the majesty of the hills for company. They all love the mountains and wild places but traveling light and fast alone is a near to nature as you can get. Jonny explains in detail how some want no support it is them and them alone against the elements.
Jonny in a Chapter touches on accidents in the mountains when running and this is the first time I have read a insight into this. When out alone you are vulnerable especially running lightweight on a long day over complicated ground. If you add in poor weather , tiredness shortage of daylight and all it takes is a slip. He looks at why do we go on when at times we should stop but most of us have been there and got away with it! This is an interesting chapter and one that must have been hard to write as hill running is a close community!
The early days the running history is plotted well and there is great interest in some of the stories of many of the runners who broke the barriers in number of mountains run and huge distances and massive ascents.
These are all incredible folk and as I have stated before an incredible band of men and women who push the limits. They do it for personal satisfaction there are few medals or media.
I have been privileged to meet many of the current runners many who are world class like Findlay Wild. I love their humility and despite their exceptional talent they hardly known outside their small tight community. In these days of millionaire sportsmen they could learn so much from these icons who run for fun.
It was a hugely enjoyable read so many unsung heroes that few will know about . These should be role models for future generations who will continue to push to the limits the amount of miles mountains and hours they can complete these great days in!
Many will get the maps out and look at the routes the distances and the times taken.
Recently I spoke with a young star Uisdean Hawthorn who ran the Skye ridge this winter and smashed the times. It was a feat of Mountaineering and running that took the sport to a new level. His belief was total and he is part of a young group who will take this sport to a new heights. The future is bright and it looks like so many are now taking up this incredible sport.
My only thought is of safety please tell someone your plans for the day. A simple slip can ruin your day no matter how fit you are? Out lightweight in the hills is bold but remember nature always holds the keys. We owe that to our families who sit at home and support us?
Thank you Jonny for this book and a look into a different world and for a book I will treasure !
Safe running over the
Heavy Whalley Aug 2018.