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Feet in the Clouds: A Tale of Fell-Running and Obsession [Paperback]

Richard Askwith , Robert Macfarlane
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (96 customer reviews)
RRP: £9.99
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Book Description

9 May 2013

Nearly 10 years after its first publication, Aurum are re-issuing this classic running book which has defined a genre. It includes an introduction from bestselling author Robert Macfarlane and an epilogue from Richard Askwith.
The concept of fell-running is simple: it’s a sport that involves running over mountains – sometimes one, sometimes many. It’s also immensely demanding. While running uphill is a stamina-sapping slog, running pell-mell down the other side requires the agility – and even recklessness – of a mountain goat. And there’s the weather to contend with.
It may make the sports pages only rarely, but in areas like the Lake District and Snowdonia fell-running is the basis of a whole culture – indeed, race organisers sometimes have to turn competitors away so that fragile mountain uplands are not irrevocably damaged by too many thundering feet. Fixtures like the annual Ben Nevis and Snowdon races attract runners from all over Britain, and beyond. Others, such as the Wasdale and Ennerdale fell runs in the Lakeland valleys – gruelling marathons of more than 20 miles – remain truly local events for which the whole community turns out, with many of the runners back on the same fells the next day tending sheep.
Now, Richard Askwith explores the world of fell-running in the only legitimate way: by donning his Ron Hill vest and studded shoes to spend a season running as many of the great fell races as he can, from Borrowdale to Ben Nevis: an arduous schedule that tests the very limits of one’s stamina and courage. Over the months he also meets the greats of fell-running – like the remarkable Joss Naylor, who to celebrate his fiftieth birthday ran all 214 major Lakeland fells in a single week; Billy Bland, the combative Borrowdale man whose astounding records still stand for many of the top races; and Bill Teasdale, a hero of the sport’s earlier, professional days, whom he tracks down to his tiny cottage in the northern Lakes. And ultimately Askwith’s obsession drives him to attempt the ultimate challenge: the Bob Graham Round – a non-stop circuit of 42 of the Lake District’s highest peaks to be completed within 24 hours.
This is a portrait of one of the few sports to have remained utterly true to its roots – in which the point is not fame or fortune but to run the ancient, wild landscape, and to be a hero, if at all, within one’s own valley. Feet in the Clouds is a chronicle of a masochistic but admirable sporting obsession, an insight into one of the oldest extreme sports, and a lyrical tribute to Britain’s mountains and the men and women who live among them.


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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Aurum Press Ltd; PB Reissue edition (9 May 2013)
  • Language: Unknown
  • ISBN-10: 1781310564
  • ISBN-13: 978-1781310564
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.8 x 2.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (96 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 5,339 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Richard Askwith is a Northamptonshire-based journalist and author whose passions include running, outdoor adventure and the traditions and ordinary people of the English countryside. His cult book about fell-running, FEET IN THE CLOUDS (2004), won him the Best New Writer prize at the British Sports Publishing Awards and the Bill Rollinson Prize for Landscape and Tradition, as well as being shortlisted for the William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award and for the Boardman-Tasker Prize. This was followed in 2008 by THE LOST VILLAGE: IN SEARCH OF A FORGOTTEN RURAL ENGLAND, which was named Non-Fiction Book of the Year in the 2009 Saga Grown-Up Awards. He is co-author of LET IT GO (2012), Dame Stephanie Shirley's account of her life as a champion of women's rights and philanthropy.
Richard is Associate Editor of The Independent, for whom he has edited a number of books.

Product Description

Review

‘A minor masterpiece.’ Sports Book of the Week

(Frank Graham The Sunday Times)

‘A rousingly readable chronicle... The book wants for nothing in terms of rhythm and drama and tug.’

(Christopher Bray The Sunday Times)

‘Sports book of the season - a terrific story of fell-running and obsession.’

(Blake Morrison Guardian)

‘[An] excellent book.’

(James Eve The Times)

‘One of the most effervescent books about anything - never mind fell-running - that I have ever read.’

(Dave Jones Fellrunner)

'Imagine how strange it feels not only to have read a book about fell-running, but to have enjoyed it so much that I am now contemplating trying the sport myself...a lovely little book'. Annalisa Barbieri, New Statesman

(Annalisa Barbieri New Statesman)

'A beautifully written, potted history of fell-running and famouse fell-runners. Definitely worth a peep!'

(Country Walking)

Review

'From the birthplace of trail running, comes the tales of what it means to follow the path.  The pure essence of trail running, infectious and captivating.  Askwith will motivate you to climb a hill and scream down it, mud, stones and all!'
 
(SCOTT JUREK, international best selling author of Eat and Run)

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
36 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring and funny 24 Oct 2004
Format:Paperback
I've never read any sports books before, but this is truly inspiring and more. Whether you're a hardened fell runner and know all the names from the lakes, like running in the hills, or you're injured and can't get out at the moment, this will make you want to get out there.
As well as having some great accounts of races and feats, past and present, you get to meet all the big characters, the history of all off-road running, and a feel for a year of racing, in an enjoyable structure. Through this he also gives a great comment on social history of these regions, and an understanding of the strengths and failings of all of British sport. He brilliantly describes in non-cliched ways, the thrills of running and why we all do it, and why the sport is growing on the background of a changing, risk-free and inactive society
It has everything from humour, thrills, history, philosophy and humanity.
Get it, even if you don't run (yet)
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34 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sports writing at its best 16 Jun 2004
Format:Paperback
My expectations for this book were quite low, anticipating yet another “unfit journalist tackles extreme sport/ epic adventure, suffers humiliation but finally emerges triumphant in the game of life” type yarn.
I was wrong! Firstly Richard Askwith is an exceptional writer (he’s a journalist on The Independent newspaper) with a beautifully vivid and entertaining style. Secondly he’s really done his research and backs this up with fifteen years involvement in the sport. Thirdly, and most importantly, he obviously loves this mad sport of fell running with a passion and this gives his book a depth and warmth and integrity. Sports writing at its best. Highly recommended !
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars totally absorbing 10 April 2005
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
I am a keen reader and was brought up in the lakes and watched the fell races as a child.
This book grabs you and makes you want to be able to run these events.They show the side of sport that most never see,the sheer enjoyment of the elements and the respect shown for all competitors not just the winner.
Yet the tales of the elite should be read by all ,they are an example to all of what can be achieved.
Read it and you get hooked,I've done the auld land syne race he mentioned at the end and said never ,ever again,but the book inspires you to try again.
Read this book or you are missing out.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful read 13 July 2004
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
It was a real treat for me, a fell runner for over twenty years, to read about the runs and characters of the sport. But this book is beautifully written and will be enjoyed by those who previously had little knowledge of, or interest in, running over the wild places of Britain.
The best book I've read for ages - it should win prizes.
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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shaken and Stirred 2 Jan 2005
Format:Paperback
If you wanted a gentle retirement do not read this book!
I am a keen walker, having completed 184 of the Lakeland peaks (only 30 to go). My most notable achievement is the Lakeland 3000s. I have enjoyed doing more than Wainwright advised.
At the age of 44 I was looking forward to a gentle wind down. Then a friend (?) got me this book for Christmas. It is gripping reading, but not just for the pleasure of the read itself. It has reminded me of the freedom of the fells and the points at which we are most alive. The Fells are not appreciated most for the pretty views, but by being immersed in them, and the way to do this is to run in them
And the sport of fell running has not been tainted by commercialism or competition. Just to finish a race is success. And no one has egos on the fells.
The most striking chapter concerned a race in which the weather was appalling. One competitor of 38 completed the course. But all had succeeded in making the right judgement to abort the race when they judged conditions were too severe for them. Fell running requires taking responsibility for yourself, which in this age of the Nanny-State is a refreshing change.
One final point. Richard is not a champion fell runner. He is in awe of the greats (like Joss Naylor and Billy Bland). But his achievements in middle age put most of us to shame. He puts this across with great modesty, and as I read I was willing him to succeed. But he is no elite athlete and what he has done I could do too.....
A must read for anyone who loves the hills and wants to understand the crazy individuals who run them
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An obsessive read 8 Aug 2005
Format:Paperback
With an interest in the outdoors, walking, running and the Lake District this book seemed to have it all for me.
I quickly found myself dragged into Askwith's world as he questions himself & his ability, and in doing so relects on the 'sport' and characters of fell running, and endurance racing.
I'd already started recommending this book before I'd even finished. The author vocalises thoughts that most of us outdoor junkies have had at one time or another, but that normally are unspoken.
I've not had such a good read of a (nominally) "sports" book since Joe Simpson's 'Touching The Void' which I first met many years ago.
This is a completely different type of subject matter, and intensity, but has a similar been there, done it, and come back feel of it that bundles the reader along in an understanding of the joys involved, especially during the down times.
Heartily recommended.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow, what a read! 15 Jun 2004
By B&J
Format:Paperback
I wouldn't normally have picked up a book on fell running but a friend recommended it and I was so glad they did. From the moment I started I was hooked as Askwith takes the reader on a roller coaster of a breathless ride through endurance in the name of sport. The characters and "heroes" along the way are fascinating. Thanks for a great read.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Good book
Really enjoyable read, almost inspired me to start fell running, before realizing I am way too chunky.
Published 16 days ago by john a bosworth
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Ok
Published 21 days ago by Miss L F Clargo
4.0 out of 5 stars A lot of detail
Lots of detail in this book, not all of it interesting. However, overall it's a great read and very inspirational.
Published 1 month ago by Scott Logie
5.0 out of 5 stars Feet in the Clouds
An excellent read for anyone thinking of taking up Fell running. A wonderful history of running legends past and present
Published 4 months ago by MR R BROOKES
5.0 out of 5 stars Seemingly random, but brilliant.
A fascinating book inspirational for all runners. It is also a book you can read bit-by-bit. Fell Running is something I had never contemplated before reading (I am a casual runner... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Stu F
5.0 out of 5 stars interesting read
great book on the history of fell running and the various characters and the authors personal quest to complete the bgr
Published 8 months ago by nigel
4.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic motivational read.
If you are a runner, fell or otherwise you need to read this book, not because it has lots of training tips or routines but because it totally encapsulates why we run. Read more
Published 8 months ago by N E Maston
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Book
Wonderful book, great quotes and overall a throughly enjoyable read, I can not recommend this highly enough. Thank you Richard :)
Published 8 months ago by Darren Pyne
3.0 out of 5 stars Dreary Parts
This book goes into a lot of results, names and people and places. It takes some time to get into and you get lost with numbers. Read more
Published 8 months ago by ScottyHonest
5.0 out of 5 stars Good read!
Brings fell running to the world at large in a very compelling way, informative and inspirational.
Warning, it may make you want to run...
Published 8 months ago by William Meehan
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