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Feet in the Clouds: A Tale of Fell-Running and Obsession: A Story of Fell Running and Obsession Paperback – 1 Apr 2005
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‘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, Culture )
‘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 The 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 )
The concept of fell running is simple: a long-distance race that includes running up and down several tall mountains. Though rarely making the sports pages, it is a mass-participation sport in areas like the Lake District and Snowdonia - indeed, race organisers turn competitors away so that fragile mountain uplands are not irrevocably damaged by thundering feet. Fixtures like the annual Ben Nevis and Snowdon races, or the Borrowdale and Wasdale fell runs in the Lakeland valleys (20-mile-plus marathons), have remained local events attended by the whole community - the runners back at work the next day shearing sheep. Now, Richard Askwith explores the world of fell-running in the only legitimate way: by donning his Ron Hill vest and studded shoes and spending 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.Along the way he also meets the greats of fell-running - like the remarkable Joss Naylor, who to celebrate his sixtieth birthday ran the Lakeland fells non-stop for a week, and Kenny Stuart, the wiry Keswick man whose astounding records still stand for many of the top races, and Bill Teasdale, one of the sport's pioneers, still living in the same tiny cottage in the northern Lakes. And ultimately Askwith's obsession drove him to attempt the ultimate challenge: a circuit of the Lake District peaks within 24 hours. This is a portrait of one of the few sports to have remained implacably amateur, and utterly true to its roots - in which the whole point, indeed, is to run the ancient, wild landscape, and stay a hero within one's own valley. A chronicle of a masochistic but admirable sporting obsession, a touching exploration of one of the last genuinely sporting communities, and an insight into one of the oldest extreme sports, Feet in the Clouds is a unique sports book to rival a William Hill winner like Angry White Pyjamas. See all Product description
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The book charts his own journey towards eventually completing the Bob Graham Round. It describes the greats of the past who’ve not only completed the round but also set new records for the attempts culminating in Billy Bland’s super 13 hour record...a record that lasted for so long it was thought that no one would ever get close.
However as I write this review, I do so bathing in the knowledge of Killian Journet’s incredible taking down of Billy Bland’s previous record by over an hour!
Paradoxically, the sport of fell running in this book is praised as a uniquely personal expression and private endeavour about being ‘in’ the mountain environment, yet this book has probably done more to bring fell running to the wider community than anything else. Read it, and learn, discover and enjoy it for what it is...an inspirational hymn of praise for running with one’s feet touching the clouds!
Someone who enjoys the hills and mountains in any way, not only fell running, would also like this book.
Richard Askwith writes in a magnificently fluid style that makes the reader want to read the book from cover to cover.
I myself being born and bred in Wales are more familiar with the mountains of Snowdonia but his accounts of Fell running in the Lakes has made that part of Western England come alive and with names like Bill Teasdale, Peter and Kevin and Billy Bland and more especially the great Joss Naylor, his historical analysis of Fell running from it's early years to the sport it has become today was most interesting and extremely informative.
The dream of most Fell runners me included is to run the Bob Graham round and Mr Askwiths eventual realisation of that dream makes this book so inspirational that one almost feels one could emulate his achievement if one only trained that bit harder.
Having read the reviews before purchasing the book everything is true, this is alongside "Wild Trails to Lost Horizons" by Mike Cudahy one the most inspirational and motivating get out there and do it books i have ever read.
The writing style is supreme and maybe even those with no athletic talent or longing would enjoy reading it.
Superb in every way and should be on every weight watchers reading list.
I am a Cumbrian who now lives down South and works in London, so there is alot in this book that takes me back to my old home town, reminds me of where i grew up and the places i used to go. Having walked, climbed and mountain biked all over the Lakes, this book really adds colour to some of the fells, the towns, the characters who live there and gives me that desire to go back to it all. Only the need to keep earning a crust for the family keeps me down here now.
Since reading this book i have learnt that my cousin, a Cumbrian farmer, completed the Bob Graham 5 years ago at the age of 47; being somewhat younger i realise that i have no excuse now :)
The book has a number of facets to it; its a historical record and story of the great fell runners who established the sport, where they came from, what they achieved. Its also about one man's obsession to achieve a remarkable goal and find in himself the strength to do it. This second part of the book has a message to give that is one of commitment and what can be achieved if you really put your mind to it. It happens to be about fell running, but it could so easily be about swimming or climbing or any other sport for that matter.
A brilliant and well written read.
One of the best books Ive read in years, captivating, real, sad, uplifting and funny.
Anybody looking for any type of inspiration, please look here...
A rare combination of real enthusiasm, proper research and ... someone who can actually write. Askwith's background as a journalist makes the quality of this book stand out from the ghost-written pulp that is all to common in sports books.
I will read this again.
Not sure I'll try a Bob Graham round though.
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