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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 16 June 2004
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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on 10 April 2005
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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on 28 November 2013
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. We do it because we love it and life would not be the same without it. If you are injured or lacking a bit of motivation read this book and you will not regret it.
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on 20 March 2017
Cracking read
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on 17 March 2017
Wonderful evocation of what it is to run. If you run or are thinking about running buy this book now
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on 2 January 2005
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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on 13 July 2004
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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on 10 May 2016
Richard Askwith introduces us to not only fell running, but also fell runners, fell races and long-distance challenges, and the remarkable story of fell-running history – all interwoven with details of the contemporary fell-running year as it passes month by month. Also interwoven is Askwith's struggle, to complete the 72-miles and 48-peaks of the Bob Graham Round (of Lakeland fells) in under 24h, much of which is in his head.

He tells us about Ernest Dalzell, whose 12m 59.8s record in the Burnsall race stood for 67 years (including the detail that Dalzell's 900' descent took only 2m 42s). He tells us about Kenny Stuart, Bill Teasdale, Billy Bland, and Joss Naylor, and a whole host of other remarkable people who consider themselves anything but remarkable. This includes Helen Diamantides who, together with Martin Stone, won the 5-day 220-mile Dragon's Back race in a running time of 38h 38m beating an elite field of other ultra long-distance teams (many of which dropped out). There are many more stories like this, astonishing and inspiring in equal measure.

The book is full times and records and placings, both contemporary and historical, but Askwith draws in his readers so deeply – enveloping us in the lives of these runners – that these are details you come to care about. But he also manages to impart fell runners' love of the mountains and their support of each other, as well as the sport's acknowledgement of danger (he talks a lot about pain), and the individual need to accept personal responsibility.

I loved this book – at times it brought goosebumps to my arms and tears to my eyes (and not because of cramp). An easy 5 stars.
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on 15 June 2004
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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on 24 October 2004
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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