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on 8 December 2016
I wouldn't class myself as a fell runner, but I love the Lakes, big days out in the hills and a little bit of running. This was a great account of fell running, interweaving the history of the sport with its unfeasibly fit past and present heros, as well as the attempts by the author to complete the Bob Graham Round, which I had heard of as representing the dividing line between a jolly amateur "hill runner" and a "proper mountain runner". Previously I had in reality thought the latter category to be a bit unhinged, and pursuing a crazy, pointless objective, but by the time I finished the book I had huge respect for the discipline, hard work and bloody-mindedness that such an achievement requires. The book is also, as other reviewers say, very inspiring, and really captures the romantic, idealistic element of even thinking of some of these races. The chapter on the woman who won the first Dragon's Back race (in a team) was also very interesting, and one caught the author's respect for her grit and determination.
Someone who enjoys the hills and mountains in any way, not only fell running, would also like this book.
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on 19 July 2011
It certainly does help having a passing interest in the sport of Fell running if one want's to get the maximum enjoyment from this superb book because the majority of us will look on with a sense of awe in the superhuman exploits of Fell runners past and present with some names that even the seasoned runner may never have heard of.

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.
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on 12 November 2012
I am not what you would call one of lifes naturally built runners, at least not for endurance running. But then neither is the author of this book Richard Askwith and it didnt stop him from becoming obsessed with both the history of fell running and pushing himself physically and mentally to the limits to achieve a remarkable goal; the Bob Graham round.

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.
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on 25 May 2018
This is just a terrific and inspiring read.
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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on 6 June 2015
This is a great read. If you walk or run over hill or vale this interesting and honest account from a runners perspective is a must read.
It inspires you to want to run, to be able tread the trails and witness the views of all the legends mentioned within.
It is not only a biopic of a mans venture, but a short synopsis of the challenges, characters and places from the annals of fell running.
A great read and highly recommended.
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on 10 June 2016
I love running, particularly hill running, even though I'm rubbish at it! If, like me, you're fascinated by what drives these superhumans and yearn to discover their secrets to running up (and down) steep hills fast then read this book. I'm not saying you'll be able to run any faster but you're sure to be inspired, by the author's personal battle to complete a Bob Graham Round and the parallel story of the history of fell running and the wonderful characters who have kept this sport alive. They are truly remarkable athletes. These men and women just trained and ran for the love of it. No celebrity status, endorsements etc. Pure, honest grit. Makes me want to pull my trainers on and run up a hill right now.
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on 20 August 2013
This is an exceptional book by any standards, immensely readable, absorbing, enlightening, and profoundly philosophical on the role of sport and modern living. It is also the best and most rounded account of the sport of fell running since Bill Smith's legendary 'Studmarks on the Summit'. Richard Askwith's simple and elegant writing exudes his admiration of the men and women of this the toughest of all running sports. It is also a fascinating and detailed account of what makes fell running so demanding on the body and the mind.

However, in his story of the great characters of the sport, their prodigious feats and staggering endurance records, it is the achievement of his personal Holy Grail, the successful sub 24 hour Bob Graham Round, which goes to the core of what the average runner can endure in pain, preparation, dedication if the will is there. All mountain marathon veterans and BGR runners, successful or unsuccessful, will nod knowingly as they read their way through his gripping account.

Although the book is now a few years on since its original publication date, it is as fresh now as then, and as relevant now as then to fell running and runners in general. For the general reader it will open up a world in which pleasure and an understanding of the elements comes through direct engagement and not via televison. Simply brilliant.
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on 25 October 2015
When a man gets to a certain age he need to have a crisis. Fast cars and kill someone else, fast bikes and kill yourself or experiment either other peoples wives. I choose something else. My climbing partner gave me a copy of this book which resulted in 3 1/2 year, 2 failed attampt before nailing it, a great set of mates and a most wonderful, sweaty, cold, tired and sometimes emotional journey back to the green door. Even if you are not going to have a mid-life crisis, this is the best adventure book ever written. No super humans (other than Billy and Joss), just stories of normal people pushing themselves to do abnormal things without corporate sponsorship. 4 years on its still the best non child related experiences of my life. http://ambitionexceedsability.blogspot.co.uk/2011/08/and-back-to-green-door.html
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on 31 October 2013
I read so many books on running from technical to autobiographical - this one, this is one of the best. A runner myself, this was recommended to me over a post-trail-run chat with another runner. I'd been aware of it for seem time but resisted temptation.
What a book. Riveting, packed with stories of the greats and not so greats tied together with a strong thread of personal experience. The author's passion and love of the sport & and its figures is clear. I can't recommend it highly enough.
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on 3 January 2013
Having enjoyed reading a few sports books recently, I was looking for a book to give me some inspiration while running. The obvious choice was of course "Born to Run", but this seems to be a book loved by recent converts who then talk about it with religious fervor. I'm unconvinced about the whole 'barefoot' thing also. "Feet in the Clouds" came up as an Amazon recommendation - as somebody who dabbled in junior fell races many years ago it was a natural choice.

The book blends the history of the sport and portraits of various key characters, together with the author's personal experiences and the unfolding events of a typical year in the sport. This structure works really well, providing lots of variety and keeping the reader interested.

By necessity this sort of book has lots of names and places, but the author is rather good at reintroducing key people and events with a few hints at where we have met them previously, saving the reader from have to concentrate too hard.

My only disappointment with this book is the map of the UK on the last page showing the locations of the key events. After completing the book, I was really motivated to try a few more fell races - unfortunately if you live in the South East, it's a long way to travel to any events.
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