Fellrunning – What’s It All About?
Fellrunning isn’t just for the experienced athletes in your running community! Anyone with a reasonable level of fitness can have a go at this alternate running experience.
Running up and down rugged terrain in some of the UK’s most remote places is becoming more popular all the time, with running groups now assisting in bulking the numbers.
I spoke to two people in West Yorkshire, both at very different points in their fellrunning journey. One of which has recently started fellrunning, the other is preparing to take part in one of the hardest fell runs there is.
Firstly there is Dalia Hawley, 34, a Chapiteau Massage Therapist based in Leeds, who has recently taken up fellrunning. Dalia got straight to the point:
I loved road running but always felt something was missing. I cycle a lot and when I ride I get a huge massive buzz and sense of freedom, I didn’t really feel that from road running
Dalia went in search of something that could give her that feeling cycling gave her. After a friend took her along for a short fell run she found it.
The first time I fell ran I felt the same buzz I get from cycling, I was jumping over rocks, scrambling over them, running through streams and mud, screaming like a kid when I ran down the hill
Yorkshire has some of the best fellrunning locations the UK has to offer. Being based in Leeds, Dalia was not short of options when she sought some help getting started.
After posting on Fell Runners Association site, Dalia eventually began running with Horsforth Fellandale and North Leeds Fell Runners. The Moors are perfect for fell running and not only for their excellent terrain, as Dalia quickly realised!
The views I had were incredible, every time I take myself up to the moors I have to pause and look at over them as it catches me every time
Someone who has been part of the fellrunning scene for over a decade now is Neil Jones, 40, Active Sport Officer at Leeds City Council.
Neil turned to fellrunning when he stopped playing football around 12 years ago. Much like Dalia, Neil needed to fill the gap and the thrills of fellrunning seemed like a good fit.
As a seasoned fell runner who has completed everything from short 3 mile fell runs to ultra-marathons, Neil knows what it takes. Although he insists anyone can take part, most runs only require items that ensure your own safety such as a whistle or compass.
I personally enjoy the dangerous side of it. The adrenaline rush you get from extreme nature of what you are doing and the risks that are out there. It also gives you a chance to get away from it all, in the middle of nowhere, with a bunch of like-minded individuals
Fellrunning also gives you the opportunity to see places you would usually never see. Many races across Yorkshire are given access to private property for the day to allow for the most scenic and challenging route possible.
In addition to the enjoyment fellrunning provides, Neil enjoys the competitive side of the sport as well. Each year there are numerous events travelling over high ground in places such as the Peak District and the Yorkshire Dales.
The Fellsman is not only one of Yorkshire’s best fell runs, but nationwide it is considered to be one of the elite events.
Taking place in April each year the Fellsman run covers more than 60 miles and climes a staggering 11,000 feet. Neil is preparing to complete the run for the first time later this year.
Completing my first Yorkshire Three Peaks race is my proudest moment to date as it is such an iconic race, but if I complete the Fellsman in April I’m sure that it will supersede that
On getting involved both Neil and Dalia were both very complimentary of running groups in West Yorkshire. Neil states:
Most of the running clubs around will now have someone who will be able to give you an introduction into what it’s all about and how to get going
Oakwell Hall Parkrun in Birstall is run on a trail surface so you can get a feel for that type of run. This is just one place in West Yorkshire which can help you figure out whether fellrunning is for you.
Dalia emphasised the ease of getting involved:
Fell runners are a helpful friendly enthusiastic bunch so you will always find someone happy to help. Always let someone know your route and take the essentials such as food and a first aid kit. Lastly, enjoy it!
Find out more about fellrunning over at the Fellrunning Association: http://runleeds.co.uk/r/fellrunning-association/