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Thread: 1983 Joss Naylor Interview

  1. #1
    Senior Member Joester's Avatar
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    Aug 2011
    Belper, Derbyshire

    1983 Joss Naylor Interview

    I was flicking through an old magasine in a hostel recently, and came across this. I photographed the pages and wrote it out because I thought you guys would be interested to read it too.

    ďAn Interview with Joss NaylorĒ

    Transcribed from Climber and Rambler Magazine, March 1983.

    For over twenty years Joss Naylor of Wasdale head has been one of Britainís leading fell-runners and certainly the most famous. We asked fellow Cumbrian Andy Hyslop to talk to Joss about his running, people and placesÖ

    A: How did you start running?
    J: I always ran at school, but after I left I never ran again until I was about 23. It all started when I had my back operated on (injured in a series of falls around the farm) because after that I had no other sports left that I could do. The first race I ran was in 1960 which was the first Lakes Mountain Trial, now known as the Vaux Trial.

    A; When did you realise that you had the potential to be the best in fell running?
    J: Round about when I first started, because before that first race I never did any training, I just cut the legs off my trousers with some scissors and ran in a pair of strong boots. When I got to Black Sail Pass I was in the lead, but then I got leg cramp very bad at Red Tarn, probably because of just having my back operated on.

    A: What was the fell running scene like at that time?
    J: In the mountain trials there were only maybe 45 starters. Most of them were from clubs like Fell and Rock and the Y.H.A, except for Clayton-le-Moors which was an athletic club, but there were very few fell races, only the Vaux, the Ben Nevis and the Three Peaks.

    A: When did the Ennerdale and Wasdale races start up?
    J: The Ennerdale started in 1968, I won the first one and the next 8. I should have won the first 10 really, but I had an accident in Wales when I was doing the Welsh Thousand Metres race Ė my cag blew over my face and I put my foot down a hole. It made a terrible mess of it.

    A: Did you win the first Wasdale race as well?
    J: I think I didÖin fact Iíve won 8 Wasdale races.

    A: Have you done any mountain running abroad?
    J: I did the Sierre Zinal race in Switzerland about 6 or 7 years ago and came 6th. My second race abroad was in America. I should never have gone really because I had my arm in a sling; it had blown up clipping sheep.

    A: That was the Pikeís Peak race near Boulder in Colorado.
    J: Thatís right. I thought it was a great experience, especially with the extra problems of altitude and the dry humidity.

    A: How high is Pikeís Peak?
    J: Itís about 14,400ft and the race is 13 miles. It takes about 2 hours going up and just over and hour back down.

    A; Did you find that going to America was a new experience from the cultural point of view as well as the running?
    J: Yes I did, I met a lot of interesting people and made a lot of good friends.

    A: I believe you once had plans to run in Kenya?
    J: Aye, the idea was to run up and down Kilimanjaro from the road head, and then run up and down Mt. Kenya, but there again you need quite a lot of altitude training for that.

    A: How were you going to cope with the rock climbing difficulties on Mt. Kenya, because to actually get to the summit is quite difficult?
    J: When youíre attempting that type of record thereís always ropes set up for you beforehand, and youíve got to have an experienced climber who can get the ropes up and get you down safely. When youíre under stress you canít be expected to cope with the climbing as well as the running.
    A: Do you think there is any potential in running up and down big alpine mountains like Mt. Blanc?
    J: You would have to know the ground well and under all weathers, you canít always rely on a compass under stress. Anyone having a go would have to do the route several times before a record attempt.

    A: Will fell running develop as an international sport at any level?
    J: Itís going to be difficult to get off the ground financially I think. The only way would be through the Fell Runnerís Association (the governing body of fell running), but I donít think the numbers of fell runners are going to increase much more especially on the longer races. With transportation and the general financial climate of today itís going to limit itself. The numbers on the Wasdale and Ennerdale races have remained more or less the same for the last couple of years and I think weíve had the boom now. There are so many events on the fell runnerís calendar now that anyone wanting to do well in the fell runnerís championship is going to have to select races rather than just go and run every weekend.

    A: It seems strange that living in Wasdale you have never managed to take up rock climbing. Was this because of your back?
    J: No, not really, itís just that with the farm and running the time wasnít there to do it.

    A: Do you know any climbers that might have given you the opportunity to go climbing?
    J: Oh aye, even in the early days, Jim Birkett used to come to Wasdale Head a lot Ė he was always a bit of loner Ė and Wood Johnson, Dicky Mosley and Arthur Housley. Yes, I met a lot of top climbers in my youth and used to know them all well. They were there almost every weekend but it was something that never really appealed. Just after I left school some of us would take sheep off crags; we used to go with a rope and a couple of slings, in fact there was one year I took about 25 out of Ennerdale and Red Pike so I got to a point when I could climb most crags anyway.

    A: Did you ever do any bird nesting on the crags like Jim Birkett did?
    J: No, but he was a great man for birds nests was Jim; round about the time of the war he used to know every birdís nest on every crag in this valley. There was one nest on Raven Crag, Red Pike, with a little overhang to it, and he used to go there without a rope. He must have been a fantastic rock climber, a bloke Iíd take my hat off to anyway. Actually, I saw Jim a couple of months ago on a sponsored walk; we stopped just in front of his house and I went in to see him. Well, it was the first time Iíd seen him for nearly 30 years and he was just the same Jim Birkett I knew when I was a lad, a nice to bloke to have a crack with and so interested in what was going on in the valley.

    A; You know Eric Beard Ė was he more of a runner than a climber?
    J: No, not really. Eric was an all round man, a great climber, a great skier and a great athlete.

    A: Did he ever win any of the big fell races?
    J: I donít think he actually won any but he was always up there with the competition. He was very unfortunate though, to get killed before fell running really took off and got popular. I used to spend quite a bit of time training with himand he encouraged me to run a lot as well. I never really ran that much before I met Eric.

    A: Eric Beard still hold the record for traversing the Skye Ridge in just over 4 hours. What are your own aspirations as far as thatís concerned?
    J: Well, I donít know now, but a few years ago I was meaning to have a go if the ropes had been set up on the climbing sections. You would certainly need a lot of running in your legs for it and your reflexes would have to be very sharp for such rough ground.

    A: How well was Eric running when he put up the record?
    J: I should say probably as good as he has ever ran.

    A: So itís a pretty formidable record?
    J: I think so, he held the 14 three thousanders down in Wales at about that time, until I took it off him.

    A: One of your records which is still unbroken is the extension of the 42 peaks Bob Graham round in 24 hours to 72 peaks in 24 hours. What are the details of that?
    J: The first extra section on the Bob Graham was after we left Keswick, I did a few more peaks at the back of Skiddaw, like Little Calva, Knott, Great Sca fell and Combe Height; we were through that in something like 3 hours down to the road in Threkeld. From there we ran it more or less the same as the Bob Graham to Fairfield when we ran out to Hart Crag and back then down to Greatrigg Man and across to Seat Sandal on a sheep track that traversed round. Actually, that was the worst section on the day because my pacers had no water with them and it was very hot, I got quite bad cramp along the ridge from Helvellyn. After Dunmail Raise we added Red Howe, Cold Pike, Pike oí Blisco and Crinkle Crags, then traversed round Bowfell onto Allen Crags, then we did the Bob Graham route to Wasdale. On the last bit we went over Dale Head to Robinson and then over Grasmoor, Hobcarton Crag and Grisdale Pike, then dropped down to Braithwaite and the road back to Keswick. We were still knocking off 6 minute miles on that last bit!

    A: What sort of training did you do for that record?
    J: A lot of miles, especially during the winter months. I was out most days running 10 or 15 miles on the fell and on Sundays Iíd do a 30 or 40 miler. I did the eleven highest peaks in the Lakes a fortnight before with no back up and the week before I did the 4 three thousanders in 7 hours. 29 mins, which is still a record. I should have broken 7 Hrs. really but the weather was terrible.

    A: Billy Bland seems to be turning his attention more to distance running now Ė how do you think heíll go?
    J: Well, given the right day I think Billy could go well to adding a few onto the 72 peaks record. He knows where his weaknesses are, heís got to have plenty of food, and I hope he does it.

    A: You wouldnít feel any remorse if he took the record from you?
    J: Not at all, because heíll have to work hard to do it and on the day heíll suffer. I paced him from Wasdale when he did the Bob Graham round in 13 hours and he was going well that day.

    A: What is your opinion of the general political and social climate in the Lakes National Park today?
    J: I think the Lake District is probably run by the wrong people. The local people have very little say in what goes on at all, and I think if some of the locals had more say then it wouldnít be in such a state as it is today. Iíve tried many a time to get the footpaths put right and no one wants to know until itís too late. Once the damage is done it costs too much to do anything about them. You can go up to Wasdale Head now and see the front of Kirk Fell, the sods are getting worn through on the path there. If there was a little notice at the bottom of the path that said not to come down the front of Kirk Fell I would think 50% would go round and come back down by Black Sail Pass. Even not the water runs from top to bottom on that path and that never happened before. It just needs another winterís frost and a wet spring and itíll be just a heap of rubble. All the paths in the Lakes were in far better condition when they were used by horses and getting a lot more hammer. The councils always used to send a couple of men onto the passes once a year to just turn the water off them and there was never any problems. Itís the local people who look after the environment more than anyone.

    A: What do you think about the slate quarries, having seen the mess they make, but also considering that they are the backbone of the Lakeís industry, besides tourism?
    J: I think they have to be fairly well monitored, especially the underground quarries, but like anything else, thereís a limit to what they can take out and I wouldnít like to see them going too far. Perhaps they should spend more time making disused quarries safe and levelling out the waste heaps.

    A: How do you feel about Windscale being in your back garden?
    J: Itís something weíve got to accept, because itís there, and I think as time goes on these things should get safer. There certainly isnít as much pollution coming from nuclear power as there is from more traditional types of power stations.

    A: Did you oppose the BNF scheme to raise the level of Wastwater for the power station?
    J: I signed the petition to have Wastíer left as it as always been, but I was not against them taking water out.

  2. #2
    Master L.F.F.'s Avatar
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    Oct 2010

    Re: 1983 Joss Naylor Interview

    Haven't read it yet, but am about to settle down for the night in a Scarborough B&B so this is perfect timing. Thanks a lot for sharing.
    Josh Hubbard - Ambleside AC

  3. #3
    Senior Member
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    Aug 2010

    Re: 1983 Joss Naylor Interview

    aye, enjoyed that, thanks
    actually wearing sportiva's now

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    Re: 1983 Joss Naylor Interview


  5. #5
    Senior Member protodoc's Avatar
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    Re: 1983 Joss Naylor Interview

    That really brightened up my out of hours clinic (read between patients), cheers:thumbup:

  6. #6
    Senior Member Truck's Avatar
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    Nov 2009

    Re: 1983 Joss Naylor Interview

    Thanks Joester. A good little read at tea break :thumbup:

  7. #7
    I need to run more. southernsoftie's Avatar
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    Wherever you find me is where I will be

    Re: 1983 Joss Naylor Interview

    A lovely read, thanks for taking the time to post.
    "The best shield is to accept the pain, then what can really destroy me?"

  8. #8
    Senior Member Fozzy42's Avatar
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    Feb 2007

    Re: 1983 Joss Naylor Interview

    Cheers for that. Enjoyable read!

  9. #9

    Re: 1983 Joss Naylor Interview

    Thanks for posting, lovely stuff

  10. #10
    Master Multiterrainer's Avatar
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    Jan 2007

    Re: 1983 Joss Naylor Interview

    Yes excellent read, thanks for posting.

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