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Thread: Commercialisation

  1. #71
    Quote Originally Posted by Fellbeast View Post
    I agree with all of that, although with so many more commercial mountain based ultra and "trail" races also available nowadays, the choice of fell and trail races is fantastic, all offering big challenges but perhaps in different ways. For example the Lakes in a Day ultra, which I guess you'd call a commercial race, is the only race I know that goes straight down Hall's Fell off of Blencathra, a serious challenge at the best of times let alone in a 50 mile race.

    In some ways the purity of some of the older fell races has been lost because of better conservation principles, with landowners and/or national parks authorities asking fell races to stick to known tracks and trails. So fell races are becoming more trailsy anyway. The 3 peaks fell race (which I love) is a trail race almost in every respect (apart from perhaps one and a half miles of the ascent up Whernside). The Anniversary Waltz is a trail race excepting it offers two possible routes up the first part of Robinson and a fairly open choice on the descent from Dale Head. The High Cup Nick is a (fantastic) trail race that goes up a fell. In fact how many fell races don't follow trails nowadays? They all are really trail races but with perhaps the only distinction being that FRA races are usually run on a non-profit or local community profit basis.
    I'm inclined to disagree. Most people might follow the same route most of the time, but that's not compulsory except in a few limited instances - usually for a good reason such as minimising erosion or keeping landowners onside. To take the AW as an example - I know four ways up Robinson after leaving the road and at least three different lines off it. I can think of any number of variations on the descent from Dalehead and quite a few different options in the last third of the race as well, until the final flagged descent from Catbells. Yes there is a well defined path for almost the entire route but I frequently find myself on lines quite a bit off it. If you bring in the teenager this adds a lot more sections off paths with route choice involved. So I don't think these can legitimately be described as trail type races, especially if visibility is poor and navigation off path is required. I think they are better described as fell races but with a possibility of following tracks or paths for much of the route if you choose to do so (and don't mind some extra distance/climb maybe)

  2. #72
    Yeah maybe youíre right. As for the route off Robinson I wasnít suggesting the main path there but the straight diagonal contouring to the track up Hindscarth which is mostly on really great runnable ground (I thought everyone went that way ).

    All the same that does bring to bear the really big advantage local knowledge has in some fell races. Local runners or those that have run a particular race route many times have a massive advantage over those that arenít or havenít. You could argue that marked trail and ultra races are fair to all. Iím not arguing one over the other by the way as I like both
    Last edited by Fellbeast; 10-11-2020 at 11:15 AM.

  3. #73
    Master ba-ba's Avatar
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    It's as much about the ethos as the underfoot at times.
    Here in the North York Moors a lot of the races spend a lot of time on well defined tracks (often landrover tracks). All the races could be defined as majority trail, but have sections of single track, trod, woodland where your trail shoes wouldn't cope! But they're definitely Fell Running ethos in terms of organisation, prizes, fees etc.

    The main thing I think is to make people more aware of their experience level and possible limitations in the context of the wider scheme of fell running. In an increasingly 'I want it now' and experience-based culture people may be tempted to 'have a go' at a Classic race without the experience, putting themselves, fellow competitors, organisers and the wider sport at risk were something to go wrong. I can have kittens thinking about someone doing a fairly easy Moors/Peaks short/medium race (fairly well defined follow-the-leader route, decent sized field, lower levels of exposure) then thinking "I'm a fell runner I can go and do Wasdale now"

    Making sure everything is under the same rules/guidelines may seem like a sledgehammer to crack a nut in some cases, but ensures continuity and that people have the same experience and learn the necessary processes and skills properly in a safer environment across all types of races.

    The FRA is stepping up education of its presence and rules. It is also up to experienced runners and clubs to offer support to make sure newer runners don't get trail and fell running mixed up and tackle things in line with their ability and experience. It may not matter much for the smaller lower races, but does for the bigger, rougher, more exposed races. It may seem a bit overbearing at times but, with 40+ years left in the sport I want it preserved as much as possible. One of the biggest dangers to this is a death an coroner investigation. Initiatives like this are a heavy layer of mitigation to this happening.

    Fell Running is warm and welcoming, but we need to make sure people are aware of the dangers if it goes wrong.
    Nic Barber. Downhill Dandy

  4. #74
    Master Travs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ba-ba View Post

    Fell Running is warm and welcoming, but we need to make sure people are aware of the dangers if it goes wrong.

    Totally agree with everything you've written, particularly this last line.

    Although this (and the GPS eternal debate) often leads to the age-old accusation that fellrunning is elitist/aloof/stuck in the past/etc...

    You only need to look at the list of questions posted on the facebook page whenever a champs race entry opens, to see that the caution of the FRA and RO's is totally justified.

    I recall a blog written by a runner from a club in my part of the world, regarding a race in Shropshire (Long Mynd Valleys, i think).... they had very little experience and had enquired about the race, and the RO had suggested that perhaps they do some easier races then thought about coming back in a years time. This advice was unheeded, and they ran the race, and the blog was littered with references suggesting that they were doing the race whilst the RO had said they weren't "good enough" to do it...

    All credit to them for getting round, but the author made very little of the fact that they spent most of the race followed very closely by the sweeper, which points that the RO was probably justified in questioning them.

    I believe the race in question now has a set criteria of race experience (which a club mate of mine fell foul of this year, despite having lived his entire life in Caldbeck, ran on the fells regualarly since a young age, and being an experienced climber).... but rules are rules.
    Last edited by Travs; 10-11-2020 at 11:54 AM.

  5. #75
    Experience is such a difficult thing to define though - typical entry conditions for long fell races is to have run so many medium or whatever races in the past year or another long one. But those 'experiences' could've have all been in benign weather. Or like Ba-ba said in the North York Moors over a few 400m or 500m (muddy as heck admittedly) hills. This goes a bit against the grain I guess but probably true experienced fell runners need to have crossed the mark into stupidity territory once or twice and, fortunately, lived to tell the tale. Thats how experience is gained really; by having (bad) experiences...

    As for wearing required gear, I've seen plenty of runners decked out in their pirate hats, sunglasses, compression socks, shiney brand new hokas and refrigerator carrying backpacks that tick all the boxes and plenty of others craggy faced, hard as bastard nails, wearing 'arse hanging out' baggy old shorts, just a race vest despite the impending blizzard, a 'minimalist' bum bag the size of a small purse and completely mud caked and mileage blitzed unrecognisable fell shoes, that seemingly are not quite ticking all the boxes. I know which ones are most likely to get round though
    Last edited by Fellbeast; 10-11-2020 at 12:14 PM.

  6. #76
    Master Penguin's Avatar
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    I just wish people would go back to basics, compass, map.. leave the GPS at home, use the nav skills or learn them, walk or recce the routes, learn to run on the fells as it takes time to adjust from road running

  7. #77
    Master ba-ba's Avatar
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    Having started running on the fells in my late Teens and gained experience through my twenties I now find myself in my early 30's with quite a lot of experience, though I am by no means completely experienced and bomb-proof, not by a long shot, and this is something that needs to be.

    A lot of friends a similar age have also gone through the same process. A few 'near misses' when younger, then one day you get half the way up a hill and realise that you have all the kit and still decide to think better of the weather, and on the return you go 'remember when we were 20 and we would have carried on with no gear or food and a hangover?'

    When I returned to University in my mid-twenties and got re-involved with the fell running and orienteering club I became hyper-vigilant of the dangers and how laise faire we were 5 years earlier - as with fell races where everything comes back to the RO/FRA, everything would have come back to the club and university. I tried to impart my experience on others in the club. Maybe some of it stuck; I definitely heard of some 'interesting' trips out when I wasn't about!

    IMO it's a balance of education/awareness through FRA/clubs/mates (formal and informal, without seeming preachy) and getting out there and learning from your own mistakes/experiences. The former is generally in place, though maybe some more Fellrunner articles, spread across the likes of AW, Trailrunner etc. may be worthwhile (maybe I will get round to that.)

    (my main learning experience actually came in a race where I was fine, made a big breakthrough and took the biggest win of my 'career'. Running along Kinder edge, tired but fine and more worried about runners closing from behind, but aware that if I did trip I was bolloxed as I was already wearing all my kit and it was wetted out. Only found out by chance the next day the amount of people who were in a bad way across the race due to the conditions. Bought a proper winter waterproof after that!)
    Last edited by ba-ba; 24-11-2020 at 09:25 AM.
    Nic Barber. Downhill Dandy

  8. #78
    Quote Originally Posted by Fellbeast View Post
    This goes a bit against the grain I guess but probably true experienced fell runners need to have crossed the mark into stupidity territory once or twice and, fortunately, lived to tell the tale. Thats how experience is gained really; by having (bad) experiences...
    I agree. One experience of finding yourself alone, off-course, in foul weather on a mountain realising you could actually die if you don't sort yourself out teaches you more than following a hundred crocodiles round Wasdale or Ennerdale.
    "...as dry as the Atacama desert".

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