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Thread: Sustainability and Impact

  1. #1

    Sustainability and Impact

    With several race this year being cancelled or routes changed, largely related to SSI areas it would be interesting if fell running (races and runners alike) took up a more proactive approach to managing our impact on the environment specifically looking at the development and growth of race trods. Mountain Marathon organisers like the OMM already do Ecological Impact Assessments e.g. https://theomm.com/ecological-responsibility/ but I have never seen one for a fell race. Mountain Marathon change locations every year whereas fell races routes don't often change and repeat every year.
    Is one year to little time for the ground to recover from a field of a few hundred runners or is it from its use throughout the year by runners, race reccies and walkers? In the Bob Graham Club's Tradition and Ethics Document its states concerning "the effects of the ever-increasing footfall of humans on the delicate Lake District landscape ... the need to limit footfall in terms of pacer numbers (why do you need more than 2 per leg?) and to avoid over-reccieing legs".

    And don’t get me started on fell shoes not lasting more than one season of use…

  2. #2
    Master DrPatrickBarry's Avatar
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    It will never happen but there is a lot to be said for replacing Great Calva on the BG with another hill(s) that would involve the a similar amount of climbing/distance, as that is suffering terribly from erosion that would be hugely down to the Bob.

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    Senior Member stumpy's Avatar
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    By far the least sustainable aspect of fell racing is driving to the race!

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    Every heavy shower of rain causes more erosion than a few fleet footed fell runners ever will.

    If the National Parks stopped paving over ever longer stretches reaching higher up the hills it would reduce footfall. It just encourages more and more ill equipped folk, making it easier for them, and many of them being not very keen on taking their litter home.
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    Master JohnK's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Llani Boy View Post
    Every heavy shower of rain causes more erosion than a few fleet footed fell runners ever will.

    If the National Parks stopped paving over ever longer stretches reaching higher up the hills it would reduce footfall. It just encourages more and more ill equipped folk, making it easier for them, and many of them being not very keen on taking their litter home.
    Spot on LB plus the paved areas alter the flow of water and upsets the lands ability to absorb water never mind the dire visual aspects of the supposed improved pathways.

    There have been Passes, Drove roads byways etc etc for centuries and what is now perceived as erosion is i.m.o just a natural evolution of the landscape brought about by nature, of which the human form is just a small part and the best thing we can do is leave it to nature to Sculpture the landscape the way it see`s best after all not many of us complain when we are on top of a summit surveying the wonderful vista that nature has created for us to date.
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  6. #6
    Master Stagger's Avatar
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    There have and always will be be trods.

    Don't worry about what you cant change.
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    "The greatest accomplishment is not in never falling, but in rising again after you fall."

  7. #7
    Master ba-ba's Avatar
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    There have and always will be trods, but the level some have got to in a shortish period of time (e.g. the motorway over Hare crag compared to just 4 years ago) show that heavy-ish use year-round can have a definite effect. Race trods are used less frequently (once a year, with maybe a bit of recce action in the month before.)

    My sister (who is a fell runner but also a NT ranger) has dug up a study showing that a number of people in a short period of time (i.e. a race) has more of an effect on the ground than the same number of people are spread over a longer period of time - though as to its provenance, location, n value etc. I'd need to know more. A mix of water and footfall will compound any erosion effect - a cycle of loosening then washing away having more impact than just one factor alone

    A lot of path work has gone on in some areas. I'd personally like to see Natural England/National trust etc. publish their reasoning for improving/flagging a path before doing so, make public all the info they made the decision off in the name of transparency (I think some mountain bikers petitioned for something like this last year - but then MTBs likely cause more damage than feet!)

    It's a difficult balancing act but something I know Nicky and the FRA are working on to protect as many races as possible. Ironically the 2 peak district races that have fallen foul this year (Kinder Trial and New Chew) are both nav events with no defined route or recce potential (though I think the issue was not applying for use of land in good enough time - though again I imagine applications to some extent just get shunted between desks and in-trays and held up by bureaucracy)
    Last edited by ba-ba; 27-06-2019 at 12:59 PM.
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  8. #8
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    the impact of one race annually is surely negligible in the grand scheme of things. I would say the impact of fell running as a sport generally is low. everything you do in life will have some impact on the environment.

    if there are specific spots / hillsides / trods / routes where the erosion from a race is a major problem then yes do something about that, but otherwise fell running is nowhere near the top of the list of things a right-minded eco-conscious person should be worrying about or trying to change or limit.

    in my view fell running as a whole (including racing in general) do way more good than bad if you take a holistic view (social, societal, community, economic, individual personal development, adventure, mental health, respect for the environment, etc. etc.)

  9. #9
    Master Wheeze's Avatar
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    We've been over this ground many times before (groan....obvious pun. Sorry!) Thread search erosion or some such like and lots of views will emerge. My own contributions from the past include observation that a scrabbly route on bessyboot in the borrowdale horseshoe seemed to recover just fine between races and recalling a sweet little article by that past luminary of Welsh fell running, Francis Uhlman. Many moons ago he published in the fell runner mag an experiment where he ran up a grassy slope a thousand times in his walshes to see if it were a damaging track. It didn't! But you have to admire his fortitude.

    The impact of fell races is so slight it does not justify some pandering ecological assessment.

  10. #10
    Master noel's Avatar
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    I suspect the effects of runners and footfall in general is also very different in different types of soil and vegetation. In areas where the plants are only just making a go of it (eg, hill tops) it's going to be more of an issue. Whereas every year I have to "garden" a path to the river crossing at Shutlingsloe - I can't tell there has ever been 100 runners there before.
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