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Thread: Fell races, what are they?

  1. #1

    Fell races, what are they?

    After reading some comments on the Edale Skyline thread it seemed to me that there is an interesting discussion to be had about what a fell race actually is. and should be considered to be...

    Obviously a quick scan through the fixtures book reveal a huge variety of different events. differing length, height, terrain and time of year all adding fantastic variety to the 'fell racing year'

    So I wonder? Is it a fully marked sprint up and back down again, back in the beer tent by lunchtime or is it a prolonged battle through terrain, weather and navigating through clag. I realise that it all of these, and probably all of these at once!

  2. #2
    Master molehill's Avatar
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    Back in the GODs (good old days) it was fairly straightforward, you ran up and down some hills with a map and compass (presuming you didn't know the route). You tried to follow someone in front and if you lost them it was map and compass!

    When you reached the top of a hill there was a marshall and you gasped ,"which way" and he waved his arms in a vaguely westerly direction.

    There may be some markers for the final run-in, which helped ensure some sprint finishes for the 3 spectators. That's about all I recall, no idea what happens now.
    Don't roll with a pig in poo. You get covered in poo and the pig likes it.

  3. #3
    Master Wheeze's Avatar
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    It's always a good discussion. When fell running boomed in the 80's and 90's, things like Trail Running and Skyrunning didn't exist in any meaningful way and so a lot of new events came under the fell racing umbrella. This was aided by the race grading system which allowed trail type events to be included. There's now a lot of overlap both at the gentler and extreme ends of the off road racing spectrum. It's clear the committee are aware of this which explains some of the rationale behind more clearly defining some aspects of the sport such as no GPS. I suspect this process of evolution will continue. From my own point of view we could consider asking all races currently graded as C to re-register as trail races.
    I am Kuno....

  4. #4
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    According to the FRA:

    Licensing policy
    The FRA only licenses fell races which are in keeping with the FRA’s “Principles of Fell Running”1
    . In
    particular, core principles include the following:
    1. Unique character. Key words are “fell”, “runners” and “race”! The FRA does not license trail races,
    cross-country races, “challenge”-style events or walks.
    2. Non-commercialism. Fell running is a non-commercial, low cost sport. Races should be run on a
    “break even” basis or to raise a modest amount for a stated good cause. Entry fees are expected to
    be priced at levels in line with what is “normal” for the sport, though the FRA recognises that all
    races are different and that some races have hidden costs. Guidance is available on request.
    3. Self-navigation. The use of electronic aids (such as GPS devices) for navigation is strictly prohibited
    in all FRA races. Use of such devices both is contrary to the ethos of the sport and may bring
    seriously increased risk in cases of overreliance. ROs must make this principle clear to entrants and
    in particular should not provide electronic “GPX files” (or equivalent) of the route.
    4. Self-sufficiency. Aid stations are not expected in fell races. Provision of fluids at road crossings on
    very dry courses may be acceptable.

  5. #5
    When I was Chairman of the FRA I had a phone conversation with the organiser of the annual wife carrying race (held in Dorking) who wanted his event to be included in the FRA Calendar.

    The course is 380 metres up and down a shallow hill and includes clambering over straw bales and possibly having a bucket of water thrown over you. The definion of "wife" is fairly loose, eg one's wife can now be male, but we are all broad minded nowadays.

    Obviously I was sympathetic to his request and thought the inclusion of his event would be a welcome alternative to boring old races such as Wasdale but I did express some concern that his event might fall foul of some of the technical criteria for inclusion in the FRA calendar, such as being a "fell race". I suggested that he had a glance at these pernickety details and then come back to me and we could take things forward.

    But, alas, he never did.
    Last edited by Graham Breeze; 13-12-2020 at 08:38 PM.
    "...as dry as the Atacama desert".

  6. #6
    Master molehill's Avatar
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    I imagine that the wife slung over the participants shoulder is also holding the map and compass and doing the navigating?

    I see potential in this format and plenty of future work for divorce solicitors.
    Don't roll with a pig in poo. You get covered in poo and the pig likes it.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by molehill View Post
    I imagine that the wife slung over the participants shoulder is also holding the map and compass and doing the navigating?

    I see potential in this format and plenty of future work for divorce solicitors.
    You can watch a race on youtube. The "wives" are usually slung face down over the back of the runners. They have to wear crash helmets and the surface is grass otherwise who knows what thoughts might emerge in the minds of the runners during that 380 yards...?
    "...as dry as the Atacama desert".

  8. #8
    Moderator noel's Avatar
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    They did one of these at Sedbergh sports a few years back when it was a champs race. Mrs Noel wasn't keen on being carried upside down so we went for the normal piggy back approach. We were well beaten by the guy who had been doing commentary on the PA, carrying Julie from Macc Harriers.

    That was the year I was in third place behind Simon Bailey...

    [wait for it]

    ...in the sack race.

  9. #9
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    I think an ideal fell race has to include at least one good hill or fell to climb, one good hill or fell to pelt back down again, with at least one stretch where there may be multiple routes available that may be, but don't have to be, off trail. With tarmac kept to the absolute minimum. And with little or no marked routing. An ideal fell race isn't a navigation event (its not orienteering) but navigation skills are needed to either find the best line or, if you get lost, to find any line at all.

    An ideal trail race or ultra trail race on the other hand has to include several good hills and fells to climb and several good hills and fells to run down again. All kept on known or marked trails with minimal tarmac, with any off trail sections clearly marked or explained before hand. A trail or ultra trail race is (for me) always longer than most if not all fell races in distance and may include night time running too. An ideal trail or ultra trail race isn't a navigation event (its not orienteering) but navigation skills are needed, especially when blundering around in the dark. Typically you get better tee shirts at trail races

  10. #10
    Master Travs's Avatar
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    Fellbeast.... in your opinion, Haworth Hobble (i know it's a race you like, as i've seen you there a couple of times)...... given your comments above, is it a trail race or a fell race?

    (hopefully not upsetting Brett with this question!?!)

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