It is reported the first fell run took place in Scotland in around 1064, when King Malcolm Canmore decided he needed to organize a race to find the fastest messenger in the area. From the nineteenth century onward, fell running became part of community fairs, alongside wresting and hammer throwing. The most famous of these was the Grasmere sports meeting, which is still held in the Lake District every year.
WHAT IT INVOLVES
Fell running traditionally entails finding the best route up, over and through ranges of hills and mountains. There are no tracks to follow, unlike trail running, which generally follows bridle paths or fire protection dirt roads. It is a sport which anyone with a reasonable fitness level can attempt, even if it means walking up the exceptionally steep sections of your chosen route. Start slowly, perhaps with a knowledgeable fell runner, as it takes time getting used to running on uneven surfaces, jumping over stones and boulders and running through streams. Running vertically up a mountainside is nothing like road running. Be careful going downhill to avoid strain on your knees and hips and also to prevent serious falls. Try and lean forward into the descent and make sure you have worked those legs muscles through some form of cross training to avoid leg injuries.
Your most important purchase will be your fell running shoes. These must have a low heel and large studs for a good grip on uneven surfaces and be waterproof. Carry a lightweight waterproof cape or jacket and wear comfortable, sweat wicking clothing.
Fell running naturally means you will be running at altitude where the weather can change very quickly. Wear a reflective running vest or a reflective belt at all times, so that you can easily be spotted from the air, should you become hopelessly lost in adverse weather conditions. Many races in the UK and other countries insist that you run with a backpack containing essential gear. If you arrive without some of the specified items, you will be disqualified from the race. Pack gloves, a hat and some form of warm clothing in a backpack, together with a waterproof jacket of some description. A compass, map, whistle, emergency food and water and first aid kit are obligatory in some races. Always plan your route in advance, with alternative options, just in case you meet unforeseen obstacles on your planned route.