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Why Fell Running is Booming in the UK

By Jack Davis

Many people in the UK would not be able to tell you what fell running was if you asked them. Despite this over the past two years fell running has grown in popularity. Fell running is essentially running up and down hills and mountain sides, a very British sport that can be enjoyed by people of all ages which is why it appeals to so many.

Throughout the UK extreme sports in general are growing in popularity as people no longer seem to enjoy the boring jaunts to the gym or the punishing road running. Across the UK around 300 athletics clubs are now connected with the Fell Runner’s Association, with the members of the athletics clubs able to compete in fell races around the UK. In most races across the UK numbers are limited to about 300-400 per race due to the concern for landowners, but the large majority of races are full up.

Many fell races across the UK take place in beautiful areas such as the Lake District, Peak District and the Yorkshire Dales, this is why so many people love to take part because of the breath-taking views. Fell running gives people the opportunity to take in some of Britain’s most beautiful sights at the same time as challenging themselves and maintaining very high levels of fitness.

It may be surprising to many but fell running is a very popular sport within young people, lots of athletics clubs and fell running clubs across the UK have many young members. I spoke to 22-year-old Phil, who is a member of the West Mercia Fell Runners and he said “It’s a fantastic way to keep fit, I take part in races all over the country and the views you get to see are incredible. Up until I was 18 I used to do a lot of road running and I found it so boring, with fell running the sense of adventure is fantastic”.

Road races in the UK such as marathons and half marathons can be very expensive to enter, with some charging around £40-50 for entry. In comparison to this fell races are very cheap, with the majority of entries for races costing about a fiver. Many people who have not taken part in fell races before seem to think that the races take part in very hostile conditions, with wind and rain coming in sideways as you run across a hillside. However, the large majority of races take place during the summer, and whilst our summertime’s can be very hit and miss, more often than not races take part in good conditions.

Fell running appeals to people of an older age as well as the young. Many older people in the UK take part in fell running for pleasure as well as races across the UK. For people of an older age it can be a great social activity with many races culminating in country pubs, they can enjoy some fell running and then a few pints afterwards. David, 62 who is a retired firefighter told me “I started fell running about three years ago and loved it from the first moment. I only take part in a few races and I mainly just go out on a Tuesday night with my local club, but after we go back to the local pub, have a snack and a few pints. I absolutely love it”.

As we can see fell running is on the rise throughout the UK with people seeming to be fed up of the slog to the gym and instead opting for the beautiful hills of Britain.

What do you think?