EDITOR’S PERSPECTIVE: Up and down the hills of life

EDITOR’S PERSPECTIVE: Up and down the hills of life

By Admin | 18/06/2022

EDITOR’S PERSPECTIVE: Up and down the hills of life

HE’S done a lot of good in the world, worked hard for others, but ultimately it may well not be what he is remembered for.

I was new, my first job as a reporter, and he would bound up the stairs — and there were quite a few — clutching papers containing the week’s fell running results.

He would talk a lot, an awful lot, and on a busy day the editor would quickly make himself absent, but was always quick to say what a great bloke he was.

My mum and dad knew him, everyone knew him.

He was here, there and everywhere — and at any athletics events that you cared to attend.

I hadn’t seen him for years, but last Christmas he was out and about, festively attired, collecting for charity.

I have no idea how old he is now, but he didn’t look much different, still possessing the sort of energy that could serve to annoy the particularly lazy.

In many ways the interim years had not been good to him though.

He had been accused of something nasty. Very nasty. The sort of crime that, despite rocketing energy bills, might send you scurrying off for a new life on the East Antarctic Plateau.

Not him, however. He stuck it out. Still working for charity. Still out doing his shopping in the village. Still showing his face everywhere, whatever people might have thought or said about him.

He didn’t do it, my mum contributed. He wouldn’t.

She was right, he didn’t.

Someone in a pub overheard two people talking about how they had made this story up and how much money they were going to get out of it. Case over.

Except it’s not though, is it? Not really. That sort of thing stays with you for ever.

I thought of this while reading a book (Feet in the Clouds by Richard Askwith) on fell running — it’s actually about way more than fell running; the desire to conquer the terrain, the elements, to be at one with nature, understanding your surroundings, to push yourself to the very limit — and his name cropped up.

He was portrayed, not inaccurately, as a slightly bluff, but still friendly, Yorkshireman. A lot of the people in this excellent book, albeit mostly hailing from Cumbria, were similarly characterised and that’s maybe something to do with the sort of person who gets into fell running.

I mentioned it to my mum and she told me he used to go running with a sack of coal on his back. Ah, that’s the sort of person who gets into this sport, the sort who seeks little in the way of financial reward but a lot in overcoming the odds, and the heavier those odds can be stacked the better.

I used to watch the fell runners set off up the moors on gala day in a village near where I’m from and wonder if I could ever do that — I could. Just.

I did it a couple of times when training properly for races of a much less hilly nature on friendlier terrain. I also competed in one fell race in Lancashire and have probably never felt as exhilarated as I did on the descent from the Two Lads cairns on Winter Hill  just outside Bolton. Terrified too. Out of control, mistakenly trying to hold myself back, knowing that one wrong-footed move could lead to, well, who knows... and I was going at nowhere near the speed of a runner who knew the hills and how to conquer them.

Maybe that’s what fell running does, enables you to conquer life’s hills, while giving you the knowledge that there’s always another one in the distance. Another challenge to overcome.

That’s what he did, and no doubt still does.