Fell Running Primer

Fell races take place in mountainous and often hazardous terrain. The events are usually low key and cheap to enter.  Many events are “enter on the day”.  Due to the nature of the terrain and potential for injury the basic rules of fell running must be understood and respected.

The main governing body of fell running in England, The Fell Runners Association (FRA) take a dim view of athletes ignoring race organiser’s instructions and frequently give bans to athletes not complying with them.

Race Categories

Races are categorised by the amount of ascent (A, B, C) and the distance (L, M, S)

Category A – Should average not less than 50 metres climb per kilometre.  Should not have more than 20% of the race distance on road. Should be at least 1.5 kilometres in length.

Category B - Should average not less than 25 metres climb per kilometre.  Should not have more than 30% of the race distance on road.

Category C - Should average not less than 20 metres climb per kilometre.  Should not have more than 40% of the race distance on road. Should contain some genuine fell terrain.

Distance L (Long) – 20 kilometres or over

Distance M (Medium) – Over 10 kilometres but under 20.

Distance S (Short) – 10 kilometres or less

Kit requirements

For races categorised as 'AL', 'AM' or 'BL' the “Best Practise Kit’ detailed below is mandatory, and must be carried at all times. For all other categories of race the kit requirements are at the discretion of the race organiser. For races in the Shropshire summer series the race organisers will probably stipulate that you must carry a jacket, either tied round your waist or in a bum bag. If you twist an ankle at the furthest point of the course and have to walk back you will get cold very quickly, particularly in windy or blustery conditions whilst on the hill tops. Kit checks are frequently carried out prior to races.

Best Practice Kit comprises - Waterproof whole body cover (taped seams and attached hood), hat, gloves, map of the route, compass, whistle and emergency food (eg Mars Bar or similar).

Pete Bland Sports sells a bum bag designed specifically for fell running, at an excellent price.

Whilst you will see runners in fell races wearing road shoes, it's advisable to wear fell or trail shoes designed for off-road terrain.  It is not advisable to wear spikes in fell races due to courses frequently containing rocky terrain, or having road sections.

Race numbers

Race numbers will be issued and must be worn as issued, unfolded or defaced.  At some races you may be asked to shout out your number at check points around the course.

Retirement from races

If you retire from a race, or if you collect a number but do not subsequently start, you must report into the race organiser or an official at the finish.  Unlike other races such as road and cross country, every runner that registers for the race MUST be accounted for.  Retiring from a race and not reporting into the finish WILL result in a ban from future races.

Conduct during a race

Don’t climb dry stone walls or fences

Don’t try to jump queues at stiles

Don’t drop litter

Recognising hypothermia

Hypothermia is dangerous and has been the cause of several deaths in fell running.  If injury or exhaustion causes you to stop or slow down, then body heat will be lost quickly in cold wet or windy weather and the onset of hypothermia can be very rapid unless sufficient clothing can be worn. You may also recognise hypothermia in other runners.

Article on hypothermia

Useful links

Fell Runners Association

Welsh Fell Runners Association

Scottish Hill Runners

Shropshire Summer Series

The Shropshire Summer Series is held between April and August. It incorporates 7 races, your best 4 performances count towards the series results. All races are categorised ‘AS’ – short and steep!