Friday, January 15, 2010

Feet in the Clouds - Richard Askwith

I read this book last year but came across it again on the shelf and remembered how much I enjoyed it. The title is also very similar to that of this blog so I thought I'd write about it as a recommended read.

The book is unique in that it is made up of several themes that switch throughout the read but ultimately come together at the end: 
  • A diary of a running calendar, detailing the various races that take place throughout the year, not just in Britain but Alaska, the Alps and other foreign destinations where British runners may be competing.
  • A history lesson, not delivered simply as a bunch of facts and records, but written in a style which encapsulates the prestige with which the sport once prided itself on. Some of the stories recalled during these chapters sound almost implausible and boggle the mind to think what physical trauma men put their bodies through in the name of sport. The detailed history of the Bob Graham round is particularly fascinating, and Askwith serves it to the reader in such an enthusiastic way.
  • An in-depth look at the personalities that made the sport what it was, Joss Naylor, Kenny Stuart and Bill Teasdale to name a few. Askwith interviews several of the sports iconic figures in the book which I found to be much more interesting than simply reading a log of achievements.
All the names mentioned in the book were unknown to me, fell running has mostly been something I see in the hills and shake my head and mutter something along the lines of "look at those mad b&;*%#$ds". (Although I once attempted a run up Slieve Donard and Commedagh recently enough, I did it... though admittedly I did stop rather frequently for breath).

All in all, I loved this read. On more than one occasion whilst reading, I found myself wanting to get up and get my runners on and head for the nearest hill. I didn't though as I was so engrossed with the book. Theres no doubt, this book is inspiring and its clear to see how much research and effort has gone into retelling the history of the sport. Askwith is someone who has a great passion for the sport and it shows.

I just wish I had the balls (or the nerve, time, fitness, energy, willpower, drive etc etc) to get into it myself.


  1. I also read this book a while ago and really enjoyed it. I sometimes go back to it when I need some motivation to get out there. I am currently reading and enjoying Mike Cudahy - Wild Trails to Far Horizons, another mad b&^%$d as you put it.

  2. Yea his use of language has the same effect as the Rocky theme tune! Thanks for the tip on the book, im currently reading 'The Climb' by Anatoli Boukreev but its nearly finished and am now on the look out for my next one. Onto Amazon it is...

  3. Hi there, if you enjoyed "Feet in the Clouds", check out my new book, "Mud, Sweat and Tears":

    Irish mountain running at its best...


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