England may not have the most impressive mountains, but judging from this book, they have some of the nastiest ones. They are covered in sharp rocks, or even worse; sharp rocks hidden under a thin layer of vegetation. Usually they are also covered in a blanket of fog, hence the title “Feet in the clouds”. This is a book about the noble British sport of fell running, a sport dating back to ancient times, only back then it was probably called something like “I’ll race you to the top and back for a wager”.
“Feet in the clouds” by Richard Askwith is a thorough introduction to the history of fell running. You won’t find any detailed tips on technique and gear, but you’ll find lots of anecdotes and history, woven together with the author’s struggle to finish a few of the famous races. The book is well written, but I warn you, at times it is quite dry. There are innumerable stories à la “George Brass limped over the finish line, broken shoe in hand, to be the only finisher of the 1962 Mountain Trial”. Personally I found it quite amusing, and at times touching, like a manifest of man’s silly need to run to the top of a mountain, and to push himself to the limits. The book is best read fast, don’t get caught up in all the details and numbers. Unless you are into that sort of thing.
If you like trail running, and want to read a bit about its British history and key figures, I recommend this book. It didn’t suck me in the way “Born to run” did, but it left me thinking “I want to get out of the city and run more”, and it gave me some good laughs, and also some touching stories of endurance. Definitely worthwhile.
You can read the first chapter for free on Amazon.