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ARTICLE: On the Ramsay Round with the Black Trail Runners

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As with most mountain activities, hill running has a diversity deficit. The organisation Black Trail Runners was set up to help open the sport to Black runners of all abilities, and earlier this summer several members came together to experience the Charlie Ramsay Round. Why is this route particularly symbolic? Keri Wallace, who assisted the project, investigates.

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 Nic Barber 19 Aug 2021
In reply to UKC/UKH Articles:

Thanks for this. Good to see people getting out there, pushing their limits and having fun. I would normally baulk at anyone going out on hills without experience so good to see guides etc. were available. (I was on the Ramsey at the weekend for the first time and despite experience in the hills still felt I was pushing my experience at times - especially on a wet, misty and dark CMD arête).

Many thanks for the section at the bottom to clarify representation and other important topics.  The following line is a good summary: "But despite the egalitarian ethos and a welcoming community vibe, fell running, like many mountain sports, has been slow to see a change in the diversity of feet on the start line. This is not a criticism of what is, at its very heart, a forthright and accepting sport, but instead a recognition that there is still work to be done."

Over recent years I have seen an increase in diversity in fell races, especially in the female ranks and in the bigger Lakes Classic races. It's great to see. It's an incredibly welcoming sport with people taken on their personality and character. There are initiatives to give people more experience (e.g. navigation courses, coaching, wilderness first aid). Fell Running in its nature is non-commercial and doesn't actively promote itself to runners (one of several differences to trail runners), doing so not really being sustainable to the sport. It takes the approach that people will fall into the sport if they are interested - though as you also point out historical and societal reasons do make this less likely.

As I often note on these boards, it is important to delineate between fell running and trail running as they are very different, both physically and organisationally.

3
In reply to UKC/UKH Articles:

I'm impressed that the article and the first post have received dislikes. Would anyone care to explain why?

8
 Fellover 19 Aug 2021
In reply to UKC/UKH Articles:

I would love to see some of the top Ethiopian/Kenyan track runners move to fell/trail running after retiring from the track, rather than moving to road marathons. I suppose it'll never happen unless financial incentives change, but it would be awesome to see someone like Bekele having a go at one of the big rounds.

 Nic Barber 19 Aug 2021
In reply to Fellover:

There's a core of east-african runners compete in the big european trail races and the WMRA events. Prize money is available so it's worth their while.

Fell/Skyrunning type events tend to be the preserve of Europeans and North Americans (with some exceptions)

 Fellover 19 Aug 2021
In reply to Nic Barber:

That's cool, I'll have to look those up - do they tend to dominate those races in the same way that they do 5k-marathon in traditional athletics?

 Ridge 19 Aug 2021
In reply to Fellover:

I don't think a slice of cake with maybe a bottle of beer for first place will be much of a financial incentive to take up fell running!

Nic made a good point about the difference between trail and fell running, I'd hate to see the level of commercialism now seen in trail running cross over to fell races.

 Ridge 19 Aug 2021
In reply to Ridge:

P.S. Really enjoying these articles, quite thought proving regarding 'invisible barriers', which I didn't really think about until a few years ago.

I thought it was fairly common knowledge that Charlie Ramsay was black though?

1
 Fellover 20 Aug 2021
In reply to Ridge:

Yes, it would definitely be sad for fell running to become commercialised in the same way as trail running.

A similar thing seems to be happening in gravel racing, used to be small out of the way races with small number of amateur competitors and now there are 1000's of competitors including current and ex world tour pros and lots of commercialisation. Which is all fine, and it's fun to follow the races, but I bet some of the people who were there in the earlier days wish it was still a small 'alternative' sport/event.

 Fellover 20 Aug 2021
In reply to Ridge:

> I thought it was fairly common knowledge that Charlie Ramsay was black though?

Have to admit I didn't know Charlie Ramsay was black until a few months ago - I also didn't know that Paddy Buckley wasn't the first person to run the Paddy Buckley round!

 DaveHK 20 Aug 2021
In reply to Ridge:

> I thought it was fairly common knowledge that Charlie Ramsay was black though?

Charlie is a fantastic ambassador for his round and running in general. I met him while I was warming up at the Ben race a few years ago. Impulsively I put out my hand to shake and said 'I'm number 93 on your list'. We had a wee chat about the round and when I ran past in the race he shouted 'Come on number 93!'. It made my day. To put it in climbing terms it would be a bit like meeting Joe Brown below Cenotaph Corner and him encouraging you through the crux! 

Post edited at 09:04
 Nic Barber 20 Aug 2021
In reply to Fellover:

They do well and have won world championships and big races. Most famous is probably Eritrean Petro Mamu who won the 2017 World Long Distance Mountain Running Championships - but then failed a doping test. Then again so has recent Sierre Zinal female winner Maude Mathys from Switzerland. 

Scot Robbie Simpson, who has multiple 2nd places at Sierre Zinal, passed Petro Mamu to go into the lead a few years back. Petro was in a bad way and Robbie was feeling great and offered up a gel. Petro stormed back and won.

As to your comment about Bekele having a go at the big rounds - he'd no doubt break all kinds of records up Skiddaw/The Ben, but I wouldn't expect much after that.

Post edited at 10:23
In reply to Nic Barber:

I’d don’t think Kenny’s record on Skiddaw would be a given, I understand the Ben Nevis course has changed significantly. 3 Peaks is the obvious one for the marathon men, it’s not very technical and there is lots of fast ground between the hills. Course is different from when Jeff Norman set the record in 1974, but I can’t see anyone beating 2:29.

Jeff was (is, he is still running) a bit more of an all rounder than Kenny, but they both ran marathons, Jeff at the Olympics and Commonwealth Games.

 Nic Barber 20 Aug 2021
In reply to The New NickB:

I meant 'up' Skiddaw/the Ben only - where it's all power/weight and VO2 max and comparably well groomed tracks.

Getting a track/road athlete on even a well groomed gentle downhill and you need a calendar to measure the time lost!

In reply to Nic Barber:

Of course Bekele is probably the greatest XC runner that ever lived, which might help. My friend Colin Robinson was a world class XC runner (Junior National and International Champion) and one of the few people beat Jeff Norman over the 3 Peaks whilst he was in his prime.

In reply to Ridge:

> I don't think a slice of cake with maybe a bottle of beer for first place will be much of a financial incentive to take up fell running!

Are but, edible "prizes" are the only ones worth having.😊

 Lrunner 22 Aug 2021
In reply to UKC/UKH Articles:

One of the things about less people travelling is a much more diverse et of people enjoying the outdoors. This summer its not been unusual to see families in yarmulkes, turbans,  of every ethnicity language, culture paddle boarding, walking in the hills, kayaking. I I don't think there has ever been a better time to open up some pretty un-diverse adventure sports to less represented groups. Based on the looks I get running over Snowdon  or climbing in ogwen people are pretty interested. I hope schemes like the one in this article encourage anyone who wants to no matter their background to have a go. 


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