I have had a go at a few sports in my time, but as we’ve established in a previous blog post I am not really one for team sports (so not a team player)! That’s not to say I am anti-social, but I just prefer to only have to rely upon myself in my sporting achievements without the pressure of a group of people weighing on top of my own drive to succeed. However, having a group of people around you whilst competing is absolutely essential. Not only do they provide competition and rivalry but comradery and encouragement too in equal measure. The fell running community has to be one of the friendliest groups of people I could have hoped to have become involved with.
After a few years of competing in the local fell races around Derbyshire and the Peaks, I began to see some of the same faces race after race. Pretty soon I realised who out of the those faces were likely to leave me for dust and who I could have a friendly rivalry with. After a few sprint finishes with the same people or a battle of wills up some horrendous fog shrouded hill, that competiveness gave way to friendship and banter which has lead onto some genuine friendships forged simply from meeting people on the start-line.
Maybe it is borne from a mutual love of freezing muddy hills in deepest winter or those dusty scorched paths in the height of summer. Finding others with a similar glee for such trials is a real find. It is a sport where if someone trips over or is found sitting by the side of the trail hurt, almost every passing runner will shout to ask if everything is ok and lend a hand if it isn’t. There can’t be many sports where so many would be so quick to sacrifice their own race to help another in need.
More times than I care to count has someone overtaken me on a tough uphill and instead of being smug has shouted something encouraging like “keep going” or “good effort”. Of course, there are people you want to beat and I won’t deny that I don’t always set out on a race to do the best I can but that doesn’t mean I have to be an arse about it. It takes nothing to shout some encouragement to your fellow runners, hell you are all going through the same pain. Standing at the finish to clap others across the line is a great place to get your breath back and it really is nice to have someone cheering you in at the end of a tough race.
What a great credit to the sport that it has created such a welcoming and friendly face. This is probably helped by the often relaxed way that races are organised. Despite all the planning and hard work that goes into putting a race on, there always seems to be a jovial atmosphere where any organisational stresses are hard to see. From the pre-race briefing which usually involves some inaudible shouting by a marshal to a lively mob of heckling runners to the prize giving at the end which invariably involves some kind of booze or cake or both, there always seems to be a cheerful atmosphere. Really this is something I have not come across in many other arenas.
So if you are worried about turning up to a fell race with an unfounded fear of not being “good enough” or “coming last” then worry not, there are bound to be a few friendly faces to welcome you, encourage you along the way and pat you on the back at the end. Happy running x