Fell running, adventure racing, orienteering, geocaching, the list of fast and fun things to do in Yorkshire make our county's wilder areas a haven for those looking for big challenges and big adventures.
Fell running has a long history and a strong tradition in northern England, where many of the events were originally guides' races which took place as part of country shows. These provided the opportunity for the local guides and shepherds to show their speed, fitness and knowledge of the fells. This tradition carries on today with most of the famous summer shows still having a fell race as part of the programme.
There is a tremendous exhilaration to be gained from travelling fast and light on the fells that Yorkshire has to offer. Fell races are sociable affairs with great scenery, sometimes awful weather and a challenge of you versus the elements as well as other runners. You should be a reasonably fit road or cross-country runner to try fell running, or an experienced hill walker that fancies moving faster. Besides the ability to run you may also need to navigate at many events, and know how to look after yourself in the event of injury or exhaustion.
Most fell runners begin by initially trying a short race. Even the most fit and fast road, track or cross country runners can benefit from a couple of weeks of including sharp climbs and descents in their training to prepare untrained muscle groups
Have a go
Fell races are held throughout the year, and are a great way to keep some winter fitness. And it's a sport that is very low cost, the only real requirement being a decent pair of running shoes.
The most famous fell running event in Yorkshire is the 3 Peaks Race but there is a large calendar of events with something happening most weekends to test your fitness. Most races are considerably shorter and less strenuous where entries are accepted on the day. Burnsall and Kilnsey are just two classics to consider in the Yorkshire Dales.
Jelley Legs organise guided runs and running breaks for all abilities in the North Yorkshire countryside, letting you explore great running areas that you wouldn't necessarily know about. For those training for the 3 Peaks Race, they can offer a full reccy of the race route and some specific training guidelines. Jelley Legs provide accommodation, food and a pick up and drop off from the station. You can bring along non-running friends and even your dog!
Running across the wide open countryside of the North York Moors can be both exhilarating and relaxing but it is certainly a great way of feeling part of this beautiful area. The Esk Valley Fell Club organise about twenty events in the North York Moors and Cleveland area throughout the year.
The peat bogs and tussocky hillsides of the South Pennine moors are the playground for the growing number of runners tempted to take up fell-running. The 'Bunny Run' series of races every Spring (Penistone Hill Country Park, near Haworth) pit adults against junior runners, whilst other long-established races in the fell running calendar include Reservoir Bogs (Mytholmroyd), Holme Moss, the Ilkley fell race, and Shepherd's Skyline (Todmorden).
Just launched this year is the Trailblaze series on both the Cleveland Way and Pennine Bridleway, run by the company Endurance Life in partnership with Natural England. Here runners are challenged to complete sections of the Trails - or the full route, using computerised time mechanisms to record their efforts. Find out more about these two National Trails here.
There is a ‘trail running' group in Swaledale, so if you are keen to experience running in the Dales but would like to go out with a group this could be for you. Organised by Swaledale Outdoors Shop in Reeth they meet every Saturday morning at 9.30am. 10-12 miles is the norm, so it's not for the beginner but they are flexible and often modify routes to suit different abilities. Swaledale is an amazing place, the hills and tracks are perfect for running and there's more trails than you imagine!
Due North Events host running events based in the north of England. Specialising in trail running, providing coaching weekends, races, holidays and short breaks for runners and walkers. The events cater for all abilities from 5k to ultra runners. The events are aimed to improve knowledge, gain skills and confidence but most importantly to enjoy running.
Why not make this the year you give adventure racing a go? You will need to have done some running, be able to ride a bike and read a map.
There are five hour events although you can go at it as hard as you like. You can always build up for the 12 or 24 hour events, which are also held each year. For the 5 hour events, you'll be running and mountain biking for 5 hours with one transition. If you are just trying it out for the first time or doing it for fun there are plenty of controls that can be visited without going long distances.
On the day you will be given a map with a series of controls marked on which are to be visited on foot or by bike. You are not expected to get to them all, but the more you visit the more points you gain. You will also get a dibber which records each control you arrive at.
You can do an event solo but there are also pairs competitions - both men, women's and mixed - if you prefer.
The 12 hour and 24 hour events still contain the same elements of running and mountain biking, but also add in other challenges (often known as 'trouser fillers') along the way, like paddling, caving, canyoning or abseiling. You are not expected to be proficient at any of these; it is more about coming with a willing attitude, as full safety briefing and cover will be provided.
Have a go
Good races to start with are the shorter races like Open 5. You need a mountain bike and trail running kit. Maps are provided but you need a compass, drinks and food, as well as a bike repair kit.
Find your next adventure race here.