Hill Running Films for when you can't go Hill Running

© Dan Bailey

For most runners, restricted to local exercise, proper hills might currently be off limits; so get some vicarious inspiration from these running films - then get training, in preparation for the lifting of travel restrictions. Here's to a sunny spring on the trails!

Nicky Spinks on the summit of Raise at dawn, on her double Bob Graham epic  © Dan Bailey
Nicky Spinks on the summit of Raise at dawn, on her double Bob Graham epic
© Dan Bailey

Run Forever

Nicky Spinks is a beef farmer from Yorkshire and one of the UK's best fell runners. In 2006, she was diagnosed with breast cancer, turning her world upside down. Our film Run Forever looks at Nicky's inspirational life and her record breaking attempt on a double Bob Graham Round in the Lake District; a 132 mile route, with 54000ft of ascent, that only one person has completed in under 48 hours.

Fell running - an introductory guide

What is this hill running malarkey anyway, is it even for ordinary folk, and why might you want to give it a shot? In this nice short film from The Guardian, Morgan Donnelly, 2011 British fell-running champion, talks Kate Carter through the origins of the sport. He outlines the kit you will need and explains that no matter how much experience you have, you will always be welcome at a fell race.

Summer trails

Jenny Tough enjoy a gorgeous sunny day of hill running in the lush green southern Highlands:

A Long Day Out with Kilian Jornet

The man-machine sets out from his back door in Norway to see how far he can run. He runs mountains, trails and ridges until his legs give in and the need for sleep takes over. A fun film that confirms some of the best adventures can be found at home. Though we don't all live somewhere quite as cool as Kilian, we can still take inspiration from his example, and make some of our lockdown runs biggies.

Across the Sound

Across the Sound, a film by Alfie Smith and Louis MacMillan, follows the adventure of young hill runner Louis, from his home on the Keills Peninsula to the famously wild and rugged island of Jura to run the stunning route of the Jura Fell Race.

...we're already planning our post-Covid Paps trip!

Crossing Dartmoor

A solo runner journeys 50km through the Dartmoor National Park, taking on the wildest and most challenging terrain in southern England in this film by Jonathan J Scott. "Bleak hs quite a negative connotation, but actually there's a certain beauty associated with that..." We couldn't agree more.

The 1992 Dragon's Back Race

The film of the inaugural Dragon's Back Race. This gruelling race follows the mountainous spine of Wales, starting at Conwy castle and heading south. In this first ever version of the event, participants ran in pairs and were looked after by the military as part of a training exercise.

Breathtaking scenery (albiet not in HD!) and strong runners including Helene Diamantides (now Whitaker), Martin Stone, Wendy Dodds and a contingent of runners from the British Army's Parachute Regiment!

Conquering the Dragon - The 2017 Berghaus Dragon's Back Race

Fast forward a quarter of a century, and this documentary follows the highs and (often extreme) lows of five participants on the fourth staging of this race. Each of them has a unique and emotional story to tell of their battle against the enormous physical and mental challenges of the race. We also see the wider rider event unfolding around them, and the stunning Welsh landscapes they travel through.

The Corris Round

During the first lockdown (incredible to think it started around 10 months ago), twelve-year-old Tom from Snowdonia was content with local walks, some climbing and watching videos on YouTube. As the days he passed and it was clear that lockdown was not going to end quickly he decided he needed a project - his own version of The Bob Graham Round that he could do from his front door in Southern Snowdonia. Here's what he came up with:

Kungsleden with Emelie Forsberg

In 2018, Emelie Forsberg went back to her homeland to attempt a Fastest Known Time (FKT) in the Kungsleden Trail, a hiking trail in the Swedish Lapland that boasts spectacular wilderness and is usually crossed by hikers in no less than 15 days. She completed the 450km trail in 4 days and 21 hours, beating the current FKT, held since 2017.

Damian Hall Interview

For most of us, 2020 may have been dominated by lockdown, but during the year from hell Damian Hall managed to set a winter record on the Paddy Buckley Round, ran the Pennine Way in a record time of 2 days, 13 hours and 34 minutes, and set a new fastest known time on the South Wales Traverse, a 72-mile route across the Brecon Beacons. In this interview with our own Rob Greenwood, Damo looks back on the year:

Dark Peak Fell Runners

The Dark Peak Fell Runners base themselves in Sheffield, but their playground is the Peak District National Park where they weave tracks through the fields, peat bogs and rocky outcrops to create a tapestry of eccentricity, endeavour and endurance.

It's one of the biggest pure fell running clubs in the UK, and this film captures the personality, quirks and successes of the club and its members. Shot throughout the course of a year, the film follows in their footsteps to reveal their well-trodden Peak District running routes including the club's flagship race, the Edale Skyline.

SwissPeaks 360k

The SwissPeaks 360k is a trail running race that travels more than 360km across the Swiss Alps, climbing over 26,000 metres. Runners have up to 160 hours to complete the race, refuelling at the 31 minor aid stations, and with the option to sleep at any of six bases along the way. It looks like a gruelling and sleep-deprived challenge, which most of us would probably prefer to enjoy vicariously in this film.

The Tea Round

The Tea Round is the brain child of former George Fisher staff member Jacob Tonkin, who linked together this attractive-looking route visiting fells visible from the shop. This 30 mile fell running route with 12,000+ feet of ascent starts and finishes at the doors of George Fisher in Keswick, and could be a good option for anyone who fancies working up towards an eventual Bob Graham.

Just Keep Running - New Zealand Ultramarathon Runner Ruby Muir

New Zealander, Ruby Muir is one of the world's most promising young trail-runners and a fearless, force of nature across broken terrain. In just 'Just Keep Running' Ruby shares her journey of love and loss and the inner struggle between the hippy ideals of her upbringing and how that conflicts with the competitive nature of elite sport.

The Journey of Ultrarunner Zach Miller

Zack Miller burst onto the ultrarunning scene with a surprise win at the 2013 JFK 50 Mile Race. Since then, he's gone on to race in some of the biggest international mountain ultramarathons in the world. This film focuses on his nemesis: the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc (UTMB). In 2016, Zach led for most of the 100 mile race, only to crash and burn in the final 15-miles. Zach has returned year after year in his attempt to become the first American male to win and for him personally, to be able to "solve the puzzle".

Fastpacking the Tahoe Rim Trail

Runner-film maker Jeff Pelletier attempts to fastpack America's classic 165-mile Tahoe Rim Trail in five days, in a high snow year... Lovely scenery, but looks tough! "While we expected the snow to significantly slow us down, we were optimistic that we could complete the trail. But we never could have anticipated just how much of a challenge that would prove to be."

Where Dreams Go To Die - Gary Robbins and The Barkley Marathons

This superb documentary follows ultrarunner Gary Robbins during his two attempts to complete the Barkley Marathons - a 100+ race that many consider the toughest (and most sadistic) endurance run on earth. Delve into the surreal event of the Barkley and find out what it takes to complete the outrageous event.

Trials of Miles - Running 650+ km of the Australian Alps

Beau Miles laces up for a different kind of world first, running 650+km of the Australian Alpine Walking Track. Traversing through some of the highest peaks in Australia, Beau battles injury, fatigue and ultimately himself in his own personal Trial of Miles.

Cape Wrath: Inside Scotland's Epic Ultra-Running Race

Winding through the beautiful lochs, glens and mountains of the Scottish Highlands, the Cape Wrath Ultra is an expedition through some of the world's most inspirational landscapes, including Morar, Knoydart, Kintail, Torridon, Assynt and Sutherland. This film follows the progress of the inaugural race in May 2016, focusing on some of the first ever participants to take on this extraordinary adventure.

The Other Side

The Other Side is a short film that sensitively deals with the raw pain of losing a child to suicide and the strength it takes to move beyond that, to the other side, and to build something positive out of the grief.

Paul Tierney - Running the Wainwrights

In June 2019, ultra-runner Paul Tierney completed a record-breaking round of the 214 Lake District Wainwright peaks. He broke Steve Birkinshaw's 2014 record of 6 days, 13 hours and 1 minute by nearly 7 hours.

Needing to cover a distance of approximately 318 miles and ascend the equivalent height of four times Mt Everest, Paul knew this was his biggest challenge to date and enlisted the help of friends and family. Battling sleep deprivation and everything the Lake District weather could throw at him, what transpired was a story that gripped not only the fell-running and ultra-running communities but also the wider sporting world.

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21 Jan, 2021

Your readers might also like this one - Mike Tweedley running Tower Ridge:


21 Jan, 2021

Brilliant, thank you for putting this together.

21 Jan, 2021

A great selection. Thanks for collating it. Much appreciated.

21 Jan, 2021

Brilliant. Thank you!

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