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Helsby Running Club

Fell essentials

Runners new to the fells often get worried about the gear they have to carry and getting lost. It’s really not as complicated as you might think and most courses require minimal navigation (unless you happen to be leading!).

There’s a good little summary below of race day essentials borrowed from Pete Bland. As a thanks, I’ve left their links in. For anyone that doesn’t know, Pete Bland is a stalwart of the race scene and an essential fixture in the Lakes. Their Kendal shop is a mecca for fell runners and they offer a discount for FRA members (other shops are available ?). The golden rule is take everything you’re expected to carry. If you need less on the day, you’ll find out from race HQ – usually when you sign in. Local evening races like the Clwyd series often waive all gear requirements. Play fair though – if you’re asked to take something, take it!

The gear


Map – Race Organisers will sometimes provide these but more likely you will have to bring your own. Go for a waterproof map with the route premarked… like our own race maps, available HERE

Compass (and the knowledge of how to use it!) – Weather can change rapidly on the hills at any time of year so always be sure to carry one. Though knowing just the basics will get you out of most situations, even if you don’t, somebody who comes to your assistance might. Get yours HERE

Whistle – Pretty self explanatory this one, you may need to attract someone’s attention in an emergency or attend an illegal rave in 1993. Available HERE

Hat & Gloves – Though you might be running in the height of summer, you should always carry head and hand cover. You might not need them while running but don’t underestimate how cold it can get if you have to slow down or stop on the summits, plus the body’s temperature can fall rapidly if it goes into shock following an injury. Check the range HERE

Waterproof Full Body Cover – This means a waterproof jacket, with hood and taped seams and a pair of waterproof trousers, also with taped seams. Again, you probably won’t wear them while running, unless its really grim but if you have to slow down or stop for any reason, they can be a real life saver

You can either go for super light racing ones that you’ll hopefully never wear (these tend to be less breathable/durable) or for slightly heavier but more durable kit that you can use in training too. Some people will have two sets to avoid this compromise. There is a huge range of waterproofs available, all ours are guaranteed FRA approved, available HERE

Bumbag/Race Vest – Its frowned upon to go round the course with all your kit in an old ASDA bag so most runners opt for a Bumbag but increasingly people are using Race Vests on longer races, these tend to be slightly more comfortable with a greater capacity   

Fell Shoes – Many races stipulate that you must wear suitable footwear, usually an aggressive fell shoe suitable for soft/loose ground. What people are prepared to run in is quite a personal thing but as a rule of thumb, road racing flats are out. Shop shoes HERE

You may be asked to take…

In addition to this kit, some race organisers may ask you to carry a couple of other bits, such as:
Emergency Food – particularly on long runs, this usually means a bar of some kind, this has to be in addition to any food you intend to eat en route. Available HERE
Emergency Blanket/Bivvy Bag – This isn’t often stipulated but is certainly worth having if spending extended time in the mountains. It can be used to keep a casualty warm, sheltering in sudden storms or attracting attention. Available HERE
Extra warm layer -Some early and late season races require you to carry an extra long sleeve layer such as a fleece or thick baselayer. Available HERE
Bottle/Cup/Soft Flask – Again more for longer races, especially in hot weather. Carrying a bottle or cup will allow you to fill up at streams or aid stations then keep moving. Despite all the dire warnings above about the weather turning cold and wet even in summer, it can also be very hot and heat exhaustion is a known killer. Our bottle/flask range can be found HERE

Just ask!

Anything you need help with ask. Any advice you need, ask one of the more experienced fell runners in the club. They’ll be the ones with a far away look in their eyes.