I grew up in the relative flatlands of middle England, in Northamptonshire. A land of arable fields, increasingly sparse hedgerows and little in the way of notable inclines let alone hills. The weather, I now realise, was unbelievably arid and the drive to anywhere worth going to, insanely long.
Fortunately I now live in the Lake District, in the North West of England. Rugged fells, mountain crags and open moorland are set against a network of drystone walls and an endless number of sheep. Occasionally the sun comes out but more often that not it rains.
But it was frequent childhood trips to visit family on the edge of Snowdonia that was the catalyst for my life-long love and obsession with mountains.
From an age almost too young for me to remember I would get dragged, mostly willingly onto the hills above the small village of Trefriw with my father. Heavy rucksacks, tired legs and an unstoppable Dad my lasting memories, that and the wild winter weather that I seem to remember blowing across the expanses of desolate moorland high above Llyn Cowlyd.
And that obsession has never really gone away.
Having graduated from Leeds University I went to work in a climbing shop, gave up all ideas about working for the BBC and never looked back. Some 15 years later I’m now the Director of Product for a major mountaineering equipment manufacturer, I live in the Lake District and have an excitable Border Collie. Definitely the right choice.
So what qualifies me to be a fell and mountain runner? Well I do have a sub 10-stone frame – clearly an advantage in anything below gale force, I absolutely love steep, technical ground – the sort of terrain that stops or at the very least slows most people in their tracks and I do have a unhealthy competitive spirit and take being beaten or performing not as well as I think I could rather badly – despite it happening all the time. Above all else, Running in the mountains is hard, I quite like that.
And a climber? Well I have never considered myself to be a particularly natural or good climber, nor one who is motivated purely for climbings sake. But i’ve never considered myself particularly bad at climbing either, and definitely was (in the beginning at least) motivated to climb by a desire to ascend snow-laden peaks.
On a final note, if your heart doesnt skip a beat at the sight of the first snow on a mountain, you dont get even a slight hint of childish joy from snowy symbols on the weathermap your life is all the poorer and you need to get out more and enjoy it.