I’ve been a judge and presenter at the massively successful Sheffield Adventure Film Festival for the last couple of years and, while I love the event, my local trails for running and biking are here in the Dark Peak and Goyt Valley. I’ll freely admit to more than a dose of local bias but I reckon, as an adventure sports hotspot, we’re at least the equal of the Eastern Peak District. I was delighted therefore to find out about and get involved with the Buxton Adventure Festival.
Every session combines the best films and most inspirational speakers to present two hour slices of jaw dropping action and inspirational endeavor. The line-up includes a Paralympian, an Everest summiteer, a wild swimmer and a top trials cyclist. I’ll certainly be getting along to as many sessions as possible but three in particular are top of my list.
For the first, I have the best seat in the house as I’ll be interviewing on stage fell runner and writer Richard Askwith. We’ll be talking about his book Feet in the Clouds: A Tale of Fell Running and Obsession, which has become a cult classic and brought this obscure, eccentric and uniquely British sport to the wider public. We’ll discuss the attractions of the sport, its history and its legends. These legendary runners were one of the main reasons for Richard writing his book:
“I realised some of the greatest sporting heroes that Britain has ever produced were fell runners and no-one has heard of them outside the fell running counties, perhaps even villages. Ernest Dalzell, Bill Teasdale, Joss Naylor, Billy Bland or Kenny Stuart - objectively these are right on the same level as the Olympic gold medalists but just because fell running’s a sport that doesn’t have money they don’t become nationally famous. I just felt that if someone didn’t write all this down and try and give outsiders some idea of what these people had achieved it would all gradually get forgotten.”
We’ll also be talking about his obsession with the Bob Graham Round. This involves summiting 42 Lake District mountains in 24 hours and, in doing so, logging 70 miles and 28,500 ft of ascent. After three attempts, he cracked it, despite, in his own words, being a,
“13 stone Southerner who’d spent the best years of my life smoking, I had weak ankles and a fear of heights.”
As is often the case in endurance sports, there’s always someone who ups the ante and in one of the accompanying films, The Epic Tri, Ant Emmet and Bruce Duncan, “warm-up” with a Bob Graham Round before completing a John O’Groats to Land’s End tandem ride and the 125-mile Devizes to Westminster Canoe Race.
Next is former Downhill Mountain Biking World Champion Danny Hart who’ll be chatting to ITV’s Cycle Show Presenter Anna Glowinski. Danny’s 2011 winning run at Champery on a course that can best be described as a near vertical swamp, has already achieved legendary status. British Cycling described it as
"Sometimes in the career of a top sportsman, there comes a day when everything comes together and a performance of near perfection results."
Danny is slightly more modest about it.
“I didn’t know how anyone was doing, so I was just doing my own thing at the top. I didn’t know how it was going to be because we hadn’t ridden it I torrential rain like it was. I just had an open mind and rode like I had in practice and that’s what I did & it worked. So yeah it was good. I did all the lines that I was doing in the dry so I knew it was good, so yeah I was quite confident.”
Anna and Danny will be talking about “that run”, life on the downhill circuit, Danny’s current battle to return from injury and obviously plenty of bike chat. Once Anna and Danny have finished, the bike thrills and spills continue with a showing of Red Bull’s epic new mountain biking film, Where the Trail Ends.
I’ll also be making a bee line to see local Gary Connery. Who wouldn’t want to hear what a man who’s jump out of a helicopter dressed as the Queen during the Olympic Opening Ceremony and jumped out of another helicopter without a parachute has to say. He’ll be talking about those two amazing stunts and his career as a professional stuntman. There’s also no doubt that the two films that’ll accompany his talk have some of the most vertiginously head spinning footage you’ll ever have seen on the big screen.
So come along, be inspired and hopefully have some adventures of your own Although I’d advise leaving the chucking yourself out of a helicopter to the professionals.
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