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Q&A with Fell Runner Ricky Lightfoot

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Q&A with Fell Runner Ricky Lightfoot

Which has been your hardest race to date?

Every race is different and has its own difficulties, but, one which stands out is a race I did a few years back called the Maxi race which starts and finishes in Annecy, France.

The race covers 85km and 5600m of ascent.

I had prepared well for the race and was confident going into it, I was leading at the 60km point when half way down a 1500m descent my legs just fell apart, I slowed down and eventually I came to a walk. I quickly lost a few positions but managed to make the next check point at 70km, I told myself that I wanted to make it to the finish despite struggling to run.

The last section was a ascent to the summit of Mt Verier and a descent down to Lac Annecy with a few km’s on the flat to finish.

I hiked very slowly having to stop at various points and give myself a good talking to, it was more mind over matter, just putting one foot in front of the other, I remember sitting on a rock and calling my partner and telling her how I was feeling and almost crying in self pity into my lap - she basically told me to get up and get going as that was the only way I was getting back, no sympathy at all.

I managed to get to the summit and hobble off slowly and shuffling into the finish over an hour behind the winner and finishing in the high teens.

I’ve never been so relieved to finish a race.

Have you ever had to use a survival bag?

Fortunately I’ve never had to use a survival bag but that doesn’t stop me carrying one as it’s there just in case.

Please suggest 1 x Easy, 1 x Medium and 1 x Hard fell route to try?


A great place to try for an easy trail run or beginner is either Dodd Wood on the side of Bassenthwaite Lake or Whinlatter Forest, both have marked trails which are easy to follow and range anything from a few kilometres to 10km.


Walla Crag above Keswick is sometimes overshadowed by some of the bigger surrounding fells but it’s an ideal for anyone looking for something a little testing with amazing views.

You can go straight from the middle of Keswick and either ascend from the West or Ashness Bridge from the East and make a loop up to the summit and be back in Keswick with the hour.


One of my favourite routes is up on Great Gable, Alfred Wainwright called it the “Gable Girdle”.

It starts from Seathwaite and runs up to Styhead Tarn, from there it follows the climbers path under Napes Needle and circum navigates Gable Summit a few hundred meters below before reaching windy gap, an ascent of Green Gable and back via Gillercomb and Sour Milk Gill.

Of course a great detour is threading the needle and a scramble up Sphinx Ridge or Arrowhead Ridge to take in the summit.

Most important if you are to venture out on your own is that you carry suitable safety equipment, a mobile phone, let someone where you plan to go and if you can go with friends.

What has been the most extreme race you’ve taken part in?

Some of the most extreme weather I’ve taken part in was at a race on the French/Italian border, it was called the Chaberton Marathon.

The race climbs up to the summit of Mount Chaberton at over 3000m, this year it started as normal and there was no regulation to carry any extra kit.

On the first ascent I was in second place, the weather began to turn from sun and clear skies to grey stormy clouds and thick mist, then the higher we climbed it began to rain and then snow, all whilst only in a vest and shorts.

The marshals were shouting something at the Col before the summit but I didn’t understand - I was beginning to move slowly at this point and suffering a little from the cold, we got turned around before the summit and directed to the closest pass where they stopped the race because of the weather. Luckily I came around quite quickly but some other participants had to be taken to hospital with mild hypothermia.

Ever since then I’ve always taken kit regardless of what the rules say - relying on others is not an option.

How has your job as a firefighter given you a unique view of Lifesystems products?

Being a Firefighter has influenced how I think about safety massively, quite often now I’ll think about “what if?” Before I’ve even left the house, that’s whether it means carrying more kit because of the weather or deciding to turn back on a route I’ve done a thousand times because this one time just doesn’t feel right.

Obviously safety is paramount when playing in the outdoors and although I carry minimal kit when I’m on my own as I know my own limits and capabilities, when out with friends or group runs I’ll always carry too much as I’m not sure if everyone else’s ability, so prepare for the worst.

5 races in the UK you recommend fell runners to try?

I’m my opinion these are some of the best Fell races in the UK.

A new one for me this year is Kilnsey Crag, some may of heard of it some may not. It’s part of Kilnsey Show and has been running for over 100 years, what makes it unique is that it’s only a mile long and lasts for many a little over 8 minutes.

It always attracts a lot of spectators who line the full route and the atmosphere is amazing, definitely one to pick out.

  • Borrowdale Fell Race
  • Three Peaks Race
  • Kilnsey Crag
  • Ben Nevis
  • Wasdale Horse Shoe

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