Q: What is fell running?
“Fell” is just another word for a hill or mountain, and fell running is a type of hill or mountain running. Fell running is an all-terrain sport and often involves routes with no paths: depending on the area you should expect open moorland, rocky grass, bogs, tussocks, heather, boulder fields and some very steep climbs and descents. You will also be required to navigate (without GPS) and usually be self-sufficient.
Q: What is the FRA?
The FRA (Fell Runners Association) is the body that governs fell racing in England (and the Isle of Man). FRA races are run under FRA rules (see here) and Race Organisers (ROs) must adhere to certain requirements, primarily designed to ensure fair competition and safety.
The FRA is run by a volunteer committee. Our costs are primarily funded through members’ subscriptions – just £16 per year for Senior membership, with a range of member benefits including our magazine, The Fellrunner, which is published three times per year.
For more information, please see FAQ for non-members of the FRA.
Q: What is a fell race?
The most common type of fell race is the ‘mass start’ race between a series of pre-published checkpoints which must be visited in order. Usually, the route between any two checkpoints is up to the competitor; sometimes there are very different route choices available. Most fell races are run annually over the same route. Competitors must self-navigate (without GPS) but are usually permitted (and encouraged) to “recce” the course beforehand, except in mountain navigation racing (see below). In Junior (under-18) races, courses are always fully marked.
For suggestions on how to learn to navigate, please see FAQ for runners.
Q: What do the A/B/C and S/M/L letters mean?
Races in the ‘mass start’ category are graded S (short), M (medium) or L (long). Although these correspond to distance (S = 10 km or less, M = 10 km to 20 km, L = 20 km or over), the time taken will be longer (often much longer) than for an equivalent race on the “flat”. A 10 km fell race is likely to be a much tougher undertaking than a 10 km trail race!
As a rough guide, the winning time for a short race will be less than an hour (sometimes much less), and for a medium race less than two hours. Long races might be won in anything between two and seven hours! The slowest runners will generally take approximately twice as long as the winner (but cut-offs might apply in longer races).
Additionally, a category of A/B/C is assigned to each race, indicating the amount of climb and descent (relative to the length). Category A is the hardest, so an AM race is likely to involve much more climbing than a CM race.
Q: What about the other letters such as NS and ER?
NS means “navigational skills required”. Before entering such a race you should study the route carefully and consider whether it is within your capabilities: consider in particular a scenario where the mist (or “clag”) is down and you can’t see anyone or anything. As a minimum, you should be aware of “escape routes”, know how to use a map and compass and know what to do if you get lost. For advice on learning to navigate, please see FAQ for runners.
For races not marked NS, it is less likely that you will need to navigate and more likely that you will be able to follow (and see) the route and/or other runners. However, this is not guaranteed, even for "middle of the pack" runners and in good visibility, and you remain responsible for your own navigation and safety.
ER means “experience required”: the Race Organiser (RO) will require you to demonstrate previous experience of similar races, for safety reasons. Please check the race website or contact the RO for details. You will need to cite specific races and results, and these will be vetted.
Q: What is a “mountain navigation” fell race?
Some fell races involve on-sight navigation, with competitors typically receiving the map only on the start line. Runners are required to self-navigate to some or all of the checkpoints, similar to orienteering (O). The start is usually staggered, with competitors setting off at regular intervals. In orienteering terminology, courses may be “linear”, “score” or a mixture/variant.
Some mountain navigation races involve an overnight camp (with competitors required to be self-sufficient) and a second run the next day. Such a race is usually referred to as a “mountain marathon” (MM) although the total distance covered on any day is often much less than marathon distance because of the terrain and climb.
Q: What are the main differences between a fell race and a trail race?
In trail racing, the course is usually fully marked. In fell racing, the course is usually unmarked: you are responsible for your own navigation (using map, compass and prior knowledge/preparation) and you may not use any electronic device (e.g. GPS) to assist with navigation or positioning (even momentarily).
Most trail races take place entirely on paths. Fell races are usually at least partly on open fells, and the underfoot terrain may be extremely challenging in places. Additionally, fell races may involve very steep climbs and descents (which may not be runnable).
Q: What do I need?
For some short fell races you need nothing more than a pair of suitable shoes (usually “fell shoes”, with an aggressive rubber stud pattern), basic running clothing and a couple of quid for the entry fee.
For longer races you will be required to carry mandatory kit. This will mean full waterproofs (with taped seams), hat and gloves, a map of the course, a compass, a whistle and some food. For some races, especially in winter, the Race Organiser may stipulate additional requirements such as an emergency “bivvy bag” or extra thermal top. This equipment is for your safety: the weather in the hills can change rapidly, and it is vital that you are properly prepared for a situation in which you become lost, heavily fatigued or incapacitated owing to illness or injury. The mandatory kit is the bare minimum, and runners are encouraged to carry additional kit depending upon the conditions and their experience.
Q: Where do I get water?
Fell races usually have no “aid stations”. Most runners start with a little water and then refill from streams on the route (potentially several times in long races). However, some races are almost or completely dry, so check the route and weather forecast and ensure you start with sufficient water. If intending to refill on the route, consider the water quality and whether to use water purification tablets or a filter bottle. Occasionally, there might be water or squash provided at a road crossing on a very dry course – please check with the Race Organiser.
Q: I don't have a race entry or have forgotten my kit. Can I run alongside the race or behind it?
No. This is one of the “absolute no-nos” of fell running. The main reason is that race officials and marshals must be able to count and identify runners in the race. This is especially important in the scenario where a runner goes missing, e.g. loses the route between checkpoints and then becomes injured or incapacitated. “Ghost” runners can cause great confusion for checkpoint and finish marshals, which risks the safety of any lost runners and can also jeopardise the accuracy of the race results.
Running without an entry is also prohibited because every race has costs, as does the FRA, and only properly registered runners have contributed to those costs. Agreements with landowners (including e.g. the National Trust) – some of which relationships are very delicate – rely upon the FRA committing to knowing accurate numbers and identities of all competing runners. Additionally, “ghost” runners will not be covered by the race insurance.
Whilst race officials will not physically try to prevent you from running without an official entry, the FRA will treat breaches of this rule very seriously - please see below.
Q: My friend is injured. Can I use his/her race entry instead?
If you intend to substitute/transfer an entry in this manner, you MUST check with the Race Organiser (RO) in advance. Some races permit transfers, often with a cut-off date. Other races do not permit any transfers. For most races which require pre-entry, you cannot transfer an entry on the day of a race.
Running under someone else's entry without informing the RO is one of the “absolute no-nos” of fell running. This is primarily because of the potentially serious safety implications if a substituted runner were to become lost or incapacitated on the fells: in this scenario it is essential that the RO has the correct details for the individual. Breaches of this rule will be treated very seriously by the FRA - please see below.
Q: If I retire mid-race, why must I report to the finish?
It is the responsibility of the Race Organiser (RO) to know exactly who is entered in a race and to ensure that all runners return safely. Some of the most serious incidents in fell running have occurred when someone has gone missing without anyone noticing. Experience has shown that the only foolproof method is for all runners to report to the finish of the event. This is standard practice across fell and mountain events and is known as the "golden rule"; breaches of this rule will be treated very seriously by the FRA - please see below.
Q: Can I use a GPS device for navigation?
No, this is strictly prohibited. Please see the Kit FAQ page.
Q: How can I learn to navigate?
Navigating in the hills can seem daunting but there are various resources available to help with this.
The FRA is indebted to Martin Bagness for making his book “Mountain Navigation for Runners” available on the FRA website. This is a superb starting point for fell runners with no navigational experience. Please click here to access the book.
Another excellent guide is Ian Winterburn's article published in The Fellrunner (#128, Autumn 2020), which can be accessed here. There are also many navigation courses available, including the FRA’s own courses – please see the Navigation page on our website (here). Other providers are available!
For most fell races, the navigation required is not intended to be especially difficult; however, when the “clag” (mist) is down it can be very easy to go astray. The most important thing is that you can recognise when you are lost and know what to do to get yourself off the hill safely, even if that means abandoning the race.
Q: Why all these rules?
The FRA's rules exist to try to ensure fair competition whilst making the sport as safe as reasonably possible. There are dangers in fell running: in the most serious incidents, runners have died in races after going off-route when carrying inadequate kit. If you break our key rules you may jeopardise your own safety and that of others. For this reason, the FRA may respond with disciplinary action such as disqualification and/or banning you from future races. Your club may also impose sanctions if your actions reflect badly on them, and other race organisers (including non-FRA organisers or those in other disciplines) may also ban you.
"Absolute no-nos" include retiring from a race without reporting to the Race Organiser at the finish (the "golden rule" described above), running in someone else’s number or no number, using someone’s else’s FRA membership card or number, cheating on the kit requirements or using GPS (or equivalent) for navigation or fixing position (even momentarily). For full details, please see the FRA Requirements for Runners (or "Runners' Rules") linked at the top of the page.
It is vital to understand that hypothermia can rapidly be fatal. Almost all accidental deaths in fell races have been the result of exposure. Please see our leaflet here to read more about hypothermia and how to prevent it.
So please, for everyone's safety and enjoyment, keep to the rules.
Q: I was looking at the FRA Facebook group and someone said…
STOP! There is no FRA Facebook group. If you mean ‘Fell Running UK’, this is an independent and unofficial group. If you have a question, please contact the group’s admins. The official FRA Facebook page is here.
There is also a private FRA Facebook group for FRA Race Organisers (ROs). We encourage all active ROs to be members of this group; please contact the Chairman or Secretary for details.
Q: The weather is good and this race is quite short. Why must I carry all this kit I won’t need?
The mandatory equipment to be carried for a given race is decided by a combination of the FRA and the Race Organiser (RO). For the sake of fair competition, it must be the same for all competitors in a given race. You must carry it or you will face disqualification and potentially a ban from future races.
Remember that there might be people both slower and less experienced than you. It is not uncommon for people to get lost, injured or heavily fatigued during a fell race. When this happens, runners stop or slow down and hypothermia can set in very quickly, even on a “nice day” – and the weather can change very quickly in the fells. This is why ROs might require you to carry more kit than seems necessary.
It is also worth noting that if a serious injury happens in an exposed location, a person’s own kit might not be sufficient to keep them warm. There have been several cases where runners have needed to lend their own kit to an injured runner or those that have stopped to help the casualty.
Hypothermia can rapidly be fatal, and almost all accidental deaths in fell races have been the result of exposure. Please see our leaflet here to read more about hypothermia and how to prevent it.
Q: I have good quality waterproofs with non-taped seams. Why won't these pass "kit check"?
With all kit, it is important that there is a clear and unambiguous way for race registration officials to determine what is acceptable. Such officials are almost always volunteers, are normally operating under time pressure and may be relatively inexperienced. You may know (and an experienced fell runner might know) that your waterproofs are very high quality, but how can an inexperienced marshal distinguish between your garment and someone else's that looks similar and is totally inadequate?
The “taped seams” proviso is intended to address this issue. It is no longer the case that all good quality waterproofs necessarily have taped seams, but conversely taped seams normally do guarantee a basic and acceptable level of waterproofing. We would prefer a kit check official to reject an adequately functional garment than to let an unacceptable garment (e.g. a non-waterproof windproof) pass kit check.
We do, however, recognise that times change and equipment moves on. If the market for good quality waterproofs without taped seams increases then the FRA will look at this again. However, it will remain an essential criterion that there is a simple and obvious way for a kit check official to determine whether or not a garment is acceptable.
Q: Can I use a GPS device to help me navigate?
No. You may not use any GPS device (or equivalent) to help you navigate in any FRA race. This includes for repositioning – you may not display a map which shows your current position, even momentarily. If you do, you must retire from the race and take the shortest safe route to the finish. If this means continuing on the course route, you must declare yourself non-competitive to the Race Organiser.
Q: Why can’t I use GPS?
This is covered at length elsewhere, but a short summary is that it is not considered in the spirit of the sport of fell running, for which self-navigation is a core principle. Moreover, over-reliance on GPS is potentially dangerous. There are many other types of running race you can enter if you do not wish to self-navigate.
This rule, though fundamental to fell running, can be hard to enforce. Breaches will therefore be treated very seriously, since breaking this rule is tantamount to deliberate cheating.
Q: Can I use an electronic compass?
No. You may not use an electronic compass even if you also have a physical, traditional-type compass (which is mandatory for certain FRA races). This is because electronic compasses have additional benefits over traditional compasses in terms of aiding navigation.
Q: Is a buff a hat?
Unless otherwise specified for a given race, the FRA considers that a buff is a hat for the purposes of mandatory kit for FRA races. However, any Race Organiser (RO) may decide not to allow buffs in this capacity, just as ROs may require additional mandatory kit to be carried such as an extra long-sleeved warm layer or survival bag.
If in any doubt, competitors wishing to carry a buff are advised to ensure they take a separate hat with them to the race and to check at Registration. ROs who do not intend to accept buffs as hats are encouraged to publicise this in advance (being in the minority).
As with other requirements, the rules cannot cater for every possibility and a degree of reasonableness on both sides is assumed. A 40g buff double-folded is likely to be at least as effective as a 20g hat, and should therefore be accepted unless stated otherwise. However, wafer-thin plastic gloves picked up at a petrol station would clearly not meet the stipulation for gloves in a fell race. Similarly, one jelly baby would not suffice as “food” for a pre-race kit check, nor would a dog whistle, a small child's waterproof trousers or a map of the wrong race be acceptable.
In summary: the decision is the RO's. The FRA would support any RO choosing to exclude or disqualify a competitor, including (or especially) those obviously seeking to circumvent the rules, provided that any non-standard requirements had been publicised clearly in advance.
Q: Can I use poles?
In 2021, this is at the discretion of the Race Organiser (RO). Please check the specific rules for your race.
The FRA has received requests from many runners and ROs to ban poles in FRA races; this rule will be therefore reviewed for 2022.
Q: Which shoes / bag should I use?
These are good questions that are definitely frequently asked! You will certainly need an appropriate pair of shoes (probably "fell shoes"). Kit depends on many factors so we can't give general advice, but there is a lot of information about kit available on e.g. blogs and social media pages. For professional advice you could try contacting FRA sponsor Pete Bland Sports in Kendal or other outlets specialising in fell running.
Q: Do I need to be a member of a club to compete in fell races?
Q: Do I need to be a member of the FRA to compete in fell races?
No, but we very much encourage you to join: see FAQ for non-members of the FRA.
Q: Do I need to be registered with England Athletics (EA) to compete in fell races?
No. However, to be eligible for individual or team competitions in some races, for example the English Senior Championship or inter-county competitions, you may need to be registered with EA (or equivalent in other home nations) or the FRA (or your home association). Please check the race-specific competition rules.
For some running clubs, club membership includes EA registration; you will need to check with your club secretary whether this applies to you. You can also check your EA registration on the EA website here and find more information about registration here.
Q: What about for the English Championship series?
To be eligible for inclusion in the English Fell Championship series, additional eligibility requirements apply. Full details are at section 2(b) in the FRA Rules for Competition, available here; for most people, this means being either registered with EA or a member of the FRA.
To “count” for your club in the English Championship team competition you must meet the above requirements and also be a paid-up member of the club (for the current year). Full details are at the link above. You may compete for your “first claim” club only (unless you have registered a “first claim – other” club for fell running); see below. These requirements apply to the Championship series as a whole, not the individual races which are open to anyone meeting the appropriate criteria (e.g. age) and any requirements for prior experience.
Q: I’m not registered with England Athletics (EA). Can I compete for my club in the British Championships team category and the British Fell Relays?
Yes, but only if you are a member of the FRA (or other home association, i.e. WFRA, SHR or NIMRA).
The UK Athletics rule book states: “Athletes registered with the National Committees for Fell, Hill and Mountain Running and Trail Running are eligible to represent their club in team competition.” In this context the “National Committee” for fell running in England is the FRA.
Please note that the FRA does not organise the British Championships (officially the British Athletics Hill and Fell Running Championships) or the British Athletics Fell and Hill Relay – these are co-ordinated by UK Athletics via the Mountain Running Advisory Group. Please see here on the UK Athletics website (go to the link, then click the ‘BA Fell Running’ tab).
Q: I want to compete for one club in road / cross-country (XC) races but a different club in fell races. Can I do that?
This is possible if your first claim club does not affiliate to England Athletics (EA) for “hill and fell” (e.g. if it affiliates for road running only). In this scenario, you may be permitted to register a “first claim – other” club for whom you can compete in fell races. However, you must check with your club secretary – even if a club doesn’t “do” fell running, it might still affiliate for hill and fell!
Similarly, if your first claim club is “fell only” (i.e. affiliates to EA only for “hill and fell”) then you register a “first claim – other” club for other disciplines. However, your fell club would need to collect and pay your EA registration (as currently only your first claim club can do that for you).
For further advice please contact the FRA Membership Secretary on [email protected]. The situation with Juniors is slightly different; for advice, please contact the FRA Junior Co-ordinator on [email protected].
Q: Can I compete for my “second claim” club?
In FRA races (both Championship and non-Championship) which include a team competition of any kind, you may usually only compete for your primary (“first claim” or “first claim – other”) club, even if you are also a member of a second claim club. This applies regardless of whether anyone else from your first or second claim clubs is also running.
The only exception to the above rule is if both your primary club’s secretary and the Race Organiser (RO) agree that you may run for your second claim club in a given race. However, the competition rules published by the RO must stipulate that this is permitted. In races whose rules do not mention this, athletes may only compete for their primary clubs.
If you are unsure which is your first claim club, or if you need more guidance, please speak to your club secretary. You can also check the England Athletics website here (including details on how to change club) or contact EA here. For general eligibility queries regarding FRA races, please contact the FRA Membership Secretary at [email protected]; for race-specific enquiries please contact the RO.
For FRA races that are not in the English Championship, ROs may introduce their own categories, team prizes or eligibility requirements. Please read the race rules carefully and check with the RO if in any doubt, or if your case is not covered above (e.g. if a club not affiliated to EA is involved).
For British Championship events including the British Fell Relays, please check the eligibility rules on the UK Athletics website here (go to the link, then click the ‘BA Fell Running’ tab).
The situation with Juniors is slightly different; for advice, please contact the FRA Junior Co-ordinator on [email protected].
It is the responsibility of individuals and team captains to ensure that these rules are adhered to. Teams fielding ineligible runners may be liable to disqualification from races and race series, including Championships.
Q: I want to run cross-country (XC) races as well as fell races. Can I do this under my FRA membership or do I need to register with England Athletics (EA)?
FRA membership is not relevant to XC races, or races in any other discipline.
Whether you need to be registered with EA will depend on the specific rules of the competition; some races or race series will stipulate this requirement.
If you are a member of a club, it may also depend on whether your club automatically registers its members with EA and whether the club affiliates to EA for cross-country (sometimes referred to as “ticking the cross-country box”). Please check with your club secretary for advice on these two points.
If you are registered with EA but for a club which does not affiliate for XC (e.g. is a ‘fell only’ club) then you may register with a ‘first claim – other’ club for XC races only. Please ask the club secretary or FRA Membership Secretary for advice on this, or contact EA Membership Services directly.
Q: How old does my child need to be to compete?
The minimum age for FRA registered races is 6 years old on the day of the race, but many vary upwards in age categories available on the day. Be sure to check the individual race organiser's information.
Q: Does my child need any special equipment or experience?
Most fell races involve mud! Whilst specialist fell shoes can be expensive, many trainers with a good grippy sole work well on the firmer surfaces. Your child may have to carry a cagoule or some other waterproof top, a thin hat or gloves on some of the longer or more exposed races.
Some clubs have second-hand kit for Juniors (shoes and other clothing that children tend to grow out of rapidly, rather than wear out). If not, it’s well worth asking on a club’s Facebook page/website and asking to borrow kit from friends, to try it out before purchasing.
Q: How safe is fell running?
FRA registered races for Juniors are fully flagged and well marshalled to ensure that no-one is lost on the hill and that help and support are readily available if required.
Q: Can I help my child, or run with them?
We encourage the children to be independent and we love enthusiastic supporters. However, it is not permitted to run alongside your child (as you may get in the way of other children racing), and they have to carry their own kit (if specified in the race entry details) for the whole race.
Q: What opportunities are there for children in fell running?
The FRA has a Junior Challenge series for Under-9 (U9) and U11 runners and a Junior Championship with U13, U15, U17 and U19 categories. Please see below for details of age categorisation and our Juniors page for more information.
Whilst this may sound like a scary and serious event, it's really an excuse to get together and run a race, with the emphasis on fun and participation. Everyone is welcome including beginners, and you will find we are enthusiastic and encouraging.
All FRA members who complete 4 or 6 races in the Junior Challenge or Junior Championship series are eligible for a T-shirt (4 races completed) or Hoodie (6 races completed) across all age groups.
Q: Which age group is my child in?
Age categories are usually based on age at end of year. Details are in a table in the FRA Rules for Competition (available here), which you can use to determine the correct age group for your child. For example, if your child is 10 but turns 11 in the current year, he/she will compete in the U13 category (even if their birthday is on 31st December).
Q: How do I find a local club?
Most running clubs have a "fell section" or will know if there is a specialist group in your area. Not all fell running clubs have a Junior section, so do check when you make contact with them.
Q: I won’t be at a Junior race – how can I sign the entry form?
For traditional "enter on the day" races, a parent or guardian can sign the race entry form to indicate their permission for the Junior to take part.
If the parent or guardian will not be present, but the Junior will be accompanied by a responsible adult (perhaps a friend, club member or coach), then the FRA Parental Consent Form should be used. The process is described, and the form may be found, here (under 'Parental consent'). The form can be completed at the beginning of the season and left in the hands of the club member or coach for re-use in subsequent events.
Q: What inter-county competitions are there for Juniors?
The Junior Fell Running Inter-County Championships is held for U15/U17 & U19 age groups in a one-off race format known as the Junior Inter-Counties Fell Race.
More information is available on the dedicated Inter-Counties website here.
One of the English Championship fell races is selected and the information can be found listed with the FRA Junior Championship races on the main Juniors page (here).
To compete for your county or as part of a county team, you will need to be selected by the county manager. Different counties have varying selection criteria, and you need to contact your county representative to find who your area selector / manager is. There is a page here on the England Athletics website that may help.
Q: How do I find out about other fell races?
The FRA licensed events can be found on the FRA website here.
The European / World mountain running opportunities are open to runners racing in the U17+ age groups. More information can be found on the England Athletics website here.
The BOFRA (British Open Fell Runners Association) events are listed on their website here. BOFRA races are usually associated with country fairs and shows, with winners traditionally taking home cash prizes. Historically, BOFRA hosted professional races when there was a distinction between amateur and professional sports.
Q: I'm an FRA member and I have moved house or changed my contact details. What should I do?
Update your profile on SiEntries (here) by clicking "My Entries / Memberships" and then Edit/Renew.
Q: Do I need my membership number / card to race?
At every fell race you will need to complete a form which asks for your FRA membership number. This is so that we can determine the numbers of members and non-members competing in FRA races. (There are several reasons we need to do this, including some complex ones relating to tax!)
At races which offer cheaper entry fees for FRA members, you will need to present proof of FRA membership to take advantage of the lower price (if paying on the day). (For races which accept pre-entries online, you will be asked for your membership number at the point of entry and this will be verified to allow you to pay the FRA members’ price.)
Electronic proof of your membership is sufficient. This can be displayed on any smartphone by following the instructions below. We suggest you download your FRA membership card to your device for future reference, since there is no mobile data signal at some races.
If you do not have either your printed card or an electronic version, you will be asked to pay the non-members’ price (if different). If FRA membership is required as part of a series, for example the FRA’s “50@50” anniversary series, you will need to contact the series organiser after the race and plead your case.
Q: How do I check my FRA membership number / access my FRA membership card?
Follow these instructions (whether on the desktop or the mobile site):
1. 1. Go to https://www.sientries.co.uk/ and log in.
2. 2. Click on 'My Entries / Memberships' under ‘My Details’ on the left-hand side. (Ignore the number in brackets above, which is your SiEntries account number.)
3. 3. Under 'Active Memberships', click 'Fell Runners Association 2020'. Your FRA membership number will be displayed.
4. 4. Scroll down and click 'Membership Cards', then 'Download / Print' to download to any device, from where you have the option to print / laminate.
Q: I’ve found I'm still paying my annual subscription by Standing Order as well as Direct Debit. Please can you correct this?
The FRA's account for Standing Orders is no longer active, so any payments should have been refunded by your bank. Please contact the Membership Secretary here for more details.
Q: How do I join the FRA?
Go to the Membership page and click 'Join Online'. If you have any difficulties, please contact the FRA Membership Secretary on [email protected].
We also offer family memberships for people living at the same address.
Q: Why should I join?
FRA members receive the following benefits (amongst others):
* • Three issues of The Fellrunner magazine per year (100+ pages per issue in full colour).
* • The annual FRA Handbook and Fixtures Calendar.
* • Cheaper entry fees for some races.
* • Priority entry for English Championship races and some other FRA races.
* • Discounts on FRA training courses (for e.g. First Aid and Navigation).
* • Access to a wealth of information to help you stay safe on the fells.
But most of all, we encourage you to join to support your sport and the voluntary body that governs it.
And all this for only £16 per year!
Q: Why are some races more expensive for non-members of the FRA?
From 2021, some FRA races will charge slightly higher entry fees to non-members of the FRA. This partly reflects the very significant financial contribution that members make to the FRA, many of the benefits of which are also available to non-members. The FRA is a volunteer organisation funded mostly by members’ subscriptions, and there are considerable administrative costs involved.
Another reason is that the FRA has no means to communicate with non-members. Fell running is not a risk-free sport and it is vital that participants understand the risks. The FRA publishes a magazine (The Fellrunner) three times a year as well as an annual Handbook; these contain the FRA rules and a wealth of safety information as well as articles which help to convey the nature of the sport and how to stay safe on the fells. Occasionally, we may also email our members with key messages. We therefore strongly encourage active fell runners to join the FRA to benefit from these communications, to keep the sport both safe and fair for everyone.
Q: How does a club affiliate with the FRA?
The FRA is an organisation for individual members, not clubs. Clubs cannot affiliate to the FRA directly.
When clubs register with their national governing body for athletics (for English clubs, this is England Athletics) they are invited to affiliate for specific disciplines, one of which is ‘hill and fell running’.
For more information on club affiliation to EA, please see here.
Q: How does the FRA communicate with clubs?
Clubs are encouraged to nominate an FRA Club Ambassador to act as a point of contact between the FRA and the club. This is a very “low maintenance” role, mainly involving circulating key FRA information and correspondence within clubs, e.g. via email, club websites, social media or clubhouses. We ask that Club Ambassadors should be FRA members.
Any club may nominate a Club Ambassador, even if the club does not affiliate to EA for hill and fell running. A list of our current Club Ambassadors is here. FRA members at clubs without a Club Ambassador are encouraged to volunteer! (Please contact our Communications Officer.)
For more information, please see our FAQ for Club Ambassadors.
Q: What is an FRA Club Ambassador?
An FRA Club Ambassador is an FRA member at a running or athletics club who has volunteered to act as a point of contact for the FRA at that club, and to publicise key information from the FRA within that club.
One reason for the Club Ambassador scheme is that many fell runners, both novice and experienced, are not members of the FRA. The FRA has no means to communicate with those athletes, or educate them (especially around key safety issues). We encourage all regular fell runners to join the FRA (and we'd love our Club Ambassadors to do the same at their clubs), but at least by circulating FRA information within clubs we have a chance of reaching non-members.
Communications to Club Ambassadors from the FRA will be occasional, perhaps every couple of months or so, and will often follow an FRA Committee meeting or other event which requires important information to be disseminated. All we ask is that our Club Ambassadors publicise this information as widely as possible within their clubs, for example via websites, clubhouses, newsletters or social media.
Q: Who is my Club Ambassador?
Please see our list here.
Q: My club doesn't have an FRA Ambassador; can I volunteer?
Yes, absolutely – thank you! Please email the FRA Communications Officer.
Q: Is this scheme just for English clubs?
Although the FRA governs fell running only in England and the Isle of Man, we recognise that we have many Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish members, many of whom subscribe for The Fellrunner magazine which covers results and news from all Home nations. Additionally, many runners living outside England nonetheless race in England regularly.
We are therefore happy to include non-English clubs in this scheme, unless the individual national association has a different arrangement. For example. the Welsh FRA (WFRA) is in the process of establishing a similar scheme, so we send our communications direct to WFRA who will then decide which parts are relevant to Welsh clubs and runners and forward as appropriate. If in doubt, please contact our FRA Communications Officer.
Q: Our club's FRA Ambassador has changed / I need to stand down; whom should I inform?
That's fine – please just let the FRA Communications Officer know.
Q: What is the English Fell Running Championship?
The Senior English Fell Running Championship is a season-long series of six fell races, running approximately from March to October each year. It aims to find the best individual fell runner of the season in a range of age categories. There is also a very competitive team competition.
Q: Do I have to do all the races?
For most age groups there are six races (two short, two medium and two long) with "four to count". These four must include a short, a medium and a long, plus any one other race. If you are taking the Championship seriously it is essential to check the full details, which are available in the FRA Handbook and on the FRA website - see our Championships page.
Q: Whereabouts are the races held?
Championship races are primarily held in the north of England, including Shropshire. An effort is made to spread the races out and the organisers are always looking for new and interesting races to highlight.
Q: Who chooses the races?
The decision is made by the FRA’s Championship Co-ordinator in collaboration with the FRA Committee. Please see the Committee page for contact details.
Q: Can anyone enter the Championships?
Theoretically yes, but there is usually a number limit on each race plus a three-tier entry system giving priority to proven elite runners (the "Guaranteed Entry List" - see below) and then FRA members.
Q: Can I just turn up on the day and get an entry?
No! These races are invariably pre-entry only to control numbers and give priority as mentioned above. However, there are always some withdrawals and spaces may be available once the race limit is reached and entry is closed. These are allocated by the Race Organiser. If you are hoping for a late place, contact the relevant Race Organiser and act on their instructions.
Q: Do I have to be a member of the FRA to enter the Championships?
No, but not being a member may diminish your chances of gaining an entry to the races. Also, all regular fell runners are always strongly advised to become FRA members.
Q: Do I need to register to take part?
No. All results from the races are collated by our marvellous FRA statistician and anyone who has run the requisite number of races is automatically included in the Championship results. However to make sure you are included in the Championship results make sure:-
- that you state your running club on your entry
- if you're not a running club member but are an FRA member state 'FRA' as your club on any entry form
- if you are a member of a Welsh, Scottish or Northern Irish club please notify the statistician that you qualify for the English Championships and would like to be included in the results.
Q: Are there prizes?
There are generally prizes for individual races on the day as usual. For the actual Championship awards, there is an annual presentation evening in November each year where trophies and medals are awarded for the Championships and a range of other fell running activities. Usually, the top three runners in each age category receive a medal, and likewise in team competitions.
Q: Are the races very elitist?
Definitely not! It is true to say that they are inevitably a little more nerve-wracking when you first go but once you are running it is just another fell race. It is also true to say that they are almost celebratory in atmosphere, especially afterwards, as loads of people go and they are very social occasions. Sometimes there are evening events tied in with them or clubs make a weekend of it. There are runners in all age groups too so a full range of ability. It is great to run with the very best but there are lots of slower runners as well. On some occasions the men’s and women’s races are run separately and so you get the chance to watch great runners in action and support your team members. They are great days out!
Q: How does the scoring system work?
In the Men's Open Championship, the winner of a Championship race receives 52 points (50 plus two bonus points), the second placed runner 49, then 48, 47 and so on down to the 50th male runner who scores one point. At the end of the season, a runner's top four results (which must include one short, one medium and one long race) are added together and the final results are ranked.
Women's, Under-23, and Veteran categories are calculated similarly, but with fewer runners scoring points (commensurate with the usual participation levels in each category). In Team competitions, the top five men's results and top three women's results from each category are used to calculate the team scores in each race, which are then ranked as above for individuals.
Please check our Championships page for full details.
Q: Can Juniors enter?
The lower age limit for Championship races is usually 18, but there are separate Junior Championship and Challenge events for runners as young as 6. Please see our Juniors FAQ page for more information.
Q: What is the Guaranteed Entry List, and how do I apply?
The Guaranteed Entry List comprises fell runners who have shown clear medal-winning potential in their age categories through previous performances. Those on the list have a period of one week to enter all Championship races before entries are opened to FRA members. The purpose is to try to safeguard the integrity of competition by ensuring that the most competitive athletes have every opportunity to gain a place, given that Championship races often fill up quickly.
Towards the end of each year, the Championship Co-ordinator will invite applications for the following year's Guaranteed Entry List - keep an eye on the FRA website and Facebook page (here), where instructions on how to apply will be posted. You must be an FRA member to apply for a place. Once the deadline has passed, the list will be selected as fairly as possible by the FRA Championships Sub-committee. The size of the list is capped and there are far more talented runners than places, so inevitably there will be many disappointed applicants; some subjective judgements are always necessary, and we ask all applicants to accept that the Championships Co-ordinator's decision is final.
For the British Guaranteed Entry List, please see below regarding the British Championship.
Q: Which team or categories am I eligible for?
Please see our Eligibility FAQ page.
Q: What is the British Championship?
The British Fell Running Championship is organised not by the FRA but by the Championship Sub-committee of the Mountain Running Advisory Group (MRAG) of UK Athletics. There are four races each year, one in each of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. A runner's best three results count, but these must include one short, one medium and one long race. For more information, please see the UK Athletics website here.
Q: I’m running the FRA relays and…
STOP – there is no such thing as the “FRA Relays”! But if you mean the British Fell Relays (officially the British Athletics Fell and Hill Relay), please read on…
Q: I’ve been selected by my club to compete in the British Fell Relays. Where can I find more information?
The British Fell Relays are not administered by the FRA. Competitors should contact either the club hosting the event or the Mountain Running Advisory Group (MRAG) of UK Athletics. Some details including eligibility rules are available on the UK Athletics website here (go to the link, then click the ‘BA Fell Running’ tab).
Q: What are the minimum requirements for someone to be a Race Organiser (RO) for an FRA race?
Every RO must be an FRA member. There are no other mandatory requirements; in particular, it is not necessary for the RO to be a member of the hosting club.
Q: How can I put my results on the FRA website?
FRA Website race results can be posted through your RO portal direct. The FRA magazine report and results should be sent via email to Dave Weatherhead and Barbara Carney, [email protected].
Q: I need help to navigate the FRA website for race organisers.
Q: The UK Athletics rule book talks of the “Competition Provider”. What does this mean?
The Competition Provider is the RO. The FRA affiliates to England Athletics (EA), and therefore FRA ROs are considered as affiliated to EA for the purposes of being a Competition Provider (since FRA ROs must be members of the FRA).
Q: But aren’t some races run by clubs or companies?
A race might be organised under the auspices of a club or company and be promoted as such, but the RO is always an individual. Ultimately, it is the RO, not the club or company, that is responsible for ensuring the race adheres to FRA rules and the requirements for ROs.
Q: Is there specific guidance for organising Junior races?
Yes - go to the Juniors page and check the resources in the left-hand menu.
Q: Where can I find the UK Athletics insurance details?
Go to the Documentation page, scroll down to the ‘Organisers’ section and click ‘UKA Public Liability Insurance’.
Q: The UKA insurance certificate runs out on 31st March. My race is later than that but I need an insurance certificate for landowners – what should I do?
The new certificate is typically posted by UKA only a few days before expiry of the old one. The FRA can confirm this to landowners on your behalf if required.
If this isn’t deemed sufficient, please contact the FRA and we will request a ‘Subject to renewal’ letter from UKA Athletics.
Q: Can an RO run in his/her own race?
No, the official RO for a race may not run in that race. The RO must be present at the race to ensure the event takes place as planned and to respond rapidly and authoritatively to any incidents that arise.
Q: Do I need to ask applicants for my race to cite their previous experience?
Arguably the most important thing an RO must do is make sure that the participants in his/her race understand the nature of the race, the potential risks and how to mitigate those risks.
One method of ensuring runners are suitably prepared is to require prior experience from similar races. It is the RO’s decision how much prior experience is required and how to implement/vet any requirements.
Currently the FRA does not mandate that any ROs require previous experience from entrants. However, we have considered whether to stipulate this for certain races, for example AL/AM/BL races, or all M/L races in winter, and our position will be periodically reviewed.
Q: Must I have registered first-aiders present at race registration and/or checkpoints?
The FRA Requirements for Race Organisers (available here) require you to “…consider and take appropriate steps to minimise … foreseeable risks to all competitors…”. However, the FRA’s guidelines for ROs (also here) note that “…whilst some races may justify having mountain rescue or uniformed first aid support present, this will not be necessary in all cases”. All fell races are different, and it is up to you as the RO to make reasonable decisions as to what medical provision is appropriate.
Q: Can I apply to register my race with the FRA if it is outside England?
First, if your race is on the Isle of Man then the answer is yes. For fell running purposes, the Isle of Man is treated as a branch of the English Northern Counties. Isle of Man races may be registered with the FRA and (where suitable) may be used as 'counters' in the English Fell Running Championship.
It would be unusual for a race outside England and the Isle of Man to be registered with the FRA, but it is possible. An example might be where a race series were primarily, but not wholly, based in England: in this scenario, it would make sense for all race licences to be issued by the same governing body. This might also apply to, say, an annual race normally held in England but which occasionally visits another home country. All other usual criteria apply, so for example the RO must still be a member of the FRA. Additionally, the governing body or bodies of the home country in question (e.g. Welsh Athletics/WFRA, Scottish Athletics/SHR, etc) should be notified at an early stage, as a matter of courtesy. UK Athletics have confirmed that standard FRA race insurance would apply to any such races.
Q: Can I offer priority entry to FRA members?
If your race is an English Championship race, please see FAQs for ROs of English Championship races.
If your race is not a Championship race, priority entry is at your discretion. You may offer priority entry to FRA members if you wish, and if you do then there is no requirement to reserve any places for general sale (but you may do so if you wish).
Priority entry may not be offered for any Junior race.
Q: Something unusual happened in my race. Do I need to report it?
The FRA Requirements for ROs (available here) state that you must report to the FRA Secretary any incidents which:
* • require FRA action;
* • might result in an insurance claim;
* • involve an injury requiring hospital treatment.
In these scenarios, you must notify the FRA Secretary within seven days of the race (or of the incident coming to light). Depending on the nature of the incident, the FRA Secretary may be required to inform England Athletics. You should receive an acknowledgement confirming whether or not this was necessary.
It is also good practice to submit a report containing any learning points from the event which might help other ROs in similar circumstances.
We acknowledge that “require FRA action” is somewhat vague. The RO has some discretion here but should report any significant rule breaches, especially involving the “absolute no-nos” in the rules.
Q: I have a question that isn't covered here; whom should I ask?
For questions relating to your race registration or race licence, including change of RO or other race details, please contact the Fixtures Secretary. For most other questions about organisation, the first point of contact should be the Race Liaison Officer for your area (see here). If in doubt, please email the Secretary who will put you in touch with the correct person.
Q: Is there additional guidance available for ROs of Championship races?
Yes. Please contact the Championships Co-ordinator or FRA Secretary.
Q: How does the “guaranteed entry list” work?
Each year, a “guaranteed entry list” will be published by the FRA for the Senior English Fell Championships; UK Athletics will publish a similar list for the British Championships. People on these lists must be given at least one week to take up their places for races in the respective championships before entries are opened more widely.
Q: Must I provide priority entry for FRA members?
Yes, this is mandatory from 2021 for Senior English Championship races (except for races that also form part of the British Championship, for which priority entry for FRA members is not permitted). After the “guaranteed entry list” window, FRA members must be given at least one further week to enter the race (up to a limit of 80% of the race’s capacity; 20% of entries must be reserved for “open sale”).
Q: Is there specific guidance for organisers of Junior Championship races?
Yes - go to the Juniors page and check the resources in the left-hand menu.
Q: Can I ask the FRA to subsidise my Championship race?
For 2022 the FRA subsidised Senior Championship races by £1 per entry, and Junior Championship races by £2 per entry.
For 2023 the FRA will subsidise Junior Championship races by £2 per entry. Applications to the Treasurer can be made after the race, quoting the number of entries. (The number of entries is the number who paid to enter the race, not the number who actually ran). For Junior races which also host a Senior (non-Championship) event only the Junior entries should be counted.
For all Championship races, Senior and Junior, ROs should set entry fees to cover all expected costs, including additional expenses incurred because the race is a Championship event. The FRA may consider an emergency additional subsidy to Championship races in special circumstances, e.g. where unexpected costs arise that could not reasonably have been foreseen, on presentation of the accounts for the race. However, it is important to note that the FRA will not automatically make up any shortfall in the accounts. The guidance for ROs of Championship races should be consulted, which for example makes it clear that later races in the season often have lower turnouts and that this should be planned for.