77-year-old Joss Naylor, known as the King of the Fells amongst the running fraternity, is taking to the peaks of Cumbria again this summer in an attempt to complete a full series of runs in the Lake District Mountain Trial. As it stands, Joss has completed 51 of the 52 trials staged since 1960, and is hoping to tackle the route he should have embarked on in 1964.
The proposed date for the challenge is Friday 21 June, exactly 49 years to the day since the original 1964 race. The 16 mile route starts at Glenridding and finishes at the Old Dungeon Ghyll, Langdale, and will see the septuagenarian climb an impressive 7,000ft through difficult and dangerous terrain.
Whilst Joss sees the run as completing 'unfinished business', he's also using the occasion to raise much needed funds for Brathay Trust, the Ambleside-based national charity that improves the life chances of children and young people, by inspiring them to engage positively in their community.
Recalling his first experience of the Trial, in 1960, Joss said: "It was a real beautiful day. The committee had asked me to run but I said I couldn't as I was just having my breakfast. I had no shoes or owt like. No shorts."
They managed to persuade him to take part but his approach to the run was slightly unorthodox, as he explained: "I got my knife out and cut the legs off me trousers. About six inches above the knee. I put me big fell boots on and marched myself down to the start. I struggled with cramp later in the race but luckily there were two old ladies by a bridge having a picnic and they had a salt pot out. I just got a handful of salt and was moving a lot better after that."
To help him raise the cash Joss is appealing for four runners to join him on route. He's looking for two runners to accompany him from Glenridding to Dunmail Raise and a further two to complete the run from Dunmail Raise to Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel. In return Joss is asking that interested individuals place an auction bid to secure a spot running alongside him.
More information is available at the event website.