Holly Page – she’s the one on crutches in our photo – had invited two friends to come and try fell-running for the first time, even though she’s unable to run herself at the moment.
So Lucy Sangar and Sam Smith turned up, at the very last minute, to register for the Loughrigg fell race, a little breathless having driven all the way from Dorset and only just made it in time. A long way indeed, for Lucy, but Sam had come all the way from California, thanks to Holly.
The three women had met in Nepal doing a ten-day trail race event, had kept in touch, and made contact on this, Sam’s first ever visit to the UK.
Holly, who hails from Halifax, is currently out of action due to corrective surgery on her ankle, but she’s something quite extraordinary in the running world. A GB international trail runner, adventurer and former World Sky Running series champion, she’s lived in and travelled to many parts of the world for her work in international development, and for the sheer love of travelling.”
A talented linguist (and violinist) she’s sometimes led a nomadic life and seldom unpacks a bag. “I had stuff at houses all over the place.” She was invited to do races in “interesting places” and once went for a week-long race in Costa Rica, but stayed for a month, meandering down to Panama. “I did a one-day race in China and spent five weeks there trekking around on my own and hitchhiking.”
Another occasion, she recalls: “I had my bike with me in the Pyrenees, so I cycled to Spain and put my bike on a bus which took me near Barcelona. I cycled to the port and took a 20-hour ferry to Italy, then a train and finally cycled to the start line of a race. I’m not the most conventional athlete.”
Holly’s been running all her life and, as a member of Calder Valley Fell Runners, turning up for a fell race on a Saturday and a Sunday was part of her growing-up experience. She’s the daughter of outdoorsy parents who travelled and climbed around the world; her brother Ben is an adventure film-maker and traveller. She was living in her campervan till the ankle operation which meant she had to stay home for a while, living with her family, but keeping in touch with her many friends around the world.
And that’s how Lucy and Sam came to be running their first fell-race at her invitation. “Running brings people together,” she says. Sam, experiencing Britain for the very first time, has happy memories of when the three women first met in Nepal. “Yeah, we were doing an adventure race, but the best times were playing cards together in the evenings.”
Did she enjoy her first fell race? “It was awesome. I even fell in a bog. Though I’m told it didn’t really count as it didn’t come over my head!”