Sheffield’s own veteran fell running champion, Helen Elmore gives us the low-down on the sport.
What is your earliest memory of running Helen?
Running was never really my thing: I was more into climbing. I used to go out to Burbage with my dad as a young kid and that's what sparked my love affair with the outdoors. It's certainly why I moved to Sheffield after uni. After I had my first child, climbing became too difficult. You need kit, good weather, preferably a day to get stuck in and of course, a partner to climb with. Running, on the other hand, was something I could just step outside my front door and do. So I started running when my youngest was six weeks old.
You’re obviously someone who runs for the love of it, but there's a fairly large element of competition too. What's your greatest achievement so far?
The great thing about fell running is that it’s scored in age categories. So, although I didn’t really get into it until my 30s, I was only ever competing against people of my age. Winning the UK championship fell running title for the over 40s in 2012 was probably my biggest achievement. But the race I wait for all year round – because I love it so much – is Sheffield’s own Burbage Skyline every May. I’ve won this five times and I’m pretty proud of that.
Where's your favourite place to run in Sheffield?
It would be quicker for me to list places you can’t run in Sheffield! If I was stepping out for a quick run to keep up my stamina and fitness, I’d say Ecclesall Woods. For the views and the memories of all those years climbing with my dad, it would be Burbage hands down. But I love Stanage for the clifftop views. Rivelin Valley’s great for a fun-run with the kids. Then there are areas like the Porter Valley which leads out of Endcliffe Park and out on the other side of Sheffield, Bradfield and Stocksbridge. If you’re in Sheffield, you’re only ever 15 minutes away from a decent fell or trail run.
There are plenty of opportunities for runners in Sheffield, but what do you think gives it the edge as The Outdoor City?
I am a runner but I’m also a road biker, a climber, walker, and as a child I was into horse riding. The outdoor opportunities are about actual places to run, walk, bike or climb – which Sheffield has in abundance – but it is also about the communities, the passion, the innovation, the people who use the outdoors. These are the elements that really set Sheffield apart from other areas.