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1951 Ben Nevis footage offers a glimpse into fell running’s roots

Scotland's iconic 14K race to the summit of Ben Nevis officially began in 1951 with 21 runners

The BBC Archives has tweeted a film of the first official 1951 Ben Nevis race that provides a charming glimpse into what British fell running looked like 67 years ago. 

Ben Nevis is the highest peak in the British Isles, standing at 1,345 metres in the Scottish Highlands near the town of Fort William. The 14K race to the summit and back has taken place every year on the first Saturday in September since 1951 (except 1980, when the race was cancelled at the last minute due to bad weather). This year’s race will be run on September 1. 

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Present-day runners will note the distinct lack of technical clothing, trail shoes, and women on the course. (And there were only 21 competitors that year.) The field is now capped at 600 participants, who must be experienced fell runners. According to the race site, the course records for both men and women have stood since 1984, when Kenny Stuart ran the 14K course in 1:25:34 and Pauline Stuart in 1:43:25. 

Registration begins in late January, and the race is usually sold out within two days. 

The fabled Ramsay Round includes Ben Nevis as one of 24 peaks run in 24 hours. (Talk about your killer hill workout.)