There are many running clubs in and around the Dales, as well as plenty of people who use a run around 'the tops' to re-energise and top up their inspiration levels. I'm thinking here particularly of printmaker Hester Cox and Julia Chapman (if you see Julia running around Settle, beware - she's planning murder as part of the Dales Detective series!).
With such stunning countryside, it's no surprise that there's a long tradition of fell racing in the Yorkshire Dales. There are well over 50 races to choose from, ranging from short bolts up some of the steepest hills to longer endurance runs. Classics include Burnsall and the Three Peaks, as well as many runs that take place as part of the programme of Dales agricultural shows. Some of these are fiercely contested, with records standing for years and years before they're finally broken by young bloods keen to have their name ingrained on the cups passed down over the generations. Nowadays most runners wear the latest running shoes and train for the events. In times gone by, fell races were run in whatever clothing and footwear competitors happened to be wearing at the time. Imagine running up some of those hills in heavy hob nailed boots! Some of the shorter races will accept entries on the day so anyone can try this sport. You can find details of some of the fell races on the Dales Active page or look out for races at Dales country shows.
The best known fell race is the Three Peaks which covers 24 miles of really rugged countryside, and goes up to 2500 feet above sea level. The fastest competitors do it in about 3 hours!
Ultra-running is becoming more and more popular. I'm really in awe of the competitors in one of the country's most gruelling endurance fell races - the Spine Race. It takes place in the Winter and sees competitors run the length of the Pennine Way (268 miles!) carrying their kit throughout, and only sleeping when absolutely necessary. Jasmin Paris recently won the race and set a new overall record, beating the previous best time set by a male runner by 12 hours. She covered the 268 miles across some of the toughest terrain in Britain in just 83 hours, 12 minutes!
If you'd like to try fell running but want to start more gently, you could try a guided trail run with JelleyLegs, accompanied by a qualified physiotherapist and experienced runner, or buy Cicerone's recently published book Trail and Fell Running in the Yorkshire Dales with 40 runs in the National Park.