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and Eileen made the gradual switch from being racers to race organisers, creating a series of famous and infamous races around Haworth, cementing their reputation by hosting post-race prize-givings that featured top international runners staggering away carrying mounds of chocolate. Or carrying the bruises where prizes had been thrown at them.


Somewhere in the middle of all this there came Up & Down, a magazine for fell runners that Dave and Eileen got stuck into as an alternative to the official FRA magazine. It wasn’t like The Fellrunner – it was brash, it was up-to-date and regular, it was more colourful and didn’t have to concern itself with FRA AGM minutes and Calendar Updates.


Me and my friend Ady Illingworth from Pudsey & Bramley had an idea to put out a regular fell running fanzine – something irreverent and unpredictable, down-to-earth and humorous. Together with our mate Geoff Read from Rochdale Harriers we produced a first pocket edition called The Fellternative that we sold at fell races, before Dave, Eileen and Up & Down came to the rescue and offered to have the fanzine  inserted as part of their magazine. It’s hard to explain how generous and brave they were in taking us on – but it’s worth pointing out that, as far as we were concerned, fell running was a sport enjoyed by adventurers and mavericks, and the whole Up & Down / Fellternative union was nothing if not an adventure. There was an element of madness to it all that fitted perfectly with the times, that fitted perfectly with the sport.


Eventually the magazine folded and Dave and Eileen, instead of simply bemoaning their loss, threw themselves even more into organising races. That same spirit of adventure showed through in these strange and unique events that increasingly featured eggs-as-batons, santa hats, Curly Wurlies and lots of malt loaf.


It would be hard to over-estimate the impact Dave and Eileen have had on Yorkshire’s fell running scene over the years. Dave’s voice alone has shattered more eardrums than Led Zeppelin at Knebworth – once heard, it’s hard to forget that yelled, broad Yorkshire, “Get baaaaaaaack!” But behind the silly hats and the barked instructions there’s a lifetime of organising, course-planning, prize-procuring, friend-enlisting, photography and (lest we forget) competitive racing.


These old editions of Up & Down – and the few pages in each issue that comprised The Fellternative – belong to a different time; the world and the sport have changed a lot since then. But what’s the same is that sense of what fell running is at its root: fun, mud, hills, competition and adventure. And in the name of all those four things I give a big Fellternative thank you to Dave and Eileen.


Boff Whalley (If only Dave could get over the fact I’m from Lancashire)


Up & Down magazine Dave & Eileen Woodhead

When he wasn’t nursing injuries he was up there on most of the Pennine races, just outside the leading pack, always talking even at the sharp end of a race. That was Dave, big mouth, big spirit, big personality (big moustache too for a while).


Eileen, running for Lancashire club Clayton Harriers, was up there in the women’s races, same warm smile but with thankfully less of a booming voice.


Together they were two of the more notable and eccentric characters in this wonderful sport I’d discovered, two more faces that I saw here, there and everywhere back then.


A few more injuries later and Dave







When I first started fell running – or rather, after a couple of years or so of working hard to be able to compete in fell races – I found myself matched up against a red-vested ex-army type with a loud voice and a ready chuckle.

Digitised and uploaded by Dales Active with kind permission of the original publisher, CompassSport.

CompassSport is the UK's Orienteering Magazine!

By Boff Whalley


Picture by Wharfedale Observer

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