The Fell Runners Association (FRA) governs fell racing in England and the Isle of Man. Some of the answers on this page may differ in other home nations; where relevant, please check with the Race Organiser or with the Welsh FRA (WFRA), Scottish Hill Runners (SHR) or Northern Ireland Mountain Running Association (NIMRA).
Whilst these FAQ pages are intended to provide informal guidance and extra context, they are not a “controlled document”. For any questions on rules and procedures, the latest FRA documentation remains the authority.
For questions relating to COVID-19, please see our dedicated page here.
Please make sure you read the "Runners' Rules", available on this page.
Q: I don't have a race entry or have forgotten my kit. Can I run alongside the race or behind it?
No. This is one of the “absolute no-nos” of fell running. The main reason is that race officials and marshals must be able to count and identify runners in the race. This is especially important in the scenario where a runner goes missing, e.g. loses the route between checkpoints and then becomes injured or incapacitated. “Ghost” runners can cause great confusion for checkpoint and finish marshals, which risks the safety of any lost runners and can also jeopardise the accuracy of the race results.
Running without an entry is also prohibited because every race has costs, as does the FRA, and only properly registered runners have contributed to those costs. Agreements with landowners (including e.g. the National Trust) – some of which relationships are very delicate – rely upon the FRA committing to knowing accurate numbers and identities of all competing runners. Additionally, “ghost” runners will not be covered by the race insurance.
Whilst race officials will not physically try to prevent you from running without an official entry, the FRA will treat breaches of this rule very seriously - please see below.
Q: My friend is injured. Can I use his/her race entry instead?
If you intend to substitute/transfer an entry in this manner, you MUST check with the Race Organiser (RO) in advance. Some races permit transfers, often with a cut-off date. Other races do not permit any transfers. For most races which require pre-entry, you cannot transfer an entry on the day of a race.
Running under someone else's entry without informing the RO is one of the “absolute no-nos” of fell running. This is primarily because of the potentially serious safety implications if a substituted runner were to become lost or incapacitated on the fells: in this scenario it is essential that the RO has the correct details for the individual. Breaches of this rule will be treated very seriously by the FRA - please see below.
Q: If I retire mid-race, why must I report to the finish?
It is the responsibility of the Race Organiser (RO) to know exactly who is entered in a race and to ensure that all runners return safely. Some of the most serious incidents in fell running have occurred when someone has gone missing without anyone noticing. Experience has shown that the only foolproof method is for all runners to report to the finish of the event. This is standard practice across fell and mountain events and is known as the "golden rule"; breaches of this rule will be treated very seriously by the FRA - please see below.
Q: Can I use a GPS device for navigation?
No, this is strictly prohibited. Please see the Kit FAQ page.
Q: How can I learn to navigate?
Navigating in the hills can seem daunting but there are various resources available to help with this.
The FRA is indebted to Martin Bagness for making his book “Mountain Navigation for Runners” available on the FRA website. This is a superb starting point for fell runners with no navigational experience. Please click here to access the book.
Another excellent guide is Ian Winterburn's article published in The Fellrunner (#128, Autumn 2020), which can be accessed here. There are also many navigation courses available, including the FRA’s own courses – please see the Navigation page on our website (here). Other providers are available!
For most fell races, the navigation required is not intended to be especially difficult; however, when the “clag” (mist) is down it can be very easy to go astray. The most important thing is that you can recognise when you are lost and know what to do to get yourself off the hill safely, even if that means abandoning the race.
Q: Why all these rules?
The FRA's rules exist to try to ensure fair competition whilst making the sport as safe as reasonably possible. There are dangers in fell running: in the most serious incidents, runners have died in races after going off-route when carrying inadequate kit. If you break our key rules you may jeopardise your own safety and that of others. For this reason, the FRA may respond with disciplinary action such as disqualification and/or banning you from future races. Your club may also impose sanctions if your actions reflect badly on them, and other race organisers (including non-FRA organisers or those in other disciplines) may also ban you.
"Absolute no-nos" include retiring from a race without reporting to the Race Organiser at the finish (the "golden rule" described above), running in someone else’s number or no number, using someone’s else’s FRA membership card or number, cheating on the kit requirements or using GPS (or equivalent) for navigation or fixing position (even momentarily). For full details, please see the FRA Requirements for Runners (or "Runners' Rules") linked at the top of the page.
It is vital to understand that hypothermia can rapidly be fatal. Almost all accidental deaths in fell races have been the result of exposure. Please see our leaflet here to read more about hypothermia and how to prevent it.
So please, for everyone's safety and enjoyment, keep to the rules.
Q: I was looking at the FRA Facebook group and someone said…
STOP! There is no FRA Facebook group. If you mean ‘Fell Running UK’, this is an independent and unofficial group. If you have a question, please contact the group’s admins. The official FRA Facebook page is here.