Veteran 'King of the Fells' runner dies

Joss Naylor running on a countryside path
Joss Naylor was known for his incredible running achievements and support for local charities [MARTIN CAMPBELL / BRATHAY TRUST]

Record-breaking veteran fell runner Joss Naylor, who was known as the King of the Fells, has died aged 88.

The sheep farmer broke the Lake District 24-hour record three times and ran the fastest known times on the Three Peaks, Welsh 3,000ers and Pennine Way.

The Climbers Shop in Ambleside wrote on Facebook that he died on Friday evening "in the company of family and friends".

The Fell Runners Association said it was "hugely saddened" by his death, adding he "inspired so many".

His friend Terry Abraham described him as a legend who was "respected around the world".

Joss Naylor sat down with his dog in the Lake District
The Lake District sheep farmer set several long-distance records [BRATHAY TRUST]

Born in Wasdale Head, Cumbria, Mr Naylor took up running in 1960.

In 1986, aged 50, he ran all 214 Wainwrights in seven days. When he turned 60 he ran 60 Lakeland fell-tops in 36 hours and at 70 ran 70 Lakeland fells.

In February 2021, he told BBC Countryfile he was running two to three times a week on the fell tops among "the best views on this earth".

Mr Naylor was appointed an MBE for services to sport and charity in 2007.

Mr Naylor walking on a countryside path after finishing a race. He is wearing a t-shirt which says 'Joss 60 at 60'
Mr Naylor celebrated milestone birthdays with extraordinary feats [BBC]

Chairman of The Fell Runners Association, Stuart Ferguson, said: "We are hugely saddened by the news that the legend that is Joss Naylor has passed away.

"Joss inspired so many and will be ever remembered for what he gave to our unique sport."

Joss Naylor running on a track - footage from BBC tape in 1977
Mr Naylor took part in a 24-hour running record at Crystal Palace in 1977 [BBC]

Mr Naylor was a patron for the Brathay Trust, which said he used his long-distance races to raise about £40,000 for the youth charity between 2007 and 2019.

"He's known for his incredible running achievements, but he used his running to support local charities, including disadvantaged children and young people," fundraising manager, Scott Umpleby, said.

The charity said Mr Naylor "didn't hesitate" to say yes to becoming a patron in 2007.

Mr Umpleby said the trust would put on races and Mr Naylor "attended every year" until he suffered a stroke in 2021.

Joss Naylor sitting down to talk to the camera with the backdrop of the Lake District
He was described as a "humble, down to earth man whose incredible athleticism was known and respected around the world" [BRATHAY TRUST]

"He was always so positive... his legendary status was so wide and we would get queues of people to see him," Mr Umpleby said.

"Last year, he was determined to come and watch - even from his wheelchair.

"On a personal level, I started fell running and racing as a teenager in the 1980s and Joss was already a legendary figure. I really looked up to him."

Joss Naylor sitting down to talk to the camera
Joss Naylor was described as a "legendary figure" in fell running [BBC]

Mr Abraham, a broadcaster and photographer, wrote a tribute on Facebook describing his friend as a "humble, down to earth man whose incredible athleticism was known and respected around the world, let alone within Cumbria".

"I admired and respected Joss from afar years prior to our meeting and have stayed friends since."

Mr Abraham said his friend would "no doubt be up there now looking down upon his ancestral home" in the Lake District.

The smiling winner of the Welsh race Matthew Atkinson holding the trophy beside experienced runner Colin Donnelly and Joss. It is a sunny day and there are trees in the background
Mr Naylor in Eryri in 2021 for the 50th anniversary of the 1000m Welsh Peaks Race [Welsh 1000m Peaks Race]

A Facebook tribute from the 1000m Welsh Peaks Race, which Mr Naylor completed several times in the 1970s, said he had left a "legacy of excellence."

"The fell and mountain running community across the UK will have been touched by his stalwart presence over decades, and now his sad passing.

"Thank you for leaving a legacy of excellent running in the Welsh 1000m Peaks Race, with many notable wins in the the race's first years of the 1970s.

"Diolch yn fawr iawn Joss Naylor - gorffwys mewn heddwch."

A certificate from 1973 awarded to My Naylor for coming first in the Class A division in the Welsh 1000m Peaks Race. He completed the 28km, 2700 ascent challenge in three hours and 28 minutes
Mr Naylor ran the Welsh 1000m Peaks Race several times in the 1970s [The Welsh 1000m Peaks Race]

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