When you think fell running in the UK it is hard to do so without thinking Pete Bland. He was synonymous to the sport, so much so that the ‘PB’ in Walsh PB is often thought to relate to Pete; and, while this was not the case, he first started selling the shoes in 1974 and the shop continues to do so to this day.
Peter’s untimely death to Covid leaves a massive hole, one that I am sure will be ably fitted by his son Matt, but a hole never the less in the fell and trail running community, of which the iconic Pete Bland Sports shop is only a part. He was first and foremost a racer, winning and competing in many of the famous fell events – from winning the short lung-bursting Ambleside Sports to the long slog of the elite KIMM (now OMM), where he and wife Ann won the mixed team (Ann being a 2:50 marathon runner) before injury sadly curtailed his own running.
From there he turned to helping others – as race organiser of the Kentmere Horseshoe race for 40 years, as England mountain running team manager for 10 years, as a member of the FRA Committee and, via his business, sponsor of the British Fell Running Championships plus many individual events. The annual list of races attended by the instantly recognisable Green van as the Pete Bland Roadshow is always eagerly waited, giving the chance for those who do not live near to the Kendal shop the ability to check out and buy the latest kit, and more importantly to chat and catch up on the latest news from Pete and the team. He may have stepped back from the front line running of the business, but Pete was still a regular at races, chatting, selling and helping others – that is of course unless perhaps his beloved Liverpool were playing.
When I first moved to running on the fells and mountains, Pete was the England team manager. He was a massive help to me, a newbie, enabling me, and others to do our best. For your support, encouragement and help, then and for many years afterwards, thank you, Pete.
Pete leaves behind wife Anne children Louise and Matt, son and daughter-in-law Glen and Tracey and grandchildren Robbie, Holly and Billy, to whom we send our condolences.