I am sorry to report the death of Geoff Bell, one of the founding members of Dark Peak Fell Runners, back in 1976. Geoff had been ill for some time.
Roger Baumeister adds "Geoff was a regular member of the winning Rucksack club team in the Watershed and also pioneered the solo self sufficient Pennine Way, which he completed 3 times, each time getting quicker until he was satisfied. He was also a member of the first Dark Peak group to complete the BG in 1977 and also a past President of the Rucksack club".
Thanks also to Graham Berry for these memories of Geoff:
I was very sad to hear of Geoff’s death; my condolences to his family. The last time I had seen him was at Eric Mitchell’s funeral when he had cheerfully and bravely declared he was suffering from motor neuron disease.
Geoff (also known as the Monk) and I were both founder members of DPFR and he already had established himself as a long-distance walker and runner through the Rucksack Club before joining the DPFR so he was very much an experienced mentor to the younger members of the club. His many achievements were legendary and were all done in a very cheerful way, in fact, my abiding memory of him is his smile and his optimism. This carried him through some very hard fell running times. His account (in 10 Years of DPFR) of doing the Pennine Way the Hard Way i.e. very strictly self-sufficiently, really gives the feeling of the rigorous conditions he endured, and overcame, to record a time of 4 days, 20 hours and 49 minutes. This had followed three previous attempts which showed his resilience, determination and his fitness. He had taken part in many long-distance challenges, such as the Bob Graham Round and had competed in numerous longer fell races and mountain marathons. I had the privilege of being his partner in the two-day KI Mountain Marathon (now the OMM) in Galloway in the 1970’s. We slept in his estate car the night before, listening to the continuous and ominous sound of rain which continued all of the first day. We did complete that day having waded a waist deep stream just before the overnight camp near Rig of Jarkness. This is when Geoff’s long and practical experience of wild camping came into its own. He had designed and made a light weight and waterproof tent which proved to be warm, cosy and comfortable on the very boggy ground. We woke, well refreshed, to sunshine and a storm of retirements from the other competitors. So, whilst we were in fifth and last elite position, we started the second day but with just one check point to the finish, we cheerfully, of course, agreed that enough was enough and retired.
One memory of Geoff will stay with me always. One glorious summer Wednesday evening club run near Shelf Moor above Glossop, Geoff was heard whooping and hollering with joy as he ran free as the wind down a soft peat bank. He was really enjoying himself.
Thanks, Geoff, for all the wonderful memories; your spirit lives on!
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