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Thread: Wales's oldest fell races

  1. #21
    Master Wheeze's Avatar
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    Thats a very eclectic read old chap!!Lovely to see your fair avatar grace these pages once more!
    I am Kuno....

  2. #22
    Cilcain Mountain Race - 60th Anniversary Race in 2020 on the original straight up & down course. All welcome. Hoping to throw a few nostalgic elements in. Why not come and do an article for Fell Runner?
    hop

  3. #23
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    I've just been looking at the first issue of the Fellrunner magazine on the FRA website. The list of race results for 1971 includes "Pontypool"; which blows a hole in our previous conclusion that Machen appeared to be the earliest fell race in South Wales, dating back to at least 1977. That man Dave Francis (winner of the first Snowdon race in 1976, as well as Machen in 1977) is listed, but only in third place at Pontypool.

    I don't suppose anyone around now will know anything about the Pontypool race. Was it ever listed in the FRA calendar?
    In his lifetime he suffered from unreality, as do so many Englishmen.
    Jorge Luis Borges

  4. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by anthonykay View Post
    I've just been looking at the first issue of the Fellrunner magazine on the FRA website. The list of race results for 1971 includes "Pontypool"; which blows a hole in our previous conclusion that Machen appeared to be the earliest fell race in South Wales, dating back to at least 1977. That man Dave Francis (winner of the first Snowdon race in 1976, as well as Machen in 1977) is listed, but only in third place at Pontypool.

    I don't suppose anyone around now will know anything about the Pontypool race. Was it ever listed in the FRA calendar?
    I've just had a look at the 1970 fixture list reproduced in the "40 Years of the FRA" special magazine from 2010: Pontypool Fell Race is listed there: 4 1/4 miles, with 410 feet of climbing, so looks like a hilly cross-country race rather than a true fell race. But it clearly goes back to the 1960's at least, since the entry in the 1970 fixture list refers to it being lengthened from the previous 2 1/2 mile course.
    In his lifetime he suffered from unreality, as do so many Englishmen.
    Jorge Luis Borges

  5. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by anthonykay View Post
    I've just had a look at the 1970 fixture list reproduced in the "40 Years of the FRA" special magazine from 2010: Pontypool Fell Race is listed there: 4 1/4 miles, with 410 feet of climbing, so looks like a hilly cross-country race rather than a true fell race. But it clearly goes back to the 1960's at least, since the entry in the 1970 fixture list refers to it being lengthened from the previous 2 1/2 mile course.
    Just for you Anthony, from 1971 Calendar

    Sat 14th August, 4 1/4 miles 410 feet, Pontypool Park, Obvious Course, Rec 25m 15.6 sec (D Francis 1970) Entry 12 1/2 p

    To H W Gorvin Ents.Officer Pontypool, AAA Laws.


    The 1972 Calendar says the race is "discontinued for the time being" and it was not listed for the rest of the 1970s
    "...as dry as the Atacama desert".

  6. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Graham Breeze View Post
    Just for you Anthony, from 1971 Calendar

    Sat 14th August, 4 1/4 miles 410 feet, Pontypool Park, Obvious Course, Rec 25m 15.6 sec (D Francis 1970) Entry 12 1/2 p

    To H W Gorvin Ents.Officer Pontypool, AAA Laws.


    The 1972 Calendar says the race is "discontinued for the time being" and it was not listed for the rest of the 1970s
    Thank you, that just leaves the mysteries of when the race started and what was the exact route. I suppose Bill Smith would now be sending a handwritten letter to the local newspaper in Pontypool to ask for permission to search in their archives . . .
    In his lifetime he suffered from unreality, as do so many Englishmen.
    Jorge Luis Borges

  7. #27
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    I used to train on the route. A version of it reappeared a few times in the 90's. I did it once. Basically up from the rugby ground following a steep path through the woods to head out above the top of the dry ski slope, on up to the folly and back. When I did it they used the tunnel under the ski slope on the way back. Not sure if the slope existed in 1971 though.
    I am Kuno....

  8. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wheeze View Post
    I used to train on the route. A version of it reappeared a few times in the 90's. I did it once. Basically up from the rugby ground following a steep path through the woods to head out above the top of the dry ski slope, on up to the folly and back. When I did it they used the tunnel under the ski slope on the way back. Not sure if the slope existed in 1971 though.
    Thank you, I've now had a look at this on geograph.org.uk. I presume the folly you refer to is the "Shell grotto". The tunnel under the ski slope looks as grim as the one under the canal at the foot of Blorenge!
    In his lifetime he suffered from unreality, as do so many Englishmen.
    Jorge Luis Borges

  9. #29
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    No, the race went in the field past the Grotto and on to eventually pick up the lane that runs along the ridge summit to the Folly at GR 297 026. This was demolished in WW2 to stop the Germans using it as a nav guide but rebuilt 91-94. If memory serves, the time I did the race was in 94 and was to commemorate the reopening.
    The tunnel under the ski slope was grotty but did not have that naughty step in the roof that could (and did!) clout an unwary runner! Ask Old Greybeard how he knows!
    I am Kuno....

  10. #30
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    A race that has recently come to my attention is the Cwm Alpine Climb, held at Cwm Carnival. This is at the village of Cwm, a few miles down the valley from the town of Ebbw Vale. It isn’t easy to find information about this race, but the Facebook page for the 2020 event includes some historic photos, https://www.facebook.com/cwmalpineclimb/ . There’s also a video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V6ieUlrulig , and a page from the sponsor of the 2018 event: https://www.metrorod.co.uk/about-us/...-alpine-climb/ .

    The race is claimed to have originated in the 1970’s (I haven’t seen a more precise date), and the record of 13m10s was set by Mike Rose in 1984. It is claimed to include 1400 feet of climbing in 1.2 miles. With the help of the video, I am fairly sure that I have identified the race route, from the sports field in the valley at above 200m altitude up to a point on Cefn Manmoel at about 440m; so the claimed 1400 feet is actually the altitude of the top from sea level, and the true amount of climbing is around 800 feet. Nevertheless, it is a brutally steep climb!

    There is no mention of descent in anything written about the race, but the video shows competitors running and falling down the hill; and the distance of 1.2 miles would definitely make it an up-and-down race rather than ascent only.

    From the pictures, numbers of competitors are typically no more than around 10. It is part of a local carnival, and probably only attracts locals who want a bit of a challenge, and aren’t taking it too seriously. I’m not sure if they would welcome wider interest; if it was advertised on the Welsh FRA calendar, attendances could swell to as much as 30; but it would certainly be a superb AS race for those who like lung-bursters and a bit of manic descending.
    In his lifetime he suffered from unreality, as do so many Englishmen.
    Jorge Luis Borges

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