March 6, 2023

Pipe Dream Fell Race

Bob Foreman reports:

On Saturday I travelled to Dolgarrog in North Wales with Toby Gill for the Pipe Dream Fell Race, 4.5 miles and 1,280 feet. It was the first race in the 2023 WFRA Championships. Matt Nichols was also there with his folks.

The race starts in the village and after a small stretch of tarmac and trail, where the 147 runners could vie for position, the race enters the narrow concrete steps between two massive steel water pipes that brought water from two mountain lakes to power the now long gone Aluminium Smelting Works in the village.


It is virtually impossible to overtake on the more than 500 steps, the steepest section being at an angle around 50 degrees.

Once at the top of the steps the pipes part  and the race follows one of them on a flattish grassy section for around half a mile. Eventually the pipe is left behind and there are a couple of very short, runnable uphill sections on paths and tussocky grass to the highest point of the race and then a mad 2 miles downhill on rough tracks, a couple of hundred yards of tarmac before a fantastic descent through woods, a bit like Padley Gorge but narrower and much steeper, to finally a few yards of very steep zig zagging concrete road and a flat run along the pavement to the finish.

The race was won by Tom Haynes of Eryri in a new record time of 32.50 and closely followed 6 seconds later by Gavin Robert’s of Calder Valley.

Toby had a great run to finish 3rd overall and 1st U/23 beating that record by 46 seconds. Matt was 12th in 38.01

The First Lady was  Katie Reynolds of Eryri 18th O/A in 40.03.

I was 45th O/A in 44.26 and 2nd M60

A great little race with a quirky start and tea and biscuits at the end. There were also prizes, which was quite entertaining as the winners picked a raffle ticket  and won the prize that had the corresponding ticket attached to it. Toby won a 2lb bag of sugar but had got his eye on the 12 pack of toilet roll!

With a £6 entry (£4 WFRA members) fee what was there not to like.

The perfect weather conditions, combined with it being a Champs race, were no doubt the factors behind 8 age group records being broken.

A great day out.