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Running news: North Walian Mark sets the pace for American star

Mark Davies (left) and John Kelly (right) on the Paddy Buckley Round

North Wales fell runner Mark Davies ran as one of the main pacemakers and guides for American ultra-distance star John Kelly in the recent Paddy Buckley Round, which is staged over a gruelling 65-mile route covering 47 peaks and summits around Snowdonia.

Mark, a talented and experienced fell and trail runner for North Wales Road Running Club, was one three top pacemakers helping Kelly, who apart from running at this major event, also competed in all three British Rounds, including the Bob Graham Round in the Lake District, and the Ramsey Round in Scotland, whilst also cycling between each event.

Known as a “Welsh Classical Round,” the Paddy Buckley is an established long-distance fell race, with an arguable reputation for being perhaps somewhat tougher than any of its British rivals, and incorporates 30,000 feet of climbing.

Mark Davies (front) sets the pace for American ultra star John Kelly (yellow top) and his support team

Although no official time limit is set, an arbitrary 24-hours is applied, with runners starting at any point on the circular route, in either a clockwise or anti-clockwise direction.

The route takes in the high mountain ranges of Snowdon, the Glyderau, and the Carneddau, as well as the slightly less visited ranges of Moel Siabod, the Moelwynion, Moel Hebog and the Nantlle Ridge.

John Kelly has competed in many prestigious endurance events, and is one of just 14 people ever to finish the US based Barkley marathons.

After moving to the UK a few months ago, he quickly broke the Pennine Way record, which stood for over 30-years, only to see fellow pacer Damian Hall beat it a week or so later.

Welshman Mark was invited to be a key pacemaker along with Andy Ford, Paul Swindles and Hall, and helped carried Kelly’s food and drinks for half of the round.

Mark confirmed: “I then ran the rest of the route with them until the last leg, where we became separated. I eventually finished in 21 hours 40 minutes – about half an hour ahead of John and his other support guys.”

Mark though, paid tribute to the overseas star, and his tremendous stamina, adding: “To run all three Rounds, and then cycle in-between them was an insane idea. Most people can only do one of the Rounds, but to do all three, and to cycle is unbelievable!”

*Photos by PH Balance, Damian Hall, Mark Davies and Jen Scotney.

Three Peaks summited for Paul and family

North Wales runners Paul and Gemma Wathan reached the summit of Scafell Pike last week with their baby daughter Mila Skye, and celebrated the climbing of three notable peaks.

The athletic couple, who journeyed around the UK last week, added this latest challenge to those of climbing both Snowdon and Ben Nevis, during a recent holiday break.

A delighted Paul said: “That’s all thee peaks summited before she is six-months old. I’m sure by six-years old, she will be hiking them herself, and by sixteen-years old running them, and telling me to hurry up!”

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