Key Dates & Timings
The third Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race™ Dates: Monday 22nd to Friday 26th May 2017.
CRUCIAL DATES & TIMES 2017
Sunday 21st May 2017
1000 - Bus from Llandeilo departs for Conwy
1200 - Registration & kit check OPENS (Conwy)
1700 - Registration & kit check CLOSES (Conwy)
1800 - Participant race briefing (Conwy)
1930 - Participant and event team 'social' and optional pre-race buffet meal (Conwy)
Monday 22nd May 2017
0600 - 22L (5kg max!) resupply bag drop opens for participants (Conwy Castle car park)
0630 - 22L (5kg max!) bag drop closes
0640 - All participants must be gathered in Conwy Castle
0645 - Official participants photo
0700 - START
1500 - 2000 - Afternoon Snacks
1800 - 2300 - Evening Meal
Tuesday 23rd - Friday 26th May 2017
0500 - 0900 - Breakfast served (Participants are allocated an advised time for this)
0600 - 0900 - Starts (Participants are allocated a 30 minute window in which they should aim to start)
1500 - 2000 - Afternoon Snacks
1800 - 2300 - Evening Meal (There will be a special meal on the final night)
Saturday 27th May 2017
0900 - Bus from Llandeilo departs for Conwy
Event Centre - Conwy
Participants wishing to park their cars for the week in Conwy can do so at the Morfa Bach overflow carpark, which is being used exclusively by the event for participant car parking. All activity on Sunday 21st May such as registration, kit check, briefing and the evening social and pre-race meal will be held at 'Porth y Felin' school, which is immediately next to the car parking. The address is:
Ysgol Porth y Felin
Llandeilo Car Parking and Finish HQ
Participants wishing to park in South Wales can leave their vehicles for the week at Tregib Leisure Centre, close to Llandelio. This is where the race will finish the following Friday. There is a bus departing from this location at 10:00 on Sunday 21st May to transport anyone parking in the south to the Conwy Event Centre. The address for the Tregib Leisure Centre is:
Tregib Sports Facilities
The 2017 course will be similar, but not identical, to the 2015 route. The route takes its inspiration from the original 1992 Dragon’s Back Race™. The route is 315km with 15,500m of height gain across wild, trackless, remote and mountainous terrain. It is not a trail race! It is, however, an incredible journey.
- DAY 1: Carneddau, Glyderau and Snowdon massif
- DAY 2: Moelwynion and Rhinogydd
- DAY 3: Cadair Idris and Pumlumon Fawr
- DAY 4: Elan Valley and Drygarn Fawr
- DAY 5: Carmarthenshire and The Black Mountain
You can compare the route data over the four editions of the race in the table below:
|DAY 1||44.8km / 3,184m||57.39km / 4,802m||49.3km / 3,823m||52km / 3,800m|
|DAY 2||53.0km / 3,091m||52.79km / 3,700m||53.9km / 3,544m||58km / 3,600m|
|DAY 3||59.5km / 3,084m||66.80km / 3,894m||68.3km / 3,712m||71km / 3,500m|
|DAY 4||65.1km / 1,783m||68.15km / 2,417m||64.0km / 2,273m||71km / 2,400m|
|DAY 5||67.4km / 2,004m||55.61km / 2,273m||56.5km / 2,313m||63km / 2,200m|
|TOTAL||289.8km / 13,146m||300.7km / 17,086m||292.0km / 15,665m||315km / 15,500m|
Average Daily Distance: 63km
Average Daily Height Gain: 3,100m
2017 Average Terrain Type:
|Trackless||Single Track||Double Track||road|
Route Variations 2015 – 2017
We do not wish to continually reinvent the route and fundamentally there is very little change to the 2017 route (when compared to the 2015 route). However, there have been a number of small incremental changes to the route that mean the overall distance has increased from 2015. The reasons are:
- Most importantly we have measured the actual route on the ground more accurately, and the overall distance was under-reported in previous years.
- It was not possible to arrange access to Carreg Cennen Castle (the finish for previous races) in 2017 due to landowner permissions, and the route has been extended on Day 5 to a new finish at Tregib Sports Facilities in Llandeilo.
- There have been several deviations to avoid known trouble spots, which are usually farmyards with uncontrolled dogs.
- We have painstakingly tested on the ground a new ‘Recommended Route’, the Recommended Route is not necessarily the fastest/shortest route but it is the easiest to follow and has the most runnable ground. Based on considerable analysis of the 2015 routes taken by participants, the Recommended Route is mostly similar to what the majority of runners did that year.
The process of creating and testing the Recommended Route has meant that our knowledge of the ground and many different route options has increased considerably. The Recommended Route avoids obstacles like maintained stone walls, and is recommended for a good reason. Our strong advice is to follow it!
Route Variations 2012 – 2015
The 2015 route was broadly similar to the 2012 route and the statistics in the table reflect this. However, it is also obvious that we shortened the first day. In 2012 only 29 of the 82 starters completed the first day in full and we anticipated that the combination of the increased daylight hours in June 2015 (the 2012 race was held in September) and slightly shorter course meant that more competitors were able to complete the first day and have the chance to go on and complete the full course. However, 2015 competitors were under no illusion about the difficulty and challenging nature of day one, which included more technical terrain than 2012; whilst day one may have been shorter in terms of distance and ascent, it was probably still the most testing mountain day that many competitors experienced. We also moved the location of one of the overnight camps. Again, this caused a variation in the daily distances and height gains. Overall, the changes to the route in 2015 were done to fine tune what was already a superb course and thankfully these were almost unanimously appreciated by the competitors.
Route Variations 1992 – 2012
Having carefully researched the route – both in literature, by speaking with 1992 veterans and extensive time on the ground – we felt that a route that genuinely followed the mountainous spine of Wales was more in keeping with the ethos of adventure and mountain running that is at the heart of the Dragon’s Back Race™. The original 1992 route had more road running and visited significantly fewer mountain summits when compared to the 2012 route. This is why the distance is roughly similar but the height gain increased dramatically. We also included all of the Welsh 3000ft mountains on the first day of the 2012 Dragon’s Back Race™, which obviously made the first day much harder and added to the overall height gain. This was done because we knew the last day of the 2012 route would be shorter than the 1992 version and, in keeping with our interpretation of the Dragon’s Back Race™, we wanted a journey across the mountain summits of Wales to be integral to the race experience.
Difficulty of the Route & Time Each Day
We expect the fastest competitors to be running for approximately 8-9 hours each day and the slowest competitors (who complete the full course) to be running/walking for approximately 13-15 hours each day. Please have a look at the results to gauge how long the competitors were out for.
By modern ultra running standards these are not huge distances individually but please do not underestimate the cumulative difficulty AND bear in mind that much of the route is across wild, remote and totally trackless ground. It is very rough underfoot. In 2012, one seasoned 100-mile ultra runner stated that any day of the Dragon's Back Race™ was tougher than any of the 100 milers he'd done... and he's done over 100 of them!
Finally, it is worth noting that these distances and height gains are based on the optimal route choice learnt from significant experience on the ground and considerable time spent planning and testing various route options; it is easy to run further and many participants do.
Following the Route
The route is not marked in any way and participants must use the event map and/or their GPS device to follow the route when required. The route will be shown by two different coloured lines on the map, indicating whether the route is Mandatory or Recommended:
- Mandatory Route = The route must be followed carefully (ORANGE overprint)
- Recommended Route = Participants have free route choice (YELLOW overprint)
The vast majority of the 2017 Berghaus Dragon's Back Race route is 'Recommended' i.e. there is free route choice for the majority of the journey through Wales.
An extract from the 2017 Berghaus Dragon's Back Race™ map showing the 'Recommend Route' (yellow) and the 'Mandatory Route' (orange).
Generally, the Mandatory Route will only be used in lowland areas where it is important for participants to follow established paths and tracks often through farmland. In reality there is little scope to deviate from this route with little benefit to be gained. Imagine, if you will, following a footpath through some woodland or agricultural fields. Participants are monitored via their GPS tracker to ensure that they are following the Mandatory Route.
An example gate along the Mandatory Route is shown above from the 2015 Berghaus Dragon's Back Race™.
© Ian Corless
The Recommended Route shows what we consider to be the 'best' route. The route shown on the event maps switches from Mandatory to Recommended as the route rises out of the valleys; typically this is actually very distinctive on the ground. Our best route is not necessarily the fastest route, but all things considered, such as navigation, terrain, dangers (crags etc), it will be the optimum route for the vast majority of the participants.
The final GPX files are now available for download. These will enable participants to follow the race route using a GPS device and include checkpoints (and their associated cut-off times). The map (issued at registration) is still mandatory and contains information paramount to successful completion of the race, and is particularly important in distinguishing between the Mandatory and Recommended route depictions.
Following the Route
As organisers, we (and friends, family, members of the public and landowners) will be tracking participants in real-time using the GPS trackers. We expect participants to follow the Mandatory route sections carefully, and any corner cutting will be penalised [please refer to the Rules].
There is often no visible path on the ground in the more mountainous sections of the route. Here participants will have the flexibility of the Recommended Route, and should feel little pressure to follow our route precisely and can enjoy journeying through Wales.
However, there are Checkpoints, which participants will need to visit along the route. These are not deliberately difficult tests of navigation, but logical points that define the route (generally summits of mountains or a gate through a wall), and that participants must visit in the correct order to complete the race.
Some examples of when we would time-penalise or disqualify a participant for not following the Mandatory Route would be any occasion on which we believe that they have gained an unfair advantage, and/or endangered themselves or others, and/or clearly passed through private property and/or climbed a farmer’s wall/fence. In the case of accidental deviation from the Mandatory Route, participants should return to the original location that they deviated from the route, and continue along the correct route. If participants correct their mistake in this manner, there will be no penalty or ‘strike’ (see comments in the event rules about ‘strikes’). Remember we will be watching!
We will disqualify a participant from that day's racing if they fail to visit the checkpoints (in this instance the participant can start the following day, but they will be made non-competitive). Remember that the track of each participant will be public, and we will retrospectively review the route of all participants.
Participants are reminded that they are ultimately responsible for judging their safety on the route. In exceptional circumstances (like rivers in spate) participants may need to deviate from the route, making their best judgement of the safest way. In these circumstances we would not penalise a participant.
Participants will be provided with their event map at registration. The event map is an accurate, waterproof and annotated Harvey map of the entire race route that has been specially commissioned by us. It will also be a fantastic memento of the event. If the participant is confident and experienced enough with map and compass navigation they will be able to complete the event following the race route, using just the event map.
The nature of Harvey's latest waterproof paper technology yields a map that does not require bagging/protection, is easy to fold and not bulky, and should survive the rigours of the roughest journey. We have already used this map material very successfully in other events. We do ask that you look after this map as we only intend to issue one per participant.
Checkpoints and Cut-Offs
An example Checkpoint is shown above from the 2015 Berghaus Dragon's Back Race™.
Typically these are the summits of mountains and are defined on the ground with an orienteering kite and SI timing box. © Ian Corless
Checkpoints are locations (generally summits of mountains) that define the route. They are always marked with an orange and white orienteering kite and have an SI timing box for participants to ‘punch’ and record their time at that location. A Checkpoint may be manned or unmanned. Each Checkpoint is marked on the event map, along with a Guidance Time or Cut-Off (see below) that indicates whether you are on course to finish by the Course Closure Time.
The event will use digital SPORTident timing; known as SI. At registration each participant will be issued with their own SI Dibber, which must be ‘punched’ into the SI timing boxes at each Checkpoint, the Support Point and at the Start and Finish. For those unfamiliar with this simple and reliable system, full instructions will be given. The SI system is an important safety feature of the event and when participants ‘download’ their SI data at the end of each day, we will be able to ascertain who is safely off the hill. © Rob Howard / SleepMonsters
There is one Support Point each day. The Support Point will have vehicle support, and it is here that participants can access their Resupply (22L) Dry Bag, and retire if necessary with onward transport to the Overnight Camp. Water will be available at the support point. There is a strict Cut-off Time at the Support Point.
Each Checkpoint has a Guidance Time, which indicates the time which participants should have departed from that location to remain on schedule to finish by the 2300 Course Closure Time. Whilst checkpoints are generally unmanned, we reserve the right to retire any participant, at any point along the route should they fall behind our schedule for the 2300 Course Closure Time. The Guidance Time is based on a slower participant having started at 06:00.
Updated Cut-off Checkpoint Times
We have carefully reviewed the split times of every participant that finished later than our 23:00 Course Closure Time in 2015, and working back through their splits, we have revised the Cut-off Times so that participants travelling at the same speed in 2017, will be Cut-off. Essentially, we are making the Cut-off Times more challenging, but this should affect only runners who would not have made the 23:00 Course Closure Time. We are doing this because runners finishing very late (in 2015, some finished after 01:00 in the morning!) disproportionately affect the event; image that our admin team, medical team, safety team, catering team all must stay up until the last finisher is accounted for, all the while the generator and lighting needs to stay on, which affects all the participants. The Cut-off Times are clearly displayed on the map and are:
Checkpoint 11(Ogwen Valley Support Point): 15:00
Checkpoint 15 (Pen-y-Pass YHA): 17:00
Checkpoint 6 (Cwm Bychan Support Point): 15:00
Checkpoint 6 (Machynlleth Support Point): 16:30
Checkpoint 6 (Elan Valley Support Point): 14:30
Checkpoint 9 (Abergwesyn): 21:00
Checkpoint 3 (Usk Reservoir Support Point): 13:00
Checkpoint 7 (Car Park): 19:00
The 2017 Berghaus Dragon's Back Race map extract above shows how the Guidance Times (PURPLE) and a Cut-Off Times (RED) are displayed on the event map.
Course Closure Time (and Following Day Retirement)
Any participant arriving at the Overnight Camp after the regular daily Course Closure Time of 23:00 will be automatically retired from the full day of racing the following day (they may start the second half of the day from Support Point – we provide transport to this location). Please bear in mind that there is a considerable debilitating cumulative fatigue effect of arriving late/slowest each day, and that this is a reason for the Cut-Offs, Course Closure Time and the Following Day Retirement ruling. It is clearly helpful to stay comfortably ahead of the Cut-Off/Pace Guidance Times. There will not be any staff sweeping behind the last participants. We will use the GPS trackers as our sweeping management system.
Accommodation for competitors will be in Berghaus Air 8 tents as used to great success in 2015. These are huge eight person tents with two 4 person-sleeping compartments and a large, central communal area. There will be sufficient space for eight people to organise themselves even in bad weather.
We always try to accommodate friends and groups together in the same tent, but for safety reasons, competitors must stay in their specified tent during the race (we contact competitors regarding tent allocation close to the event). The details of the tent allocation are available at registration. There will be a female only tent(s) available for female competitors that would prefer this.
Competitors will need to provide their own sleeping bag, sleeping mat etc and these items are included on the mandatory kit list. We would recommend bringing a small pillow if you can fit it into your Overnight Bag! Sorry, there will be no access to mains electricity at the overnight campsites and no facilities to charge GPS or mobile phones. Please ensure any electical device is operable with non-rechargeable batteries or bring your own recharging means
Above: Accommodation for competitors in 2017 will be in the superb Berghaus Air 8 tents as used in 2015 © Ian Corless
Above: The day 1 campsite in 2015. © Rob Howard
As with all camping experiences, if the weather is fine it’ll be a joy but if we have a week of rain everything is likely to become damp, especially considering that all the tents will need to be taken down and moved each day. Please pack accordingly. We will do our best to dry out the tents and will have a gas powered hot air blower available.
On one night we are likely to be using a commercial campsite with modern toilet blocks including showers. If you wish to use the shower facilities you will need to use your own money (bring loose change), as this is not included in your entry fee.
The other campsites are likely to be very basic (think farmers field in a rural location) and toilets will be provided by portable toilets. Washing facilities will generally consist of the nearest river, which at least is refreshing!
1) Under no circumstances can any cooking, naked flames or heat sources of any kind occur in the competitors’ tents.
2) Competitors should always remove footwear before entering the tent
3) Wet and muddy clothing needs to remain in the central communal area and must not go into the ‘dry’ sleeping areas.
Unlimited breakfast, afternoon snacks and evening meals are provided for participants. The event caterer Heather Ohly is an endurance runner and Registered Nutritionist, who understands just how hungry everyone is likely to be. Participants must bring their own hill food.
All meals will be vegetarian, high in calories and contain a source of protein. Food will be served in a dedicated catering tent for consumption in the main marquee. Participants will need to provide their own plate, bowl, mug and cutlery wash these up themselves (we will ensure that a good supply of warm and clean washing up water is provided). If you have any concerns about the vegetarian menu have a read of this excellent article, by Scott Jurek on the Runners World website and have a read of the nutrition study that was carried out at the 2012 Dragon's Back Race™.
0500 – 0830 Breakfast
Breakfast will be available from approximately one hour before the first start time and will include a choice of cereals with milk, scrambled egg sandwiches, vegetarian sausages, baked beans, bread with jam/marmalade, fruit*, tea, coffee, water & squash.
1500 – 2000 Afternoon Snacks
This food will be available as participants finish and will include soup with bread, chips, choice of cakes, tea & coffee, water and squash.
1800 – 2300 Evening Meal
The evening meal will change each night and will be a substantial meal. The 2017 menu is:
19:30 Buffet meal*
Chicken & Coconut Curry with Rice
Welsh Beef, Moroccan Spices with CousCous
Mushroom & Pea Risotto
Fresh Fruit Salad
Welsh Tea Loaf
Salted caramel Cookies
Choice of cakes
Choice of cakes
Sweet potato stew
Choice of cakes
Veg & bean casserole
FINISHERS' CELEBRATION MEAL
-> scroll right ->
* This meal is an optional extra @£12 a head, attended in previous years by all the event team and almost all participants!
We will ensure that the chilli and curry are mild!
Tea, coffee, water, squash and hot water will be available whenever the kitchen is open (i.e. most of the time)
Allergens in the Monday-Thursday menu above:
- Monday: Chilli - celery (and celeriac)
- Tuesday: Vegetable curry - celery (and celeriac)
- Wednesday: Sweet potato stew - peanuts, nuts, sulphites & sulphur dioxide
- Thursday: Veg & bean casserole - celery (and celeriac), sulphites & sulphur dioxide
Special Dietary Requirements
Any participants with special dietary requirements such as coeliac disease or lactose intolerance will be catered for, as long as we know about these in advance.
We will do our best to provide some fresh fruit for participants but issues around supply and storage make this challenging. Tinned fruit will be available at breakfast every day.
Participants must supply sufficient quantities of their own food for eating on the hill each day. It is clearly important that participants do not underestimate how much food they require. The route will pass through Machynlleth and participants will have the opportunity to purchase food at the shops in this town. It is absolutely prohibited for participants to take extra food from campsite catering provisions to supplement their hill food.
No Cooking in Tents
Under no circumstances can any cooking be done in the participants tents. Food and hot drinks will be available at almost all times in the mess tents but if participants want to prepare their own meals or drinks this must be done in the mess tents.
RESULTS, CLASSES & PRIZES
The Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race™ trophy will be awarded to the man and woman with the fastest cumulative time over the 5 days. FYI the trophy was given a nickname by 2012 winner Steve Birkinshaw's children: 'Mountain Breath'.
2nd overall and 1st female in 2015: Jasmin Paris © Ian Corless
1st overall in 2015: Jim Mann © Ian Corless
All finishers will receive a miniature replica of the Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race™ trophy. This is a coveted award, and one of the hardest earnt trophies in mountain running. Earning a ‘dragon’ can only be achieved one way… and it isn’t easy! For the avoidance of doubt, we do not award miniature trophies to anyone that does not complete the full course.
Race Director, Shane Ohly with Joe Faulkner, the only person to have completed all three Berghaus Dragon's Back Races™ in 1992, 2012 and 2015. Amazing! © Ian Corless
Trophies will be award at the celebratory meal on the last night of the race. Usually around 8pm. Family and friends welcome.
Support for Competitors
The support team will be doing everything we can to get every competitor to the finish line and the huge celebration on the last night. The most important thing to remember is that the organisers are there to help the competitors finish.
Retirements & Repatriation
Competitors who are unable to continue may retire at the mid way support point or the overnight camp. At these locations, onward transport will be available. Retiring competitors are welcome to simply skip a day (or a half day) and continue the following day. Please refer to the ‘Retirements & Repatriation’ section for further details.
Unlimited breakfast, afternoon snacks and the evening meal are provided for competitors. A Nutritionist with experience of endurance events has approved the menu and the caterers themselves are runners so have a good understand of just how hungry everyone is likely to be. All meals will be high calorie, vegetarian and served buffet style. Please refer to the ‘Food’ section for further details.
Transport of Competitors Kit
Competitors’ overnight kit will be transported to the overnight camp by the organisers. This means that competitors will have light ‘hill’ bags and should be able to concentrate on enjoying the running, rather than carrying a heavy bag. There will also be one support point each day where competitors can access additional food and equipment from their Resupply Bag.
Competitors' resupply Dry Bags at the day 1 support point in 2015. © Rob Howard
Resupply Dry Bag & Support Point
Competitors’ Resupply Dry Bag will be transported to the daily support point. Competitors provide their own Resupply Dry Bag, which must be a waterproof drybag of 22L or less AND WEIGH 5KG OR LESS. We would recommend the heavy duty Ortielb one but competitors can use any brand as long as it is 22L or less. Competitors can place whatever they like in their Resupply Dry Bag and they will be available at the support point approximately halfway through each day. The times that the support point is ‘open’ will be clearly marked on competitors’ maps. One of the competitor race number stickers must be attached to the Resupply Dry Bag for easy identification (provided at registration). The Resupply Dry Bags will be stored outside and are likely to get wet. How long competitors choose to spend at the support point is up to them but the clock keeps ticking…
Water will be available at the support point. If the weather is poor, hot water may be available.
The Day 2 support point in 2015. © Rob Howard
Overnight Dry Bag - IMPORTANT
The Overnight Dry Bag must be 59L or less. We would recommend the heavy duty Ortielb one but competitors can use any brand as long as it is 59L or less. Competitor race number stickers must be attached to the Resupply Dry Bag for easy identification (provided at registration). The Overnight Dry Bags will be stored outside and are likely to get wet. The 59L Dry Bags are totally adequate for all your equipment, clothing and food requirements for five days; remember that you do not need a tent and only need hill food each day. Please note that the maximum size of the competitors’ dry bags will be strictly enforced to ensure fairness for all competitors i.e. we will be checking all dry bags before they are accepted at registration.
Summary Information about Competitors Bags
Each competitor will have three bags:
1) Their 'Hill' rucksack which must contain the mandatory hill kit (waterproofs, survival bag etc etc) plus whatever else the competitor wants on the hill each day. There is no limit to the size and weight of this bag, as the competitor will need to transport it to South Wales themselves!
2) Their 'Resupply Dry Bag', again this can contain anything that the competitor wants (we recommend additional warm clothes, food etc) and will be transported to the support point each day. It is very likely that some competitors will finish before the mini bus, with all the resupply bags, has reached the overnight camp so don't store anything in the resupply bag that you need to make yourself comfortable at the overnight camp. It must weigh less than 5kg.
3) Their 'Overnight Dry Bag', this is a large bag that contains all the overnight kit (sleeping bag, mat, spare clothing etc etc). This will be transported direct to the overnight camp each day.
Example Dry Bags Photos
A = Acceptable
B = Unacceptable (this is not a dry bag and contents will get wet in heavy rain)
C = Acceptable
D = Unacceptable (this is a lightweight dry bag that will be easily damaged)
E = Unacceptable (We will not transport extra items outside of the dry bag)
F & G = Unacceptable (the dry bag must be sealed)
External assistance of any kind that is not available to all competitors is strictly prohibited. For example, Friends and Family meeting a participant and providing assistance such as additional food, dropping off of equipment, massage etc. is not allowed. However, a participant may enter a shop or pub to purchase additional food en route, as this is an option that is equally available to all participants. For the avoidance of doubt, stashing equipment or food along the route is prohibited, because this support is not available to all participants.
As a further example, a Friend or Family member meeting a participant at the Overnight Camp ‘to take them out for a meal’ would be prohibited because this help is not available to everyone, however, ‘if’ there was a pub opposite the Overnight Camp, then all participants would be able to access the same service if they chose.
Friends and Family – Along the Route
Friends and family are welcome to provide moral support along the route, such as cheering participants on, however any assistance in the form of additional food, drink, kit or other supplies etc AND running with the participant is strictly prohibited. See the comment above about ‘External Assistance’. Friends and Family are advised to follow the GPS Tracking if they wish to intercept a participant. The organisers will not be able to provide information on when to meet participants along the route.
Friends and Family – Overnight Camps
All the Overnight Camps are on private land and are strictly off limits to Friends and Family. Any uninvited visitors will be removed immediately and their associated participant penalised.
Friends and Family – Support Points
Friends and Family are welcome at the Support Points on Days 1, 3, 4 and 5. Access to the Day 2 Support Point is via many miles of rarely used, single track lane and becomes quickly congested. We must insist that this support point is out of bounds (for vehicle access).
Friends and Family – The Finish
Friends and Family are very welcome at the Finish on Day 5. Should Friends and Family wish to camp at this location they are welcome, but they should note that facilities are basic, and there is a 500m walk from the parking to the camping area. Both will be signed. We have catered for all the starting participants and event team in the prize giving buffet, however, we realise the not everyone will make it that far. Therefore, if Friends and Family would like to purchase a buffet meal, they can do this on a first come, first served basis until all the spare meals are accounted for. Meals vouchers will be on sale at the Race HQ at the finish. It will not be possible to provide Friends and Family with breakfast.
KIT & EQUIPMENT
Mandatory ‘Hill’ Kit
The following kit must be worn or carried by the competitors in their ‘hill bags’ at all times:
• Waterproof Jacket or Smock (with taped seams and a hood)
• Waterproof Trousers (with taped seams)
• Survival bag (not a blanket)
• Map (supplied) and compass
• Headtorch with spare batteries (with sufficient light to be able to navigate in the darkness)
• Sufficient food
• Spare warm top (spare means unworn at the start)
• Hat and gloves suitable for the weather conditions
• Water bottle and / or hydration system
• Fell or mountain running shoes (road trainers are NOT acceptable)
• Money (at least £50 in case you need to get a taxi to the overnight camp)
• Waterproof pen/pencil/chinagraph writing implement
Recommend ‘Hill’ Kit
The following kit is also recommended:
• Mobile Phone (Although we recommend that all competitors carry a mobile phone there is no guarantee of phone reception along many sections of the route).
• Altimeter (Very useful aid for navigation in low visibility conditions).
• GPS (For competitors who are not completely confident of their map and compass skills in all conditions).
It is worth noting that possession of a GPS and / or mobile phone is no substitute for sound mountain judgment on behalf of the competitors.
Mandatory ‘Camp’ Kit
The following kit must be included in competitors Overnight Bag:
• A complete change of clothing including spare shoes that can be worn at the overnight camp.
• Warm sleeping bag (3 Season recommended)
• Sleeping mat (ThermaRest style inflatable mat recommended)
• Plate/bowl, mug and cutlery
• Sponge and cloth for washing and drying your plate etc
• Personal First Aid kit to include plasters, blister treatment, antiseptic ointment and painkillers as a minimum.
• Sufficient personal food for eating on the hill each day (don’t underestimate this as there will be no additional ‘snack’ food available at the overnight camp).
• Blister Treatment Kit* containing:
- Sterile Medical Scalpel Blade (size #11) x5
- Antiseptic Ointment 30ml / Antiseptic Wipes x8
- Sterile Non Adhesive Island Dressings (7cm x 6cm) x5
- Sterile Cotton Swabs x10
- Hydrocolloid Dressings (such as Compeed) x5
- Profoot Moleskin Roll (7cm x 45cm) x1
• Kinesiology Tape (5cm x 5m) x1
• Small Scissors x1
*Participants are welcome to source these supplies themselves or alternatively they can purchase a pre-made kit direct from our shop from £19.95. These will be available for free collection at registration, but we recommend having them delivered in advance so that you are familiar with the contents.
Other Recommended Kit
The following equipment is strongly recommended for increasing your personal comfort (and would need to be included in your overnight bag):
• Midge head net and insect repellent (you may want this on the hill depending on the weather). Note that a mosquito head net is of no use.
• An insulated ‘duvet’ jacket
• Travel pillow or pillow case
• A fresh set of running clothes for each day
• Personal washing things and towel
• Ear plugs
• Anti-chaffing / lubrication ointment
• Wallet, credit card and / or sufficient cash to enable you to return to Conwy early if needed.
• Any luxury food items you want.
As the overnight camps are likely to be wet and muddy we recommend that competitors have waterproof shoes as their spare pair and consider taking a spare waterproof jacket and trousers.
Competitors will quickly discover that packing for the Dragon’s Back Race™ is a skill requiring careful kit selection and the use of lightweight, packable kit if you are going to fit everything in!
Kit Checks and Disqualification
Having the right kit could be essential for yours or other competitor’s safety during the event. We have also made certain undertakings on behalf of the competitors to landowners and authorities about what safety kit competitors will be carrying. Therefore each day there will be random kit checks for many competitors. Certainly the leading runners can expect a kit check. Competitors found to be missing mandatory items can expect to be disqualified from that days racing. If you have any questions about the acceptability of your kit please do not hesitate to contact us.
There will be a Mass Start for all competitors at Conwy Castle at 0700.
Days Two, Three and Four
Starts will be between 0600 and 0900. Competitors will be allocated a start time (for example between 0600-0630) based on their finishing time from the previous day, with the slowest competitors starting first and fastest competitors starting last. We do not enforce this start time but it is crucially important that competitors start within the recommended time window or there is a significant likelihood that they will fail to meet the checkpoint cut offs later in the day.
If there is less than one hour between the leading competitors, there will be a Chasing Start with the leading individual/team starting at 0600. The chasing start will continue for one hour. If there is more than 1 hour between the leading competitors then the same system as the previous mornings will be used. Details of the Chasing Start will be announced on the evening of the fourth day. Slower teams may start anytime from 0600.
The Race Director's first, and most important role, is to ensure the safety of the event staff and competitors within the context of the nature of the event. On rare occasions this may mean that the Race Director needs to make a decision in the interest of safety that is appropriate for the majority but not necessarily all competitors.
Event safety considers the impact of all actions on both event staff and competitors. Safety considerations are dynamic and often change as the race progresses, competitors become more tired and the weather conditions alter. For example, a slow moving competitor maybe forced to retire, not because they are incapable of finishing, but because the supporting marshals are at risk whilst waiting for them, or (and this has happened) the marshals have another time critical role that does not allow them to remain beyond a set time at a specific location.
The Race Director’s decision will be final in all matters relating to safety.
THE GOLDEN RULE
Whatever happens, you must arrive at the Finish each day and download your SI Card or contact the Race Director on the emergency phone number.
SOS Emergency Button / GPS Trackers
Participants' GPS tracker has an SOS Emergency Button. This essentially sends a message with your location to the Race Director via the GSM network. In an emergency it is worth attempting an SOS button press even if no mobile phone signal is available (according to your own mobile phone).
The exact instructions for how to use the SOS button on your tracker will be printed on the race map issued at registration.
The GPS trackers record their location via GPS but only send out their location via the GSM network (the same network that is used to send text messages). As such, there are black spots along the route where there is no network coverage. At these locations the tracker records its location, buffering the data, and then sends it out once it is back in network coverage. In these black spots it is not possible to send an SOS message.
Checkpoint Guidance Time
This guidance, printed on the map, provides an early indication of whether you will arrive at the Support Point by the Cut-Off time or the Finish by the Course Closure Time. This based on a specified start time and specified average speed; both printed on the map.
Support Point Cut-off Time
At the midway support point, event staff will wait for all the competitors to arrive. However, any competitor that does not leave by the cut-off time will be automatically retired from that day and transported directly to the overnight camp.
Course Closure Time
Any competitor arriving at the Overnight Camp after the specified Course Closure Time will be automatically retired from the following days racing.
Emergency Telephone Number
In the event of an emergency please contact the Race Director in the first instance on the number printed on the map. It is often best to send a text message but please only assume this has been received if you received a response back. Alternatively phone 112 and ask for the Police and then Mountain Rescue.
As we will be using a GPS tracking system for all competitors it is extremely unlikely that any person should be missing at any point during the event. However, there are limitations of the tracking system (see above) and it is theoretically possible for a person to become stationary (such as after having a accident) in signal black spot. In this instance the main benefit of the GPS tracking system is that the potential search area is radically reduced in size and it would be reasonable to expect to locate a missing person rapidly.
Any competitor running late is requested to contact the Race Director on the emergency phones via text message.
Bad Weather Course
A bad weather course may be declared at anytime by the Race Director and in this instance, competitors must omit certain checkpoints. Details of the bad weather course are printed on the map.
Event Centre & Overnight Campsite Addresses
Should you be running very late, and it is possible, please consider getting a taxi to that days' finish. The address is printed on the map.
We expect all competitors to have experience of the following:
1) Ultra Distance Races
An ultra distances race is any race greater than marathon distance. Race experience can be in any terrain type but mountain running races are most relevant.
2) Multiday Races
Again these can on any terrain type but mountain running races are most relevant.
3) Mountain Running
The gold standard is mountain marathon events* because they replicate the difficulty of the ‘off-trail’ terrain that will be encountered on the Dragon’s Back Race™ most accurately and because they have a significant navigational element. We recognise that mountain marathons are a very British phenomenon and we will accept different experience from international competitors.
* Mountain Marathon events, such as:
- Lowe Alpine Mountain Marathon
- Original Mountain Marathon
- Great Lakeland 3Day
- Marmot Dark Mountains
- Rab Mountain Marathon
- Saunders Lakeland Mountain Marathon
- Highlander Mountain Marathon
- Mourne Mountain Marathon
4) Navigation in the Mountains
Competitors will need to confirm that they are confident travelling through the mountains using a map and compass to navigate. The Dragon’s Back Race™ is not a marked course and it is competitors’ responsibility to visit each checkpoint in the correct order.
We recognise that some competitors will have relevant experience that isn’t ‘race’ experience such as completing well-known mountain running challenges, like the Bob Graham Round. Experience of this nature is welcomed.
Obviously, one race could tick all the experience boxes and in this case competitors do not need to provide different examples for each different category of experience. However, it is worth noting that competitors that are able to demonstrate a broad range of experience are much more likely to be offered an entry.
Competitors will need to provide evidence of their experience in the form of race results including their position, nature of the race (distance, height gain, terrain etc); they must appear in the official results and provide an online link to these results.
All experience must be within the last three years. Any experience that pre-dates May 2013 will not be considered.
RETIREMENTS & REPATRIATION
Competitors who are unable to continue may retire at the mid way support point or the overnight camp. At these locations, transport will be available. If a competitor retires at the mid way support point they will be first transported to the overnight camp to rendezvous with their overnight bag. Competitors retiring at the overnight camp and wishing to leave the race, will be transported to the nearest local transportation hub (bus station or train station) and will need to make their own way back to the start at their own expense.
Competitors may choose to skip a day and continue the following day but will become ineligible for a finishers trophy.
If competitors need to retire at any other location (other than the mid way support point or overnight camp) it is critical that they communicated this to the Race Director urgently as per the emergency instruction printed on the map. We would strongly advise competitors to carry sufficient money so that they could get a taxi... just in case!
If competitors need to retire at any other location (other than the mid way support point or overnight camp) they may telephone the Race Director and enquire about the possibility of a vehicle collection… we will do our very best to facilitate this but can't guarantee that it will be possible quickly. Competitors should be prepared (both financially and mentally) to make their own way to the over night camp.
For competitors unable to complete the full course but still able to run, we expect to provide limited transportation (only on the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th days) direct to the mid way support point, from where they will be able to run the second half of each day.
MARSHALS / SUPPORT TEAM
July 2016: Event Team FULL!
We will need a large volunteer event team for the 2017 event. Tasks could include manning a checkpoint, supervising the start or finish, putting SI controls out (depending on your navigational experience of course!) or helping to organise the overnight camp.
Above: Most of the marshalling team from 2012.
Volunteering as a race marshal is great fun and we are confident that marshals will have some memorable experiences, make some new friends and share many laughs. However, it is hard work and you can expect some very long hours. For example, our earliest starts will be 0600 each day and we can expect our slowest competitors to finish as late as 0000. During this time we will need to provide food, man the start, finish and support points. Each day we will also need to dismantle, pack, move and reassemble the entire overnight event centre, which includes mess tents and all the competitors’ tents. We also have checkpoints to place and collect in, working a day ahead and behind the competitors. We'll be busy!
Above: The evening briefing for the team.
Marshals will be camping with the competitors at the overnight camp and will need to bring all their own camping and sleeping kit.
We are particularly interested in marshals that have any medical training and previous event experience and / or are sufficiently competent mountain runners/walker that they can place or collect checkpoints. Our preference will be for experienced volunteers who are able to attend the entire event.
Marshals will also be entitled to free entry to the next Dragon’s Back Race™.
In 2012 and 2015, as a ratio of applications, it was harder to get a place as a marshal than a competitor!
Transport and Accommodation
Competitors will need to book their own accommodation on the night of Sunday 21st May in Conwy. This is not included in the price of the event.
Pre-race meal venue to be confirmed in upcoming communications.
Transport and Parking
Competitors will be given three options:
- Park in at the southern end of the race (venue to be confirmed) and get a bus to Conwy on Sunday 21st May before the start of the race
- Park in Conwy (the northern end of the race) and get a bus to Conwy on Saturday 27th May after the race has finished
- Make your own transport arrangements with friends and family
Park and Ride options 1 and 2 are included in the cost of the event but must be booked in advance (communications from us nearer the time) so that we have the correct size/number of buses. If you don’t book, you will not have a place on the buses!