Key Dates & Timings
The 5th Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race®:
Monday 20th to Friday 24th May 2019
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Key Dates & Times
You can expect:
You can expect:
We will ask you:
- If you have any special dietary requirements - WE HAVE NOW E-MAILED PARTICIPANTS ABOUT THIS REQUEST
You can expect:
- We will publish our Ecological Briefing Notes for the full course
- We will publish guidance on the event map, and about following the mandatory and recommended routes
You can expect:
- We will publish our medical guidance for the event
- We will publish guidance on the equipment and clothing requirements
We will ask you:
- If you have any requests for who you wish to share a tent with
- If you require a space on either of the coaches (see below)
- To fill in a medical survey
You can expect:
- Guidance on the Event Rules, Cut-Offs and Course Closure Time
~10 Days to go
We'll send updated information about:
- The confirmed 2019 route (and how to access it digitally - e.g. downloadable GPX file)
- Final arrangements for Registration: Parking, kit check, ID and race briefing.
~3 Days to go
We'll be ready to share information on how to access the live GPS tracking and how your friends and family can send you Dragon Mail™
Sunday 19th May 2019
1000 - Bus from Llandeilo departs for Conwy
1200 - Registration, Kit Check & Bag Drop OPENS (Conwy)
1400 - Bus from Llandeilo arrives in Conwy (Approximate time)
1700 - Registration, Kit Check & Bag Drop CLOSES (Conwy)
1800 - Participant race briefing (Conwy)
1930 - Participant and Event Team buffet meal and social (Conwy)
Monday 20th May 2019
0600 - Bag Drop OPENS (Conwy Castle car park)
0630 - Bag Drop CLOSES (Conwy Castle car park)
0640 - All participants must be gathered in Conwy Castle
0645 - Official participants' start line photograph
0700 - START
1500 - 2000 - Afternoon Snacks
1800 - 2300 - Evening Meal
Tuesday 21st - Friday 24th May 2019
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 25th May 2019
0900 - Bus from Llandeilo departs for Conwy
1300 - Bus from Llandeilo arrives in Conwy (Approximate time)
Please note this page contains the 2017 Event Details. Whilst they are unlikely to be any material changes to the 2019 event details this information is provisional.
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 19th 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 19th 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 2019 course will be similar, but not identical, to the 2017 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.
The digital route versions are currently offline for edits, and are due back by Thursday 21st February.
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|
>> scroll right >>
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 participants were able to complete the first day and have the chance to go on and complete the full course. However, 2015 participants 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 participants 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 participants.
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 Berghaus 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 participants to be running for approximately 8-9 hours each day and the slowest participants (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 participants 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 Berghaus 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 2019 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.
These will enable you to test-follow the race route using a GPS device and include checkpoints (and their associated cut-off times). A new interface for these will be ready in Summer 2018. 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.
Water on the Route
Out on the course participant’s must source their own water en-route from streams. It is each participant’s personal responsibility to boil and/or purify all water they consume; if participants choose not to treat water this is entirely at their own risk. Drinking water is provided at the daily Support Point only.
Checkpoints and Cut-Offs
An example summit checkpoint (Diffwys, Day 2) from the 2017 Berghaus Dragon's Back Race® ©Guillem Casanova
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.
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.
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 since 2015, and working back through their splits, we have revised the Cut-off Times so that participants travelling at the same speed in future editions of the race 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; imagine that our admin team, medical team, safety team, catering team must all 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 participants will be in Berghaus Air 8 tents as used to great success in 2015 and 2017. 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.
Above: Accommodation for participants in 2019 will be in the superb Berghaus Air 8 tents as used in 2017 ©Tom Hecht
We always try to accommodate friends and groups together in the same tent, but for safety reasons, participants must stay in their specified tent during the race (we contact participants regarding tent allocation close to the event). The details of the tent allocation are available at registration. There will be female only tents available for female participants who would prefer this.
Participants 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: Relaxed scenes at the day 4 campsite, 2017 ©Tom Hecht
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.
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 a farmer's field in a rural location) and toilets will be provided by way of portaloo toilets. Washing facilities will generally consist of the nearest river, which at least is refreshing!
Above: Accommodation for participants in 2019 will be in the superb Berghaus Air 8 tents as used in 2017 ©Tom Hecht
1) Under no circumstances can any cooking, naked flames or heat sources of any kind occur in the participants’ tents.
2) Participants 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.
The Berghaus Dragon's Back Race® is organised by runners, and the catering team is led by a runner: we understand just how hungry you will be. Please don't worry about the quantity and quality of food.
All meals are vegetarian, high in calories and contain a source of protein. Food will be served in a dedicated catering tent by the catering team. There will be plenty of space to enjoy your food in the main marquee along with your fellow runners, a great opportunity to share stories and compare notes on the day. Participants will need to provide their own plate, bowl, mug and cutlery, and wash these up themselves (we will ensure that a good supply of warm and clean washing up water is provided).
Vassos Alexander getting his greens from the catering tent on the 2017 event ©Tom Hecht
Breakfast, afternoon snacks and evening meals are provided for participants. Participants must bring their own hill food.
Whilst there will be plenty of food, it is important to note that any one type of food is not unlimited, and the catering tent is only open at specific times. This means that participants arriving very late at the Overnight Camp may find that the catering tent is closed; in this instance, we will provide a meal but it may be a dehydrated meal. Also, while we can often provide second helpings of our main evening meal the quantity of food is not unlimited, and we need to ensure all the participants and event team receive a hearty meal. If a participant is exceptionally hungry they are likely to be served with a larger quantity of the meal accompaniment such as bread, pasta or rice.
The perception that food is unlimited has caused problems at previous events with hungry participants asking for huge portions of food, only to throw it away because 'they can always get a second helping'. Our experience shows that many participants overestimate their appetites and/or are too tired to eat their portion. Therefore, we serve standard portions of meals and ask that hungry participants come back to the catering tent for a second helping. This policy reduces food waste enormously and helps to ensure that everyone at the event is well fed each day.
05:00 – 08:30 Breakfast
Breakfast will be available from approximately one hour before the first start time and will include a choice of cereals with milk (dairy and non-dairy), Spanish style omelette, vegetarian sausages, baked beans, bread with jam/marmalade/marmite, fresh fruit / tinned fruit, unlimited tea, fruit tea, coffee and hot chocolate, squash and water. On alternate days there will also be croissants, American pancakes and bagels.
Advice: The only regular food queue that we get is when we open for breakfast at 05:00. For participants wishing to start at 06:00 please be aware there may be a short queue and factor this into your preparation time.
15:00 – 20:00 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.
Advice: The purpose of the 'Afternoon Snacks' is so that finishing participants can go straight to the catering tent and get some quick snacks before sorting themselves out (dry clothes, clean socks etc) and returning later for their main evening meal.
18:00 – 23:00 Evening Meal
The evening meal will change each night and will be a substantial meal. Please note that any participants finishing after 23:00 are unlikely to get the main evening meal, but we will provide dehydrated meals for anyone finishing this late. Sorry, but our catering team need some sleep too!
The provisional 2019 menu is:
Vegetable Stroganoff crumble
Sweet Potato Stew
Veggie cottage pie
Sunday 19th and Friday 24th May - Evening Buffet
We will be providing a special buffet meal on a Sunday and Friday evenings for all the participants and Event Team. This is a great opportunity to socialise and the buffet is included in the entry fee. The buffet includes roast vegetable quiches, a selection of salads (e.g. curried rice, potato salad, Tuscan tomato salad), a choice of breads, vegetarian chilli (mild) and...
Saturday 25th May - Breakfast
For the participants who choose to stay with us on the night of Friday 24th May (all are welcome), we will be providing our usual breakfast between 8 am and 9 am.
Allergens in the menu above:
- Sunday evening buffet: Chilli - celery (and celeriac)
- Breakfast (all days): TBC
- Afternoon Snacks (all days): TBC
- Monday: TBC
- Tuesday: Sweet potato stew - peanuts, nuts, sulphites & sulphur dioxide
- Wednesday: TBC
- Thursday: TBC
- Friday evening buffet: Chilli - celery (and celeriac)
The participants' marquee offers shelter and warmth in which to refuel each evening ©Guillem Casanova
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 as requested in an email to all participants on January 31st
We will do our best to provide some fresh fruit for participants but issues around supply, demand 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 the catering tent to supplement their hill food.
No Cooking in Tents
Under no circumstances can any cooking be done in the participant tents. Food and hot drinks will be available at almost all times in the catering tent but if participants want to prepare their own meals or drinks this must be done in the main marquee.
Hot drinks such as tea, coffee and hot chocolate are available when the catering tent is open: 05:00 to 08:30 each morning, and 15:00 to 23:00 each evening.
Hot water for drinking or making up hydrated meals will be available while the catering tent is open. We are not able to provide hot water for personal washing.
Out on the course, participants must source their own water en-route from streams. It is each participant's personal responsibility to boil and/or purify all water they consume; if participants choose not to treat water this is entirely at their own risk.
At the daily Support Point, we will be providing potable drinking water, which will be sourced from the previous Overnight Camp.
At the Overnight Camps we will be providing potable drinking water although this is occasionally not mains water, but water from a private source.
RESULTS, CLASSES & PRIZES
The miniature 'Dragon' trophies for all full course finishers ©iancorless.com
The Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race® winner's trophies will be awarded to the man and woman with the fastest cumulative time over the 5 days (given the nickname 'Mountain Breath' by 2012 winner Steve Birkinshaw's children). The miniature 'Dragon' trophies above are awarded to all full course finishers.
Congratulations to all the finishers who were in the hall on Friday night for prize-giving. They all deservedly make it into this post-race edit by Mary-Ann Ochota - thanks to all their supporters, family and friends for making the occasion such a special one.Posted by Berghaus Dragon's Back Race on Saturday, 27 May 2017
Final finisher gets a huge welcome in
Overwhelming scenes after the presentation last night as the 127th and final dragon, Tom Withers, completes the 2017 Berghaus #DragonsBackRace in 80hrs and 17mins!Posted by Berghaus Dragon's Back Race on Saturday, 27 May 2017
Support for Participants
The support team will be doing everything we can to get every participant 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 you finish.
Super-keen event team members will even deliver your overnight (max 60L) dry bag to your tent upon your arrival at camp! ©Tom Hecht 2017
Please refer to the ‘Food’ section for further details.
Transport of Participants' Kit
Participants’ overnight kit bag (max 60L - see recommended option) will be transported to the overnight camp by the organisers. This means that participants 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 participants can access additional food and equipment from their Resupply Bag (max 22L 5kg - see recommended option).
Participants' Resupply (22L 5kg-max) Dry Bags at the day 3 support point 2017 ©Tom Hecht
Resupply Dry Bag & Support Point
Participants’ Resupply Dry Bag will be transported to the daily support point. Participants 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 Ortlieb one but participants can use any brand as long as it is 22L or less. Participants 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 participants’ maps. One of the race number stickers must be attached to the Resupply Dry Bag for easy identification (this will be provided at registration). The Resupply Dry Bags will be stored outside and are likely to get wet. How long participants choose to spend at the support point is up to them but the clock keeps ticking…
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. If the weather is poor, hot water may be available. There is a strict cut-off time at the Support Point.
A typical support point scene - approximately halfway through each day participants are able to access their 22L (5kg) dry bag ©Guillem Casanova 2017
Overnight Dry Bag - IMPORTANT
The Overnight Dry Bag must be 60L or less. We would recommend the heavy duty Ortlieb one but participants can use any brand as long as it is 60L or less. Participants' race number stickers must be attached to the Overnight Dry Bag for easy identification (provided at registration). The Overnight Dry Bags will be stored outside and are likely to get wet. The 59L Ortlieb Dry Bags are ideal and 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 participants’ dry bags will be strictly enforced to ensure fairness for all participants i.e. we will be checking all dry bags before they are accepted at registration.
Summary Information about Participants' Bags
Each participant will have three bags:
1) Their 'Hill' rucksack which must contain the mandatory hill kit (waterproofs, survival bag etc) plus whatever else the participant wants on the hill each day. There is no limit to the size and weight of this bag, as the participant will need to transport it to South Wales themselves!
2) Their 'Resupply Dry Bag' (max 22L and <5kg), again this can contain anything that the participant wants (we recommend additional warm clothes, food etc) and will be transported to the support point each day. It is very likely that some participants will finish before the van 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' (max 60L), 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 Bag 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 participants 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 participants 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 (as supplied) and compass
- Headlamp AND spare battery OR spare torch (with sufficient light to be able to navigate in the darkness)
We recommend: Petzl NAO®+ or Petzl REACTIK®+ AND a spare such as a Petzl e+Lite or Petzl Bindi
- 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
Recommended ‘Hill’ Kit
The following kit is also recommended:
- Mobile Phone (Although we recommend that all participants 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 participants 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 participants.
Mandatory ‘Camp’ Kit
The following kit must be included in the participants' Overnight Bag (max 60L):
- 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.
- Sunblock (minimum factor 30)
- 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 x5
- Steropore Sterile Island dressings (7cm x 6cm) x5
- Sterile Cotton Swabs x10
- Hydrocolloid Dressings (such as Compeed) x4
- 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 £19.99. 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
- A power bank (ca. 10,000-20,000mAh) for recharging devices.
- Travel pillow or pillowcase
- A fresh set of running clothes for each day
- Personal washing things and towel
- 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 participants have waterproof shoes as their spare pair and consider taking a spare waterproof jacket and trousers.
Participants will quickly discover that packing for the Berghaus 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!
A thorough kit check at the 2017 Berghaus Dragon's Back Race® ©Guillem Casanova
Kit Checks and Disqualification
Having the right kit could be essential for yours or other participants' safety during the event. We have also made certain undertakings on behalf of the participants to landowners and authorities about what safety kit you will be carrying. Therefore each day there will be random kit checks for many participants. Certainly the leading runners can expect a kit check. Participants 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.
The mass start at Conwy Castle, 2017 ©Guillem Casanova
There will be a Mass Start for all participants at Conwy Castle at 0700.
Days Two, Three and Four
Starts will be between 0600 and 0900. Participants will be allocated a start time (for example between 0600-0630) based on their finishing time from the previous day, with the slowest starting first and fastest starting last. We do not enforce this start time but it is crucially important that participants 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 participants, 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 participants 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.
See the chasing start from Day 5 of the 2017 Berghaus Dragon's Back Race®:
Day 5 at the Berghaus Dragon's Back Race
Just 8 minutes separated the Berghaus Dragon's Back Race leaders on day 5 and there were just 15 minutes between the 3 lead ladies. Queue the first-ever chasing start. How did the race unfold today? Did Joe Faulkner complete his 4th race?Posted by Berghaus Dragon's Back Race on Friday, 26 May 2017
The Race Director's first, and most important role, is to ensure the safety of the event staff and participants 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 participants.
Event safety considers the impact of all actions on both event staff and participants. Safety considerations are dynamic and often change as the race progresses, participants become more tired and the weather conditions alter. For example, a slow moving participant 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 trackers have 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 participants to arrive. However, any participants that do 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 participants 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 participants 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 participants running late are requested to contact the Race Director as explained on the map via text message.
Bad Weather Course
A bad weather course may be declared at anytime by the Race Director and in this instance, participants 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.
Each aspirant participant must agree to the following Declaration when completing an application form:
I am an experienced off-road runner and believe that I have a reasonable chance of completing the Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race® as it is described on this website, and declare that:
- I am capable of being self-sufficient and making safe decisions in the remote mountainous terrain;
- I have sufficient off road running, mountain and ultra experience to understand the nature of the challenge;
- I will apply sound mountain judgement at all times even if it means compromising my overall race result;
- I accept full responsibility for my own safety and any injury sustained during the event. These are not the responsibility of the event organiser, their agents or the landowners;
- I know my limitations and I am experienced enough to make a reasoned decision whether or not to start the event and/or to retire from the event rather than jeopardise my own or other people’s safety;
We recommend all participants to have experience of the following:
1) Ultra Distance Races
An ultra distance 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 Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race® most accurately and because they have a significant navigational element. We recognise that mountain marathons are a very British phenomenon.
* Mountain Marathon events, such as:
Participants who are unable to continue may retire at any point but the ONLY practical locations to retire are the daily Manned Checkpoint.
It is critical that retiring participants communicate this to the Race Control urgently as per the emergency instructions printed on the map.
Retirement at Manned Checkpoints
The daily Manned Checkpoint is accessible via vehicle and at these locations, it is possible for participants to retire into the immediate care of our event team. At the Manned Checkpoint, we will be providing emergency support and it will be possible to summon a medic to these locations based on the Medical Teams’ priorities and your immediate needs. Some of the Manned Checkpoint locations are very remote and participants should be aware that it may take the best part of a day to catch up with the event (and your personal kit) should you retire.
Participants who retire at other locations along the route will likely face considerable difficulty and a very long walk to reach the nearest road or civilization. Every effort will be made to collect retiring participants and bring them to Overnight Camp once they have reached a public road. However, this is not guaranteed and is dependent on the organiser's available resources, which are limited for recoveries of this nature. Retiring participants may need to arrange a private taxi to collect them at their own expense. Hitch-hiking may be achievable. Note also, that in general, it is helpful to retire to a point forwards on the route, rather than backtrack, as this keeps you nearer to the next Overnight Camp. (We breakdown the previous Overnight Camps by early-morning each day and move immediately to the next Overnight Camp). We appreciate though, that circumstances may dictate your retiral decisions and route – keep us informed on your thinking if possible – we’ll be watching your tracker!
IMPORTANT. If you can imagine the following please:
- Our event logistic steadily progresses south each day.
- The geography of Wales means that the route is truncated by valleys and mountains, and the road network is often indirect – it can be 50 miles of road travel just to get to ‘the other side of the mountain’.
Therefore, if you are aiming or needing to retire during the day stage, then we would generally ask that you push onward, for rescue on the ‘other side’ of a remote stage. Examination of the map (at atlas scale) might reveal other off-route options, but in general, we would ask you to stay on-route, moving forwards. As a last resort, you might reverse out from any stage, and also as a last resort, you might depart from the route and take an alternative escape route. You can imagine that the latter options are potentially more hazardous, though if there are good communications, agreement and contingency, these may be possible for us to interact with. If there is an incident/injury/health concern or worrying weather, then these will be handled on a case-by-case basis.
Leaving the Event
Participants retiring at the Overnight Camp and wishing to leave the race, will be transported to the nearest local transportation hub (bus stop or train station) the following day and will need to make their own way back to Conwy (North Wales start location), Llandelio (South Wales finish location) or directly home at their own expense.
Onward Transport for Non-Competitive Participants
With the best will in the world, we all know that not everyone starting the Berghaus Dragon's Back Race® will complete the course, and we have been thinking hard about how we can improve the experience of the runners who fail to meet the Cut-Off times, or the daily Course Closure Time.
Participants may choose to skip an entire day and continue the following day and we will endeavour to provide onward transport. For participants unable to complete the full course but still able to run, we will endeavour to provide limited transportation to the Part-Way Manned Checkpoint, from where they will be able to run the latter half of each day. Onward transport is absolutely subject to fitting in with our complex logistics: availability of transport, the weather, and many other factors… There are no guarantees but we shall endeavour to offer onward transport to 'half-days' as follows:
- Day 1 = Not Applicable
- Day 2 = Insertion at ~35 of 58km
- Day 3 = Insertion at ~44 of 71km
- Day 4 = Insertion at ~32 of 71km
- Day 5 = Insertion at ~24 of 63km
For example, if you fail to meet a Checkpoint Cut-Off time, or finish after the Course Closure Time on Day 2, you will have the option to be inserted into Day 3 at the Manned Checkpoint location, rather than miss the entire day of the expedition. We hope that you appreciate this flexibility, and recognise that we want as many participants as possible to get the maximum experience of this fantastic route, but that we are ultimately limited by some complex logistics.
This service cannot be guaranteed if other participants or event logistics have a greater need at that time. Our priority is always the participants still on the full course and the ongoing logistics associated with them. Therefore we have a 'First Out - First Off' policy, which means that once our transport logistics are maxed, the first participant who will be required to leave the event, will be the first participant who retired from the event.
MARSHALS / SUPPORT TEAM
We will need a large volunteer event team for the 2019 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.
Event Team preparing the start inside the walls of Conwy Castle, 2017 ©Tom Hecht
Volunteering on the event team is great fun and we are confident that you 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 participants to finish as late as 2300. 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 a lot of tent building and dismantling!. We also have checkpoints to place and collect in, working a day ahead and behind the participants. We'll be busy!
2017 Event Team briefing in Conwy ©Tom Hecht
The event team will be camping with the participants 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 those who 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.
Volunteering on the event team also entitles you to Ourea Events event credit to the full value of a 2019 race entry.
Traditionally, as a ratio of applications to attending the event, it has been harder to get a place on the event team than a place on the start line!
Dry run: The art of de-flating an 8-person tent ©Tom Hecht
We will open applications for the 2019 event team in early May. See you then!
Transport and Accommodation
Participants will need to book their own accommodation on the night of Sunday 19th 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
Participants 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 19th May before the start of the race
- Park in Conwy (the northern end of the race) and get a bus to Conwy on Saturday 25th 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!