|Above: Helene Whitaker and Stephen Birkinshaw. Photo: Berghaus.|
Berghaus has announced that it will be sponsoring two high profile competitors in this year’s Dragon’s Back Race™. The company is supporting Helene Whitaker, who won the original race in 1992, and Stephen Birkinshaw, seven times winner of the KIMM/OMM. Helene and Stephen have been working with Berghaus during recent months, helping to test and refine a new range of products that they will use during the race, which will be held from 3 to 7 September.
Helene Whitaker (neé Diamantides) competed in the first Dragon’s Back Race™ in 1992 alongside Martin Stone. They were the first pair home, in a race that saw only half of all competitors finish. Helene had already achieved a huge amount in adventure racing and running before she tackled the race 20 years ago. Since then, she has got married and started a family, and has a busy working life too, but her passion for running remains as deep as ever. Helene is excited about the prospect of returning to the Dragon’s Back Race™, but recognises that the event presents a big challenge.
“I really want to go out and have five nice days of running in Wales. I have two aims. First, to get to the start line. Second, I would very much like to get across that finish line. Neither are foregone conclusions. Actually, it is very enjoyable doing long distance travelling across mountains on foot. I love being in the mountains - and deserts too for that matter – and experiencing the views, and the wilderness. I enjoy the navigational challenges and the skill of maximising my own chances. It’s hard to keep body and soul together after a time and how you eat, drink and what you wear makes all the difference.”
Stephen Birkinshaw is a veteran mountain runner who has been participating in outdoor events since he started orienteering at the age of seven. Throughout his career, Steve has enjoyed sustained success and has a long list of major wins under his belt at an elite level, including seven individual victories in the world famous KIMM/OMM. He continues to balance a work and family life with competing at an elite level in some of the toughest races in the running calendar, and is looking forward to the challenge of the Dragon’s Back Race™.
“I enjoy racing against other people and I also enjoy long days running out on the fells – the rougher and longer the better. So the Dragon’s Back is the perfect race for me. There will also be a navigation element in the race - finding the best lines between the checkpoints will be very important and I really enjoy and excel at this aspect.”
Helene and Steve have been working closely with the Berghaus product development team, testing some new kit concepts for spring/summer 2013 and helping to refine them ahead of their launch. Both runners will be using some of the new range during the Dragon’s Back Race™, which Berghaus is sponsoring. All competitors in the race will also be offered the opportunity to use the new products during the race.
For training insights, Steve and Helene's blog updates on the Berghaus website make fascinating reading. Some of the highlights are here:
- Three months to “D” (Dragon) Day - Helene Whitaker
- Old County Tops Fell Race - Steve Birkinshaw
- Returning to the Dragon’s Den - Helene Whitaker
- Racing the Legendary Dragon’s Back Race - Steve Birkinshaw
- What an amazing sport - Helene Whitaker
- The Dragons Back Race - Steve Birkinshaw