|Above: Steve Birkinshaw (seven time OMM Elite winner) and Helen Whitaker (nee Diamantides, the 1992 winner of the Dragon's Back Race) training together in preparation for the 2012 Dragon's Back Race™. Photo: Berghaus.|
Whispered about with a mix of awe and trepidation, the original Dragon’s Back Race™ happened just once in September 1992. Many considered it to be the toughest mountain running event ever organised and now, almost twenty years to the day, this legendary race is returning and the running world is ablaze with expectation.
Closely following the original route, the race will start at Conwy Castle in North Wales and trace the mountainous spine of Wales southwards over five days to finish at Carreg Cennen Castle in the Brecon Beacons. Competitors will have to contend with a course that is approximately 320km long and with 15,000m of ascent, across the most remote and wild terrain that Wales has to offer.
The 2012 Dragon's Back Race™ is being sponsored by Berghaus and as details of the start are revealed, both competitors and spectators can be assured of a very memorable and special send off at 0700 on Monday 3rd September.
Competitors will gather in the inner courtyard of the imposing Conwy Castle, where they will be accompanied by the atmospheric singing of Maelgwn Male Voice Choir, who are multiple winners of the Welsh National Eisteddfod competition. During the countdown to the start the runners will be handed the day one map, giving them their first opportunity to see the course... and it's a monster with the planner's optimum route being 52km with 4468m of ascent! The race will be officially started by Cllr Dr Stuart Anderson (Chairperson of Conwy County Borough Council) and Cllr Cedric Rigal (Mayor of Conwy Town Council) and the competitors have received special permission to race out along the ancient town walls of Conwy before heading up to the Carneddau, Glyders, Snowdon and beyond...
With the friends and family of the competitors and local well-wishers expected, it is likely to be a busy start and anyone is welcome to come along and cheer off the runners. The best viewing spot will be Conwy Castle Visitor Centre (address: Vicarage Gardens Car Park, Rose Hill Street, Conwy, LL32 8LD).
Just like the original race, the 2012 Dragon's Back Race™ has attracted a strong international field with competitors coming from 14 different countries, including Hong Kong, New Zealand, USA, Australia and Canada.
The competitors will be following a route that journeys through the following areas and details of the route will be published online each morning. Results, photos and video will also be published online as the race develops.
• Monday 3rd September - Carneddau, Glyders and Snowdon area
• Tuesday 4th September - Moelwyns and Rhinogs area
• Wednesday 5th September - Cadair Idris and Plynlimon area
• Thursday 4th September - Elan Valley area
• Friday 5th September - Black Mountain area