British runner Jim Mann was the winner at the first day of the Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race which traversed the high points of the Snowdonia National Park. He crossed the line to record a time of 7 hours 49 minutes for the 49km route and didn’t look too stressed or exhausted at the end of his day, not considering the distance and terrain he’d just crossed, or compared to the condition of the day one finishers in the previous race.
Not that he was happy. “I made some really silly navigation mistakes,” he said, “again!” He’d run past the checkpoint at Pen-y-Pass and had to go back for it, and lost perhaps half his lead on the final third of the day on the Snowdon Horseshoe. However, he still lead by 11 minutes from Andre Jonsson, who was looking like he was feeling the effects of the day somewhat more when he finished.
Mann isn’t keen on being in the spotlight, he’s very self effacing and plays things down, so it was no surprise when he said in the finish tent, “I was pretty comfortable, just running at a steady pace, though no one else seemed to want go faster for some reason.” He’d said before the start he wanted to run conservatively today ... I think he’s going to give us a master class in British understatement this week!
The first lady to finish was Jasmin Paris who came in next together with Konrad Rawlik and Ed Catmur, with Damian Hall a step behind them. (They are a further 11 minutes behind the Andre.) Paris said she really enjoyed scrambling along Crib Goch ridge. “It was like being a big kid again,” she said. After that there was more of a gap before Steve Birkinshaw came in for the Berghaus relay team.
The arriving runners ran into a finish funnel which runs directly through the full length of the tented camp, which is set up in a farmer’s field in Nant Gwynant. The racers are sleeping in the Berghaus Air 8 tents and on arrival they are told where their bed is, and there is snack food and drinks ready and a masseur as well. There are even showers as the field is next to the Hafod y Llan campsite which is run by the National Trust. They have been exceptionally helpful hosts, welcoming the race back for a second time (and providing the internet connection to post you the news and photos).
Fortunately, by the afternoon the weather had brightened up, though it was still breezy and the cloud cover remained on the tops.
One bit of unfortunate news on day one was that Pavel Paloncy, the Czech endurance athlete who was among the favourites, took a bad fall and had to pull out two-thirds of the way through the day. He was still smiling despite being a little bloody and limping and will be checked over at the local hospital just to be on the safe side.
This evening the remaining runners will continue to the finish and those at the back must make a final cut-off time at Pen-y-Pass Youth Hostel at 18.30 and finish before 23.00. (They have to leave the checkpoint by that time, not arrive just arrive there.)
Written by Rob @ Sleep Monsters