There were no surprises on the final day of the Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race with race leader Jim Mann crossing the line to claim the winner’s trophy and Jamine Paris following soon after to be the first female finisher and second overall.
Nothing is easy in this race and running over the Brecon Beacons on the last part of the final day was made much harder by the weather. The tops were covered in dense cloud with rain driven on strong gusting winds and Mann summed it by saying, “I could have done without that! I didn’t like it at all.”
Others said they were sometimes in white out conditions making the navigation exceptionally hard. Tremayne Cowdry said, “That was the hardest nav I’ve done – it was freezing, raining hard and you couldn’t see a thing.”
Not everyone disliked it though. The very first runner to finish today was Pavel Paloncy and he wished there had been more weather like that. “I was expecting more conditions like that earlier in the race,” he said, “and I know navigation is my strong point so I would do better in such conditions.”
He is a prolific endurance runner and adventure racer and I asked him how the Dragon’s Back Race compared to other races he’d competing in, but he said nothing was really like it. “It’s a stage race but very mountainous so I wanted to try it, and will maybe try again in 2 years.”
The race winner was both relieved and elated and told me he had nearly not entered. “I had done a lot of training for the Paddy Buckley Round,” he said, “and was considering this one but wasn’t sure. I think I only entered officially 10 days before the start as Shane kept a place open for me.” Shane Ohly added, “I took a chance and had printed up his race number before he entered as I was sure he’d come.”
Mann said he had deliberately set out last of all on the first day. “I wanted to run at my own pace and punched into the timing box last of all. I was worried about going off too fast, especially with Steve Birkinshaw running just that one day.” He passed everyone and opened up a day one lead, so his comfortable pace was clearly faster than anyone elses, and he was never closely challenged.
For the last 3 days he has run much of the time with Jasmin Paris, who said, “I felt I had a good shot at winning the ladies race, but never dreamt of second place overall.”
By the time the racers began to finish in Carreg Cennen Castle the weather had brightened up a little and there were views of the surrounding hills and valleys from its imposing position on a craggy hill top over the village of Trapp.
The runners climbed steeply up to reach the steps built up to the entrance and passed through a narrow gap to emerge inside the small castle courtyard where the finish banner was set up and a small crowd was waiting to welcome them back.
Their applause was all the fanfare they received despite the amazing feat of endurance they’ve completed, but the hugs and cheers of some of the race marshals who have helped them over the past 5 days and the sight of family come to cheer them in is all they would want, or be comfortable with.
After spending a little time in the castle the race mini-buses whisked them back to the Rugby Club in nearby Llandeilo, where the race camp is set up and the prize giving will take place tonight.
Written by Rob @ Sleep Monsters