Race Updates - Event Centre, Maps, GPS, Rules

17th Jun 2016

The 2017 Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race™ route details, GPX files, and 2017 provisional route data are now available online, and as such we feel it would be unfair to attempt to artificially reinvent the route in 2017. After the 2015 event we stated that the we did not want to continually reinvent the course, and that we would therefore make GPX files of the route available for participants if they wished to use a GPS device.

Shane Ohly, Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race Director says, “It is important for both the sustainability of the event and to ensure fairness for all involved that the management of the event evolves to keep pace with the additional numbers of participants. As such we will be issuing a route for the participants in 2017 printed on the event maps, complemented by GPX files. Small sections of this route will be mandatory to follow.”


The Dragon's Back Race route

New race map revealed? Ok, maybe not - please don't try to navigate with this map! 


The Map / Mandatory Route

We have listened to the feedback from participants and updated the rules and website information regarding how participants should follow the route. Previously we had stated that participants needed to stay within a 200m corridor of the mandatory route.

This information has now been changed - Shane Ohly explains: “Having the 200m corridor either side of a mandatory route worked extremely well for the Cape Wrath Ultra™, however there are important differences between that event and the Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race™ and I’ll admit to being too quick to adopting this approach to the Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race in 2017. After some careful consideration we have decided that the best approach will be to show what we consider to be the optimum route on the map, and offer this as a GPX file for download. Short lowland sections of this route will be mandatory to follow, but the upland and more mountainous sections of the route will not be mandatory to follow and participants may choose their own route if they wish. I hope this strikes the right balance for everyone.”


Above: the 2015 Berghaus Dragon's Back Race™ map. Here we show how the RED and BLUE route may be shown (note these lines are hand drawn on the planner's map). Our basic intention is to have a RED mandatory route in the lowland areas and an advised BLUE route in the mountain sections.


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:

RED = Mandatory route / Must be followed carefully

BLUE = Advised route / Free route choice

Approximately 90% of the route is BLUE i.e. there is free route choice for the majority of the journey through Wales. 


Download the 2017 route GPX files now (sorry not mobile/tablet compatible)


Some sections of the route that are marked as RED on the map are mandatory to follow. Some examples of when we would time-penalise or disqualify a participant for not following the RED mandatory route would be any occasion upon which we believe that they have gained an unfair advantage, and/or endangered themselves or others, and/or clearly passed through private property (like a garden) and/or climbed a farmer’s wall/fence.

In the case of accidental deviation from the RED 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 below about ‘strikes’).

Shane Ohly continues, “Remember, we will be watching the GPS trackers and, for example, any corner cutting or use of parallel paths will result in a time penalty AND strike. If the noncompliance with the red mandatory route has been accidental (i.e. navigational mistake) AND not resulted in any advantage, then the time penalty will be light, but the strike will stand. However, if the noncompliance with the route seems to have been an attempt to gain an unfair advantage, the time penalty will be harsh AND the strike will stand”.

The time penalty is at the discretion of the Race Director and there is no right of appeal!




Updated Rules

We have updated the event rules. Most importantly, we are introducing the ‘Three Strikes And You Are Out’ rule. Very simply, this means that on the third occasion a participant infringes our rules, they will be disqualified from that day’s racing, and therefore be ineligible for an overall result. Remember that ignorance of our rules is no defence.

Race Director, Shane Ohly explains the reasoning for this new rule, “We have found at our expedition events that most participants just want to complete the journey, and are uninterested in their overall result. This is absolutely fair enough as completion of the event is a significant achievement regardless of their overall position. However, this approach does mean that our standard penalty for an infringement of the rules (for example 1-hour time penalty), has little threat because the participant is only interested in completion. Over the years, I have seen a very small number of participants who consistently infringe the rules, often in minor ways, but their whole approach is that ‘the rules don’t apply to me’. We hope that this very strong sanction will result in greater compliance with our event rules resulting in greater fairness and improved safety”.

Any infringement of the rules will result in a ‘strike’ so it is important to really understand the event rules. The two areas where we see the worst compliance is with following mandatory routes and carrying the mandatory equipment, so we have highlighted these two areas in more detail in this update.



Race director, Shane Ohly, briefs the 2015 participants ahead of the race start ©IanCorless


Mandatory Equipment

The Mandatory list of equipment is important for obvious safety reasons, and ensuring that all participants comply equally with the mandatory list of equipment is important for fairness during the event. Consider, the following dilemma we are often faced with at an event; a participant is kit checked, and is missing an item like their gloves, but it’s a lovely day, and they are unlikely to be needed. Do we let them start? We have considered this carefully, and have come to the conclusion that in the interest of both safety, fairness and liability that we may incur, we will NOT let anyone start the day of racing if they are missing any mandatory kit.

We asked Race Director Shane Ohly, how this will work, “We understand that sometimes participants lose items, and we will bring a small stock of spare items such as gloves, whistles etc., and we will be happy to sell these on to participants if they lose an item. At the Cape Wrath Ultra™, there was a kit check at the beginning of each day and this proved a highly effective way of ensuring compliance with the mandatory kit list. Our approach at the 2017 Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race™ will be the same, with a kit check every morning”.

If participants lose an item of mandatory kit they should volunteer this to a member of the event team ASAP, as it will be much worse for them to be discovered without that item of kit as a kit check. Shane Ohly continues, “Losing a mandatory item like your race map with all its route and safety information will be taken very seriously, but missing your hat for example may be treated less seriously if the weather is fine. Participants discovered without an item of mandatory kit will get a significant time penalty AND strike. Remember, three strikes and you are out!"



Registration process - thorough checks, an important part of the pre-race activities ©IanCorless



There has been a little confusion about the location of the 2017 event centre. Firstly, we would like to apologise for any confusion and remind participants to look at the ‘2017 Details’ section only for current information (there is plenty of historic information about 2015 and 2012 races now within the website – this is not necessarily accurate).

The 2017 Event Centre, where registration, briefing etc. will take place, has not yet been confirmed. We intend to announce the location shortly as we finalise the planning and permission work. The Event Centre will be in the Conwy area.


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