Jim Mann built on his advantage on the second day of the Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race, completing a 58km route across the Moelwyn and Rhinog hills in a time of 7 hours 52 minutes. The defending champion set off last at 9am and in the course of the day passed everyone except Marcus Scotney, who just managed to finish ahead of him.
Jim Mann, sweeping up almost the entire 2017 day 2 field ©guillemcasanova.com
Scotney started earlier and so still lost 23 minutes to the leader on the day but wasn’t disappointed with the outcome. “I know Jim is so much faster than me over the rougher terrain,” he said, “so today was really about surviving the Rhinogs and reducing my losses. The plan worked and when the ground was runnable I was going really well so I hope in the later stages of the race to be able pull time back. There are still 3 days to go.”
Scotney won the Cape Wrath Ultra last year, but struggles to make any comparison between the two races. “Cape Wrath was a lot longer,” he said, “and 8 days of faster running left me completely spent. This race is much shorter but with harder ground and more climbing, the days are longer too. I was finishing at 2pm in Scotland, but here it’s more like 5pm. I was thinking this afternoon that I could do with it being a shorter day!”
Marcus Scotney heads down into the southern Rhinogydd ©guillemcasanova.com
Third today was Jez Bragg who was pleased to gain some time on Neil Talbott today. Talbott is still in third overall but Bragg is hopeful he can challenge him for the podium. “I don’t know Neil,” he said, “but was glad to pull a little back on him today and hope I might be able to squeeze onto the podium – we could have a good battle.” He added, “It was a day of two halves with the cloudy morning then sunshine all the way to the finish. Towards the end there was a cloud inversion so we were looking down over the tops of the clouds to the coast and Cadir Idris.”
Bragg was at the race in 2015 but had to pull out on day 4 after drinking bad water and said, “I definitely came back to finish and want a good result, but am being more careful this time. I have chlorine tablets this time and am using them, even though they taste disgusting. “
Jez Bragg, image ©iancorless.com
The top of the rankings after day 2 is dominated by UK racers, with Nick Hollon (USA) the highest placed international in 9th place.
In the ladies race the winner today was Caroline McIlroy in a time of 10.14.43, the 14th fastest time of the day. She is British but has lived in Newfoundland for many years, where she says there is no terrain really suitable for training for this race, not near to her home anyway. However, she did still have the advantage of familiarity today.
Caroline (hiding behind Chris Baynham-Hughes) @iancorless.com
“When I was growing up we had a family cottage in the area,” she said, “so we often walked over Cnicht, the Moelwyns and the Rhinogs, so today was all very much like home ground to me.” On time she was just ahead of women’s race leader Sabrina Verjee, who completed the 2015 race in 14th place overall.
Sabrina Verjee coming down off the Moelwyns ©iancorless.com
Verjee said, “I was running well in the first half of the day, but didn’t drink enough and struggled later on. Basically I was not looking after myself properly.” Although she’s done the race before she has a very rosy memory of her last outing. “I think you look back through rose tinted spectacles and seem to remember it was always sunny and easy. “ She then looked at the distance for tomorrow, and was surprised to find it was 71km with almost as much climbing as today. “That’s along way,” she said, “it seems a lot longer than I remember!”
Verjee still leads by 26 minutes, but McIlroy is now second ahead of Carol Morgan ... by just 35 seconds, so a really close race is developing between the 3.
Carol Morgan in the mist early on day 2 ©iancorless.coim