Blistering heat on the Welsh Mountains. ©iancorless.com
On a day of mixed weather conditions, with both dense fog and extreme heat competitors in the Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race have been racing 71km over the hills of mid-Wales today.
Their camp site for the night was a large field beside the A44 and the runners came in after crossing Plylimon Fawr saying what a superb afternoon it had been, but a HOT one.
When Jonathon Davies came in he said, “That was a lot better than yesterday as I used much more sun cream, dived in any rivers I saw and stuck my head in puddles. I think I’ve drunk 9 litres today!”
A lot of the runners did look haggard and sunburned but the majority were in good shape and at this stage it looks like there will be a high number of finishers today.
Among them was Jurgen Athoni of Belgium who said, “They told me the Marathon des Sables was tough, but they had no idea. This is much tougher! “ He is doing well, in 28th position , and was not looking as weary and sunburned as many others. He trains in the Ardenne and is one of those runners who prefers not to use a GPS, but to stick with the map. He seemed a bit unsure if using a GPS was really in the spirit of the race.
Another finisher today was Chris Lines, who is on the Berghaus relay team. A member of the sponsor company’s staff is running each day and Chris is here working on the PR for the race. On arrival he said, “I had a real dip around checkpoints 4 and 5 today, but the afternoon was fantastic, and I got myself here!”
Checkpoints 4 and 5 today have not been popular, particularly number 5, which is a direct out and back to a summit and not on a linear route like the rest of the course. (Shane Ohly says it is because on the original replanning of the route in 2012 the aim was to include as many summits as possible.)
Now he is back in camp Chris has to start work on the day’s press release!
Not everyone got to the finish under their own steam of course and I saw a couple who were tearful on their return, knowing they would not now earn their dragon trophy.
One runner who came off the course today was sports presenter Vassos Alexander. He’d said he was stopping last night but did give it another go before being collected near checkpoint 3. It was a brave attempt, but he was already carrying an injured ankle and made a slow start over Cadair Idris.
“This morning I was the last one up on the mountain, the one going too slowly and limping along. If you’d told me a week ago I’d be on my own, in the fog, on a mountain and injured, but still be fairly happy I wouldn’t have believed you. But that’s how it was.
“It was just pain and I can usually switch off and push through that, but it was painful with every step and I knew I would never be able to finish the race now anyway.
“It was real wilderness and you are just given a map and told off you go! I love that. You have to be fit but also competent and I’ve gained new skills in these two days. When I was on Cader Idris in the fog I didn’t use the GPS watch, I preferred the map.
This is the first race I’ve not completed but I dug deeper than I ever have before and was proud of myself yesterday for getting through the cut-off and finishing. Even though I didn’t finish it was still the best race experience of my life and I will definitely be back in 2 years time to finish it.”