The competition at the 2017 Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race is close, very close. At the end of Day 4, after 252km of mountain running and crossing dozens of mountain summits, only a few minutes separate the leaders in both the men’s and women’s races.
Closest of all is the women’s race where only 15 minutes separate the top 3 runners.
Day 5 at the Berghaus Dragon's Back Race
Just 8 minutes separated the Berghaus Dragon's Back Race leaders on day 5 and there were just 15 minutes between the 3 lead ladies. Queue the first-ever chasing start. How did the race unfold today? Did Joe Faulkner complete his 4th race?Posted by Berghaus Dragon's Back Race on Friday, 26 May 2017
Sabrina Verjee still leads, but was beaten by both Carol Morgan and Caroline McIlroy today and her lead is now down to just 6 minutes 53 seconds over Morgan. However, the quickest women today was McIlroy, who finished in 9.24.09, which was 11th on day.
Sabrina Verjee, current race leader ©iancorless.com
The Newfoundland based Brit is now just over 15 minutes behind the leader and seems to be gaining in strength and confidence as the race goes on. She didn’t seem too affected by the heat and is taking each day as it comes and enjoying every minute. “It’s just been a fantastic week,” she told me.
With the race so close there will be a chasing start in the morning. This means Verjee will start at 08.00, Morgan 6 minutes 53 seconds later and McIlroy 8 minutes and 18 seconds later, the exact time intervals which separate them. This means the first of the 3 across the line will be the winner – and that those of you watching them on the trackers will know it is a true race to the line.
The men’s race is equally close, but not quite so straightforward. On today’s run it was defending champion Jim Mann who was quickest, setting a time of 07.03.26 – which is 56 minutes quicker than he was in 2015. “I was all in yesterday and spent at the finish,” he told me, “but bounce back well and went well today.” It was an impressive run, and 18 minutes quicker than race leader Marcus Scotney, who said, “I’m in awe of that run after what happened to him yesterday.”
Jim Mann on one of the more frequent sections of tarmac on day 4 ©guillemcasanova.com
Scotney finished in 07.21.26 so still holds a lead of just over 8 minutes, but he was feeling the heat, and a painful knee. “It was so hot,” he said, “and I’m a bit sunburned as well.” He had started 90 minutes later than Mann, so was in the heat of the day longer, but his main concern was the knee injury and there is a possibility he may not be able to lead off the chasing start in the men’s race at 08.00 tomorrow.
This may put Mann back in as the favourite, as third placed Neil Talbott is well over 2 hours behind him, but Mann was once again the subject of a rules enquiry today, and as a result received a second ‘strike’.
Jim Mann in last chance saloon
BREAKING! Jim Mann, currently 2nd - 8 minutes behind Marcus Scotney, issued 2nd strike for deviating from mandatory route. Last-chance saloon? Race Director Shane Ohly explains.. #DragonsBackRacePosted by Berghaus Dragon's Back Race on Thursday, 25 May 2017
The reason was that he went along a path through a farm at the back of the Eden Valley Hotel, leaving the mandatory route for 200m. (He should have followed a track around to avoid the farm dogs.) The race staff looked closely at what happened and concluded it was a slower route (there were several gates) and no advantage was gained or sought. Race Director Shane Ohly said, “He just runs faster than he can navigate!”
He didn’t get a penalty but the second ‘strike’ means he is on his ‘last warning’ – if he infringes any rule tomorrow and gets a third strike he will be disqualified.
“I was just running on auto,” he told me. “I was coming down into a support point and thinking about that and went the way I always go. The dogs were tied up and I never thought about it. I just wasn’t looking at the map when I should have been!” He told me he’ll take extra care tomorrow and be on his best behaviour!
Be sure to follow the live tracking and social media feeds tomorrow to see who wins, and how many of the competitors can cross the finish line to slay their dragon.