After a tense final day with the 3 leading female runners all minutes apart it was Carol Morgan of Ireland who crossed the finish line in Llandeilo first this afternoon.
Carol Morgan at the final finish punch ©guillemcasanova.com
Delighted, relieved and exhausted she ran over the line in the overpowering heat at 16.03 to become the first international winner of ‘the world’s toughest mountain race’. (All previous winners have been from the UK.)
Her time for the day was 7.57.16, which was good enough to overtake Sabrina Verjee (UK), who has led the race since day one, but couldn’t hold lead on the 5th and final day.
Like the men’s winner, Morgan, was struggling to come to terms with the win. “I’m really not sure how I feel right now,” she said. At the time she was lying flat on her back while 3 marshals removed her shoes and socks, brought cold water and opened her kit back to find clothes.
“I was SO nervous this morning,” she added. “I get nervous before a 5k and have never done anything this hard so there was more to be worried about. I didn’t know what would happen or how I’d cope on a 5th day, and the other two runners are very strong.
“I didn’t see either of them all day! I did contour around one hillside and had been told Sabs was only just in front. Maybe I saw her on the top, I don’t really know, but after that I kept thinking she was behind and would come back at me. Then the road at the end was so brutally hot it was hard to keep going.”
Cooling down ©guillemcasanova.com
Keep going she did and was relieved to be sprayed with cold water at the finish line and know she was the race winner in a time of 48 hours 41 minutes and 47 seconds. The 43 old is now a double completer of the Dragon’s Back Race (she finished in 2015), and joins the ‘Dragon Slayers’, those who have won this great event. (Previous race winners were Helene Whitaker and Jasmin Paris.)
Sabrina Verjee finished well behind Morgan in the end and said she did see her come past at speed. “I gave it my all,” she said, “and held her off for longer than I expected to, but I just don’t have the lung power. I was still asthmatic and out of breath going uphill. Going down was fine, and the legs are strong, but my lungs are too little! That’s just how I am.”
All of the race finishers will receive their trophies at tonight’s prize giving dinner and Morgan will be presented with her winner’s Dragon Trophy.
Later on at the prize-giving, Carol with the prestigious Dragon trophy ©iancorless.com