Marcus Scotney put aside injury concerns to lead from the front on the final day and win the 2017 Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race, ahead of defending champion Jim Mann. In the women’s race, Ireland’s Carol Morgan caught and passed overnight leader Sabrina Verjee to claim the title. It was another hot day of competition in the Welsh mountains and at the end of 315km and 15,500m of climbing, 127 of Monday’s 223 starters completed the full race.
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
After day four, Marcus Scotney was concerned about a knee injury and there were doubts that he would start the final stage at all. However, there was no sign of Scotney being hampered by the injury as he stretched his overnight lead over Jim Mann, crossing Black Mountain and finishing on the outskirts of Llandeilo. Scotney completed the race in 37 hours 58 minutes (6:12 on the day), over an hour and a half ahead of Mann (39:38). Third place was claimed by Neil Talbott (41:53), completing a top three for Great Britain.
2017 race winner, Marcus Scotney ©guillemcasanova.com
Commenting afterwards, Marcus Scotney said: “It’s not really sunk in. I thought it was over last night and that I wouldn’t be able to run, but today I decided that I had come here to complete the race and to win, and that I had to give it a go. I knew too that this was potentially my fastest day and that I could run most of it if the knee held out, and it did, though I didn’t have a full range of movement. In the end, I was well inside my 40 hour target as well, so I’m delighted with the result.”
It was a tense finale in the ladies’ race, with the three leading runners separated by only 15 minutes at the start of the day. In the end, it was Carol Morgan of Ireland who crossed the finish line in Llandeilo first in an overall time of 48:43, and 7:57 on the day. During the day, she overhauled Sabrina Verjee’s lead and then built a winning margin of 45 minutes. Verjee completed the race in 49:28, and Caroline Mcllroy was third in 50:23. In winning the event, Morgan became the first international winner of the Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race.
Caroline McIlroy, 3rd woman at the 2017 Berghaus Dragon's Back Race ©iancorless.com
Like the men’s winner, Morgan is struggling to come to terms with her victory. “I’m really not sure how I feel right now,” she said. “I was so nervous this morning. I get nervous before a 5k race 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 fifth 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 that Sabrina 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.”
2017 women's race winner, Carol Morgan
Elsewhere in the field, competitors worked hard in the heat to ensure that they made the cut-off times and completed the full race to earn their much-coveted dragon trophies. Among them was Joe Faulkner, who became the only person to complete all four editions of the Dragon’s Back Race since it was first held in 1992.
Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race director Shane Ohly reflects on a week of Welsh mountain running:
“It’s been an incredibly exciting Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race and a really amazing week. The event had its first chasing starts since 1992 and the women’s race was fantastically close, with three competitors within 15 minutes of each other at the start of today. Each of them suffered in the heat, but Carol had a very strong final day and that proved to be crucial.
“In the men’s race, it was fascinating to watch the lead swap between Marcus and Jim. Ultimately, Marcus was faster and made fewer mistakes and fully deserves his brilliant win. I have huge respect for Jim for coming back and defending his title. He had nothing to prove and made some big navigational errors, yet still pushed Marcus all the way.
“And as for Joe Faulkner, he is characteristically relaxed about completing his fourth Dragon’s Back Race, but it is a brilliant achievement and unlikely to be equalled any time soon.”
Joe Faulkner, shortly after finishing the race, the only person to have completed all 4 editions of the Dragon's Back Race: 1992, 2012, 2015, 2017 ©guillemcasanova.com