2019 Route Updates

26th Feb 2019

Over the winter we have been busy checking in with our stakeholders and revisiting certain sections of our route on the ground: We are always careful to ensure that we have the best running ‘flow’ and most assured access for every edition of the race. From year to year there can be changes on the ground that cause a route revision, and we learn a great deal from the GPS tracker traces from each race. We have completed the significant phase of this process and can now provide:

  1. A description of the main route revisions for each day.
  2. Some advice for those reconnoitring the route for each day. 
  3. A discussion on the terms mandatory and recommended route sections.
  4. An outlook on potential future revisions
  5. Updated routes on ViewRanger as shown in the Route Information section of the website. You can access these through the ViewRanger app* or export/download these as individual GPX files if you so desire. These digital versions of the route have symbols with associated text for Start, Finish, all Checkpoints, all Support Points, start and the end of each mandatory route section when viewed in the ViewRanger app or website (you are also likely to find that this ‘waypoint’ text displays on your device even if you are not using ViewRanger) and is intended as a great aid but never a replacement for referencing the physical map you will be issued with at registration that also forms part of your mandatory kit.

*Please note: If you are using the ViewRanger app on your phone and have already accessed a previous version of these routes, be aware that you must perform a re-sync (easy to see when successful**). Simply deleting the routes and re-accessing them within the app does the same job. This does not affect using the option to download GPX files.

** Our route updates have removed the prefix “PROV” from the route titles to make it clearer to you if you have the latest route version or not.

As ever, we are unable to offer individual technical support in using the digital version of the route. We recommend posting in the 2019 Participants Facebook Group if you have any problems.


These route section revisions have only a negligible effect on the daily route distances and ascent figures.



Following the route on Day 2 ©Guillem Casanova 


Specific Revisions, Day by Day:

Please note that we have not attempted to list all route and checkpoint revisions. We wish just to present to you the revisions that might be essential for any reconnaissance trips, online familiarisation and preparation with the route.

We advise that you thoroughly familiarise yourself with these revisions online, and decide whether this affects any of your previous or planned reconnaissance trips.

Day 1

  • Later Cut-Off time at Pen-y-Pass Youth Hostel, to 17:15 (and some guidance time adjustments after this checkpoint). This is to take into account the passage of the participants along the narrow Conwy Castle wall walk. 
  • Slight adjustments to small sections of the mandatory and recommended route in this day.

Day 2

  • A revised descent to Tanygrisiau Reservoir, using a footpath.
  • A simpler mandatory routing for the final 4km of Day 2. 
  • Adjustments and re-designations of sections of the mandatory and recommended route in this day.

Day 3

  • Slight adjustments to small sections of the mandatory and recommended route in this day.

Day 4

  • An extended long section of mandatory route at the beginning of this day, but that is purely a re-designation of the same route that was recommended in the 2017 event edition. (Note that the recommended route depicted on the 2017 event printed map was never followed – it was revised DURING the event – to the route that we have today).
  • A significant revision to the descent route to the Elan Village road and Support Point in this day – which is all now mandatory.
  • A new section of mandatory route to the Abergwesyn Checkpoint, and an earlier Cut-Off time for this Checkpoint. (This is one of three Checkpoints in the whole event, that unusually have Cut-Off times rather than Guidance times).
  • Adjustments to sections of the recommended route in this day.

Day 5

IMPORTANT: please note that reccying 'Fforest' (and the tracks up to) is not allowed. It is private land that we have secured special permission to cross for the race itself, but not for any other access. 

  • An extended long section of mandatory route for the FIRST HALF of this day, but that is mainly a re-designation of the same route that was recommended in the 2017 event edition. (Note the slight variance in the final moorland section before the Support Point).
  • Checkpoint 1 has been moved to a cairn 500m onwards from the 2017 location.
  • A refinement in the recommended routing throughout the Black Mountain section.
  • Checkpoint 7 has moved to a car park 500m north. The Cut-Off time is unchanged.
  • An extended AND revised long section of mandatory route at the end of this day, after the final hill checkpoint of Tair Carn Isaf.

General Revisions


We have been able to rationalise (reduce) the number of summit checkpoints, (without altering the optimal routes that the previous checkpoint sequences denoted). 

However, we have also added some checkpoints where this helps us define the mandatory sections of the route (see explanation below).

So in total, for each day you may notice either the same, more, or fewer checkpoints, depending on how familiar you have been with the route until now, either in review of 2017 or by knowing the IDs on the waypoints on screen or in device, from the previous digital versions of the route. Importantly, you will only need to familiarise yourself with these latest routes.

Support Points:

Support Point locations have not changed. With one potential exception in Day 3 (see far below).

Mandatory and Recommended Routes

All sections of mandatory route are now defined in the GPX files, at both the start and end. All sections of mandatory route now start with a Checkpoint. All Checkpoints are marked on the event map, and on the ground are marked by an orienteering 'kite' and accompanied by an electronic SPORTident box into which you 'dib' with your SPORTident card - that is carried on a wristband.



An example of mandatory and recommended route depiction from the 2017 event map 

A more detailed explanation…

For this event we have a strong distinction between these two route section definitions; ‘mandatory’ (printed as orange on the event map) and ‘recommended’ (printed as yellow on the event map). We also know what would be an ‘optimal’ route, but we do sometimes have to steer around areas of ecological sensitivity, so our overarching definition then, is that we are providing you with the ‘best’ possible route. More explanation (and ruling) resides in our web pages. For the 2019 event edition, we have continued to make the ‘mandatory’ sections more robust. These are mainly at lower altitudes, where best guidance from us, and accurate navigational response by you, is required through farmland, on public rights of way, minor public roads, and short sections of major roads. Among many worst outcomes, we are preventing you dead-ending, and considering to climb over a wall – the walls here are very fragile, and important for retaining livestock. 

The route now has a couple of longer/notable sections of mandatory route. Mandatory routes are generally coincident with the best route, although some sections do circumnavigate areas of ecological sensitivity. Mandatory routes must be followed without deviation, otherwise a rule infringement (and penalty) will likely result.

Aside from the mandatory route sections, the vast majority is ‘recommended’ route. These sections generally occur on the higher altitude open ground of mountain and moor. In total, whether mandatory or recommended, the route that we consider to deliver here, is the ‘best’ route that we believe can be achieved through this terrain, and with us, as organisers, knowing any constraints of the stakeholders/landowners.

The event map

The event map will be updated to reflect these route revisions, and at a very high level of detail. You receive the event map at registration on Sunday 19th May. We are committing the event map to print in March.



Example of an event map          

The event map will be an updated version of the superbly detailed, high quality, FULLY WATERPROOF AND TEAR-PROOF, Harvey's map of the Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race®. This topographic map shows all relevant hill and place names, a symbol legend, emergency protocols, all checkpoints, support points, and the route line designated as both mandatory (in orange) and recommended (in yellow).

Future known potential route revisions

Day 3: We are seeking a more sizeable Support Point location in (or near) the village of Machynlleth. This might also change a section of mandatory routing shown on the map and in the ViewRanger data – i.e. to flex to a new location in (or near) the village.




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