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Day 5: Finishing day joy – and tears – for 2019 Dragons

24th May 2019 @ 17:30

More warm weather carried the 2019 Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race runners to the finish line in Llandeilo today. The final day took the runners into the Brecon Beacons National Park with a few stings in the Dragon’s tail.

From tranquil rural landscapes to the scarp of The Black Mountain and many of the highest summits of south Wales, there were plenty of ups and downs in the 63km route with a total ascent of 2,200m.

As the runners hoped for the first glimpse of Carreg Cannen Castle, which would mean they were almost at the finish line at Llandeilo, they also tried to cope with a mix of emotions.

Tears, gritted teeth and optimistic smiles partnered the physical agonies and pain for many of the runners still competing in this year’s race. For those who were reaching the end without significant injury there was a sense of surprise and relief.

After day 4, there were still  the 256 competitors left in race. By the finish line, there were 251 runners. Emotions ranged from pure joy to tears to shock and disbelief. 

The weather held and, while overcast, it was warm.

 

Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race 2019 - Day 5 - Fan Brycheiniog - Berghaus Runner - Copyright No Limits Photography

A runner heads over Fan Brvcheiniog ©No Limits Photography

Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race 2019 - Day 5 - Fan Brycheiniog - Berghaus Runner 2 - Copyright No Limits Photography

Focus and determination. ©No Limits Photography

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A runner comes out of the cloud. ©No Limits Photography

 

Starting out on the final day

Anwen Darlington (98), Wales, said: “Hardest day will be today for me. I’ll get there though.”

Alex Price (358), GB, said: “It has been a rollercoaster of emotions… so many ups and downs… and every day it always feels 10kms longer than you want it to be. Fighting through pain has been mind over matter so long as you are not injured. I have tendonitis and some pains but I am fighting through. I am almost there now.”

Andrew Clarke (77), GB, said: “I am low on salt so I am all puffy. I’ll get there, I hope.”

Kirsty Reade (370), Philip Haylett (176) and Andrew Cooney (84) were running together today. Kirsty said: “The end is in sight and that is a good feeling. I have just got to manage the aches and pains.”

Ben Burfoot (57), GB, said: “I have been feeling sick. I had bad nausea. I shut down about three miles from the finish yesterday. It was horrible. I just hope to get there today.”

 

Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race 2019 - Day 5 - Fan Brycheiniog - Unknown Runner 2 - Copyright No Limits Photography

Running on the final day. ©No Limits Photography

Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race 2019 - Day 5 - Fan Brycheiniog - Unknown Runner 6 - Copyright No Limits Photography

Looking forward to the finish line.  ©No Limits Photography

Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race 2019 - Day 5 - Fan Brycheiniog - Unknown Runner 5 - Copyright No Limits Photography

A smile of determination. ©No Limits Photography

 

Abimanyu Shunmugam (398), of Singapore, said: “ On Day 2 and 3 I couldn't keep any food in. Yesterday, I felt better and I feel good today.”

James Lowe (267) is one of the youngest in the race at the age of 23. He said: “Day 3 was the worst for me. The hills were long and the tracks at the end were murderous. The tracks at the end of day two were tough, too. There has been lots of different kinds of pain.

“I am hoping to set a role model and encourage more young people to get out and do this sort of running. Four years ago, Hugh, who is one of my friends, finished the Dragon's Back Race as the youngest age 22. He inspired me.”

Jean-Michel Cabrera (64), France, said: “The third day was a little bit harder but I have had an incredible week. The scenery is magnificent. I am doing good today.

 

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A message for dad at the finish. ©No Limits Photography

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A welcome ice lolly at the finish.©No Limits Photography

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Finish line joy included an ice cream or two!  ©No Limits Photography

 

The finish line - at last

Andrew Jones (222), Wales, said: “It was a lovely runnable day today. I am chuffed. I had a bit of a drama with a lost dibber because it fell off but then someone got it to me.

“The race is phenomenal and the scenery is amazing, while the organisation is brilliant. The volunteers lift your spirits every time you see them, the food has been brilliant. Every detail has been thought of. It has been really, really enjoyable.”

Jason Stobbs (418), GB, was one of the few who made it to day five but did not finish. He wasn’t upset, however. He said: “I  missed the cut off today. I have had blisters on my heels from day one and that has slowed me. But I am at peace with myself. I had an emotional rollercoaster out there but I have met some amazing people. It has been a great experience.”

Robin Johansson (221), Sweden, said: “Monday and Tuesday were horrible. Wednesday and Thursday were okay. And today was perfect. This is my second Dragon’s Back Race finish. 

“I got ill before the race two years ago and I also ended up with an injury so the race was very painful. I wanted to come back and enjoy running. It has been one of the best days of running in my life. I wanted to continue running today and not stop.” 

Mats Nord (332) and Daniel Ljungdahl (264), of Sweden, and Emil Soderlund (413), of Finland, met at the race and have run together every day. They said: “It’s been great for motivation and we have made friendships for life.”

Mats Borgen-Johansen (42), Norway, said: “My body is fine but my shins and achilles are so sore. I think i have enjoyed it! I was most frightened of Day 3 because of distance and elevation but I made it. I thought it would be easier after that but it was still a long way to go after that. I am so pleased to be on day 5 and hopefully I will get to the finish.

Welsh runner Caz Phillips (353) said: “This race is up there as one of the best things I have done. I have done it for the people who didn't make it so far… I finished it for my family and friends today…” 

 

first female

The first female, Lisa Watson, ©No Limits Photography

Nick Sunderland (422), of Canada, said: “I have experienced so many lows and highs in the race. The lows would come most days around mid-day. My knees and joints have been sore, too. 

“But the weather has been good, so we have been able to see a lot of the route and the summits. It is different from my home country but beautiful. It has been a great race.”

Stuart Mugridge (319), GB, returned to race this year because he didn't get past day 3 last time. He said: “It was unfinished business and now it is not!”

Andrew Heaney (178), GB, said: “The first three days were tough but if you had saved a bit the next too days were ok. I am very happy to finish.

“The route was great, taking in so many high summits. That makes it very different from other ultra races I have done.”

Simon Small (404), GB, said: “The Dragon has come back to Essex. I am so chuffed.” 

 

Read about the winners: Galen Reynolds and Lisa Watson win 2019 Berghaus Dragon's Back Race.

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