2012 Testimonials

The following testimonials have been received from competitors in 2012 Dragon's Back Race™:

2012 Dragon's Back Race™ winner, Steve Birkinshaw has described his experinces on his Berghaus blog:
Part One - www.berghaus.com/community/?p=8049
Part Two - www.berghaus.com/community/?p=8050

1992 Dragon's Back Race™ winner and 1st women in 2012, Helene Whitiker has described her experinces on her Berghaus blog:

I love to be tested and the week in Wales certainly did that. I thought it was courageous of you to include classic routes like Crib Goch at the end of a long first day. This gave a full mountain experience. I loved your response when the challenges of the first day proved too much for many and you changed and flexed the race to make sure everyone worked to their limit to finish the course. The delightful response from the Spanish Team at the end of the race in Carreg Cennen Castle, where they said, “I chose to smile” was moving. I myself was gutted to miss three checkpoints on the first day and managed during the rest of the week to concoct a very testing race, which left me satisfied with my effort for the week. What a brilliant week—thanks!
Gary McMahon

I just wanted to thank for a great race! I came over with no expectations except for finishing a tough race and you did not disappoint. The course was taxing yet doable by anyone who had done their training and had some basic navigation skills. Jon and I were never off course. We did have a few sniggles that cost us a few minutes here and there, like our route up to Crib Goch, but nothing that the locals didn’t experience also. The perfect weather you ordered up helped too. The volunteers and food service personnel were awesome! I think there week was more stressful than the runners. Almost everyone I met, racers, marshals, volunteers were friendly and helpful, even though they all thought that I talked funny. What a great week. Thanks again.
John Dove (Georgia, USA)

[Me talking to the race doctor on Day 5]: "I'm a bit worried because I am peeing a lot, far more than I should be for what I am drinking and very often, about every 1-2 hours."
[Race doctor]: "Don't worry, it's just trauma."

On a more serious note: It is one of the best races I have ever done and I feel honoured to have been part of history in the making. Day one and two are some of the most enjoyable days I have spent in the mountains anywhere - the scenery, the great people doing the race and supporting, the camaraderie, the incredible weather and the challenge. Being up on Crib Goch on Day one was just a huge amount of fun and stunning. I had run out of food by then so that fact that I was able to enjoy it on just half a Mars bar and a gel is also testament to the magic of being up there and in the race. Wales is a stunning place - a remote, hidden, mystical kingdom in many ways and to travel through it as we did was a fantastic experience.  

[Between me and other competitors on Day 4]: "It's not about competing against each other anymore, it's just us, against Shane."
Liz Barker

Just a quick E-mail to say an enormous ‘thankyou’ to yourself and all of the kind volunteers for organising and running the Dragons back race. The organisation you've put in was a massive undertaking and when I spoke to you on Wednesday morning you hinted that it might be a few years before (If!) you ran it again - I wouldn't blame you at all!  I would definitely apply to compete in the next Dragon’s Back Race as I feel I have "unfinished business" and can't think of a better way to spend 5 days.  I can honestly say it was one of the best experiences of my life (even though it was only 2 days), and there is something wonderful and very simplistic about just getting up, running, eating and sleeping! Once again, ‘thankyou’ for organising this special race.
Matthew Fortes

Many many thanks for organising the Dragon's Back Race. I am sure there were times when you wished you hadn't started it! Due to my personal circumstances I wasn't able to train properly for the event and I knew I would struggle to complete it.Thank you for allowing me to continue and get something out of the race. It was a spectacular event. I now have unfinished business to complete the race properly so I'm looking forward to the next time! Is there a waiting list yet? Thanks also to all of your helpers, marshals and support staff. What a great bunch of people you have there. The caterers also went above and beyond their remit. Less than 5hrs sleep every night, turning out great food and always with a smile on their faces.
Mike Wolfenden

A big thanks to so many people, where to start? I am only just getting out of the slump I found myself in after leaving the race on Wednesday, but now I know I couldn't have continued with the soreness of my neck. I had a dislodged vertebra so it was never going to get better had I stayed on and it needed putting back into place, ouch! That said and along with all logic in the world I still wished I was there with you all at the castle on Friday. Gutted doesn't cover it. The coverage was great so it was good seeing how everyone was continuing. I would love to take part again and earn the right to be there every day having met the checkpoint cut offs, so please keep me posted on how the race develops in the future. Finally, to you, the doc, nurses, marshalls, camp tent putter uppers and downers, Berghaus team, food makers, and the competitors thank you all for making it one of the most amazing experiences (albeit too short). Well done for showing the world our beautiful country and our outstanding athletes, truly inspirational not to mention Wendy Dodds, outstanding.
Carla Murphy

An amazing event & journey. I feel different now I am back in my office, as usual after big days out, but 5 big days out, back to back, have had a calming effect on me & I feel satified, complete and content. The DBR is a true journey in every sence of the word, if you're thinking of doing it, just make sure you put the training in, as that is the most important part.
Charlie Sproson

First, I want give you congratulations for the race. It was really fantastic, and very well organized Everything was perfect, campsites, marshal,  cookers, medical, etc. The place is very nice, and we had good days with you. Sportingly talking terrain is too hard, basicly because I'm not used to navigation, and I'm new to the Welsh lands and mountains. It's my first race that I can't end it and I have run in jungle, deserts, etc... Believe me If I say that Spanish Team gave the best of their self. When we was out of the race, simply we wanted to enjoy oursleves and smile, like we do always, although we are in competition we smile always. In some race, I fight to win, but are always with jokes.
Emilio José Martinez (Spain)

I have been so privileged to have be in the 2012 Dragonsback. It has been a brilliant event.Thanks so much; the team that helped us all become involved in overcoming a Dragon bigger than any individual. It is rare to experience a unity of purpose amongst so many strangers for so long. I will reflect on many good things on my way back to New Zealand but the magic of the race will only be understood by those who shared the journey. I am glad the Dragon will slumber for a while... it will give me chance to prepare for the next awakening!
Steve Dubieniec

It was excellent. Thoroughly enjoyed it. The best thing I have ever done (running that is!).  I had read about the original with awe and had fancied a mulitday event when along came the re-run of the Dragon's Back Race. The first 3 days were fantastic mountain running - the last 2 I was just holding it together.  It acted as a focus for my training since December including some enjoyable trips to Wales to do some exploring.
Greg Crowley

I owe you a huge thank you for bringing the Dragons Back race to life as I can't imagine how much work must have been involved.   Also a huge thank you to all the wonderful volunteers; it was a fabulous event and everyone gave so much of themselves to ensure that us runners were taken care of. I can't tell you how proud I felt being able to participate in Dragons Back.  I'm used to long mileage and multi-day running but found it slow going out on the course as I had no experience in running through that type of terrain and, despite spending time, money and effort on honing my navigation skills, they were definitely my weak link during the race.  However, it's not always about getting to the finishing line or getting on the podium or a place on the top part of the competitor list. I was so pleased to participate in the spirit of the Dragons Back Race and am glad that I was able to experience this different style of racing and to be able to run alongside some fabulous people, all willing to grab the dragon by the tail and give it their best. I was born and raised in Wales and it made me feel  proud to be able to pay homage to my family and heritage.  I came away from the race with a sense of achievement and also with a feeling of having reconnected to my roots.
Brenda Williams (Canada)

The Dragons Back Race planning was clearly very detailed, the organisation and support were exceptional and your ability, mid-Race to adapt, improvise and overcome were key to the success of this epic event.  I was in the British Army in 1992 and was the Operations Officer of the Cheshire Regiment Group that deployed to Bosnia under the auspices of the UN around the time that the original Dragon's Back Race took place. As a result I have experience of planning "on the hoof" and the requirement to make decisions in the face of new challenges and risks. I was particularly impressed during the event with the way that you dealt with the problems that inevitably arose. You provided clear and confident leadership that steered both the event, and us as competitors, down to South Wales. If you had doubts, they did not show! You had mastered the detail of each day but at the same time could stand back and see the bigger picture and so make those necessary changes to ensure the success of the event, and what a success it was!
The management of the event ensured that enjoyment ranged from finishing the whole course, to finishing a particular day, or completing the "Spanish Dragon". I really liked the opportunity that you provided for as many people as possible to enjoy the Carreg Cennen finish and be rewarded for their efforts. I reckon you may well end up with a Spanish contingent when you run the race again! The food provided was particularly impressive. I admit I had been concerned at the prospect of a week on a vegetarian diet but my fears were swept away in a tidal wave of porridge, egg batches and tea and the sheer volume and variety of the food cooked up at all hours of the day and night!  You have done a magnificent job in re-awakening the sleeping Dragon's Back Race and I wish you all the best for the future and for this classic event.

Simon Ellis

So I would like to say to you: thank you very much for your comprehension and support with me and all the Spanish team. I enjoyed so much the experience although I was not able to complete totally every stage, it was for me an amazing and unforgettable experience, not only during running time but also in the camps with all the participants and specially with the support team, they worked very hard to provide to us the better conditions for 5 days living in Wales. Once again, thanks a lot for your support and your great organization job of the event. Who knows if the Spanish team could come back again to defeat totally the Dragon (once we know the real terrain conditions and difficulties to move on it).
David Mora Garcia (Spain)

After one month, I am still thinking about the race, and the fantastic journey across the Welsh mountains. It is not rare that I saw myself in my dreams, some nights, running with my backpack across the bogs in Snowdonia. Due to my obsession, I put the map of Day One on my room wall like a poster. I spend my time looking for photos and articles about the race in internet..... even I bought a new pair of running shoes and, for the first time in my life, this was an Inov-8. I’m looking forward for the new wake up of the Dragon, and I’m focused my training for it, everyday. After a lot of ultra marathons and multi stage race, like Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc or Marathon des Sables, I find in the Dragon’s Back Race a real challenge. I want to say thank you again, to Shane and all the crew, marshals and cooks, for that incredible week with all of you. Thanks too to Berghaus for the jacket and the beer in Carreg Cennen Castle.
Ivan Vivo (Team Spain)

I have been meaning to say thank you to you and all the people who helped make the event a success. I’m sure you were all working as hard if not harder than the runners! I think a lot more had to be resolved behind the scenes than we as the runners saw and the management, adaptability and decision making made the race run smoother than I expected or imagined. And the amount of preparation that went into the event must have been huge! Especially given that it’s 20 years since the last race. Would also like to say a big thanks to all the supporters who made the race possible, such as Berghaus, Conwy Council and all the landowners. The race gave us the opportunity to take part in something amazing and I feel an iconic race has been revived. The memories will last a long time.
Jon Moulding

My wife Jane and I worked as marshals for the full week, on tent duties. It was a week of hard graft and there were times I thought running must have been the easier option (but I know it wasn’t!). The thing that kept us all going, whatever our duties, were the attitude and gratitude of the runners who managed to smile and thank us profusely for everything we did. The overnight camps gelled into a tired but happy running community with everyone pulling together in trying to conquor the Welsh Dragon, there was much laughter, some tears and many friendships made. The Spaniards smiled for 200 miles and my local pub in Rhandirmwyn well remembers their visit and singing – we shall certainly make them very welcome here if they return in 2015. An unforgettable and rewarding experience, made so by the competitors who were a credit to the mountain running community.
Matthew & Jane Hand