Coming to Terms with the Dragon's Back

23rd Jun 2015 @ 09:00

The Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race woke up to glorious sunshine on day 2 after the first night’s camp at Nant Gwynant and was soon alive with activity as everyone prepared for the second run.

This takes the competitors across the Moelwyn and Rhinog hills to the second camp near Dolgellau and the stats are that its 54km and 3544m of ascent, so it is slightly longer than yesterday, with only a little less climbing. The hills are not so big today – there are just a lot more of them, and the Rhinogs have a justified reputation as some of the fiercest and most difficult terrain to cross in Wales.

After what they achieved yesterday some of the runners may not believe the terrain can get harder, but in that section of the race it can. One runner was heard to say, “I’ve never feared for my life on a foot race before!” and when Kevin Douglas of the USA was asked how the race compared to those at home he said, “Those at home involve a lot more running!”

It difficult for those coming from other countries and a trail running background to truly appreciate the nature of the Dragon’s Back.  It’s not a trail run that’s for sure and Douglas added, “I don’t know how I’d explain it to friends at home and I know they just wouldn’t understand if I tried. They wouldn’t get it.”

He will be running the Hard Rock 100 when he is home in a couple of weeks time and said, “I won in both lotteries, what can you do?” The added, “I was in the lottery for the Western States 100 which starts right after this one too,” and when asked what he’d have done if he’d got in he replied, “I’d still have come here for sure, for the experience. It’s unique.”

Jez Bragg said bits of yesterday were like Syrunning, and the race is more like fell running but expedition style. Bragg is perhaps the best known runner in the field, but came into the race after very recently completing the Ramsay Round, a classic challenge to complete 24 Scottish 3000 foot summits in 24 hours. He set a new record in just over 18 hours and explained. “I had to postpone that run twice due to the weather, but it was really important to me so I went ahead even though it was only last weekend.

“I knew it would make this tough and yesterday helped stretch my legs and get a rhythm going again, so I’m hoping it will get better and I can settle into the distance.”  He clearly felt that the longer and harder the race the better he would do – so he’s in the right event!

Joe Faulkner, who is trying to become the only runner to complete all 3 Dragon’s Back Races said, “Day one was just the prologue really and I think day 2 is harder.” And Shane Ohly has said, “I think Day 3 is the crunch and those who get through that will finish.” Faulkner said he’d taken it steady to start as he knows what is to come.

As the runners set off again there was some extensive advice given on route choice today as it’s difficult and there areas of bog, bracken, tussock and bush you don’t want to get into. There is one particularly long leg between CP’s 4 and 5 which a challenging route to find and at CP5, which is the support point, there is no signal for the trackers so there will be delays on them responding in the Rhinog hills.

There isn’t any news at the moment on whether those who didn’t complete the route yesterday are going on or doing a ‘half day’ to or from the support point, and Pavel Paloncy is still deciding whether to go on with the 6 stitches in his badly cut leg.  “It feels worse with the stitches in,” he said, “yesterday it was easier to move but not so much now. I was worried yesterday as I could see the bone. It was a very deep cut. I guess it is my first major injury in 18 years and is just bad luck, but I will go on if I can.”  He is a very tough character and won’t give up his Dragon’s Back run unless he absolutely has to.

Written by Rob @ Sleep Monsters

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