Day 3: Tears, groans and gritted determination on crux day

22nd May 2019 @ 17:30

With 71kms ahead of them, some 328 runners set out to run from Dolgellau to Ceredigion this morning, hoping to “break the back of the Dragon”. For some, the mental and physical strain became quickly obvious as they broke down in tears and groaned agonisingly.

Many runners tried to keep smiling through gritted teeth before giving up and setting their faces to reveal only stoney, silent perseverance.

Day three is considered to be the crux of the Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race because if participants make it to the finish line before the cut-off they are statistically more likely to finish the overall race.

The overall attrition rate has gradually risen from 10% after day one, to 22% after day two and then 34% after day three. That leaves 264 still in the race.



A runner with determination etched on his face. ©No Limits Photography


Runners on the first summit of the day, Cadair Idris. ©No Limits Photography

Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race 2019 - Day 3 - Cadair Idris 9- Unknown Runner - Copyright No Limits Photography

 Still smiling. ©No Limits Photography


A long day of ups and downs 

The rolling, "more runnable" course suited some participants more than others. Already tired after two tough days of the Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race, there was a tough climb early in the day over Cadair Idris (893m) before the 71km course headed into the Cambrian Mountains of Mid Wales.

The route with 3500m of total ascent continued relentlessly undulating and included a cruel out-and-back hill section to 667m on Tarren y Gesail before another high point of 752m on Pen Pumlumon Fawr towards the finish line at Ceredigion.

Many runners did enjoy the opportunity for a quick shopping spree as they passed through a couple of towns during the day.


Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race 2019 - Day 3 - Machynllth - Copyright No Limits Photography

Running through the streets of Machynlleth ©No Limits Photography

Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race 2019 - Day 3 - Machynllth 3 - Copyright No Limits Photography

The joy of a quick shop in town ©No Limits Photography

Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race 2019 - Day 3 - Machynllth 5 - Copyright No Limits Photography

Runner enjoyed the bonus of a run through two towns, which allowed for welcome provisions ©No Limits Photography


Killer descents on tired legs

The descents were proving to be increasingly tough with many people complaining of sore quads and knees. One poor runner, Remi Alex (4), of France, had taken to running downhill backwards, as well as forwards, simply to relieve the strain on already taped knees.

Graham Atkinson (race number 15), GB, said: “My quads are stuffed but I am okay. I am keeping going.”

Franz Meiser, Germany, said: “My quads are, well, so-so. Not good.” 

Carwyn “Caz” Phillips (353), Wales, said: “I have knackered quads but I am fine. I am doing fine.”


Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race 2019 - Day 3 - Cadair Idris 6 - Unknown Runner - Copyright No Limits Photography

Caz on Cadair Idris before the long first descent of day 3 ©No Limits Photography


Running together, British runners Ian Oldham (340), GB, and Scott Huntley (202) were taking the downhills conservatively. Ian said:  “I feel the downhills in my legs, for sure. My tactic is to take baby steps.” Scott agreed. “I am taking it as easy as possible.”

Andrew Geeson (139), GB, was trying to persuade himself that his legs were okay. He said: “Going uphill is okay but it’s sore on my knees on the downhills. I keep saying to myself it’s only runner’s knee and I should stop being a pussy. But it really is difficult today.”

For others, while their bodies remained relatively durable, they were fighting a mental roller coaster.

Jono Simpson (401), GB, said: “I am mentally up and down. It is hard because my body is okay but I have so many lows and highs.”

'But we're still doing good'

Aside from the pain of a long day of running, there was still plenty of positive chat at the overnight camp in the evening.

Adam Potter (356), GB: "I am good after today. I am still in the race. I have lots of injuries but they were actually okay today. My feet stayed dry so that helped the blisters on the soles of my feet. I have blisters on the end of my toes. The top of my left leg is sore because I hurt it when falling on a boulder the other day. But the hills were gentler today and that made it easier overall."

Maximo Martin Escribano (279), of Spain, said: "Today was very nice and runnable. Longer but I am fine. So far, so good. I have done a lot of stage races and I think that is helping although this is a very different race. I am still in the race."

Gwilym Satchell (390), of Wales, said: "Today was really, really long and it is the furthest I have run in one day before. That is hard because it is day three of a multi-stage race. But I have no injuries and I am surviving."

Find out how the front runners are doing: Galen and Jim run side by side on day 3

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