Day 4: Runners smile, laugh and chat through the pain

23rd May 2019 @ 17:30

Blisters on blisters, sore knees, hips, shins and ankles, miles of colourful kinesiology used to strap up ailments and sunburn lines that look sore and raw. Yet, despite the obvious aches, pains, niggles and agonies of the 264 runners still in the 2019 Berghaus Dragon’s Back, the mood on day four was very upbeat.

Having made it past what is known as the crux day yesterday, when statistically if you make the cut off you have a much greater chance of reaching the finish line, the participants seemed to be buoyant and optimistic.

Compared to yesterday’s more sombre, gritted-teeth runners, today people were chatty, smiling and hopeful. Many also declared they were feeling a lot less tired and some even said they were amazingly injury free (although this was usually qualified with a “touch wood” comment.)

We chatted to the runners as they dibbed in at CP4 on a hill top of 533m just before halfway mark today.


Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race 2019 - Day 4  - First climb of the day - Copyright No Limits Photography

First climb of the day. ©No Limits Photography

Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race 2019 - Day 4  - CP 5 2 - Copyright No Limits Photography

 Today was described by many as hilly and more runnable. ©No Limits Photography

Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race 2019 - Day 4 - Drum Yr Eira, decent - Unknown Runner 7 -Copyright No Limits Photography

A runner takes the opportunity to cool off.  ©No Limits Photography


A hill, smiles and good chat 

Richard Price (360), Wales, said: “I am on the top of a mountain on a sunny day and I can't think of anywhere better to be. I feel good… it is fantastic. Day 3 is done and I am running home to Swansea. I am in my backyard now and I love it.” 

Jens Wackerhagen, (452) Germany, said:  “Today is a good day and so was yesterday. The first and second day were hard because it was so steep and rocky and it was brutal. I like this terrain and I prefer the hills and even the bog.” 

James McLaughlin (289), Ireland: said “It’s mind over matter isn't it? That is a big part of it.”

Darren Bentham (32), GB, said: “I have got a few niggles but no major injuries. However, I don't want to put any pressure on myself today so I thought I would set off early and enjoy the scenery.” 

“I think it has helped that I have been looking after myself and dealing with any niggles and hotspots when they come up. I think you need to pay attention to the details.” 

Aaike De Wever (103), of Belgium, said: “I am trying just to ignore my injuries. It is up and down mentally but I am holding on.”

Mats Borgen-Johansen (42), Norway, said: “I have some pain in some places and my GPS is giving me a hard time but I am doing okay.” 

Oliver Nokes (330), GB, said: “I have got plenty of blisters and my ankle is still strapped but I am getting there…” 

Bodil Oudshoorn (341), The Netherlands, said: “My shins hurt a bit but I am still feeling ok and I have energy. I didn't sleep well though because of too much pain in my legs but strangely I felt okay this morning.” 

“I started strong but then my shins started to hurt and now I am going to relax a bit and take it easier.” 

James Bennett (30), GB, said: “All I can feel is pain. I have no idea how I am keeping going but I am.”

Robert Woolley (473), Australia,  said: “I’ve no injuries as yet, although everything is painful but nothing specific. It is inspiring countryside and I am from Australia so I am not going to leave without giving it my all. I hope to get to the end…”  


Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race 2019 - Day 4  - First climb of the day 3 - Copyright No Limits Photography

One of today's determined runners. ©No Limits Photography


A steady pace has been key for many participants. ©No Limits Photography


Kirsty Reade (370), GB, said:  “I can’t complain. I have a few blisters but nothing more. I feel lucky with the weather, too.”

Paul Nelson (324), GB, said: “You’ve just got to keep going haven’t you?”

Megan Lennox (256), GB, was happily sporting a fresh Dragon’s Back Race t-shirt. She said: “This is the only clean top I have left and it feels so nice to be wearing it.”

Peter van der Heijden (444), The Netherlands, said: “I had a bad day yesterday. Today is much better. We left early today. I was just so tired yesterday. This terrain is better for me!”

Corri Black (39), Scotland,  said: “This race means I am away from the modern world and I like that. You appreciate all things you would normally take for granted, such as having an ice cream like I did yesterday...” 

“I don't have any tactics for this event, just to keep going. Although, someone did say I have elbows like Jasmin Paris so that must be good, mustn't it?”

Giles Thurston (434), GB, said: “My right ankle is shot. It is strapped up and it is painful.. Stubbornness is keeping me going.

“This has been a great race and there is such a variety of terrain. Each day has been brutal but in different ways. It is really annoying that my ankle is so sore yet the rest of my legs feel fine.” 



Many people enjoy each other's company in the race, including leaders Jim Mann and Galen Reynolds. ©No Limits Photography


We're in this together

Some runners have paired up in the race, or else met in previous Ourea Events races. Even the leaders Galen Reynolds and Jim Mann have been running together.

Michael Bruhin (54), Switzerland,  and Ian Goodenough (148), GB, met during last year’s sister event, the Cape Wrath Ultra. They have since completed a race in Spain together and visited each other's countries to race together.

Ian said: “It’s like a racing bromance! We enjoy running together and it helps us in multi-stage events like these.”

“Dragon’s Back is gnarlier than the Cape Wrath Ultra and you don’t have the same amount of time to recover. It is head down and full on, although still doable…” 

“We have been steady today although on day 2 we went too fast. To do well in this race you have to still be in the race – and we are… so far.”

Theresa Nielsen (326), of Canada, and Lourdes Gutierrez-Kellam (166), America, have been keeping each other company.

Lourdes said: “We are ahead of schedule today but everything hurts. Ha! Maybe I could be one of those people who sits and looks at the views, or makes phone call. I don't usually have time for that but maybe I can today. Those people… I wish I could have the time…I ain’t got no time for that!”

Jono Simpson (401) and David Mooney (310), both GB, also met at the Cape Wrath Ultra.  

Jono said: “It’s a love hate thing with us! We are keeping each other going. I felt quite lethargic yesterday. The out and back hill lifted me a bit, with that descent, but I was feeling tired. I am in a better mental state today, thankfully.”

David added: “It’s my feet that are a problem. I have very sore feet – and a blister on my hand from using the poles so much. I rely on the poles a lot.”



Runners are happy still to be in the race on day 4. ©No Limits Photography


'My philosophy is to have no low points'

John Kynaston (247), GB, is a firm believer in positive thinking. He said: “My philosophy going into this race was to have no lows. I have run an even pace and an even effort. I am about 3.5 hours up on my goal, running the flats and downs and walking the ups. I am pleased with where I am at.”

“I am feeling great; no injuries or pain.”

“It is absolutely beautiful scenery and the weather has been amazing. It is definitely up there as one of my best races yet.”

'Be the best version of yourself'

Lowri Morgan (314), of Wales, who sits in fourth female position overall, said: “Today is the first time I woke up and thought I don’t want to get out of my sleeping bag. I am so tired. Also, I am finding the descents so painful, which is a shame because I like descending.”

“But, you know, it’s not a race for me. I am enjoying it like an adventure.”

Lowri has been enjoying the atmosphere of the race. She said: “You are running alongside these incredible people but it doesn't matter because you are all in it together and everyone is so lovely. You get a pat on the back or words of encouragement from the others, which feels uplifting.”

“My young son told me before I left just to do my best.. and that was great to hear. I think that to win a race it isn't necessarily about crossing the line first it’s about being the best version of yourself.”


Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race 2019 - Day 2 - Checkpoint 3 - Copyright No Limits Photography

A medic chats with a runner at a Support Point. ©No Limits Photography


Pain and suffering at the Support Point

Many participants were attending to injuries, especially blisters, and trying to refute and rehydrate. We heard from a few: 

Petter Berland (33), Norway, said: “Pretty much everything is sore, although the terrain is better today. It is easier even though I am struggling with the descents and my knees.”

Leighton James (214), Wales, said: “My knees hurt going down and my toes hurt going up. But it is more free flowing today and not so many hills. It is enjoyable but also hot. I am getting there…”

Jørgen Grøndal (164), Norway, was attending to feet covered in wrinkled skin and blisters. He said: “I am trying to clean up and sort out some blisters on my feet. I tried to sort some yesterday but I need to fix them now to stop them hurting so much.”

Andrew Geeson (139), GB, was nursing a sore knee. He said:  “I got my knee strapped up on Tuesday and I have been taking paracetamol but nothing is touching it…. I was hoping to run tomorrow, but I don’t know. I have enjoyed it overall but the downhills are painful. The knee is sore.” 

Peter Wright (474), GB, said: “It has been going good today. I have been getting inside the cut-offs, which is good. It feels a bit like the cut-offs have got a bit easier, or maybe we are pushing ourselves harder because it is closer to the finish. I don’t know. It feels a but more relaxed…”

At the finish line...

Alastair Hubbard (198), of Scotland, was surprised to be sitting in fourth place overall. The 51-year-old said: “I have been enjoying every minute of this race. I was here last time and plagued by injuries and mishaps. I had to drop out on day five. This time I have no injuries, touch wood. The weather has been great and it’s fabulous scenery.”

Read about today's leaders: Excitement, drama and disappointment

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