Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race® 2019 - Race Director's Report

3rd Jun 2019

The 2019 Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race® is over and what an incredible week it was for all involved. The 5th edition of this legendary race further cemented it's reputation as a world-class event in the mountain running and outdoor community. Earning a coveted Dragon trophy represents the culmination of months of hard training and preparation that only the most determined and experienced mountain and ultra runners can aspire to. The very challenging nature of the event is clearly shown in statistics: 

2012 - Starters 82, Finishers 32 – Finishing rate: 39%

2015 - Starters 142, Finishers 65 – Finishing rate: 45%

2017 - Starters 223, Finishers 127 – Finishing rate: 56%

2019 - Starters 402, Finishers 251 – Finishing rate: 62% 

Looking for the final results?


As the Race Director, I have a strong sense of the Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race® coming of age with a combination of collective knowledge and experience held by both participants and the event team on how best to complete, and how best to organise the event. This is reflected in the improving completion rate with each edition, combined with the ever more efficient and slick delivery of an ever increasingly complex event. There were many occasions during the week when I stood back and just watched the superb event team quietly completing their tasks. At the same time, I was also observing so many competitors quiet determination and fortitude. It truly was an amazing week surrounded by so many highly motivated and like-minded people and I am proud to have played my part alongside you all.


Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race 2019 - Day 1 - Tryfan - Third Male - Robert Barnes 20 -  Copyright No Limits Photography

Robert Barnes during the 2019 Berghaus Dragon's Back race ©No Limits Photography 


Whilst the improving completion rate with each edition is flattering, I know that the full beast of the Dragon has yet to be unleashed. This was the fourth edition of the (modern) event and still, we maintain a near perfect run of Welsh weather. We all know that this run of luck must end at some point, and a week of continuously poor weather during such an arduous event would likely decimate the number of finishers. I'll keep my fingers crossed that our run of luck continues in 2021 when the next edition of the race will take place. 



One of my roles at the event is to ensure that the Event Team are happy. Whilst I'd love to interact, encourage and support every runner individually this role is completed by the Event Team. In the week since the event, we have all been touched by the stories of compassion, caring and support that the 2019 participants are now sharing with us and online and this is all down to simply awesome Event Team who grafted through long hours, whilst being cheerful, friendly and professional. They are an absolute credit to the running and outdoor community, and I would like to again state my sincere thanks to them all; you made the event the stunning success it was!


Event Team Dragon's Back

The 2019 event team ©Steve Ashworth 


It is fantastic to know that many of the Event Team will be returning to help or participate at our sister ultra-running expedition event - the Cape Wrath Ultra® - in May 2020. The 130-strong Event Team at the 2019 Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race® were:


Admin Team

  • Andrew Hastie
  • Charlotte Emms
  • Ellen Thomson
  • Jacqueline Cooper
  • Jon Aylward
  • Matthew Harris 
  • Tania Pacheco


Berghaus Dragon's Back Race 2019-123

The Admin Team ©No Limits Photography 


Catering Team

  • Ali Edwards
  • Cath Holloway
  • Erin James
  • Jane Hodgson
  • Katie Plant
  • Marcus Barnes
  • Sandra Williams
  • Sharon Dickson
  • Tim Glasby


Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race 2019 - Day 3 - Cadair Idris - Start 1 - Copyright No Limits Photography

The Catering Team ©No Limits Photography


Checkpoint Team

  • Colin Harding
  • Dave Cumins
  • Fiona Brannan
  • Garry Perratt
  • Jade Phillips
  • Matt Harmon
  • Nicholas Barber
  • Owen Rees


Wrangling Team

  • Gary Tompsett
  • Philip Wilkinson
  • Lou Beetlestone


Day 5 Team

  • Chris Ohly
  • Jane Hand
  • Ryan Ohly
  • Carol Morgan


Camp Team 

  • Andrew Walsh
  • Anne Marie Lord
  • Barbara Garrett
  • Ben Wells
  • Ciara Ni Mhurchu
  • Debbie Brupbacher
  • Debbie McCart
  • Debs White
  • Derek Pickles
  • Edward Chapman
  • Emiko Kawakami
  • Franka Nawrath
  • Graham Black
  • Guido Althausen
  • James Gray
  • John Hayes
  • Karen 'Kaz' Kemish
  • Lois Simpson
  • Lucie Barnes
  • Martin Slack
  • Matt Snow
  • Matthew Hand
  • Matthew Santo
  • Michael Schneider
  • Michael White
  • Michelle Creed
  • Mick Cooper
  • Mike King
  • Pam Nix
  • Paul Weaving
  • Peter O'Kane
  • Samantha Hardman
  • Tom Blockley
  • Tom Rowes
  • Wayne Smith
  • Wayne Vickers


Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race 2019 - Day 4  - Tent Setup 3 - Copyright No Limits Photography

The Camp Team packing away the blue tents ©No Limits Photography 


Response Team

  • Abbi Forsyth
  • Alli Holland
  • Kate Worthington
  • Stuart Allan
  • Stuart Smith
  • Tom Chivers


Medical Team

  • Alexandra Waddington
  • Ally Middleton
  • Andrea Wolfe
  • Catherine Slater
  • Charlotte Hattersley
  • Hannah Lee Chadwick
  • Julie Sparrow
  • Morag Bowie
  • Neil Middleton
  • Nicola Pollard
  • Nikki Sommers
  • Rob O'Loughlin


Berghaus Dragon's Back Race 2019-112

The Medical Team ©No Limits Photography


Medical Team and Support Point Team

  • Ian Brandreth
  • John Irvine


Support Point Team

  • Anna Morrison
  • Emily Ravenhill
  • Emma Phillips
  • Gareth Swain
  • Hannah Bradshaw
  • Ian Cowie
  • Kirsten Ejlskov Jensen
  • Steve Arden


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

The Support Point Team on Day Two ©No Limits Photography 


Ourea Events Staff

  • Alex Chesters
  • Graham Gristwood
  • Helen Samson
  • Janie Oates
  • Lucy Scrase
  • Shane Ohly
  • Tom Hecht


Race Control

  • Dave Taylor
  • Matt Gemmell


Media Team

  • Ben Pritchard
  • Chris Lines
  • Christiaan Le Roux
  • Ellie Green 
  • Fiona Marley-Patterson
  • Fiona Russell
  • Harriet D'Allesio Le Roux
  • Mark Bullock
  • Mary-Ann Ochota
  • Matt Green
  • Richard Heap
  • Steve Ashworth
  • Jimmy Hyland
  • Craig Goodard


Media Team

The Media Team filming on Cadair Idris on Day Three ©No Limits Photography 


Race Timing and Tracking

  • Martin Stone
  • Peter Foster
  • James Thurlow


Scrambling Safety Team

  • Lou Beetlestone
  • Sabrina Paniccia 
  • Rusty Bale
  • Tim Harrop
  • Will Hardy 
  • Libby Peters 
  • Sam Farnsworth 
  • Rory Shaw 


Berghaus Dragon's Back Race 2019-120-3

The start line at Conwy Castle ©No Limits Photography 



Way back in 2010 I was doing some consulting work for Berghaus at the same time as reading Feet in the Clouds. Berghaus were keen to create an iconic event and inspired by the chapter about the original 1992 Dragon's Back Race, I had a light bulb moment and invited Berghaus to sponsor the 'Berghaus Dragon's Back Race®'. We have been working together ever since, and Berghaus' have been a continuous and strong supporter of the event best demonstrated by coveted 'Event Team' uniform being a highlight for the Event Team and a very visible reminder to every one of their commitment to supporting this unique mountain running event. 



We would also like to thank the following major landowners and stakeholders without whom's permission and co-operation this event would not be possible: Ysgol Porth-y-Felin, Conwy Castle, Snowdonia National Park, Natural Resources Wales, National Trust - Snowdonia, Gwynedd Council, Powys County Council, Carmarthenshire County Council, Elan Valley Trust, Brecon Beacons National Park and Tregib Sports Facilities. In fact, there are literally hundreds of landowners and stakeholders along the route whom we continue to liaise with and who's support and goodwill is essential for the smooth flow of runners along the course from North to South Wales. Thank you. Diolch.


Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race 2019 - Day 1 - Crib Goch - Third Female - Lisa Watson 456 - Copyright No Limits Photography

Eventual female winner Lisa Watson on Crib Goch on Day One ©No Limits Photography



In my pre-event briefing, I did warn participants that 1000’s would be watching their GPS trackers and that they should be on their best behaviour. Well, we are delighted to confirm that there was indeed a huge digital audience during the event, with the outside world watching our every move. There was also almost universal adherence to our mandatory routes and rules and the runners demonstrated an exceptionally high standard of behaviour throughout, reinforcing the excellent reputation that the event has with many stakeholders and landowners along the route. Thank you.




Whether they completed the full course or not, every one of the participants’ bodies has taken a significant battering, and we would highly recommend an extended period of recovery now. We would recommend having 4 weeks off running, followed by 10 weeks of easy running, as all too often we have seen participants in our expedition length races return to running too early, and ending up with chronic fatigue and injury problems. Time to let your bodies heal!

We would also like to reiterate the danger of Lyme’s Disease from tick bites. Whilst this is unlikely, if you develop a ‘bulls-eye’ rash around a tick bite, or experience flu like symptoms in the next 30 days, we would advise a trip to the doctors. Ensure that you explain you have been bitten by a tick. There is more information on the Lyme’s Disease Action website.


Berghaus Dragon’s Back 2019 - Day 2 - Rhinog Fach - Second Female - Alyssa Clark - Copyright No Limits Photography

Day Two in the Rhinogydd ©No Limits Photography



No Limits Photography provided us with some excellent captures during the event and a selection can be found on Facebook and Instagram

Also, you can purchase your personal race photos from Bib Number Photography - They snapped 17,000 photos of participants during the event!   



Don't forget to check our Facebook page to re-live all of the action from the 2019 event! Especially our video playlist which includes the fantastic daily highlight videos.


Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race 2019 - Day 3 - Cadair Idris 18- First & Second Males - Copyright No Limits Photography

Race Leaders Jim Mann and Galen Reynolds on Cadair Idris on Day Three ©No Limits Photography



Feedback from anyone who engaged with the 2019 race, from participants through to audiences keeping updated via news/social media/tracking from afar, is very important to us. Whatever you have to say, positive or negative we are keen to hear your thoughts. This is so important for us in refining and improving the event. Certainly, the honest feedback we have received over the years has been instrumental in polishing the details, and the event is better for it. So, please don’t be shy and get in touch with your comments.



Did the multi-stage ultra-running bug grab you? Our sister event, the Cape wrath Ultra®, is an 8-day expedition ultra-running event in the Highlands of Scotland. Now that there are a good number of participants who have taken part in both, it would be fair to summarise the consensus feeling; the Cape Wrath Ultra® is considered to be easier to run, but with greater distances, and a magnitude more remote (and therefore serious) route.

The 2020 Cape Wrath Ultra® is now sold out. If you are interested in gaining a place then a waiting list is now in operation. 

NOTE: We are also recruiting volunteers for this event, so if you are keen to gain event credit please check out the Ourea Events volunteering page for more details.


Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race 2019 - Day 5 - Finish - Third Male - Copyright No Limits Photography

Reaching the finish line in Llandeilo ©No Limits Photography 



The dates for the 2021 Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race® are to be confirmed. Entries will open circa one year ahead of the event. We expect the event to sell out very quickly (days certainly, hours possibly) so if you are keen to return, please keep an eye on email updates from us.

How best to prepare? Aside from entering the Cape Wrath Ultra, we recommend taking part in the Expert course of the Silva Great Lakeland 3Day - entries for 2020 open soon!




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