This Monday sees the start of one of the UK's most gruelling endurance events, the Dragon's Back Race. In what will be its third staging, competitors will tackle the mountainous spine of Wales from Conwy Castle in the north, to Carreg Cennen Castle in the south from Monday (22 June) to Friday (26 June).
This incredible race is approximately 300 kilometres long with 17,000 metres of ascent across wild, trackless, remote and mountainous terrain. Competitors can expect to be running for a minimum of 9 hours each day.
The original Dragon’s Back Race was held in September 1992 and entered running folklore for its extreme difficultly and surprise female winner. After a 20-year absence, the race was revived in 2012. Helene Whitaker (neé Diamantides), the 1992 winner alongside Martin Stone, returned and incredibly she finished fourth.
Renowned adventure racer Steve Birkinshaw was the overall winner. However, only 32 runners (out of 82 starters) managed to complete the full course and the reputation of the event as one of the hardest mountain races in the world was confirmed. The 2015 race has once again attracted a strong field of 140 runners from Britain and around the world. It will be interesting to see how many manage to climb the iconic steps into Carreg Cennen Castle on the fifth day.
Looking likely to finish high in the field is Jez Bragg, who, as a UTMB winner, Fellsman and Te Araroa Trail record holder, is regarded as a favourite. Race organiser Shane Ohly said Bragg is likely to face stiff competition, however:
"It is a five day race over rough terrain and anything can happen. Jez, also completed a record breaking Ramsay Round the weekend before, which is an interesting approach to preparing for such an arduous event as the Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race. There is a strong field of both male and female runners and while I do have an opinion on who I think will win, I keep that to myself for now!”