24 Jun

Two Down For Dragons

Charlie Sharp navigating - image by Rob HowardTuesday (23 June) saw the second day of the 2015 edition of the Dragon’s Back Race with competitors face a slightly longer distance than day one as they moved from Nant Gwynant to Dolgellau, via the Moelwyn and Rhinog hills. As anticipated, the gruelling event has already taken its toll on runners with 17 retirements already: yesterday’s heat, plus fatigue from day one, have been cited as major factors for the withdrawals. 

Leader Jim Mann once again set the fastest time and so increased his overall lead yet did experience difficulties, which he outlined to Rob Howard of Sleepmonsters at the end of the day: “At one point I lost the path and took a bearing but found cliffs blocking the way.  In the end I threw my bag and jumped down!  I think I’ve paced it well so far.  I don’t enjoy running in the heat so much and suffered a bit at the end of the day, but am told the forecast is more overcast for tomorrow, which would suit me.”

Moving into the third day, runners stayed overnight at the Vanner campsite just outside Dolgellau, with the tents set up beside the ruins of Cymer Abbey. As the event progresses, organiser Shane Ohly feels Wednesday will prove vital to the final outcome:  "I expect day three to be the pivotal point of the whole race.  It’s going to be a very long, attritional day and I think we’ll have a better idea by tonight of who will be the potential winners.”

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.  

If completed, competitors will cover approximately 300 kilometres  with 17,000 metres of ascent across wild, trackless, remote and mountainous terrain with a minimum of 9 hours running each day.