Dragon's Back Ultra Race - ready for anything

The Dragon’s Back Race has become an obsession - most of my waking hours are preoccupied with training and fitness, the route and race strategy, kit requirements and all things ultra running. Although multi-day ultrarunning is new to me I am confident that I have done everything possible to get to the start line on Monday 6th September ready for the race.

Once the Welsh-English border re-opened on April 12th I made several visits to Wales with the dual purpose of race-specific training in the mountains and recceing the route. On these occasions Jane has been a willing taxi service, making my recce days much more efficient and purposeful. At least 80% of the route has now been recced – I’m unlikely to do the rest because they are mainly road sections with no navigational issues. Clearly this gives me some advantage over those who cannot get to Wales but given that my main aim is to finish, information will be willingly shared to anyone who wants to listen, follow, or share parts the journey.

Since I signed up for the event one year ago, I have stayed faithful to Dave Taylor’s excellent training schedule, having completed over 3,300km of running and 100,000m of ascent. The July heatwave certainly tested my motivation because my only option was to get up very early each training day to avoid the 30°c temperatures. At the other end of the scale a recent traverse of the Rhinogs had me wearing three layers, full waterproofs, hat, buff and gloves as I battled with horizontal rain and hail.

Dragon's Back - ultra running - Fan Nedd trig point - day 5 Fan Nedd trig point – day 5

Now with just a few weeks to go, the enormity of the challenge ahead is becoming more and more apparent. Each day is going to be a tough proposition needing a huge amount of physical and mental fortitude; but clearly something will need to be held in reserve for the new Day 5 that traverses the Brecon Beacons – a monstrous 71km rollercoaster with 3200m of ascent. On paper this year’s additional Day 6 finishing in Cardiff looks comparatively easy but given the previous strength-sapping five days it will still need maximum effort to complete it.

Dragon's Back - ultra running - Brecon Beacons rollercoaster Part of the Brecon Beacons rollercoaster

Inevitably waves of positivity and optimism collide with self-doubt and the fear of failure, so I am very grateful to family, friends and colleagues who have shown so much interest and given loads of encouragement.

Closer to the event I will be given tracking details. This means anyone will be able to see how I am doing in real time. Hopefully my ‘dot’ will be both moving and on the right route! There will also be a Dragon Mail system where I will be given a print-out every evening of messages sent. Please feel free to message me, it will mean a lot to know that people are following my progress.

During training my greatest supporter has been Jane. Without her help I doubt that I could have got this far. She is also following me during the event and will be meeting me at each day’s midway support point. Outside support, such as providing extra provisions or equipment, is strictly forbidden but hugs and words of encouragement aren't!

Dragon's Back - ultra running - Campsite Dolgellau with Cymer Abbey Campsite near Dolgellau with adjacent ruins of Cymer Abbey

Montane is this year’s Dragon’s Back sponsor and I hope their ‘further faster’ logo applies to my efforts particularly as I will be using 4 of their products:
Montane Gecko VP 12+ vest pack (12 litres plus expansion, 265g)
Montane Minimus Stretch Ultra Jacket (a lightweight 202g, waterproof running shell)
Montane Podium Pants (lightweight 100g waterproof trousers)
Montane Dragon Twin Skin Shorts
(with grateful thanks to Montane Sales & Marketing)

Keep an eye out for Montane athlete Marcus Scotney, a local ultra-runner (from Calver) who previously won the Dragon’s Back in 2017 and will be one of this year’s favourites.

Dragon's Back - ultra running - Usk Reservoir Approaching Usk Reservoir - please be weather like this!

One thought on “Dragon's Back Ultra Race - ready for anything”

Leave a Reply