[VIDEO] Behind the Scenes of the Dragon’s Back Race

Getting prepared for a 5 day mountain marathon – from a Race Director’s perspective.

With just a week to go before the start of the 2017 Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race™, Race Director Shane Ohly shares some of the preparations that are taking place at Ourea Events.

It’s all go behind the scenes as we prepare for our biggest and most complex event of the year. The core team of professional staff have been working for well over a year on this event, which is obviously challenging for the participants, but is equally challenging for the organising team.

Right now we are double checking our arrangements with key stakeholders like our Overnight Camp landowners, Conwy Castle, the National Parks and National Trust. We are also liaising with the large event team that will be helping with the event, finalising transport plans etc. For the participants, we have been firing out emails with the final event information and sending out last minute items like our popular Blister Kits.

The sheer volume of meticulous planning required is something the vast majority of participants and the race audience is largely unaware of. But that’s just pre-race. Come 48 hours before the race, we’ll be joined by the whole event team, the majority of whom are volunteers (they all get event credit equal to a race entry, so this is a great way to do the race at a good rate in the future).

Who helps deliver the event?

There are several teams set up, each with their own team leader in order to be most efficient during the race:

Medical Team – This team is made up of doctors, nurses and Mountain Rescue Casualty Carers. They are based at the overnight camps, support points and deployable to incidents in emergencies. They deal with a huge number of low grade problems (mainly blisters) and a small number of serious problems. In 2015 there were 6 hospitalisations from 5 days of racing.

Support Point Team – This team attends the half-way support point each day armed with lots of water and the participants’ 22L re-supply drybag. They get to see everyone pass through and also provide transport logistics for retiring participants. They travel around in a fleet of MPVs to give us the maximum flexibility to move people around.

Camp Team – This is the biggest team of people at the event and they are responsible for building and breaking down the entire tented village each day (that’s 34 Berghaus Airhaus 8 Tents). They also ensure that our services like water and electricity are up and running, and provide the friendly welcome to participants at the finish each day; grabbing their dry bags, getting them sorted with a brew and chips, and escorting them to their tents (there are 34 identical tents, and that is quite confusing after 12+ hours of running).

First Response Team – This is a small team of Mountain Rescue team members and medics with emergency medicine experience. They are a ring-fenced resource who are deployable to an incident.

Our philosophy is to be able to provide a first-class initial response to any (reasonably anticipated) incident. They are not a replacement for the emergency services, but the reality is that we will often be able to respond more quickly than the emergency services because we are already at the locations. We also do not want to be travelling down through Wales, phoning Mountain Rescue each day for help with minor incidents.

Checkpoint Team – This is the team responsible for placing and collecting Checkpoints. They work a day ahead, and a day behind the event. Often members of this team are working alone in the hills, so they are some of our more experienced mountain runners. What is important to emphasise though is that the entire event team needs a whole mix of people with different skills, but all with happy faces and a can-do attitude.

Media Team – The media team at the Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race is huge and includes PR support, three photojournalists, and film team and presenter. There is a huge appetite for content whilst the race is ongoing, and it’s a huge task to create, edit and share this information in a timely fashion.

Admin Team – This team is looking after the start / finish process which is hugely important for accounting for everyone each day. They also provide the IT backbone like our satellite internet connection and the live feed of GPS Tracking. IT is hard enough to deliver in the office and home, but if you are in a wet field there are many more challenges!

Catering Team – Finally, the incredibly important Catering Team keep everyone feed. They are up at 4am to get the hot water on, and preparing breakfast. They start serving breakfast from 5am, last breakfast at 8am, before packing everything away ready for transport onto the next Overnight Camp at around 9am.

They then need to get set up for chips, soup and cake for the first finishers (late afternoon), whilst preparing our main evening meal. We provide unlimited amounts of food, including fresh fruit and vegetables so it’s complicated to estimate the quantities and even more complicated to get it ready at the right times. The last meal is usually served around 11pm when the last finishers of the day come in. At this year’s event we are prepared to cater for 300 people each day so here is an insight into the quantities of food we have ready:

  • 4,000 bread rolls / slices of bread / Pitta
  • 3,000 tea bags
  • 2,250 eggs
  • 2,000 Wilf’s cakes
  • 1,500 Vegetarian Sausages
  • 900kg of pre-made Wilf’s Evening Meals
  • 300kg of frozen chips
  • 160kg of Baked Beans
  • 90kg of tinned fruit
  • 75kg of rice
  • 72kg of couscous
  • 40kg of custard

Come Monday 22nd May, on the live GPS tracking you’ll be able to keep an eye on not only the participants as they progress down the 315km course, but the various event team delegations also (keep an eye out for “Medic 1, Media 2, Catering 3” and so on).