Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race – Day Two Review

Start – Hafod y Llan Campsite
Finish – Vanner Farm Campsite
Distance covered – 58km
Height climbed – 3,600m
Key features – Moelwynion and Rhinogydd
Number of runners still in the full race after day two – 170

Runners near Diffws on day two of the Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race – photo ©

During event week, it’s fair to say that the Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race exists in a bubble. The runners are focused on the major challenge of completing the course, while the organisers and volunteers are equally focused on staging an efficient, safe and exciting race.

All of that, combined with the often remote terrain and poor connectivity, means that those involved in the event are a little removed from the world ‘outside’. However, some news does penetrate that bubble, so competitors and the race team shared the horror of everyone else when word of events in Manchester emerged overnight.

The demands of the race continued to take their toll on the field and more runners were timed out or retired through injury during the day.

Jim Mann enjoys day two of the Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race – photo

Jim Mann built on his advantage during day two of the Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race, completing a 58km route across the Moelwynion and Rhinogydd hills in a time of 7 hours 52 minutes. The defending champion set off last at 9:00am and in the course of the day passed everyone except Marcus Scotney, who just managed to finish ahead of him.

Marcus Scotney running well on day two of the Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race – photo ©

Scotney started earlier and so still lost 23 minutes to the leader on the day but wasn’t disappointed with the outcome: “I know Jim is so much faster than me over the rougher terrain,” he said, “so today was really about surviving the Rhinogs and reducing my losses. The plan worked and when the ground was runnable I was going really well so I hope in the later stages of the race to be able pull time back. There are still three days to go.”

Jez Bragg descends on day two of the Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race – photo ©

Third today was Jez Bragg who was pleased to gain some time on Neil Talbott today. Talbott is still in third overall but Bragg is hopeful he can challenge him for the podium. “I don’t know Neil,” he said, “but was glad to pull a little back on him today and hope I might be able to squeeze onto the podium – we could have a good battle.”

In the ladies race the winner today was Caroline McIlroy in a time of 10:14.43, the 14th fastest time of the day. She is British but has lived in Newfoundland for many years, where she says there is no terrain really suitable for training for this race, not near to her home anyway. However, she did still have the advantage of familiarity today.

Sabrina Verjee in action on day two of the Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race – photo ©

“When I was growing up we had a family cottage in the area,” she said, “and we often walked over Cnicht, the Moelwyns and the Rhinogs, so today was all very much like home ground to me.” On time she was just ahead of women’s race leader Sabrina Verjee, who completed the 2015 race in 14th place overall.

Verjee still leads by 26 minutes, but McIlroy is now second ahead of Carol Morgan, by just 35 seconds, so a really close race is developing between the three.

Carol Morgan on day two of the Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race – photo ©

Race director Shane Ohly has had to make some difficult decisions today: “Today has been tough for the team. We have had to make some hard decisions and some competitors have found those really difficult to accept. As race director, I always have to think about the integrity and credibility of the race. We have rules and it’s essential that we apply those consistently and with parity. This doesn’t always tally with what our runners want from their experience at the Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race, but we have to take this approach. This means that some competitors have been agonisingly timed out or disqualified for major rule infractions. We always give them the chance to explain their position, but remain consistent in our application of the rules, and that doesn’t always go down well with those affected. What kind of business kicks out its customers? Well, this one has to sometimes, or it won’t survive in the long term. It’s been that kind of day.”

Joe Faulkner on day two of the Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race – photo ©

Joe Faulkner completed another solid day and is still on course to be the only person to complete all four Dragon’s Back Races since the event was founded in 1992.

Vassos Alexander on day two of the Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race – photo

Radio and TV presenter Vassos Alexander is also still in the race, but commented on the first half the day: “I’ve been found out. Mountains one, Greek sports presenter nil!”