Well, hello world as they say, or hello Mum and Dad if I’m being realistic! I thought I’d give blogging a go as I have recently embarked upon a journey which will hopefully lead me to Carreg Cennen Castle in South Wales. It’s not about treasure hunt and I’m not the new Anneka Rice, but it is about ultra running and it is about attempting one of the hardest stage races on the planet.
I can’t remember where I first saw that the Dragon’s Back Race was being put on again, but I knew I wanted to be apart of it straight away. I first read about the Dragon’s Back Race (DBR) in Richard Askwith’s classic book ‘Feet in the Clouds’ which charts his obsession with the completion of the Bob Graham Round (BGR).In the book he recounts tales from some of the classic races along with some highlights from a year in fell running. One of the classic races is the DBR.
At Richard’s hand, the DBR almost becomes folklore. It was a classic race with a cat and mouse chase over 5 days which was only won in the final hour or so. Considering the race involved navigating and running 200 miles across rough and wild terrain with 50,000ft of ascent thrown in for good measure it was incredible that no clear winner emerged earlier. The race was run in pairs and was won by Martin Stone and Helene Diamantides. The race was supported by the Paras and was never run again… until now.
After much deliberation and initial hand wringing over the cost (but more so by the fact you have to pay up front a year in advance of the race) this idiot has decided to enter. At £500 it’snot exactly cheap, so I figured that I would be better off doing it with a few friends, but then I realised that despite knowing a few mad people, none of them were this mad! I also thought more about the logistics and the amount I’d need to carry even if I was staying in B&Bs along the way. In the end I thought it wasn’t going to actually happen and that when all taken into consideration I’d probably spend a reasonable portion of the money and add on a significant amount of inconvenience to friends and family. Having exchanged a few emails with the chap organising it I believe he’ll put on a quality event so I’ve made peace with the cost and it’s onwards and upwards!
The race starts at Conway Castle on the North Wales coast and runs up and down the spine of rock that goes from the top to the bottom of Wales. Much of it doesn’t have a path and for those of you that have walked up Snowdon before I’ll put it into perspective – evenly split this will mean covering 40 miles per day whilst at the same time climbing the equivalent of the PYG track from Pen-y-pass to the Snowdon summit and back down 4 times. Spice it up by replacing well trodden paths with rough often untracked ground, then repeat every day for an additional 4 days. Yep. Bonkers.
Details of the race can be found here . As the chap running it stated, he’s an expert in putting on races, not setting up websites. It is quite evident. If you want to get into ‘details’ you have to click it twice for some reason. A very dated, but professional ‘for TV’ video can be found on the site it should give you an idea of what it is all about.
So I’m starting this blog in a position where I have already entered, have already done my first official Ultra on the way to the race itself (The Brecon Beacon’s Ultra – more about that later) I’m mid way through planning out my year to get to the start line and am in progress with an attempt on the BGR (something I feel is essential that I complete to give me the belief to start the race and know I can finish)…oh, and I’ve just fallen heavily which in turn has badly twisted my right ankle and left me with scrapes down my forearms and legs. Hmmm. Not ideal Chris, but an occupational hazard I guess.
On with the show!