The Montane Dragons Back Race is a 6-day ultra-running adventure that takes participants on a journey spanning 380 km from Conwy Castle in the north of Wales to Cardiff Castle in the south.
“In between, they’ll traverse some of Wales’ most rugged landscapes, taking on iconic mountain peak after iconic mountain peak. All this whilst battling the ever-changeable Welsh elements…” (https://montane.com/blogs/blog/the-story-behind-the-dragon-s-back-race)
The event first popped on my radar back in 2017 at my very first Kendal Mountain Festival Fell Running session where Helene Whitaker (nee Diamantides) was a guest. I was a year into a transition from road running to fell running and the whole world of running off-road; the races, the runners, and the possibilities, were all very new to me.
Aside from Helene’s long list of running accolades, during the interview she recounted her experience on The very first Dragons Back Race back in 1992 in which she won outright with running partner Martin Stone. Her account of her solo Bob Graham Round also left a lasting impression, but that’s a discussion for another day. In short, her approach, composure and general ‘just get out and do it’ attitude really intrigued me.
The original race was dreamt up and organised by Ian Waddell, a former Parachute Regiment Soldier, inspired by the Cambrian Way. Following the first race, the event didn’t take place again until 2012, relaunched by Shane Ohly of Ourea Events. Montane have put together a great blog The Story Behind The Dragons Back Race.
At the point when I heard Helene Whittaker, the prospect of ever taking on something like the DBR felt completely unachievable. A goal that would be absolutely out of reach. I didn’t have the experience, skills or knowledge to quantify the scale of the event, but what I took away from that 30 minutes on the Brewery Arts Centre stage was that, as a female, it could be done. This was a real moment of representation matters.
I am a big advocate for seeking out role models in those around you. Those that are a few steps ahead doing things you can aspire to do too. In recent years, as I’ve built on my own experience, I have seen my peers with the confidence put in the work and turn up at the start line of The Dragons Back Race. Paving the way & sowing the seed of possibility. So here I am, having spent 2023 working towards my own goal, ready to tow that start line.
Read my interview with the DBR Team HERE
I am now at the point where I have done all I can. I’ve worked hard, trained well & it will be what it will be. I am invested and excited to see where the 6 days will take me… & if its not my time to ‘Tame the Dragon’ I will hopefully still be able to continue on the Hatchling Course. My number one aim when I step out on the trails is to enjoy it as much as I can. The good times will make way for bad, but those moments too will pass. Who knows if I can do it but I’m going to give it my best shot.
If the above has peeked an interest…Still to come:
- PREPARING FOR THE DRAGONS BACK RACE, where I will discuss the months leading up to my 2023 DBR attempt, including training & recce weekends.
- THE DRAGONS BACK RACE REPORT, a recap of my experience on the 2023 event.