Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race™ 2017 – Day 1

Jim Mann, the 2015 Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race™ Champion, today set out his stall with a strong and dominant performance that left all the other runners following in his wake as he dominated the tough, challenging and yes, intimidating day 1 of this race.

For the ladies, Sabrina Verjee also produced a strong performance despite pre-race concerns that a recurring calf injury may surface and scupper her plans.

The day started at 0700 at the impressive Conwy Castle to music and a male voice choir. The early climb to Conwy mountain saw everyone close together but a pattern was starting to form with Jim Mann, Marcus Scotney, Jez Bragg, Neil Talbot and Nickademus Hollon. Sabrina Verjee and Carol Morgan similarly set the pace for the ladies.

Carnedd Gwenllian, Carnedd Llewelyn and Carnedd Dafydd followed and the field started to spread out as Mann upped the pace – ahead of his 2015 times!

The climb of Tryfan was a significant marker in the race and Mann and Varjee arrived first in the male and female categories. Scotney followed Mann but was not looking his comfortable self.

Climbing up and over Tryfan and then Glyder Fach the descent to Pen-Y-Pass was the next key marker. After crossing the road the long, steady and at times technical climb took runners to the exposed ridge of Crib Goch. Here man took a slight lower line in the final sections and mixed a control at the start of the ridge… there was some confusion as a map instruction did cause for a question mark. Most certainly it was a mistake by Mann but not intentional. It was decided post race by the judges he would receive a 15-minute time penalty.

On the ridge Mann extended his lead ahead of Neil Talbot who had now moved into 2nd and Marcus Scotney. The summit of Snowdon followed and then the run in to the finish at Nantgwynant. Mann was 1st in 7:27 (this includes the 15-min penalty), Talbot was 2nd 7:54 and Scotney 3rd in 8:14.

For the ladies, Verjee continued to the lead the ladies and although she moved a little slower over the exposed ridge of Crib Goch, she extended her lead on the final run in crossing the line in 9:27. Morgan took a lower line on Grib Goch to avoid the strong winds and in the process held off Caroline McIlroy – their times 9:46 and 10:07 respectively.

All results HERE

Image galleries will be available on iancorless.photoshelter.com post race

Taming the Dragon – 2017 Dragons Back Race Preview

Jim Mann – The Berghaus Dragons Back Race

Travelling from the North of Wales to the South via the ‘Dragons Back’ – the 2017 edition of the Berghaus Dragons Back Race looks set to have all the makings of a classic. A gigantic 315km route awaits the runners as they make the journey over multiple days. 

Day 1 in its own right is a tough day in the mountains as the best of Wales provides a stunning backdrop and stage setter for the race. In past editions, the opening day has proved too much for many… will 2017 be the same? It’s expected that 30% of those who start will not begin day 2 – a frightening statistic! 

Jim Mann, winner of the 2015 edition of the race has decided to return and defend his crown. After a tough 2016, Jim has recently returned to form after in ‘Winter Round’ record breaking run. Mann completed the Charlie Ramsay Round, the Paddy Buckley Round and the Bob Graham Round all within 1-month and set a new benchmark for the triple. 

British ultra-running pioneer Jez Bragg toed the line in 2015 but was forced to withdraw through illness, no doubt he will look to put the record straight in 2017. However, Cape Wrath 2016 champion Marcus Scotney will want to make sure he continues a winning streak of Ourea Events multi-day success with a strong performance.

Nickademus Hollon from the USA is well known in the ultra-world but may well fly under the radar of the UK based runners. Hollon was the youngest runner to complete the infamous Barkley and has placed 2nd at the Tor des Geants. He loves a challenge and although the UK mountains may well be new to him, we can anticipate a strong performance.

Alistair Hubbard and Neil Talbot may very well be the other prime contenders to take top honors on this journey through Wales. Hubbard has won the expert category on the Great Lakeland 3-Day – a great build up race to the Welsh multi-day adventure.

With the absence of Jasmin Paris, the ladies’ race is open but many are tipping Carol Morgan as a potential favorite. Her recent victory at The Spine is a standout result and it confirms that she can keep pushing even when tiredness and sleep deprivation are prevalent.

Sabrina Verjee is a regular Ourea Event competitor and participated in the 2015 Dragons Back Race where she placed 14th overall. It’s fair to say that Verjee has improved since then and she recently won the Great Lakeland 3-Day.

Italian Emanuela Marzotto came to running late in life and has made up for lost time with a sting of back-to-back performances in the world’s biggest ultras and multi-day races. Her experience in the Marathon des Sables was no doubt instrumental in her success in winning the 2016 Cape Wrath Ultra. Without doubt, she will have her hands full racing against Morgan and Varjee in Wales. 

A final nod goes to Canada’s Emily Compton who is a complete unknown on UK soil but she has accumulated a string of top-10 results dating back to 2012. Notable markers being 3rd at Vulcano Ultra Trail in 2013 and 5th at Yakima Skyline Rim 50k in 2016.

Action begins on May 20th when runners will arrive in Wales ahead of the May 21st start.

You can follow the daily action via this website in words and images and on Twitter – @talkultra and on Instagram – @iancorlessphotography