A day of drama in Wales as 2015 champion and 2017 race leader Jim Mann, makes a navigational error and not only loses his strong and convincing lead, but also gives away an additional 30-minutes… needless to say, on the finish line he was less than pleased with his navigational prowess.
The day started at 0600 as much of the field started early to maximise the time available to be back in camp before the 2300 cut-off. Forecast was for clear skies and sun and a tough day.
The first control at Pau Craig had a 2-hour guide and many were finding the early climb to just under 700m a challenge. For the lead ladies, Sabrina Verjee and Carol Morgan arrived together – Caroline McIlroy having started earlier. The men arrived in dribs and drabs – Marcus Scotney getting an early start and then the other main contenders arriving closer together, Neil Talbot first, then Jez Bragg and then finally Jim Mann who appeared to be flying on the tough/ steep terrain.
Myndd Moel followed at 683m and a series of false peaks before dropping down to the first road crossing at Llanllwyda.
The ladies were running strong holding their respective places with Verjee and Morgan running together. Morgan no doubt looking to open up a gap on McIlroy – the duo were only 30+ seconds apart on general classification.
At Cadair Idris, Mann made his error – he navigated south off the course. Unfortunately he ran for many km’s before navigating back north only to go off course again and lose more time and distance.
Scotney, who loves to run, started to extend his lead and claw back the 90-minutes of Mann’s lead.
It was the end of the day when the damage was really starting to come clear. Scotney arrived at Pumlumon Fawr (the last control) looking strong, relaxed and focussed. He said, ‘I feel good!’ )n hearing the news that Mann had gone off course, he no doubt found some new gusto for the final downhill run to the line on good fast terrain. He crossed the line in 7:54:33.
When Mann finally arrived, he was a long way back and pushing hard. Of course it can be a little confusing as the duo did not start at the same time. Crossing the line in 9:30:43 – the true extent of the damage was finally confirmed, Scotney had taken the overall lead by approx 26-minutes, 24:25:02 to Mann’s 24:51:08 elapsed time.
Neil Talbott, Jez Bragg and Ken Sutor once again had strong and consistent days finishing 9:31:55, 9:36:35 and 9:34:30 respectively.
Sabrina Verjee and Carol Morgan pretty much shadowed each other for most of the day. In the latter stages Verjee looked hot and bothered with her effort in the strong hot sun – she crossed the line in 11:01:05 and retained the overall lead in 30:46 :13 elapsed.
Morgan finished in 11:07:46 with an elapsed time of 31:30:13 but the ladies story was all about McIlroy who finished in 11:06:52 and therefore consolidating her lead for 2nd with an elapsed time of 31:28:44.
223 runners have arrived and registered in Conwy ahead of the 2017 Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race™ starting at 0700 on Monday May 22nd.
Ahead an incredible, tough and challenging journey that will test each and every runner. Following the mountainous spine of Wales from north to south. This incredible 5-day journey is 315 kilometres long with 15,500 metres of ascent across wild, trackless, remote and mountainous terrain. It is the toughest 5-day mountain race in the world.
Episode 130 of Talk Ultra brings you some audio from The Coastal Challenge with Sondre Amdahl, Jason Schlarb, Anna Comet and an in-depth chat with Cherie Soria and Dan Ladermann. We also talk with UK based fell and mountain runner, Jim Mann.
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Courtney Dewaulter ran 250km (155.3 miles) to set a new American record beating Sabrina Littles best by more than 3-miles. Dewaulter will join Katlin Nagy, Traci Falbo, Jenny Hoffman and Pam Smith in Ireland for the IAU 24-Hour Championships. – That is a seriously strong ladies team!
What a stunning race that turned out to be a Pau Calpell and Azara Garcia show. The two respectively lead from the front to take great victories. Pau (13:21) smashing the old course record set by Didrik Hermansen who placed 3rd in this years edition. Second place went to Lithuanian, Vlaidas Zlabys (13:35) who is going to be one-to-watch this year! Although Azara won the ladies’ race (16:25), she was 1-hour slower that Caroline Chaverots 2016 time. Chaverot dropped at 30km not feeling good! Andrea Huser placed 2nd (17:150 and Melanie Rousset 3rd (17:30).
The Coastal Challenge
Anna Frost won in 27:08. Anna Comet (Spain) and Ester Alves (Portugal) were second and third in 27:58 and 28:23, respectively. Tom Owens dominated the men’s in 22:29. Chema Martinez (Spain) 23:43 and Jason Schlarb 24:34 were second and third. We caught up with Sondre Amdahl, Anna Comet and Jason Schlarb for a post TCC chat.
00:25:10 INTERVIEW with Sondre Amdahl, Anna Comet and Jason Schlarb
At TCC Cherie Soria and Dan Ladermann were a constant inspiration to all competitors. Niandi caught up with them and ‘Coastal’ the dog, back in our hotel in San Jose.
01:30:14 INTERVIEW with CHERIE SORIA and DAN LADERMANN
Iditarod Trail Invitational
David Johnston once again won the 350-mile journey from Knik Lake to McGrath. Conditions this year were very tough with many drops. This is Johnston’s 5th victory – he finished in 5-days, 21-hours, 43-minutes. Second was Kyle Durand… 2-days later! I am not sure if any woman finishes, results don’t show this HERE
Red Mountain 55k
Once again saw ‘one-to-watch’ Hayden Hawks take another victory in 4:15. Rachel Cieslewicz won the ladies’ race in 5:38. Results HERE for the men and HERE for the ladies.
Way to Cool 50k
Cody Reed won in 3:16 and Megan Roche in 3:52 results HERE
Not many race results yet, still early in the calendar but if you are missing watching some of the top runners in the world, take a look at ski mountaineering. The cross over between mountain running and skimo is growing and growing – Kilian and Emelie have long been exponents but runners like Rob Krar, Nick Elson, Mike Foote, Jason Schlarb and so on are turning to skis over the winter months. Currently the iconic Pierra Menta is happening – it’s the Hardrock (on a much bigger scale) of skimo. Read here.
RUNNING BEYOND BOOK
I will be also going to Sofia in Bulgaria on the 17th, 18th and 19th March for a trail, mountain and Skyrunning expo.
Jim Mann is a low-key highly accompolished fell and mountain runner in the UK. However, he like to keep a low-profile. Recently, Jim completed all 3 UK rounds in 1 month… in winter! On the 22nd January Jim set a new winter record for the Charlie Ramsay Round completing it in 22:23. Three weeks later (11th February) Jim completed the Paddy Buckley Round in 21:37. And then theBob Graham Round in 20:26. I had to chat with him!
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“The simple act of running, placing one foot in-front of the other as a method of transport takes us back to our roots, our basic instincts. In search of a place to sleep, to hunt for food; it is about being in the wild, surviving and fulfilling a primal need.”
The 2015 edition of the race was an incredible, mind-blowing journey but in 2016, the race goes one step further and becomes ‘Transfrontier.’ The race will now pass over the Orange River and in to Namibia.
Elisabet Barnes 2016 The Coastal Challenge, Costa Rica (2nd place lady).
Known as one of the most scenic and unique trail running stage race events on the South African trail running calendar the Richtersveld Wildrun™ takes a new direction and in doing so become a cross-border trail running event; a worlds first! Extending to a linear 200km race, the five day crossing from South Africa to Namibia goes through the heart of the stunning /Ai/Ais-Richtersveld Transfrontier Park.
“We are absolutely thrilled to have unlocked a truly unique opportunity to experience both sides of such a unique and powerful place – and to finish a long day at a natural hot springs in the middle of the wilderness is unbelievable!”said Owen Middleton,” MD of Wildrunner, the events company behind the Wildrun™ events.
Tobias Mews, The Dragon’s Back Race 2015.
Including the Vyf Susters, Hellskloof Pass, Armmanshoek, the Tswayisberge, Springbokvlakte and the iconic Tatasberg boulders, the new route will maintain the best of the first three days of the original edition but on day 4, the route will veer of its original course and cross the Orange River at De Hoop into Namibia. Yes, the race will go into the untouched southern section of the Fish River Canyon made famous by Ryan Sandes.
It’s no easy addition to the race, runners will need to cover 50km into a wilderness that is completely inaccessible by vehicle. Rich in wildlife, runners will have a once in a lifetime experience with a possibility of seeing Hartmann’s mountain zebra, kudu, gemsbok, springbok, Namibian wild horses and giraffe. It’s the race of a lifetime!
Tobia Mews is no stranger to incredible races, his recent book release called ’50 Race To Run Before You Die’ looks like it will need a new chapter, 51 Races…
“I am so looking forward to this race. For me it’s the epitome of adventure running wrapped up in one of the most stunning places on earth. And it’s partly Ian Corless‘s fault for producing such amazing photos from last year.”– Tobias Mews
After a long, tough day in Namibia, runners will spend the evening in a canyon at a natural hot spring, before taking on the final day of roughly 25km to finish at the /Ai-/Ais Hot Springs Resort and wrap up a powerful and truly unique experience.
Roland Vorwerk, marketing manager of Boundless Southern Africa, one of the driving forces behind the success of the event, said they are very happy to support this new cross-border trail running event.
“This new route contains even more highlights than the original Richtersveld Wildrun™, and promises to give participants a challenging but spectacular trail running experience.”
If you need inspiration, check out the film from 2015 below.
Skyrunning UK is booming. Already this year we have had the V3K, Peaks Skyrace and the recent ground breaking Salomon Glen Coe Skyline.
Attention now turns to the True Mountain Lakes Sky Ultra.
A Lakeland course that offers elevated ridgelines, breathtaking exposure, fast travel on technical mountain terrain and some classic Lakeland scrambling. Race directors Charlie Sproson and Andrew Burton say, ‘Fell running on additives. This is Skyrunning™.’
Race date is September 12th and race entries close on September 6th, so you have time to gain a last minute entry in what will be a very special race.
It’s a race route that follows on quite nicely from the Salomon Glen Coe Skyline in that the True Mountain Lakes Sky Ultra has plenty of vertical grind (4300m+), grade 3 scrambling, knife edge arêtes and all over 50km’s of challenging terrain.
It’s not a race for the feint hearted and this is reflected by the start list.
Starting on the streets of Ambleside, arguably one of the most important town in the English Lakes, runners will run this challenging course via a fully way marked route.
Who is running?
Eirik Haugsness has been racing the Skyrunner® World Series for several years and he is the 2014 champion of the Tromso Skyrace. His presence in the English lakes is an exciting prospect as he will attempt to do battle against local talent.
Ricky Lightfoot needs no introduction to Skyrunning and fell running aficionados and without doubt he is a favourite for overall victory on what for him is home soil. Ricky has already had a string of top performances in 2015, can he add the LSU to the list?
Es Tressider recently raced the Glen Coe Skyline and ran much of the day in 2nd place. Unfortunately, Es faded in the latter stages of the race and missed the podium. Es’s experience in the mountains is quite incredible and if recovered, we can certainly expect him to mix it up at the front of the race.
Damian Hall in 2015 has raced The Spine, The Dragons Back Race and just finished 32nd at UTMB (2nd Brit). LSU only comes 2 weeks after the Mont-Blanc monster so Damian may well be a little tired; we can’t rule him out though!
Ben Bardsley is an experienced fell runner and ski mountaineer. In the past he has raced at classic Skyrunning races such as Zegama-Aizkorri. Ben’s current form is a little unknown but he’s one to watch for sure.
Chris Stirling has had excellent performances at the Langdale Horseshoe, Three Shires, Great Lakes Race and has preparing for LSU for several months. His presence almost certainly will be felt at the front of the race.
In the ladies’ race, V3K winner and 3rd placed lady at Glen Coe Skyline, Sarah Ridgway makes an appearance and if recovered we can expect her to contest the podium once again.
But Beth Pascall comes to the race with a set of solid results. She has placed 2nd at Lakeland 100, won The Spine, placed 2nd The Dragons Back Race and for me is the most likely lady to top the podium on the 12th September.
Shiri Leventhal has placed on the podium of multi-day races in the 4 Desert Series and in 2013 was 2nd lady at the Everest Trail Race. This course will provide a test to Shiri but it’s one that she can rise too!
Finally, Victoria Mousley is another hot contender for the top of the podium. Her experience on courses such as The Three Peaks, Tour of Pendle and Scaffell Pike Marathon will set her up nicely for a great run at LSU.
Overnight camp had been a relaxed and casual affair as the heat of day 1 subsided to leave a calm night. Beer and cider flowed in the village hall, Joey (Joey’s Coffee) had his coffee machine in full flow and a duo of folk artists provided a mellow soundtrack as runners rested, re-hydrated (sort of) and re-loaded energy stores for day 2 of the Berghaus Trail Chase.
Starting as on day 1, runners had 3 courses to run (black, red or blue) to head back to base camp and race start (from Saturday) in Osmotherley. It was a shorter day for all but with some added pressure! Yes, the CHASE was on.
Starting in finishing order, runners were released with time gaps respected and as such if you ‘CATCH’ the runner infrontt of you, you have gained a place!
It’s a great idea and one that adds some real buzz and adrenaline to events. Leading lady in the blue category Niandi Carmont post race said:
“I didn’t think I was that competitive but I was caught by 2nd and 3rd ladies on an early climb in the blue race and then I waited, paced myself off the 2 of them and then ran as hard as I could to go past them and then hold them off. It was so exciting but also so stressful; in a good way! I am just glad today was 14km in length. I loved it.”
This sentiment was echoed by another runner as the sun greeted everyone back at the finish.
“I normally don’t push myself when I race but this format really added a different angle to racing and it’s so inspiring. I had visions I was in a Tour de France time trial.”
For once, the UK provided a perfect weekend of sunny warm weather, the only blip came during the night when a few light showers came. However, they were welcome. It broke the humidity of day 1 and although day 2 was sunny and warm it lacked the oppression of day 1 that caused so many runners to suffer.
The North Yorkshire Moors were resplendent with shades of green and vibrant lavender providing a natural palette that added to colourful racing.
‘So what a week, what a journey, impossible to explain how tough, how mentally and physically challenging it was but also how spiritual it has been. Cut off from the world, no social media, no showers, just living in the wild with a group of equal enthusiasts.’ – Mike Evans
It’s over! The Berghaus Dragons Back has been broken. Mike Evans sums it up above, how do you compress the highs and lows of an incredible hard 5 days. For the tough and tireless 66 who completed the full race, the emotion (or lack of) was poignant in Carreg Cennen Castle. For some, it was just too much. I can understand it, 5 days of exhaustion, fatigue and stress and finally it’s over. The simple crossing of a line and a final ‘dib in’ and it was job done.
Some smiled, some laughed, some looked bemused at the assembled group who clapped and cheered; it was all too much and a lack of words summed up the the journey undertaken more than loud chants of yee-ha!
This select and hardy few may well have broken the back of the Dragon but it had been a a touch and go affair for all. Even race winner, Jim Mann said on the final finish line:
‘Dense cloud, rain, cold, difficult navigation, I could have done without that today!’
But slay the Dragon they did and at the evening awards ceremony, race director Shane Ohly summed it up very well:
‘It seems wrong that I have to countdown the finishers from 66 – 1 as it emphasises the top of the field and places a priority on them when in reality, everyone here is a hero.’
The racing and the finish line was full of stories. As you would expect, every single finisher (and non-finisher) had a very unique story to tell. Old to young, these stories will be discussed in time to come and as time passes, more will be revealed. For now, the journey is too raw, too sensitive, the enormity too big to understand. I said during the race that lives would be changed as the race progressed through Wales. I witnessed at first hand how the weak became strong and the strong became weak. It’s the nature of the event. It’s meant to be tough and those who didn’t complete this time, for whatever reason, will learn and I am sure will be back in 2017 for the next edition.
The final day was not without drama. A wet day, conditions proved to be very tough and post race many commented on how difficult the navigation had been in the white out conditions, driving rain and strong winds. It’s somewhat ironic that as Pavel Paloncy crossed the line first, the sun and dry weather followed him and all assembled were treated to a warm and sunny afternoon with incredible views. Paloncy would almost certainly have been a contender for a podium place had he not taken a bad fall on day 1 resulting in hospital treatment.
Mann will of course be remembered as the Dragon Slayer of 2015 but notably it was the year of the ladies with Paris, Pascall and Wraith featuring in the top 10 throughout the race and all 3 of them placing in the top 6 – Paris 2nd, Pascall 4th and Wraith 6th. Just like in the original race when Helene Whitaker showed the men a thing or two, 2015 had all the potential for a repeat performance and this was something Ohly touched on at the awards:
‘Despite the so called ‘advantages’ men have, ladies once again triumphed at the Dragons Back Race and I think that it is brilliant. All 3 ladies raced incredibly well and Paris had all the potential to win the race outright.’
Father and son team Glenn and Huw Davies in many ways provided me with a raw insight into the race. Having lost my father way too young I watched this duo battle the terrain as one. Joined together from beginning to end they witnessed each others highs and lows in a way that is beyond comprehension. Ever day I looked at them, envious of the time they were having together. What they shared is beyond special and I can only wish that I had had that opportunity in my life. When they finished in the castle it was a whirl of emotion for the duo; it all proved too much for young Huw (just 22), ‘I am real proud of my dad!’
It’s funny, all assembled, big to small, old to young suddenly got something in their eyes… maybe it was the wind or the midgies?
Joe Faulkner, legend that he is completed the very first Dragons Back Race and in 2012 he came back for more. Completing the 2015 event makes him quite the unique individual. He is the only person ever to complete all 3 Dragon Back Races. Wow! As a just reward, Ohly offered a tribute to Faulkner at the awards ceremony and acknowledged how instrumental he had been in Ohly’s own rise and development in the sport. As a nod of recognition, Ohly asked Faulkner to offer the awards to male and female winners; Jasmine Paris and Jim Mann.
Beer was flowing, spirits were high and as Paris and Mann sat down with awards in hand, the 2015 Berghaus Dragons Back race came to a close.
I can’t help but think there a great deal of runners (and marshals) today sitting, looking around and thinking, ‘What next?’ Races are like that, they make you, they break you, they inspire you and they take you to the lowest of the low and highest of the high. Plans are being made. What’s next?
It may very well be a new adventure, a new challenge, another race, maybe even recovery but I know one thing, all those who toed the line in the north of Wales a week a go will now be thinking of 2017 and contemplating coming back for more.
Like a Phoenix, the Dragon will rise from the ashes of 2015 and return in 2017.
It’s extremely important to acknowledge the tireless help and devotion of all the volunteer marshals, kitchen staff and crew that made this race happen. They had their own ultra to undertake and events like this could not happen without them. In addition, sponsors provide an aid that facilitates the day-to-day functioning and feasibility of a race like this. Ohly pointed out his appreciation for Berghaus as a main sponsor, ‘Without them this event could not happen!’
What a day! Wales looked magnificent in bathed in glorious sunshine but as you can imagine, running 50km+ in intense heat over some of the most gruelling terrain is not a match made in heaven.
Runners struggled and buckled.
However, Jim Mann once again made what is extremely tough look relatively easy. He finished the day in 8 hours! At control 1, the summit of Cnicht, runners appeared in dribs and drabs due to the staggered start. Mann, starting last rocketed up and as he ran past us he was made aware of his time. His response was cal calculated, ‘Good, looks like I am gaining time!’ He then proceeded to come off the clearly defined trail and turned right down the scree slopes using his navigation skills to the full.
Ultimately, it was day that was all about the ladies; Jasmine Paris, Beth Pascall and Lizzie Wraith all embraced the terrain, the heat and the course and finished within the top 5. Jez Bragg also had a great day, ‘I’m feeling better today, the legs are feel good and I’m finding my pace.’
Unfortunately, Konrad Rawlik and Ed Catmur had tough days. Catmur fell while running in a strong position at the front of the race which resulted with a visit to hospital with a leg wound. Rowlock finished the day but looked dejected. He started the day 2nd overall but the terrain took its toll on his knees and he struggled.
‘Today was a tougher day than in 2012 as day 1 was made a little easier,’ said Shane Ohly race director. ‘It has been a very tough day, relentless some may say and of course the heat added to the severity.’
Camp 2 is in Llanelltyd in the grounds of Tymer Abbey. It’s quite the setting! Hot food is being consumed in vast quantities, cake and custard eaten in multiples of 2 or 3 and to top it all, as each runner finished, Ohly had an ice cream waiting for them.
Tomorrow is a big day. Read into that what you will but we can conform that the course will be 68km with 3700m+
My advise to the runners is sleep and sleep as soon as possible! They are going to need all the recovery time as possible.