2021 Montane Dragon’s Back Race - update 2

Russell Bentley on technical terrain

The weather and the racing heated up on day two of the 2021 Montane Dragon’s Back Race. The race headed out over 3400m of rugged terrain and complete another 59km of the beautiful Welsh landscape. As temperatures soared to around 30 degrees Celsius, the leading competitors employed different tactics to try and gain an advantage on the course.

However, the main story of the day was the combined effect of the heat and the terrain on the competitors. Rough, remote and often trackless terrain on Cnicht, the Moelwynion and Rhinogydd made going very tough and almost half of those who started, failed to complete the full day by the cut-off deadline of 10:00pm. Of the 367 who started on Monday, only 125 are left in the full race.

In a departure from convention, second placed Russell Bentley (pictured) set off early (at 7:00am) in an attempt to put some distance between himself and Simon Roberts. Simon set off at 8:21am, but by the support point at Cwm Bychan, he was only 35 minutes behind Russell on the course. Russell reached the finish first (9:48:03 on the day and 17:13:30 overall), but when Simon crossed the line, he had made up more time and now has alead of 56 minutes in the race (8:52:11/ 16:17:25).Matt O’Keefe retained third position with another good run (9:48:54 / 18:30:52).

Speaking at the support point, Russell Bentley commented: “Man, it’s hot out there. I went for a full on swim in a couple of the lakes, just to try and cool down.”

Simon commented at the finish: “I am surprised that I am still in first place. I was so slow in the Rhinogs [The Rhinogydd]. I went to some dark places up there and I found it hard to breathe. It was just so hot. Today has been my hardest running day ever. It is maybe due to the effort yesterday as well, but the heat has been so hard.” 

In the women’s race, Katie Mills was first to finish (11:19:20 on the day and 21:17:26 overall), and extended her lead by over an hour. Katie is now just outside the top 10 in the overall standings. Elaine Bisson had a strong run (12:27:18 /23:16:30), retaining second place, ahead of Cat Slater, who moved up from fifth with a strong run (12:40:25 / 23:48:41).

On crossing the line, Katie Mills commented:“It’s so hot. Is there a river here? If so, can someone please take me to it?”

Elsewhere in the race, there were some very warm and weary runners, and heartfelt expressions of relief on crossing the line before the cut-off deadline of 10:00pm. Among them was Stuart Anderson, MP for Wolverhampton South West, who decided to tackle the race to raise money for charity, and has safely made it through the first two days.Although the number of runners who are still in the full race has reduced dramatically in two days, there are still many others who are continuing their journey south through Wales, tackling full or half days as ‘non-competitive’ runners.The camaraderie among all of the athletes on the course and in camp is very strong, from the front of the field to the back.

Those runners who are still in the full race have yet to complete a third of the distance and day three is one of the longestthat they will face. Cadair Idris looms over the day two campsite and is their first target, guarding the Cambrian Mountains that stand between them and the finish, 70km and 3,400m of climbing away.

Katie Mills is looking forward to it, commenting in camp: “As I ran the final section today I looked over at Cadair Idris and I thought that I am going to enjoy being up there tomorrow.”

You can follow the progress of the race thanks to live tracking via www.dragonsbackrace.com,and the Montane Dragon’s Back Race team will be posting regular updates on social media throughout the event:

·         Twitter – follow @DragonsBackRace

·         Instagram – follow @DragonsBackRace

·         Facebook - DragonsBackRace.

Photo credit - No Limits Photography