|By Rob Howard|
The second Dragon’s Back race is underway!
In the early hours of the morning race staff and competitors began to prepare and all around Conwy runners carrying dry bags full of kit emerged into the darkness from B&B’s and the Youth Hostel onto the streets to make their way to the castle. Here they put the bags into the race vans, and then made their way inside to the central courtyard to await the start.
Most were waiting patiently and many were talking to friends who had come to see them off. Sitting on his own was Peter Shreeves who has run several ultras, including the Marathon des Sables and the West Highland Way. “In Scotland you had to be accompanied if it got dark,” he said, “but there will be nothing like that in this race – it’s a different class of race altogether.” When I asked him what class of race it was he said, “I don’t know ... it’s unique!”
As the runners walked through the entrance into the castle Helene Whitaker said, “I’m really nervous!” Maybe because she has done it before she had more reason than most to be nervous, but the runners were not kept hanging around too long to fret. First there was the group photo to take, then the maps were given out. These are 1;40,000 maps printed on waterproof paper and it was a big sheet with a lot of checkpoints for day one!
Next a traditional Welsh Male voice choir performed and then the Major and local council leader said a few words ... then it was time to go! Just as the sun rose over the castle the runners jogged down through the gates and along the old town walls, with marshals directing them out of town and onto a footpath into the hills.
And that is where they will be for the next 5 days on their journey from North to South Wales.