|By Rob Howard|
It was a long night for some at the end of day one of the Dragon’s Back Race – Nigel Coe who was marshalling on top of Snowdon did not get back down to camp until 1.40 in the morning. By then the majority of the starters (there were only 82, not 91) where safely wrapped up in their sleeping bags and one or two had retired elsewhere. Unfortunately one also finished up in hospital. Oscar Rouwhorst from Denmark was exhausted and badly dehydrated, and although he was recovering and was still cheerful he was taken to the local A&E as a precaution and for a comfortable night.
It was a very short night too, as the camp began to stir around 5am, ready for the first starts at 6am. Rain was falling on the Nordisk tents as the competitors hauled themselves out of their sleeping bags and a slow dawn revealed heavy low cloud on all the surrounding hills. As everyone sorted out their kit and grabbed some breakfast from the vegetarian food van (porridge was the most popular) it continued to rain and drizzle, although the forecast is for the weather to improve during the day.
As the racers arrived at the start tent they were given their maps for day two and told it had been shortened slightly in response to yesterday’s tough day. As it is a direct route south today it is not easy to shorten but CP’s 3 and 6 were taken out to allow for easier routes with less climb and less difficult terrain. One of these is Rhinog Fach, and the Rhinog hills are renowed for being mix of heather, rock and bog that is hard to make progress through.
Race Director Shane Ohly was telling racers, “We are being more sympathetic today”, but some of the elite racers felt it was a pity to take checkpoints off of the course. Ohly thought the runners were split 50/50 between those who thought day one was too hard, and those who thought it was amazing. “I am, of course, disappointed for the runners who didn’t make it,” he said, “but am not apologising for the difficulty of the route. The distances and ascents of the day have been on the website for 6 months now so everyone should have known what to expect. We’ve said it is one of the hardest runs in the world too, but I get the feeling lots of events say they are the toughest/hardest etc. so competitors don’t really believe you when you say it ... but we meant it!”
Although the results of day one are provisional the number of runners who completed the first day in full was 37, and this included all 4 of the runners who ran 20 years ago. The two women runners were both highly placed, with Wendy Dobbs 23rd and Helene Whitaker 9th. (The provisional results are on the SleepMonsters Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/pages/SleepMonsters-The-Adventure-Sports-Website/230423053666339 )