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Dragon's Back race underway

Posted 4 September 2012
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Dragon's Back race underway
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Many people will have been prompted to invest in some running gear by seeing the Olympic action, but for country lovers, the challenge of a fell run could have even more appeal.

But it is not just about running apparel. Good, lightweight backpacks are vital items for fell runners taking on longer distances, when it is important to be able to refuel and rehydrate.

One such race has just started in Wales, the Dragon's Back.

An epic route first run in 1992, the event is a five-day race covering 186 miles and 45,000 ft of ascent as the runners take on the extreme challenge over the Welsh mountains.

Starting yesterday (September 3rd) at Conwy Castle in north Wales, it passes though Snowdonia and then southwards through the heart of Wales, taking in more mountains in the Brecon Beacons before ending at Carreg Cennen Castle.

Serenaded by a male voice choir as they set off, the runners set off to cover the highest Welsh mountains on the opening day, including 6,000 m of ascent as they pass over the Carneddau, Glyderau and Snowdon massifs, with their various peaks over 3,000 ft.

Day two covers the Molewyns and Rhinogs in the middle of Snowdonia, which are not as lofty but still well over 2,000 ft in many cases, while day three covers the south of the national park and includes the 2,930 ft Cadair Idris.

The fourth day passes between national parks in mid-Wales, but still includes 3,500 ft of ascent, the equivalent of climbing Carnedd Llewellyn from sea level.

Whoever among the racers makes it to the final day will then run through the Black Mountains in the Brecon Beacons before they cross the line.

Suffice to say, only the fittest will make it, but those taking on the challenge - or any long-distance fell run - will give themselves a far better chance with the best equipment. This is as much a part of the best preparation as any amount of gym work or training runs.