Personal and professional. I am on a parallel journey towards the 2021 Montane Dragon’s Back Race® for sure. Since volunteering to be part of an amazing Event Team for 2015’s edition of the event, I have had the Dragon’s Back Race® on my radar to enter as a runner. And 2021 is now this year.
Probably kicked on by some Covid-19 related life and work interruptions and challenges, I saw an opportunity to finally commit to a goal that I knew would absorb a lot of my mental and physical capacity.
I’ve ended up ‘waiting’ for this time over previous years, without realising it, and I have finally prioritised a personal, long-term goal. For me. For now.
And, with a professional hat on, the mountain activities business, RAW Adventures (co-directed with my husband) now has an official partnership with the Dragon’s Back Race® to deliver a series of Official Recce Events for this iconic mountain ultra-race.
This development came after I was also involved in guiding all the Recce Events for the 2019 edition; and the Recce Event concept is developing all the time (keep an eye out for 2022)!
I’m really keen to help support other runners, especially females, enjoy their journey to increase a breadth of mountain and running skills, knowledge and confidence in their preparation for 6 days of running in mountainous and mixed terrain – from Conwy Castle to Cardiff Castle, over some of Wales’ most impressive, beautiful and remote areas.
Included in my personal preparation for the Dragon’s Back Race® is over 25 years of enjoying walking in the UK’s mountains, in England, Wales and Scotland, as well as working as a qualified Mountain Leader and Winter Mountain Leader since 2006 and 2014 respectively.
An amazing recce with Kate from RAW Adventures today of D1 from CP12 down to Camp 1. Weather was perfect, great scrambling over Crib Goch, thank you Kate for your patience. Highly recommend these recces lots of great tips and highlighting things I need to work on!
Nichola – April 2021
That’s a lot of mountain mileage in the legs; in all weathers, with a myriad of people. Lots of miles, smiles and learning!
I also bring a love of running to my experience – starting with road running and racing in my 20s and longer mountain runs and races, including ultra-distances, championship fell races, multi-day journeys, mountain marathons and personal mountain running, since moving to Snowdonia, North Wales in 2010.
But I’ve been keen to further specify my training for September 2021 and 6 days running the length of Wales, so chose to speak to ultramarathon runner and UK Athletics Coach, Damian Hall who also finished in 3rd place, in the 2015 Dragon’s Back Race®.
With Damian’s generous advice and experience, I’ve come away with a structured 7-month training plan that I follow independently, with 3-month reviews. This plan takes into account my life commitments, mountain work and current running experience and future goals.
It’s the first time I’ve followed a longer-term and specific, progressive training plan, and I am loving the structure and focus it gives me.
Usually, my ‘running’ is something that I just slam into life where I can; whereas now I’m prioritising specific training (varied running and strength work), monitoring results and resting when I need to!
Thanks for the safe guidance over the weekend. Shame about Crib Goch but hey ho, weather will be what it is. The weekend certainly changed my perspective on the weather’s impact on my training – it may have made it less pleasant, but the kit all worked and I came out unscathed so all fine.
Mike – May 2021
This desire to focus on improving my running efficiency and achievements was intensified after working towards a personal running goal during the summer of 2020, only to embark upon my ultra-distance outing and injure an ankle, only an hour into my long day and night of running! I was gutted.
I spent the rest of 2020 recovering and rehabilitating this injury – with a lot of walking (quirky sections of the Dragon’s Back Race® route!) and strength work, but not much specific running.
This set-back enthused me even more to sort my entry to the 2021 Dragon’s Back Race® and my phased training plan from Damian has helped me regain strength, stamina, speed and confidence over the last 5 months.
Because I need to be ‘fit for work’ also! Now RAW Adventures can work with groups of clients again after specific Covid-19 restrictions have been lifted, we have met yet more fantastic #DragonsInTraining, with many of our Recce Events being squeezed into the next few months, rather than spread nicely throughout the year, since Sept 2020.
It’s a challenging year for all Dragons, with a lot of specific training and recceing to fit into a shorter timescale, and that’s only if you can travel to the UK. For international runners, it’s even more challenging and frustrating, I’m sure.
So far, RAW’s Recce Events have focused on the more technical aspects of Day 1 – including being battered by wind and rain over Tryfan and the Glyderau summits and diverting around Crib Goch in yet more pesky gales. We’ve also run over the Cadair Idris massif a couple of times now, including a successful rampage over the whole of the Day 3 route, over 2 x days, in a mix of sun, showers and hail and then sun again.
Not only have we been ‘seeing and feeling’ the Dragon’s Back Race® recommended route come alive under our feet, we’ve covered efficient route finding on the ground, navigation tips, hydration and nutrition tip swaps, kit admin on poor weather days, descent techniques and facilitated great discussion and relations between fellow Dragon runners. Great days!
I’d just like to say a huge thank you to Kate and Lou for a great day out on Sunday, it was great fun, and invaluable too…also great to meet up with some other DBR entrants. We felt quite sad driving back down the A5 and wished we were staying for longer!
Samantha – May 2020
To come, are further explorations of Day 5 into Day 6, Day 2, some bespoke 1:1 Days and we’ll end up covering most of the 6-Day route by August 2021, over various 1 Day Recce Event dates.
Is it work or play, or both? It’s not uncommon to hear from others that my ‘job’ as the ‘best in the world’. I agree that when you find yourself combining your personal interests and passions, whilst working in an environment that makes you feel alive at every step then, yes, it’s a fantastic world.
And there’s so many interesting characters and people to run with; I really enjoy meeting the breadth of people I do when guiding and instructing mountain activities.
Yet, I have to play sensible and look after my own well-being and specific training, on top of the effort of working long, physical days, with plenty of ascent and mileage thrown in; as well as the packing, unpacking, managing kit and nutrition, the travelling and balancing life, work and parental commitments.
You won’t catch me awake much after 9.30pm if I can help it!
I look forward to meeting more amazing #DragonsInTraining over Summer 2021, before we enter Conwy Castle on Monday 6 September and drink in the inspiring atmosphere of the opening of the 2021 Montane Dragon’s Back Race®!