2023 Montane Dragon’s Back Race – day three review

In contrast to last year, the sun rose over Cadair Idris without a cloud in the sky, signalling the start of another hot day at the 2023 Montane Dragon’s Back Race.

Day three is the joint longest of the event and athletes who cover the 70km and 3,400m of ascent within the cut-off time will be feeling more confident that they can complete the full race.

Organisers once again offered a 30 minutes ‘timeout’ to participants, at the support point in Machynlleth, where many runners also took the opportunity to stock up on goodies in the shops. The town was busy for market day, but there were also a fair number of visitors who are following the Dragon’s Back Race, and who gave athletes plenty of enthusiastic encouragement.

The rate of attrition continued to be high, with 44 runners being timed out or retiring from the full race. There are now only 103 competitive runners in the event, about a third of the number that started in Conwy Castle on Monday. Many others have stayed with the race, to tackle the shorter Hatchling course and completed their journeys south through Wales. That field is growing and was up to 155 by the end of day three.

At the front of the race, Hugh Chatfield now has a lead of almost 90 minutes, and was again the fastest runner on the day in 8:36:46 and a cumulative time of 24:29:17. Jakub Wolski is in a clear second place (9:05:20 and 25:56:57) and Robyn Cassidy has moved up to third place (10:09:34 and 28:40:06), ahead of the third man, Tristan Stephenson (9:55:40 and 29:21:33). Jon Shield retired from the race during the day.

Victoria Thompson (10:04:05 and 29:44:22) was the fastest woman on the day. She has consolidated second place in that race and is fifth overall. Alyssa Clark (11:03:01 and 31:26:26) has moved up into third place and seventh overall. Other runners in the top ten are Iain Best (sixth), Owen Rees (eighth), Silvia Ainhoa Trigueros (ninth) and Ashley Mansfield (tenth).

Speaking at the support point, Hugh commented: “It’s been good. I was running with Jakub over the tops which was really nice. Then I pushed ahead on the Tarrens. The girls are going strong – Robyn and Victoria are absolutely flying!

“I’m feeling good actually. It’s been the best morning so far food-wise. The final bit is not too hard, relatively. The terrain is mostly rolling farm track. You’ve got to be a bit of an all-rounder to take on this course.”

After he finished, Hugh added: “I had great legs today so that was nice, but my toes have paid the price. I have blisters, but that’s all in a day’s work with soggy feet. It was so much fun running with Jakub on the top and we were cruising together for a few hours.”

At the support point, Robyn commented: “The highs get higher and the lows get lower! It’s a bit warm out there, isn’t it? I was trying to keep Victoria in my sights, but on the out-and-back I thought, I can’t see her, and there are some streams – I wanted to stop. It doesn’t matter though. Ultimately, I want to get to Cardiff and survive the heat.”

Victoria spoke at the support point: “I still have an hour and a bit to catch up on Robyn.”

At the finish, she commented: “I think we’ve just been moral support for each other.”

Robyn added: “From the support point, we thought that we’d just battle together against the sun.”

Although the 2023 Montane Dragon’s Back Race has reached the half way point in time, the runners still in the event face another 202km before they reach the finishing line in Cardiff.

The public can follow the progress of the race thanks to live tracking via www.dragonsbackrace.com, and the Dragon’s Back Race team will be posting regular updates on social media throughout the event: Twitter – follow @DragonsBackRace; Instagram – follow @DragonsBackRace; Facebook – DragonsBackRace.

Header image: Tristan Stephenson on Cadair Idris. Credit: ©Montane Dragon’s Back Race® | No Limits Photography

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