High mileage, brutal climbs, navigational challenges and changeable weather meant the 2015 edition of the Dragon’s Back Race lived up to its reputation as one of the toughest events in the UK. Of the original 140 competitors who began the challenge, just 64 managed to complete the five day, 300km race that took in 16,000m of ascent across the mountainous spine of Wales.
Jim Mann secured the title with Jasmin Paris leading the female field home and taking second place overall. Mann, who had led from the initial stages and never looked in danger of relinquishing first place, finished in a time of 40:08 hours, over 90 minutes ahead of Paris (41:45) with Konrad Rawlik (43:44) rounding off the top trio of performers. Somewhat remarkably, Joe Faulkner became the first ever runner to complete the event on three separate occasions - 1992, 2012 and this year.
Speaking after his victory, Mann praised the efforts of his closest competitor: “I learned a lot from 2012 and have enjoyed running in the Welsh hills this year in preparation for the race. Like 2012, the atmosphere at the event has been amazing and Jasmin has been a legendary companion to race with in the last few days.”
In addition to Mann and Faulkner returning to the event, Helene Whittaker, who won the first Dragon’s Back Race in 1992 and came first woman 20 years later, followed proceedings closely with organisers, recording videos and interviewing competitors.
Whittaker reflected on a race that clearly holds a deep affinity with many of its competitors: “In my unashamedly biased view, I have been really excited to see so many talented female runners finishing in the top 10, and particularly by Jasmine’s powerful run. I cannot express how lovely it has been to be able to watch this band of modest, respectful, and talented runners in action. It has been wonderful to once again be part of an event that has been so good to me.”