2021 & The World’s Toughest Mountain Race

I have always been a proud Welshman, if you read my last blog post about Hiraeth you’ll understand how the Wales’ countryside is an intrinsic part of my identity. My desire to spend more time in it’s mountains, to connect more with my family history has led me to signing up to the biggest challenge of my life so far.

I have entered the Dragon’s Back Race for September 2021.

It isn’t called the world’s toughest mountain race because of good PR and here is why:The event takes place over six days, has you traversing 380km across the length of Wales and has an elevation gain of over 17,000 metres. It is also self navigated over areas of uncharted Wales, averaging 65km per day. I will be tired, battered and bruised, probably rain soaked to my core and battling my fear of heights at every treacherous step.

The race follows the mountains running down the spine of Wales from Conwy Castle in the North to Cardiff Castle in the South. This has always been a race that has called to me even though it causes fear to rush through me like a hot flush. It not only allows me to explore the land that flows through my veins but should I finish I get to call officially myself a Dragon slayer.

I signed up for this race a few months ago but truth be told I hadn’t announced I was running it because I had been debating pulling out as this challenge truly terrifies me. But the more I thought about quitting the more I thought about how much I’d regret it if I did throw in the towel before even trying. I may fail but I’d rather do that pushing my limits than sat in my comfort zone. 2020 has been all about that comfort zone, of not being able to go out and do the things you want to do, 2021 will be the opposite.

Obviously the distance alone is a massive challenge but add in an elevation gain equivalent to twice the height of Everest and this is a feat that will test my mental strength as much as my physical. One of the parts of this race that’s scares me to my core is having to cross Grib Goch, a knife edge ridge route up Snowdon that is narrow and treacherous. It’s claimed a few lives this year and as someone who is scared of heights I know it will keep me awake at night between now and September.

Training has begun with small baby steps towards getting injury free and then building up to September and Conwy Castle. I am under no illusions that this race is going to be the toughest thing I’ve ever undertaken but just like I thought before running Marathon des Sables or swimming 5km; I will do what I can’t. I guess today is day one…

The face says it all…

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